I recently took a huge plunge and moved from Brooklyn to Richmond, Virginia for a postdoc. I AM IN THE DEEP SOUTH. The hardest thing about being here though is that after seven months I still don’t really have any friends. Well okay, I have like one friend and I know two to three people. Making friends as an adult in a new place sucks, partially because we no longer spend several hours a day in play pins and we do not get to jump into pools filled with thousands of colorful balls with all with the other babies like we used to. The younger we are the more open we are to making new friends, but adults are already cordoned off into their friend groups already. When you move to a new place you have to put yourself out there if you really want to put a stop to those lonely Saturday nights of you crying over red velvet cupcakes and a bottle of Pinot Grig.
1. Throw Your Own Party
One way to combat loneliness and to make friends in a new place is to, well, start your own party! If you throw a party someplace you’re bound to make all kinds of new friends. Plus, you get to be in control of all the variables so it will be easier to meet people when you are the host for this fabulous event that everybody has come to. Maybe you organize an after work social hour at your place or you invite a bunch of people you vaguely know but aren’t really friends with out to dinner. Either way, taking that initial first step will go a long way.
2. Go To Concerts — Yes, Alone!
I love going to live shows — comedy shows, live music, whatever. Are these things better when you’re with other people? Of course! But that doesn’t mean you should be afraid to go out on your own. If you go to a big event on your own, you’re already going to be surrounded by lots of other people who are into the thing that you’re into. Plus you’re much easier to approach when you’re all by yourself. Inevitably some wise ass is going to be like, “Hey, Sweetums. Why are you by yourself?” And that’s the perfect time to meet new people. I know some people are afraid of going out by themselves because they think they look sad. I am here to tell you that you only look a little bit sad. Just think of it this way: going out by yourself means that nobody can get mad when you decide to go home with somebody that night.
3. Go To Coffeeshops
All kinds of people go to coffee shops — students, professionals, artists, business owners, etc. Coffee shops usually attract a pretty diverse crowd, and it’s relatively easy to ask a person what they are doing, especially if what they are doing is something you’re interested in. Though, I’ll say, in one of my failed attempts to meet people at a coffee shop I sat next to these graduate students who were talking about Walter Benjamin and commodities and high-theory stuff like that. When I tried to weasel my way into their discussion they threw all possible shade and made it clear this was an A and B conversation.
4. Find A Social Group/Club/Amateur Sports Team.
Enroll in that wine tasting class you’ve always wanted to take. Take a screenwriting class or a stand-up class. Remember that making friends is about putting yourself out there and finding people who are interested in all the weird things you like to do. That or you trying new things you’ve never tried before. Meetup is a great place to join different social communities based on what you like.
5. Try To Stand Out
Part of the the fun of moving to a new place is that sometimes you get to self-invent, you get to reinvent who you are. If you stand out in some way, you’re automatically sending an invite to people who are drawn to others who stand out. People get bored, but if you are serving something fabulous or if you stand out in some way — cool tattoos, a unique style of dress, a different haircut, whatever it is — people are bound to present themselves to you and try to connect with you. As much as conformity is a thing, there are lots of people out there who love difference.
6. Always Say “I’m New Here.”
When you roll into a social event, happy hour or whatever it is, always say that you just moved here. That’s always a great ice-breaker/door opener, because people will ask where you came from, what you do now, etc, and they will key you into all of the fun, amazing things there are to do around town. Some people are really nice that way.