College — the proverbial “time of your life.” Whether you agree or not that it was the best of times, everyone would agree that the typical college experience provides you with a unique opportunity to be surrounded by people of similar age and life stage.
Once you graduate and have to relocate to a new city, or you decide to leave college early to jump-start your career, you realize meeting and keeping friends can be tough. Here are some ways to meet friends in this new phase of life:
If you’re single, go out. If you’re married, you still need friends, so go out. Going out means physically getting prepared to appear in a social setting, and once you’re in that social setting, it doesn't mean just texting on your phone or scrolling through Instagram. It means being present and engaging with the people in your immediate vicinity. Chat it up with people because even if you embarrass yourself or a situation becomes uncomfortable, you don't have to stay in the situation or see those people again. If you do chat it up and someone clicks, then you can get his or her contact information and meet up again.
Going out means physically getting prepared to appear in a social setting, and once you’re in that social setting, be present and engaging with the people in your immediate vicinity.
Marriages thrive when you can share experiences but also have unique experiences that you can separately partake in and then come back together to share them. Don’t know how to get involved? Digital platforms like Facebook, Meet-up, or Eventbrite provide many opportunities to attend a lecture, political event, class, seminar, sports event, a wine-tasting event, etc.
Church bulletins also can be a wealth of information because they list events and groups that meet on a regular basis but also feature annual events like auctions or picnics that attract people in similar life stages. My church bulletin informed me of a mom’s group, and so I showed up where it took place and have been going there ever since. Over time, I have gotten to know the other moms, and we have enjoyed spending time with each other while our kids play. The mom’s group has facilitated more lunches and coffee dates outside of the formal group, leading to friendship.
Your local Park and Rec or Sports organization also could have a plethora of sports teams to engage in. For example in Chicago, young adults have the club Sport and Social which they can join, play many sports, and attend social events with their teams.
If there is someone at work who seems like a fun person, and you would like to spend time with him or her out of the office, ask him or her to go to happy hour after work or to attend an event with you. For example, if you have two tickets to a sports game, ask if he or she would like to go with you, especially if he or she is a fan of the team. Don't be afraid to break the ice, but don't be super intense or insistent. You want to keep it light and casual. It takes time for friendships to develop.
Don't be afraid to break the ice, but don't be super intense or insistent.
When you meet someone, share about your background and ask him or her questions about how they got where they are or ask open-ended questions that allow he or she to divulge as much information as they want. By sharing about how you heard about the event where you met the person or why you are there, you open the door to letting the other person share with you.
Follow Other’s Leads
Your friend let you know that there is a new girl who moved to the city recently and she doesn't know many people. Meet up with the new person and make them feel welcome because it can be intimidating moving to a new place without any connections. Find things that you both have in common so that you can maintain your relationship, and eventually, they will invite and connect you to other fun events. When you spend more time together doing enjoyable things, you form a bond, and a friendship is born.
Meet up with the new person and make them feel welcome because it can be intimidating moving to a new place without any connections.
Ask for Help
Does an already existing friend or a family member have a connection to your new city? Ask them who they know in the area and have them introduce you. You never know if they are trying to meet good friends, too!
Authenticity breeds authenticity. If you are making an honest effort to form friendships and follow the above steps, you will make friends. If you find that you tried and failed to make a friend, maybe they weren't meant to be your friend anyway, so don't waste your time. There are plenty of other potential friends out there!