There comes a time in most of our lives where we have to relocate: for school, personal reasons, or a job. While we’re caught up in the stress of moving cities, sometimes we never think about what life will be like after the move.
Our new home could be a few miles away or even a few hundred miles away - it doesn’t matter. There are still challenges to face within the new community we dive into.
It can feel like starting your life all over again.
It’s too bad we can’t bring our old friends with us whenever we move. Instead, we rely on Facebook and texting to maintain friendships as we venture away. But sooner or later we have to put down new roots in our new city.
When thinking about how to make friends in a new city, it’s helpful to understand how we made the friends we already have. Humans rely on 3 different ways to create friendship with others: proximity, interactions, and vulnerability.
Sometimes we’re friends with people just because they’re our neighbors in the community, or they live next door to us and see them almost everyday. Because we’re physically close to them, we naturally become close in regards to friendship.
We see them, talk to them, watch over them regularly and become close with them. If you’ve ever lived in college dorms, you know how strong of a friendship maker proximity can be.
When we’ve got our busy schedules that seem to go round and round, we tend to see the same people who go through their very own motions too. It could be that guy you order coffee from every morning before work, or the guy you always habitually say hi to at the copier.
During these unplanned routines, take the time to step out of your unconscious routines and make conversation with the people that you run into every single day. Build on it over time and pretty soon you’ll be the guy that just “happens” to know everyone that he sees no matter where he goes.
You’ll build a sense of familiarity with your surroundings and the people that waltz through your day to day life, which goes a long way towards feeling comfortable in a new city.
Create an environment where others can open up to you. Have a game night or perhaps a barbeque with new friends. The point of friendship is to get to know someone on a deeper level and connect. In order to do that, you have to get personal. Smaller, more comfortable settings will allow new acquaintances to open up and get personal with you, which ultimately leads to friendship..
The Challenge After College
College is a place where proximity, interactivity, and vulnerability all collide to create incredibly deep friendships that last a lifetime. That’s all well and good, but coming out of college is a different story.
It’s more difficult out “in the real world” because you’re often living by yourself or with a few roommates, but not surrounded by thousands of people your own age within a two mile radius.. Once you do make a friend, stick with your commitments, and follow through with your plans. It takes more effort to make friends post-college. There’s just no way around that fact.
Part of the reason why is that our priorities often change after college. It’s not all about getting drunk with your friends every weekend just for the sake of doing it. We start to lay the groundwork to the rest of our lives in the form of careers and relationships. We start to think about families, how many kids we want, and all of the other grown up things.
For those who are in relationships, it’s all about working as a team when trying to find friendship in a new place. It’s like fishing with 2 lines in the water, as you try and make friends, your partner is trying the same thing. The only fault in this strategy is that you may have to compromise, as some people your wife or girlfriend may run into aren’t necessarily going to be YOUR best friends.
Don’t be picky. Make sure to always give everybody their fair chance to be your friend. They may not serve the same purpose or be the same as your best buddy from high school or college, but they can be pretty close over time. When we are put in the same place at the same time with people, we sometimes make conversation and get to know a little bit about them, but it takes time. If you think about it, we did the same thing in high school and college, we can definitely keep doing the same thing to make new friends in a new place.
Friendships are too important for our well-being and health to give up on. We enjoy being social with others and truly feel like we belong to a community. Our friends help us in times of need. So don’t give up on friendship, regardless of how many friendships may wither away slowing and steadily after you move. It takes time AND effort.
New City Friendships 101
Introduce Yourself: Make sure to introduce yourself to anybody close to you, whether that be neighbors, fellow parents, anybody who you feel like interacting with. While you’re just getting to know the area around you, you might need to borrow something or need some advice on some good places to go or what to do around the area. Some more advice: people like gifts, so make sure not to go over to your neighbor’s empty-handed.
Be In The Neighborhood: It might not be a great idea to start with getting to know people outside of your town limits or somebody you have to drive a long ways to get to. Sticking with your local community and doing your interacting, shopping, getting coffee or drinks in your neighborhood will increase your interaction with the people around you. That way, you have more of a chance of seeing them more often.
Don’t Forget Your Past: If sticking with what you know best and who you know best is your thing, then try re-connecting with the people that have the same backgrounds as you. All schools have alumni, and connecting with them will allow yourself to feel at least a little better about making friends in a new community. Most of the time, you didn’t even have to be close with the person back in high school in order to get to know them now. People change, as do we.
Turning To The Church: Most church communities certainly have functions and opportunities to meet new people. The chances of them being similar and having similar values as you dramatically go up.
Make Things Solid: We all say the old “Let’s get together sometime” phrase to most of the people we meet or run into again and again. The problem is that this phrase is so ambiguous that it allows us to get away with never actually hanging out with them, regardless of whether you said that on purpose or not. By making solid plans for the future increases your chance of actually hanging out with them. It doesn’t have to be a romantic double date, because coffee or drinks work just fine.
Everybody Likes Hobbies: We’ve all got hobbies. Use them to your advantage when trying to make friends. Most of the time, we’re comfortable with what we do, so by doing a hobby together will increase comfortability and compatibility as well.
Use The Internet: This isn’t for online dating, but you can definitely see what’s going on in your community and invite others with you. Anything where there is a gathering of people is always good for making new friends. Also, meetup.com will help you find groups in your area that have similar interests and hobbies as you do.
Work Friends: We spend the majority of our time around the same people we work with. Conversation will almost always come up and break the barrier between you and others at work. If you to spend time with them outside of work, it’s very easy to become friends with them. However, some people will want to keep that barrier up between their friends and people they work with, so remember to be respectful of that if it comes up.
Invite Others Into Your Home: This is probably one of the most difficult things to do as you’re getting settled in your new environment. But when it goes well, you’ve got it made in the shade. By inviting a few other over for dinner, or even to watch a game on TV will definitely open up the door for friendship with others.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re an introvert, an extrovert, shy, outgoing, cautious, or just afraid of making a fool out of yourself. We all want friends, and we all want to have people around us, regardless of where we find ourselves. In general, once you get somebody to open up to you and invite them into your life, you are laying it out there to an extent.
Obviously looking or being desperate for friendship isn’t a good thing, but as long as you open the door to it with others, they’ll come through for you. The key is to be patient. It takes time to make friends, just like it has for us in the past.