making new social networks

One of the hardest things about moving to a new place is making new friends and building a social network. You don’t realize how connected you are to a community until you have to start over. For example, we absolutely loved our vet’s office and they absolutely loved Sisko. When our apartment flooded last October and we needed somewhere for Sisko to stay in an emergency, they didn’t have any room in boarding, but because they knew us they were able to make room for him. I don’t think that would have happened if we didn’t already have a solid relationship with them. I’m not just talking about service relationships. After seven years of living in Michigan, we had grown a fairly solid network of friends. We’ll continue to stay close with many of them, but 1200 miles makes it difficult to just pop by.

So, where do we go from here? Luckily, like any good researcher, I started with a quick Google search for how to make friends as an adult. (This probably says A LOT about me.) Thankfully, it seems like I’m not the only millennial with this problem opportunity. Two articles struck me as promising: this New Yorker article, How to Make Friends as an Adult, and an article in Time Magazine, How to Make Friends as an Adult – And Why It’s Important.

Both articles boil down to the following:

  • nurture your existing friendships;
  • chat people up; and
  • get out of your comfort zone while staying in your comfort zone.

When we moved to Colorado, we were fortunate to have two of my friends from high school (they’re married to each other) living here. While we haven’t lived in the same state for at least fifteen years, we’ve made the time to video chat and visit (i.e., nurture the friendship). Upon moving here, we started hanging out at coffee shops or the kids’ play area at the mall and having other random, and sometimes adults-only, meetups. These are some of my favorite people and I’m happy to have them in our life.

Chatting people up is tough because it so often doesn’t progress beyond that. For example, there is a woman who lives in my building that chats everyone up to the point where some people avoid talking with her. I think that she’s a bit lonely and that talking with random people is her way of dealing with the fact that she’s 70-ish, lives alone, and doesn’t get to see her children often. Since I also have a habit of chatting people up, I actually like talking with her. She seems like a lady who has a lot of life experience and that she could be fun. (Note to self: Invite neighbor for a beer.)

I’m also using my hobbies as a way to make friends. Since I work from home, making friends at work isn’t really an option. Although, I could take my online classes on the road and start working on them at coffee shops or the library. Being a regular at places makes it easier — I think. I have made some buddies at our yoga studio. Since I’m there three to four times per week, it has been easy finding people to chat with. I even took the wild step and invited one of my yoga buddies to the last small dog meet-up since she has a chihuahua too. The point here is that I’ve been making a concerted effort to make the most of the relationships that are already built into my regular activities.

The thing I need to work on is taking the next step and inviting someone out for coffee or a beer or to an event. This is hard because I’m naturally a homebody and I tend to be a bit frugal. Finding free fun that people are willing to do can be a challenge.

Well, I’m off to walk Sisko. Maybe he’ll make a new friend while we’re out! Have you found it tough making friends as an adult?

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