Friday, March 4

girlfriends

by levi macdonald

For the last few years, I've felt close to very few people. This new feeling does not sit well with me. Though not terribly outgoing (I need to work on that), I am quite friendly and for the most part, I've made friends easily. I am lucky to have made quite a lot of friendships and with really cool and fun but most importantly nice people, might I add. I took it for granted. I just returned from a visit to my hometown where I got to see friends, and now I'm lonely and a bit homesick ... for people more than for place. Having my closest family member six hours away isn't making things easier, and don't even get me started on the sister living on the coast opposite from me. Always, but especially when without family, friends are kind of a big deal.

So, here is my question: How do you make new friends in a new place? I'm open to suggestions big and small. I am willing to be adventurous, make big gestures. I am also willing to say hi to strangers, if necessary.

Help, please, my dears. The more, the merrier.

Photo by Levi Macdonald (Benedict.) on Flickr.

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42 comments:

Jane Flanagan said...

Oh Ali - I so hear you on this! I've moved around a lot but Toronto has been a really hard place for me to make friends that I feel that deep connection to and, as you know, I'm a continent away from my family.

I don't have any really good answers, there seems no formula. Except to be open and as outgoing as you can be (which is hard when you're shy like we are) and to make sure you're out and about in the world.

I wish we lived closer!

raena said...

i think it gets harder and harder as we get older to make lasting friendships. i've also moved around quite a bit and find this very difficult. in DC where i live now, i've started getting involved with other photographers on photoshoots and have made friends with some REALLY great people (other photographers, makeup artists, etc.) and i got SO excited to have real friends who like . . invite me to do stuff. as sad as it sounds, it's not that easy!

now that being said . . i work in richmond during the week (monday-thursday). if you ever want to grab dinner/drinks/coffee or take a walk through Maymont Park (VERY awesome!), i'd love to meet up with you!

Kelly said...

I've gone through this several times during my life and have found that it's so much harder to meet people the older you get. Everyone is marrying off, having children, etc. and in different places in their life cycle. While there's no go-go answer I've found Twitter to be the best option. It seems to make connecting with people in your city who have your same interests just a little bit easier.

Lara said...

I love this photo!
I don't know how to meet people, it just seems much harder as you get older. Have you met with some of the other young moms around--like at the park or a playgroup? Your kid is so cute I would think he could help you break the ice!

Rachal said...

I think seizing every opportunity to laugh with a stranger. Because let's face it, in this world there's always something weird and hilarious.

mckenzie said...

Go to the park with your kids. Start talking about kids with other moms and suddenly you have something in common. Some of my dearest friends are the people I least expected liking.

church? sometimes there are fun people there.

Jamie said...

I move a lot, including to countries where I don't speak the language, and finding friends is never easy.

I join things - a local church, aerobics/yoga classes (not just going to the gym, go to a class regularly so you'll start to see the same faces), classes for things that interest you (photography, cooking, etc.)

One friend gave me some great advice - for the 6 months in a new place - you can't say no to a single invitation. Doesn't matter how tired you are at the end of the day force yourself to go out and take up anyone on their invitation (and start inviting back.) After 6 months you will have built strong enough relationships that saying no doesn't mean they won't invite you in the future. It really does work.

Sarah said...

Sign up for a community ed class or take some classes at a local art center (or dance studio, martial arts studio, etc. depending on your interests). That way you're exposing yourself to a variety of people who you have at least one common interest with already!

Or you could volunteer for a local organization, start a book group or a dinner club, etc. Something that you're interested in and passionate about so when you are inviting people to participate your strengths and interests are shining through so people can see how great you are and what you have to offer.

Good luck!

just jen said...

we move around a lot...(my husband's job), and the best advice i can give is when people invite you to something, to go. don't say no and then expect they will invite you again. they might not, so when you are invited for a playdate, or to lunch or over for dinner say yes.

also, ask around to see if there is a book club (if you like to read). if not, start one. some of the best friends i have made have started because of book club.

friends are so important when you are far from home...i have a big testimony of this. good luck!

m-l-e said...

ali!! I totally feel the same way- moving to Seattle has been rough! A couple of things to keep in mind-- almost everyone around you could use more friendship and probably feels lonesome a fair amount. At the same time, people get socially lazy + content at stop reaching out to others. So you have to put some hustle into it. When you meet people at the park, church, community classes etc invite them to do something-- and keep in mind dorky fun is the best. Ask everyone you know if they have friends in Richmond they'd connect you with.

Man, that city is lucky to have you!

Melanie said...

This is exactly how I've felt recently. All of my dearest friends aren't even in driving distance of me. I feel like friends start arising only for convenience reasons (they go to the same church, our husbands get along, etc) but I haven't formed a long lasting relationship since I was in college. It gets so much harder when you're out of school.

