10 Tried & True Tips: How to Make New Friends in a New City
A few years ago Jennifer wrote about leaving her friends behind because of a big cross-country move. I made a similar big move nearly four years ago, following my now husband from San Diego to Seattle when he started his exciting new career. The hardest part for me? Making new friends. It sure isn’t as easy as it used to be!
Unlike Jennifer, I’m more of an introvert than a social butterfly. My job involves interviewing all sorts of people, but I’m happiest with my nose buried in a book, working on home and design projects, or scouring thrift shops for great scores. Still, I’ve always had plenty of pals.
Back in San Diego, my best buddy lived a couple of minutes away. We’d hang out practically every day. She’d come over to preview my latest date outfit or I’d drop by to admire her new coffee table. We could gab for hours. At my wedding, she even joked to our table that if one of us were a man, we’d have gotten married ages ago.
I also had a wide circle of friends and acquaintances. Whether grabbing my morning coffee or going to shows solo, I’d always run into somebody. My social calendar was exactly as full as I wanted it to be. And it was easy to make new friends, because my job as an arts writer connected me with lots of cool people.
Here in Seattle, on the other hand, I’ve had an incredibly difficult time forging meaningful friendships. I only have a few casual friends, and most of them are fellow transplants that I already knew from Southern California. When you’re in your 30s, making new friends can be a Herculean task, especially if you work at home like I do.
Think of it as dating without the possibility of getting lucky. You meet somebody new, daydream about your apparent chemistry, and hope they feel the same way. Like dating, you can’t straight-out ask: do you like me? You have to read the signs and hope you’re not misinterpreting. You have to be your most charming self. And you have to be prepared for rejection.
I’ve been on the giving and receiving end of brush-offs. I’ve had conversations that required my best interviewing skills to get through. I even went on a blind-friend date recently that reminded me of my worst actual dates. She literally did not ask a single question about me because she was so busy talking about herself. And here I thought I was done with all that when I got hitched!
In the NY Times story “Friends of a Certain Age: Why Is It Hard to Make Friends Over 30?,” writer Alex Williams cites the biggest obstacles to finding lasting friendships as you get older. For starters, your priorities shift. In your 20s, life’s possibilities seem endless and friends are easily met at bars and parties. In your 30s, you’re focused more intently on your career and home life. Your schedule is jam-packed with obligations. You’re pickier about what you want. And spouses and kids make compatibility even more complicated.
In other words: It’s really, really hard to make new close friends as you approach the midlife mark. Especially if you’re starting over in a new city. So what’s a gal or guy to do? Here are some tips I’ve gathered while trying to figure it out.