How to make new friends
Whether you're alone in a big city or small town, it doesn't make much difference. Alone is lonely, no matter where you are. Maybe you're new in town, and the most interaction you've had with your neighbours was a brusque comment about where the recycling bins really go. Maybe a breakup left you searching for a new inner circle, or a new baby has put you on a different social schedule than your nine-to-five friends. Whatever the reason, finding a few like-minded pals to shoot the breeze with can be daunting -- or even downright discouraging.
Before you place your "friend wanted" ad in the classifieds, try these suggestions for broadening your friendship horizons and building a community of your very own.
Get set up
When you were looking for love, everyone had a friend or cousin who would be "just perfect" for you -- why couldn't the principles of blind-dating apply to friend-seeking? We tend to pick friends who share our values, so if you like Lisa, you'd probably also enjoy Lisa's friend Val. Let it be known that you are in the market for a friend who is in the same circumstances as you, whether you're a first-time mom or small-town girl new to the city. By the same token, introduce your friends from different social circles to each other. Your water cooler buddy at work could hit it off with your high school best friend, and just like that, you've gone from having two separate friends to having a group.
Make the first move
Scary as it may be (What if she rejects my overtures? What if she says she's got enough friends, thanks?), sometimes you've got to make the first move. Initiating conversation with a perfect stranger takes guts, but it also earns respect. Who knows, maybe the girl who orders her latte like yours is looking for a coffee buddy too. And the frazzled mom at the park would probably really like someone to commiserate with. So take a deep breath, smile and say hello. There, that wasn't so hard was it? Now take that forwardness, and apply it to everyone, everywhere. The best way to make friends is to be friendly -- from the grocery store clerk to the doorman in your office building.
Get a life
So you're a little lost socially and you don't know where to meet people like you. Well, it's simple. Go where you want to go and do what you want to do and the people you encounter there will be doing the same. And, instantly, you've got something in common. Love your dog? Find the busiest dog-friendly park, grab Spike and a Frisbee and get there -- often. The more times you frequent the same location, the more you'll notice who else does, too. The sense of familiarity that comes from seeing someone regularly will make it easier to approach a semi-stranger. Or make it even easier: Join an evening class, where the social aspect is as important as what you learn. The person at the easel beside you in Watercolours 101 could be your soul-pal, and getting to know her is as easy as borrowing her fine-tipped paintbrush or admiring her rendition of a sailboat.
Your friends are out there, whether you've met them or not. It's a matter of putting yourself in situations where you're likely to meet the types of companions you're seeking and reaching out to people once you're there. Sure it may be scary, but the payoff -- someone to laugh with, seek advice from or just hang with -- is just so worth it.
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