FINDING WAYS TO MAKE NEW FRIENDS
WRITTEN BY JEANINE MATLOW
There are countless quotes on friendship, but the one attributed to J.M. Laurence might just sum it up best: “It’s not what we have in life, but who we have in our life that matters.” Many feel the need to connect now more than ever before, but finding the right fit can take some effort. Whether you’ve relocated to a new city, been through a breakup, or become an empty nester, there is no time like the present to meet new people and form meaningful bonds. Here, we share some guidance for making friends, even during unprecedented times.
Best Foot Forward.
Follow your heart and trust your instincts when searching for like-minded folks. Common ground can be a great icebreaker to building a good rapport, especially for those who are out of practice or feeling shy. Make sure you have the right mindset to make a connection. If you are hesitant to start a conversation, that may come across as standoffish. Remember you don’t have to be besties for a solid bonding experience. Everyday acquaintances can add value to your life.
Gaining a new skill or perfecting an existing pastime, from pottery to culinary arts, introduces you to others with similar interests. If you have a passion for crafting, take a local class. Love to cook? Start a supper club. Creative pursuits like these can lead to liaisons and creations to be made and shared. Consider enrolling in a course that’s slightly outside your comfort zone, but piques your interest, to meet a fresh set of potential friends.
Work It Out.
Maybe you’d like a hiking companion or a biking buddy to keep you motivated and fit. Or you might want to train for an event that supports a good cause and lets you bond with new comrades. Physical activity can be as vigorous as kickboxing lessons or as grounding as an outdoor yoga class. Afterward, you can invite others to join you for coffee or a smoothie. Check out the programs being offered at a local college or community center to improve your mind, body, and spirit and connect with others in the process. Bonus? Outdoor activities help put everyone at ease as social distancing is more feasible.
When it comes to kinship, kids are natural connectors. If you are a parent, look to parent groups for common ground or shift your focus and look for something just for you. Maybe it is time to reconnect with an old friend. Or focus on your current community and volunteer at your local farmers market. Lending local support can turn neighbors into pals and you are sure to get plenty of friendly chitchat.
Never discount word of mouth. Ask around to join a bunco group or book club in your area, or start your own meetups. These activities often require minimal commitment with monthly meetings where you get to play a game or discuss some titles that might be outside your go-to picks. A local library may also offer book discussions and writing groups that expand your connections.
In a Manner.
Making new friends may be the first step, but keeping them involves a little give and take. Instead of waiting for someone else to make the first move, you can be the one to check in or make plans. Getting to know people for the first time provides a great opportunity to practice being present and listening. Try to stay off your phone and in the moment, and be there for the good times and the bad.
Maintaining special relationships can promote longevity. Studies have shown that stronger social networks promote longer lifespans. So, go ahead and reach out to someone new. You might find a kindred spirit that leads to a lifetime friendship.
Finding a compatible pal can be just a click away. Here are some online resources to help you meet new friends with ease.
App for That. Popular sites like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok can have a wide reach, but those who want to meet people closer to home can try nextdoor.com to get to know your neighbors.
Man’s BFF. Four-legged friends have been known to spark conversations among their owners and other pet lovers during a walk or a trip to the park. Now barkhappy.com offers another way for dog owners to connect and forge new friendships.
Photography provided by jacoblund/iStock/Getty Images Plus.