Moving to a new place as a single adult can be daunting. I moved to Georgia two years ago knowing no one. Not a soul. And I realized quickly that it feels weird as an adult to go out and purposely try to make friends. Children make new friends – they have play dates and organized team sports and activities. College students make new friends – they have mixers and frat parties and study sessions. It’s a bit strange I’ll be honest to arrange a play date as an adult, but I’ve done it. When you move to a new city it’s necessary unless you want to live as a recluse.
So how do you even try to go about it? After living here for two years with ups and downs in terms of making friends, I’ve learned a few things that work and a few that flop. Here are my tips for all of you adults on there – How to Make Friends as Adults.
Accept the Friend Dates. Inevitably your friends, or aunts, or distant cousins will know someone in the area that you live and they will suggest that you get together with them. Accept the friend date! I’ve gone out on more friend dates than real dates here in Savannah – some were total flops (as some real dates are) and some built friendships that were developed over time. They can also give you a great taste of home if they are from your home town. Nothing says comradery like bonding over the food you miss most or how much better the weather is back home.
Ask People Out. This tip is probably the most difficult, because you have to be brave. But if you meet someone who seems nice or has the same interests or you just happen to run into every other week – ask them out! Yes in the beginning you are going to feel as though you are hitting on people. I swear that gets easier with practice. But most adults out there – they are looking for new friends just like you are. Be patient – once again with this method you’ll have a few flops. But sometimes it works. I have a yoga teacher who I used to talk with after class who was about my age and seemed very sweet. So one day I asked her if she wanted to go grab coffee after class. She was so excited – coffee turned into happy hour and we ended up having such a great time! It was a shot in the dark but a really great connection.
Attend Events in Your Area (non work events!). Yes work friends are great – but it is important to expand outside of your office. You spend 40 plus hours a week with those people. Think ahead and realize that you might want to get outside of that circle once in a while. One of the ways I’ve connected with people in Savannah is by attending events around the city. My very first week in Savannah I saw a “Young Professionals of Savannah” happy hour networking session being offered at a downtown brew pub. I gathered my guts, and headed out on a Tuesday night (completely alone) to attempt conversation with strangers (often easier with a beer I think). That night I spoke with a handful of people I’ve never seen again. But I also met a group of guys that I clicked with. That weekend they invited me out with a mixed group – some of their girl friends tagging alone – for dinner. I was hesitant to join them, but in the end I did. Which brings me to my second bullet point…
Keep an Open Mind. Be safe of course and trust your gut (i.e. the first few get-togethers should be with groups in public places), but give yourself a little push when trying out events. I remember when I was invited out to that dinner group I almost canceled 20 minutes before. A coworker made me go, assuring me (and I quote) “Text me if they are weird and I will call you with an emergency so you’ll need to leave“. Man, am I glad I went to that dinner, because that was the introduction to my first real group of friends here in Savannah.
Make Friends with your New Friends’ Friends. Yes that’s right. Your new acquaintances are a great resource to make your circle even bigger. The few people I met at that first group dinner connected me with their friends, and I was sure to connect with them on facebook or exchanged numbers so that we could get together later. Now one of my closest friends here in Savannah is actually a girl I met through that group of people from the young professional night. And thank goodness I did! I am so grateful for her friendship.
Great events to attend around town to meet people: Young Professional’s Networking Events, volunteer sites (think humane society or habitat for humanity), yoga or fitness classes, charity fundraisers and events, coworker happy hour sessions, blind dates, dog parks, 5K races.
Have any of you gone through a similar experience? I’ve love to hear how you’ve connected with friends in a new city!