HOW I MADE FRIENDS IN A BRAND NEW CITY
I recently moved across the country to South Carolina for work. The biggest challenges I faced were, working at what turned out to be an insanely stressful job, and making good friends like I had left behind. There are many qualities that I look for in girlfriends, with consistency and reliability being at the top of my list. Finding good friends that will go to weekday happy hours with me, get manicures on saturday mornings or skype nightly to discuss our days is not an easy feat.
The relocation to South Carolina was temporary, with the possibility of staying longer, or continuing to travel elsewhere. The problem with knowing you will be only be in a place for a short time, is finding motivation to put in the necessary effort. It's easy to cop the excuse "I'm leaving soon anyway so what does this matter?" You sort of have to push past this feeling if you want to thrive and not end up spending every Friday and Saturday night home alone.
During my first weeks living there, I was determined to make new friends and thrive at the friendship game. I joined meetup groups, dabbled in online friend apps and was as friendly as I could be to co-workers and fellow travelers. I did not want to be wandering the streets of Columbia, friendless and sad. There's only so many solo, lip-synching dance parties you can have in your bedroom, ya know?
When it came to making friends in the beginning weeks of living in Columbia, some things worked well, some things did not. The best concrete ways to make friends in a new city when you know absolutely NO ONE are below. I moved there not knowing a soul. Granted, if you have a friend of a friend you can connect with, or a friend's cousin lives in the area and your friend offers to connect you two, take them up on it. But, if those opportunities are not there for you, here are the things I tried. Keep in mind I'm semi- reserved, slow to warm up, thrive in one-on-one deep conversations over the bustling, yelling over each vibes of a big group. I tried the routes I was most comfortable with.
Bumble BFF (originally a dating site/app that has since added a feature geared towards making new girlfriends) hands down worked the best for me. You just download the app, toggle the option to "BFF" instead of "dating" and start swiping. It's basically a tinder for friendships.
I went on multiple "lady dates" and they were all great. I had no problem getting past the "weirdness" of finding girlfriends through an app. To me, it was totally normal, easy and fun. For those that can't get past the "online girl dating" game, this may not be successful for you. All of my close friends in Columbia were found through this app. During my early weeks in Columbia when I went out multiple times per week, it was with various bumble friends. In fact, the bumble girl friend world is so small, that frequently the girls I would meet up with knew of my other friends, or were talking to them on the app. We all met up for dinner/drinks one night and it was really fun. Plus, the "friends of friends" group meetup allowed the opportunity for me to connect with another girl who was no longer using the app. I liked her immediately and we later hung out one-on-one. Basically, this app is a lifesaver. I would maybe even use it in a city where I already have girlfriends. After all, the more the merrier, right?!
Before actually moving, I signed up for Meetup. Meetup is an online community (app/website) geared towards meeting people with similar interests. There are meetups for everything from salsa dancing lovers to yoga enthusiasts. I joined every group in sight and resolved to go to an event as soon as I arrived in Columbia and really put myself out there. Long story short, I never met up in a single group or attended any events. Once I had a few girlfriends through Bumble, I didn't feel the need to go to these groups solo. If I were to do it again, I would absolutely take advantage of some of the fun meetup offerings, and take some of my bumble friends with me too! I'm including this because I have a friend who has sworn by meetup as a way to meet new people. She moved to Rochester knowing no one, and really put herself out there and made most of her friends through this app/site. It's definitely worth a try.
This one takes time. At my past position, I found that it took me many months, even years, to become good friends with my old co-workers. I approached my new unit and co-workers knowing that making good friends at work, at least for me, takes more than three months. It certainly did take more than a few weeks, but not the entire three months. Towards the end of my three months, I started to finally feel like I could call some of my co-workers friends. When you're only moving somewhere temporarily though, you simply don't have time to wait this long. The best tip for making friends with co-workers is saying yes to every. single. invite. Whether or not you feel like it, are tired, or whatever other excuse you come up with. If co-workers invite you to a game, a party, out for drinks, or over for pizza making night, just go. Sometimes the timing was just bad and I couldn't take advantage of this tip, knowing that I needed to. Don't make my mistake. Be brave and show up.
Persevere,and just like dating, do not take rejection personally. The right ones will stick.
Have you guys tried Bumble BFF or Meetup?! What were your experiences? What other tips do you have for making friends without knowing anyone?? Tell me in the comments!