New in town? Friends move away? Not many people your age at work? To me, people whose only advice to others to extend their social circle is to meet people through work or common interests…must be lucky. It didn’t always work for me, I’m not super outgoing and haven’t worked with anyone similar in age in years. Everything has always taken me a little extra time and effort, but it’s all paid off in the end! With adequate time and effort, it is never too late for anyone to form healthy friendships—an integral part of your healing journey.
I didn’t have a lot of friends growing up or in high school as I was painfully shy and (raised in a very pretentious area). Luckily, the less judgmental, varied crowd (and plenty of liquid courage) faired me well and for the first time I had a thriving social life. However, graduating college led me back home to the land of the lonely. Bored shitless, I turned to the ever-wise advice of Google and decided that I was desperate enough to try Craigslist to meet people. Turns out, the idea wasn’t as crazy as I’d thought!
After being home as well as moving to a new state where I knew no one, I’ve learned a variety of tricks for meeting people. Whether you are looking for new friends whose interests and lifestyles align better with yours, a coffee date, an exercise buddy, or a lifelong bff—I would love to share these tips with you! Here are my top suggestions for meeting people:
- At Work – I’m not the biggest fan of meeting friends at work, just because I think from a professional stand-point, work and personal lives are best kept separate. However, if you have co-workers who are similar in age or lifestyles, invite them out for a drink and see how it goes! Just make sure it does not affect your career or other work relationships.
- Common Hobbies/Interests/Beliefs – Join a gym and take some classes/join a sports league. Take some classes of interest at your local community college, craft store, health food store, etc. Join a book club. Join a church group or volunteer locally.
- Networking Events – Attend local professional networking groups. These can be found through google searches, Facebook groups, Linkedin, or Meetup.com. Depending on which ones you to go, there are usually some that are more casual and activity-based.
- Support Groups – Have an addiction? Or just plain lonely? Support groups can range anywhere from fighting addiction, to battling loneliness, to dealing with health issues. Sometimes the support you find in members of these may be exactly what you needed.
- Bars and/or Coffee Shops – For those extraverts, visit a smaller local bar or coffee shot. Get a drink and strike up a conversation with those next to you!
- Through Others – Don’t be afraid to ask acquaintances and/or other friends for help meeting people. If they don’t make a polite effort to help, the people you’d meet through them probably weren’t worth it anyways! I’ve explained to my friends that I adore them but sometimes feel like a freak with my dietary needs and they have gone out of their way to introduce me to some cool vegetarians and/or gluten-free people J
- Social Media & Online Networking – If you are in an online forum, casually browsing Facebook or Instagram, or reading an interesting blog or website…Feel free to strike up a conversation with a stranger and invite them out for coffee if it goes well. What do you have to lose?
- Friend Making Websites – While you should definitely be careful (and always meet in a public place), meeting people online is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, I’ve met more assholes/bad people in-person than I have online. Although I’m sure there are other options, the most-used free website seems to be Girlfriend Social.
- Friend Making Apps & Other Recent Online Developments – I’ve known people to make friends of the opposite sex on the infamous Tinder, however, more recently the similar app “Bumble” opened up a special setting called “Bumble BFF” which allows you to swipe left or right in hopes of making a new best friend.
- Craigslist – Be careful (and always meet in a public place) here as well…but there is a part of Craigslist intended for friendships that not many know about, the platonic section. Here you can post or respond to a posting of interest.
- Meetup.com – This is my top recommended way to meet people. You avoid the awkwardness of going to a bar alone, the dangers of meeting online, and can find people specifically interested in the same interests, lifestyles, or activities you are looking for. If you haven’t heard of it before, Meetup is basically a database of groups in your area that host activities for meeting others. Sign up for a group that’s of interest to you (for example, I’m signed up to: young professional woman groups, tennis groups, holistic health groups, puppy groups, etc.) and attend the events that look like fun and work with your schedule!
Just remember, when making friends do whatever is the most comfortable to you and don’t get discouraged. Making friends is just like finding a job, mate, place to live, or anything else in life; you have to go through the wrong fits before you find the right ones!
Here’s to a little less loneliness and regaining our sparkle together,
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