Moved to a new town? Feeling lonely? When you move to a new city, it can be hard to find your tribe at first. Everyone’s busy, and different places have different cultures. It’s not always easy to crack into the social scene.
As people are constantly switching bases, they are faced with this situation quite often. “The mobile lifestyle is exciting, especially when you’re younger, but after a while there is a sense of isolation that seeps in, as you are not able to settle into a community and fully identify with the region,” says Jay H Tift, a licensed professional counselor. You may not necessarily be lonely, but may have “general dissatisfaction, a sense of loss of direction, frustration with job, and a feeling that there is something wrong with you,” Tift says.
Even though making friends in a new setting is hard, it’s important. Friendships are not only essential for your mental well-being, they also affect your health. A study published in Annals of Behavioral Medicine in January found that having a huge social circle is good for heart health.
Here are a few tips to get you started on making new friends:
1. Play the I-am-new card: When you go to events and meet interesting people, use your situation to your advantage. “If you are out at a non-specific event, a great ice breaker is to let someone know you are new in town, and ask for suggestions for interesting things to do,” says Nikki Martinez, psychologist and licensed clinical professional counselor. “You might not only get some great local suggestions, if you are really lucky, you might get an offer of an escort!”
2. Do Your Thing: Don’t go looking out for people. “When you go out with that intent, you feel you have to make friends quickly or you’ll end up totally alone and isolated,” says Tift. That’s not good. You don’t want to look desperate. “So, instead shift strategies to going out to do things that are really interesting to you with other people who happen to like those things,” says Tift. Enjoy snorkeling? Look up Meetup groups in town that organize water sports-related trips.
3. Get adventurous: Be a little creative. You can make friends at the most unlikely of places. But there’s a price to pay: getting out of your comfort zone. “Leave the house every single day,” says Kia Wakefield, life coach and author of Social Elephant: New Rules for Making Friends in Our Changing Social Economy. “You can’t make friends if you stay in the house. Talk to anyone who simply glances your way. Some people might think you’re a little crazy, but you’ll also make amazing connections.” Like the jumpsuit that girl at the coffee shop is wearing? Go ask her where she got it from. Who knows: a conversation may happen.
4. Seek interesting places to work: If you are an independent working professional, you should explore the option of working out of the so-called co-working spaces. “If a person continues utilizing the same co-working space over a period of time, that space will begin to establish a community identity of its own,” says Tift. “This also allows for the post-work happy hour and engaging in activities you enjoy.” If you are a full-time staffer, you could still try co-working spaces on your work-from-home days.
5. Ask for contacts: Most people ignore a useful resource for making friends in a new town: their old contacts. “Let your friends know about your move and see if they know anyone; most times you get a, ‘My friend from college is living there! You two should meet!’’’, says Nicole Zangara, author of Surviving Female Friendships: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Don’t hesitate to announce your move on Facebook. Your best friend from middle school might be a resident. You could rekindle your friendship with her.
Friendships matter; friendships are a mutual gift. It’s not difficult to make friends. Just keep Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words in mind: “The only way to have a friend is to be one.”