Most everyone understands that it can be hard to meet people to date, which is of course why there are so many apps, sites, and services to assist singles searching for romantic partners. But when you find yourself in search of platonic friends, it can feel a bit embarrassing. Isn’t this supposed to be effortless?
It might be when you’re in school, but as we get older finding people to socialize with can get tougher, as lives take divergent paths. People marry and have kids. They move across the country, or take jobs that require them to work eighty hours a week.
Finding new friends is not only a great way to counter the inevitable drift, it’s also a great way to broaden both your social circles and discover new interests. But first you have to meet!
MAKE A SMALL COMPLIMENT. You’ve decided to treat yourself to a solo matinee when you notice a woman wearing a cool power necklace in the ticket line in front of you. Tell her how much you love it. You’ll have plenty of time to chat and, if you’re seeing the same movie, will also have a reason to continue the conversation afterwards.
BECOME A REGULAR. If you randomly drop into that exercise class, you may end up in a conversation or two. But chances are, you won’t move far beyond, “Tough workout, eh?” But if you go every week, you’ll start to see the same faces—and they will see yours. You can gradually get to know people via the information on their t-shirts and gym bags (“Is that where your work?” “Did you run that 10K?”) and bond over your mutual hatred of kettle bells. Once you realize you’ve hit it off, suggesting a post-workout sandwich or salad is easy.
FRIEND YOUR FRIENDS. Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to talk to people at a house party than at a bar? The fact that you both have some connection to the host, however thin, establishes trust that you’re probably a nice person with something interesting to say. So start creating opportunities to meet your friends’ friends, and their friends, and so on. Find a fun activity or event—2-for-1 drafts at your favorite craft brewery, an outdoor screening of Casablanca in the park, an arts festival in the next town. Send out a blast to all your pals and tell them to invite theirs. A group outing is also a nice no-pressure way to extend an invite to any new acquaintances you’ve formed—like the chick from the movie or the guy from the gym!
What has been the best way for you to make new friends?
Sara Eckel is the author of It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single. You can get a free bonus chapter of her book at saraeckel.com. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook. Ask her any questions here.