I remember traveling as a child. I found a new friend in every swimming pool, or at every playground. There was always someone to play with. I didnât ask where they came from or what they believed in. I didnât care who their parents were or how much money they had. We smiled at each other and we started playing.
I did keep up with a few of those childhood vacation friends for a little while, but I was a terrible pen pal because I wasn’t good at writing letters. Iâd send a letter to the friend in Chicago asking what she ate, as if she was in a foreign country. Iâd tell her I rode my bike. She replied that, at age 11, she had a boyfriend and theyâd kissed. At nine, I had no idea what to say. My real response of, âEwwâ, didnât seem appropriate.
You probably had a similar experience of making friends as a child. It is almost automatic; there is always a new friend to play with. And yet, as an adult it can be so difficult.
The transition from childhood friend making to adult friend making is like the difference between playing in the lake and writing letters. It goes from natural and automatic, to stiff and awkward.
But never fear. Whether youâve moved to a new neighborhood, a new country, or just want to make new friends, these tips will help.
How to Make Friends in a New Place
Join a spiritual or self-development group
You can pick a group that resonates most with your beliefs to avoid feeling like a fish out of water. This can be a church, a synagogue, a mosque, a Yoga group, Overeaterâs Anonymous, or any other group that speaks to you. The point is to choose a group that focuses on development.
Growing together is a great way to make new friends. When you support each other, share trials and triumphs, and speak up from time to time, the foundation of connection and friendship is already laid.
Join a sports team or hiking group
If you loved playing a sport as a child, join an adult league. This can be anything from soccer to swimming, or tennis to softball. There are usually groups for different experience levels. I recommend choosing a level where you will be one of the better players â the extra boost of confidence helps in making friends, and maybe you can help the others to improve too!
If you didnât play any sports or just prefer something simpler, there are hiking and running groups in almost every area. You donât have to be fast or talented for these hiking and running groups. Especially if you are starting out, hiking is great way to spend a few hours chatting and getting to know other people while out in nature.
Try a food meet-up
Most larger areas have regular, potluck style food meet-ups. There are vegetarian, vegan, paleo, and keto meet-ups, as well potlucks by ethnic cuisine such as Mexican, Italian, Japanese, etc.
You donât have to eat the way of the potluck all the time. For example, you donât have to be a vegan to have a great time at a vegan potluck. You just have to be interested in learning more about it, and in sharing one dish that meets the requirements. These potlucks are also a great way to meet people with similar interests and experiences.
Stop by and say hi to the neighbors
I grew up in a small town, so I still believe in the power of community. As long as it is safe to go out and visit in your neighborhood â go for it! Bake a batch of cookies on the weekend and drop off plates of cookies for your neighbors.
Or invite the neighborhood over for a potluck. If you have a bit of money, invest in something like a slip and slide to make it fun for the kids and adults. Sometimes the people around you become your close tribe. At the very least, it will feel good to get to know your neighbors.
Sit on a park bench
Now this one can be crazy, or even dangerous, but hear me out. On a beautiful day, sit on a park bench and people watch. See if there are people youâd like to get to know and then go up and introduce yourself. Tell them that youâre new to town and youâre looking to make friends. Just call on your inner child to make those friends.
Compliment them, chat and see if you share common interests. At first, only plan to meet in public places with other people around until you know them well. But remember, you never know when you may meet a lifelong friend!
Keep in touch with your old friends
Remember the song, âMake new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the otherâs goldâ? There is more than a grain of truth in that. With modern technology you can Skype or Facetime your friends all over the world.
Lifelong friends are still lifelong friends, and distance doesnât change their uplifting and encouraging effect. Use technology to your advantage! I try to walk and talk to my two best girlfriends at least once a week, even through one is 12 hours away and the other is six hours away.
I recommend you try connecting as often is possible. Take a walk and chat, or set your phone on the kitchen counter while you make dinner. It (almost) feels like they are there.
Remember your child-like innocence
The key to making friends is to be open to understanding and listening. You donât have to agree with everything; you just have to enjoy doing something together.
Remember to accept, appreciate, and play. Having fun is the best way to make friends. Be yourself, whether that is loud and outgoing or shy and reserved, and accept others as they are. People are drawn to naturalness and simplicity. When they see that in you, your people will find you.
Summing it up
Any group activity or community program is a great way to make friends. It can feel like a lot to go out and join new groups when you are already new to a place, but the human connections and new interactions will quickly ease the loneliness. In addition, you will bring lots of new and interesting people into your life.
Remember to accept them with wonder, ask questions, and share yourself. And most importantly: remember to be yourself and have fun! You are enough, you are beautiful, and your tribe will find you.
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