Friendships can be tricky to navigate…at any age! Maybe you feel like everyone has a best friend but you. I’ve noticed during the pandemic especially is how people are starting to become more open about what it is they’re searching for and display emotional vulnerability. My friend Gina and I were talking about a friendship that both meant a lot to us, that had dissolved. It was wonderful being able to share with her and also know that she understood where I was coming from because she experienced something similar. After our conversation, I reflected on how much my friendship with Gina has helped me during this past year. While I haven’t seen her since COVID, I take comfort in knowing she’s a text/call/click away. But, it wasn’t always like this. The pandemic brought Gina and me closer together and she is now someone I consider a lifelong friend. If you’re looking for your Gina—a lifelong friend—I hope these tips will act as the guideposts along your quest for friendship.
How To Meet Friends In 2021
It can be scary admitting that you don’t feel as if you have friends, aren’t in alignment with the values current friends may have, or that you’re open to meeting new people. I don’t know when or why there is shame attached to it. I think seeking friendship and community with other people is something we need to celebrate more of. There is beauty in two souls connecting and saying “I choose to have you in my life.” I’m not the first to say this and certainly won’t be the last. But, we’ve gone through a lot during the pandemic and a lot of us (myself included) have felt lonely. I’ve been challenging myself to be more vulnerable, which started by saying “I want to have deeper friendships.” This admittance to myself helped me to reflect on those friends in my life. Were they the type of people I wanted to have those deeper friendships with? Yes? Then what was preventing that? No? Well, then it was time to let them go.
If you have already pulled those toxic friendship weeds from your life and you are ready to plant and tend to a garden full of healthy boundaries, new memories, and adventures, then lean into your vulnerability! Be the person who tells others that they’re looking to meet new people—to make new friends. You’d be surprised by how much people (even co-workers) will react to hearing this. It could also be in the back of their mind as they meet others in their life who are in search of the same thing.
Be the first to reach out
We are so blessed to live in a world where despite being separated from others, we have the technology to keep us connected. Reaching out to people to rekindle/start friendships can sound overwhelming. Here are a few places you can think about starting and contacting people who are:
Past mission trip groups
People you used to take gym classes with/any activity pre-pandemic
The people who interact with your social media posts (Who is always responding to your stories? Who goes out of their way to comment on a post?)
Use social media
I met a majority of my friends on social media, which is also why it’s hard for me pre-pandemic and currently—most of my friends live in other states and countries. I like looking at location tags around things I’m interested in. So, for example, Gina and I met because I was browsing #chicagoyoga to find upcoming events and instructors whose classes I could try. I ended up messaging Gina (she was having an event) and we’ve stayed connected since that day in 2018. One tip is to run your message past someone else to double-check that you’re not coming across as creepy/spam spending. Just be honest in your message and say something along the lines of “hey, I was looking through #chiagoyoga because I’m looking to make friends in the area who enjoy some of the hobbies I do. I’d love to connect/have a virtual cup of coffee. Would you?” Make sure your intent is clear and communicate that!
Ask those in your area/network
Tell your family members that you want to make friends. Your mom could have a friend who has a kid you’re age. Any cousins may want to start having out more or connect you with their friends/acquaintances.
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Join virtual events
One thing I’m loving about the pandemic business plans is the event options. I would often discover events that I wanted to attend but they would be in person on another continent or in another timezone. Now that most of us are still home-based, it’s easier to adjust our schedules to log into the zoom event. To check for virtual events happening, Google the type of activity you’re interested in (like live zoom painting classes) and check out the options. LinkedIn also posts regular events in that section of the platform.
Get to know your neighbors
I’m incredibly thankful for the new friendship I have found with my sweet neighbor. My dog, Oliver, has adjusted to the idea of children and took a liking to her kiddos. Earlier in the pandemic, he developed a habit where he would scratch at the door when he heard them playing outside. He would cry and howl until I put his leash on to take him outside. His natural curiosity is what my neighbor and I connected over and we started making small talk. Now it’s pretty much a routine where we’ll hang out while the kids are playing (dog included in that). Last month we taught Oliver how to play duck, duck, goose, and hide and seek. He’s much better at duck, duck, goose and doesn’t really get the point of the “hide” aspect of hide and seek. Getting to know my neighbor has been wonderful and it led us to discover similar interests (Bridgerton). We now walk daily (with COVID prevention measures in place. She’s fully vaccinated) and get our morning miles in. It’s nice to start my day in conversation and doing something that I love—being active.
Start a club/activity/movement
Another way to meet people is in pursuit of what you love. If you are passionate about an activity, idea, or social justice initiative, lean into that interest and start a club! Last week I wrote about a few ways to do this, which you can read about in this post here.
Hang out where you want to meet people
I once heard a saying that goes something like “be where you want to meet someone you’d date.” I think that is wise advice and is applicable to friendship. If you are looking for a friend who prioritizes wellness and someone you want to be active with, start looking at fitness/outdoor/sport-related scenes. There are many offering virtual yoga classes, camps, hangout sessions, etc. to keep people connected and engaged while being distant. I’ve even seen some places offer in-person events to those who are fully vaccinated and willing to comply with their distancing rules.
Write a list of things you’d want to do with your friend
Look at the characteristics those things have in common
Search for places in your area where you can do those things
Go there and be open to meeting new people. Be the first to say “hello.” Ask if there are any opportunities to connect/make friends.