Since graduating college, I’ve lived in Los Angeles and New York City. And my tendency to move around started before that. I moved 2000 miles across the country from Chicago to go to college in LA and then flew across the world to study abroad in Copenhagen.
And I know I’m not alone in my restlessness. According to the US Census Bureau, young adults (aged 18-34) have a migration rate of roughly 35 percent compared to 15 percent in the general population.
Whether you’ve moved across the country (or world) for a new job or found that your friends have moved and left you alone in your city, there are all sorts of reasons you may be looking to make new friends. Post-college, it can be hard to make new adult friends. And while I still hate that my friends are so spread out across the world, over time that tendency to move around has helped me come out of my shell and make new friends.
Between high school, college, summer programs, and jobs, chances are you know a lot of people. Maybe some of those people are in the city where you’re trying to make friends. Even if you weren’t all that close when you originally know each other, any acquaintance is a potential friend. If you know someone is in your city, shoot them a Facebook message and see if they want to grab coffee or meet for happy hour.
Maybe you don’t know anyone in the city you’re looking to make friends, but I guarantee that you know someone who knows someone. Reach out to your network and see if they have any friends they can set you up with on a friend date. It may feel weird at first, but having a friend in common ups your chances that you’ll hit it off with this person.
Get to know your coworkers
Work is basically school for adults. Be open minded when meeting coworkers and view them as potential friends. In my first job post-college, I found myself counting coworkers out because they were all older than me, but adult friendships aren’t the same as school friendships where you’re all the exact same age and doing the exact same things. Once I opened myself up to getting to know people who I didn’t expect to be potential friends, I met some pretty awesome people.
Do things you enjoy
Just like joining a club or sports team in high school, joining community activities is a great way to meet like-minded peers. Whether it’s group fitness, cooking classes, a book club, or volunteering, any activity you genuinely enjoy is a great way to meet new people.
The best advice I’ve ever gotten regarding making friends through community activities was to go to events that I would enjoy whether I made friends or not. This stopped me from trying to get excited about volunteer work I wasn’t passionate about and playing sports I don’t actually like (hello, bowling). I started spending my time in ways that made me happier and new friends followed.
Turn your search online
This one might feel the least natural, but in the age of online dating,why should making platonic friends be an exception to using this awesome tool? Just like there are a plethora of dating apps out there, there are different apps and sites for making friends with different focuses.
Always say yes
Maybe not always. Sometimes you need a night in with Netflix and Postmates, but if you’re invited to an event or to hang out with a potential new friend, more often than not you should go if you can. If you seem interested in people, they’re more likely to think of you the next time they’re looking for a friend to invite to that concert, festival, party, or other social event where you can meet even more people.
It can feel weird post elementary school to shoot someone a message saying “hey wanna be friends?” But think about being on the receiving end: would you be weirded out if an office acquaintance or old friend reached out asking to grab coffee? Chances are you’d be enthusiastic to meet a new friend. I’ve never reached out to a potential friend and gotten a no, and that’s because making friends as an adult is a universal problem. Own it and you’ll be one step closer to that thriving social life you’re chasing.
Give yourself time
I’ve given myself a hard time for not having a brand new BFF right away when moving somewhere new. And while it can be lonely before you have closer friends, it takes time. People are all busy and just because they may not have time to hang out as often as you’d like doesn’t mean they don’t want to. Cut yourself slack and keep doing things you enjoy.