Being an adult has all kinds of perks: digging into the pickle jar whenever you get a hankering for sodium, the freedom of a driver’s license, and going to bed whenever you want. One of the things they don’t tell you about the whole “adulting” thing is that knowing how to make new friends can be really hard, especially after moving to a new city.
When you were younger, you were surrounded by others in a similar life stage with many shared interests. But that changes quite a bit once you’re out of school and thrown into the “real world,” notes Dr. Colleen Mullen, a psychologist and family therapist. “As adults, you have to search, work at, and cultivate new connections,” she says. “You can no longer assume that just because you are in a similar place you have anything that bonds you to each other.”
Here’s another reality: People tend to have up more walls as adults — we’re more afraid of rejection, may have some social anxiety, and perhaps even have a case of “set in our ways” that makes us resistant to opening our door to new people. We’re also pretty dang busy! The good news is that creating authentic friendships in adulthood can be done. You just need to put yourself out there, lower your walls a bit, and figure out ways to meet new friends in your area and really foster those relationships.
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How to Make Friends in a New City
Making friends in a new city begins with, well, meeting people. If you’re not sure what to do if you have no friends just yet, start with the following suggestions.
Join Local Groups on Social Media
Social media may have a few thorns, but it can be a huge tool when making new friends in your city. “One of the great things about technology and social media is that it can help facilitate new friendships,” says Chimère G. Holmes, a licensed professional counselor and founder of Be Ye Renewed Counseling. “Start out by perusing the Groups Tab on Facebook, search your neighborhood, city, and specific interests, and join groups to meet like-minded locals to learn about fun events in your new town.”
Whether you’re volunteering at a local animal shelter, serving soup at a kitchen, or helping with a political campaign, volunteering is an excellent way to make new friends in a city you’ve just moved to. “It will put you in contact with others who find it important to contribute to society through the giving back of their time,” says Dr. Mullen. “Volunteermatch.org is a great site for finding some opportunities to give of your time, energy and skills.”
Hang Out at a Local Cafe
Get yourself a cuppa and make it a goal to talk to one or two other people also at the cafe that day. “Possibilities are endless in a cozy, local coffee shop,” says Holmes. Even if you don’t exchange numbers, these interactions will help beef up your social skills.
Join a Group, Club, or Sports Team
Relocating is extremely brave in and of itself. Lean into the unfamiliar by stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something completely new for recreation. Holmes says, “Maybe there is a meditation class you’ve been wanting to try, or salsa lessons that have been calling your name. Whether it’s pottery or rock climbing, there is no time like the present.”
Let Your Pet Help You
Our four-legged friends are top-notch ice breakers! Use them to your advantage if you’re a pet parent. “Check out the area dog parks for connection and conversation,” suggests Holmes. “This can be a double win for both you and your fur baby, as it allows you to get to know all the cute dogs of the area.
Explore the Local Faith Community
“If you are a person of faith, don’t just watch the worship service online—get out and attend whatever community events are going on at your local house of worship,” Dr. Mullen suggests. “Many places of worship even have groups designed to help their community get to know each other better and are structured around social connection.”
Turn Acquaintanceship Into Genuine Friendship
Knowing how to meet new people in a new city is one thing. Nurturing those connections until they blossom into lifelong friendships takes some more hard work—but it’s 100% worth it! “Allow new relationships to develop overtime,” urges psychotherapist Dr. Jenn Mann. “Ask lots of questions to get to know the other person, and notice [whether] they express the same curiosity about you. Staying in touch via text message, FaceTime and email can fill in gaps of time when people don’t have time to connect [in person].” It takes time to cultivate friendship, so trust the process and continue meeting new people along the way.
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Some Final Thoughts on Making New Friends as An Adult
“Seeking out new friends does not have to be an intimidating experience. The reality is that many people are in the same boat as you, thinking about ways they can meet people in their current city,” says Holmes. Basically, try not to assume that everyone you encounter already has all the friends they could ever want and therefore don’t have time for new connections.
At the end of the day, knowing how to make friends in a new city is all about expanding your current social circle and organically putting yourself out there. Bring your best to the table, nurture the connections you do make, and practice patience as that friendship blossoms into something beautiful.