One of the most common themes these days that I hear in my office is folks feeling isolated and alone, not feeling the connections in community and family that they’d like. People are often asking me for ideas of how to meet new friends.
I suggest starting by looking at your current friendship networks. This article about making friendship goals helps you look at the different folks you already have in your life, and set goals around what you might like to see happen. It’s probably a good time to look at your own tendencies in friendships. Do you initiate or wait for people to invite you out? Do you share of yourself or just listen to others? How are you at asking for help? Giving help?
In this article I will simply try to brainstorm the question “how do I meet new friends”! Obviously you could use these ideas as ways to develop existing connections as well.
Assuming that we are looking for some kind of connection, I think it’s important to ask yourself:
- What kind of people would you like to meet? What would they be into doing? What values would they hold?
- What floats your boat? What might spark your soul?
- Where and to whom might you be inclined to offer help?
It’s worth taking time to jot down your answers as a place to start.
Get into activities you like; learn or deepen a skill
Have you tried latin dance, swing dance, line dancing? Or are you more jazzed by rock climbing, roller skating or pickle ball? What about acroyoga, and how are your circus skills? No? A chess club, a bookclub, a DND group? More of a nature nut? Try a tree identification walking group, mushroom hunting or dig out your local permaculture group.
Think back to childhood if you are at a loss. What did you used to like to do? What have you always wished you could try?
Some folks like joining a longer class at a college to really deepen a skill and give more opportunity to connect with like-minded folks.
To access info on these kinds of activities you could:
- search on local classes and activities via Eventbrite
- find out what’s on at your local YMCA or YWCA
- check your local library for events and classes
- meetup groups can be helpful
- local colleges
- use your existing network
- search for local interest groups like biking, meditating and so on.
Whether it’s volunteering for a music or film festival or other event that interests you, or on a board or for a cause that means something to you, volunteering usually puts you in touch with folks who share similar values and interests. As with anything, repeated contact points are going to help relationships form.
Connect with your local community
Volunteer with your BIA or church group. See if there’s a friendly neighbourhood facebook group, check out the Next Door app. Asking for help with things or offering help can open things up.
Tinder, Hinge, Bumble and other dating apps have a friend category. Make your profile really clear that you are after friendship and what activities you might like to try with a new friend. Make sure your photos convey an authentic but friendly version of yourself.
Too anxious to take a step?
Stepping outside our usual comfort zones, especially ones reduced in size by covid, we can be pretty concerned about ourselves. We can be run amuck with our own anxieties as we try new things.
Learn skills to ground yourself and focus instead on your surroundings and show interest in the people around you. Remember that others are likely anxious too and that the more you try something the easier it gets!
It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than think your way into a new way of acting!
So pretend that you are confident and up for anything and just go for it.
Nope, not for me <arms firmly folded across chest>
Saying no to everything? Consider what is the secondary gain of staying isolated? Don’t have to deal with your fears? Time to book in to talk to me 😉