This summer, a whole crop of new graduates will have to learn how to make friends in the grownup world — something that's tough even for adults of longer standing. Luckily, we've culled some tips.
As Hortense wrote in the fall, making new friends can be hard once you're no longer provided with the built-in social structures of classes, clubs, and dorms. It's not just fresh graduates who have trouble — moving to a new city for a relationship or job can touch off a friend crisis too. And as Emily White wrote in Loneliness, even the most friendly, social-seeming people sometimes have trouble connecting with others. Below are some ways to remedy the situation:
Be a joiner.
This is probably the most common tip given to people looking to make more friends, and it can be kind of annoying. If you're already in a new situation and unsure of yourself, the recommendation that you drag your ass to some weekly underwater basket-weaving group can just sound depressing. It doesn't have to be, though. First, it should go without saying that you should probably sign up for activities in which you have some actual interest. But even groups that turn out to be crappy can be venues for friendship. Katy, an expert with three moves under her belt in one year, joined "a Lacan Study Group in Philly (which ended up being about as much fun as it sounds [read: not a lot] but it was a good place to meet other youngish people)."
Say yes to things.
When I moved to New York last fall, I made a personal rule to say yes to every social invitation I received for the first month I was there. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. Although I did end up on a few less-than-fun outings (the one where I had to wear a pigeon costume stands out), I also did lots of things that turned out to be great but that I might have passed on have I allowed myself to be more choosy. I met lots of new people I might not have met otherwise, made new friends and strengthened my relationships with old ones, and, perhaps most importantly, made it a habit to be open to new experiences — which can often bring new friendships with them. Katy adds, "Don't second-guess invites - if someone asks you to come, they probably want you there."
Live with roommates.
This is a smart financial move for recent grads, especially in cities, but it's good social advice as well. Says Katy,
Living alone can seem adult (and is a bit of a relief after bunking with people all through college) but it also makes it much harder to make friends. I found some great sublets through Craigslist, and met a ton of people in the process. I actually ended up dating one of the guys I went to interview with for a sublet. I didn't decide to take the room, but I remained friends with all the people in the house. Also, use roommates. Even if you aren't best friends, go out with them, meet their friends.
I'd add that having a roommate, even if you're not BFFs, thrusts you into social mode a little more often, and prevents you from lapsing into hermitude. For those who really need their own space, though, or who live with a partner or family, the roommate benefit can be approximated by being active in your neighborhood. Say hi to your neighbors at the mailboxes; frequent your local farmers market; volunteer at a nearby library or school. Even going to your local coffee shop on a regular basis can help you meet people and learn about cool events.
Reconnect with people from your past.
Right after my move, I contacted everybody I knew in New York, even people I hadn't talked to in a long time. As a result, I managed to reconnect with a lot of people I'd lost track of over the years, and become closer friends with many of them than I was back when we first met. Katy recommends contacting not just old friends, but acquaintances too:
Don't be afraid to reach out to people you only kind of knew in college (or high school or whatever). I ended up becoming good friends with a girl I only slightly knew, simply by virtue of the fact that we were both in Philadelphia and didn't know anyone there. Right after graduation, most people are in the same position, and look forward to reconnecting with someone else who is a little lost/confused.
Earlier this month on The Gloss, Megan Carpentier counseled a woman who had trouble making friends with other women:
You like when people show an interest in you, right? So rather than making assumptions, ask questions. Or, even better, give compliments: if you like someone's shoes, tell her. If she's wearing a cute top, mention it. It might actually be very similar to how you approach making a man interested in being friends with you, it just lacks any sexual attention.
Then, try to develop a rapport. Ask about someone's weekend, what they had for dinner last night, how their students were in class today. Listen to their answers, rather than starting a conversation by telling them about your weekend, your dinner, your students.
A friend of mine recently said he thinks the most socially comfortable people aren't the most suave, or the ones who were coolest in high school, but those who have the most genuine interest in all different kinds of people. I think he's absolutely right — when it comes to making friends, there's really no substitute for actually liking people and wanting to know more about them.
These are just a few suggestions — be a joiner, and add your own in the comments!
Earlier: Making Friends Is Hard To Do
Related: Bitch, Please: Other Women Don't Hate You Because You're Beautiful [The Gloss]