One thing that helped was that I had a meet-up in Denver that I posted about on my blog. Just a few of us got together and had breakfast. I met one of my newest best friends doing this. I'm also working on starting a local creative group where people get together once a month to create. I feel like that would attract the right crowd, meaning similar types that I would get along with.

Lauren @ You Had Me at Handmade said...

I definitely know the feeling. I moved to St. Louis and didn't know anyone... so I joined a bunch of groups on Meetup.com. They have every interest group you could possibly imagine... and if not, you can start one yourself. I've made a handful of good friends over the past three years because of it, and three of them are actually going to be my bridesmaids in my wedding this fall! I highly recommend checking out Meetup.

heidikins said...

Throw parties and compliments like nobody's business. :)

xox

Courtney said...

Hey Ali! It's Courtney from your heart out. Cody and I just moved to Maryland for his job so I totally feel ya. I grew up here in Maryland but almost everyone I knew has moved on. It's hard!
We've been meaning to get down to DC for some sight-seeing and good food. We'd love to meet you guys if you have time for a city trip.

Eric and Jill said...

Man, so true. My best gf's are all farther than an hr. drive for me. Couple that with each of us having babies, and I hardly ever see my friend who is within the closest driving distance - an hr. and 10 mins. away! I'm still trying to figure this one out. I wish I lived near you, because I'd be your friend in a heartbeat! Good luck; I'm going to try strengthening my connections around me too.

Ann Marie said...

love this post, ali. i'm not very good at making new friends...so am loving all the advice here.

m said...

we have been in cali for a year and half and I am finally starting to feel that thing.. that closeness between the girlfriends I have made here.
I have joined clubs and groups like book clubs, crafting groups, running groups, gyms, a gourmet dinner club, I have even joined a mothers running group- I am not even a mom but the women are sweet. If I don't force myself I tend to spend too much time alone. At the time it always seems easier to just stay home with myself but in the end I am happy when I commit to something social.
It is hard because it takes so much effort- I use to joke to Jeremy that I felt like when we moved here I had to start dating to find friends. I would question, "do I call her, should I wait till she calls? is it too soon...!!!!" totally crazy.

Megan said...

In the past 5 years of my life I've moved to two different places knowing absolutely no one. I know the lonliness and how much being away from family hurts. I would recommend taking a class or two - anything you're interested in. Also, try to make a habit out of something: going to the park the same time every Tuesday, or getting coffee at the same coffee joint every other morning. Be visible in your yard and neighborhood. Once you see the same person two or three times, its easy to go from "Hello" to a full-on conversation. Good luck!

fashionhogger said...

I am going to have to deal with the same situation myself in a few months! Everyone's advice will be helpful to me, too.

Christie said...

Have a party. Seriously. Invite anyone who you think looks like your type of person. Make it a fabulous brunch or girls night. I do this whenever we move somewhere new. At church or school functions, I scope out who looks like someone I might enjoy, and first thing I do is invite a big group over. It's worked like a charm everywhere - and I've lived in six states. A girl needs peeps!

Hannah S said...

I'm a quiet social creature. That's why I love FB and blogs bcse I can be social on my own time but still feel connected. however, at the end of the week after I've been with my children and my husband at school, I need and crave that adult interaction, especially with girlfriends.

I create a group. Usually through Church. I invite a few friends to a dinner group (starting out w/my husband bcse we like to host and cook food for others), or crafting group, running/walking partners, american idol watchers (back when i watched it) or park play dates. Whatever I am in the mood for and can create a social event around it I create. I try to match personalities and go from there. Now, I'm the planner so if I don't plan something with an old group of friends in my old town (SLC) then we don't do anything. They depend on me (which is kind of annoying at times...I wouldnt' mind someone else taking the reigns sometimes). But I have to initiate and see how it blossoms! I am always surprised at some of my closest friendships, personalities I never though would mesh, that are now long time friends. Don't judge too harshly at first bcse you might be missing out on a special person! it takes time but is totally worth it!
Good luck and have fun!

Katie DuRocher said...

You are one of the cutest friends ever! After leaving cute lane and crew in P.A. I have found myself in your shoes multiple times. My go-tos are things I love to do - rockclimbing gyms and tennis clubs. Its kind of like my theory on dating - put yourself in places that you like to be and other people that like to do those things will be there too! Anyone will love you after 5 mins!

Also - I have met so many cute families in the neighborhood by walking the twins in the strollers. It starts with a hi - then the next time we chat a little more, then eventually we are friends :) I love the park idea!

brianna kim said...

Wow do i hear this to the core. I have lived in arizona (from california) for about seven years. seven years! you would think I would have some friends by now right? But it is so hard to make a connection with people. (I think it might make it a little harder that my friends back home are just so awesome)
I guess i dont really have any tips cause i need some myself. But thanks for being so honest and sharing this. I always feel funny saying something like " I have no friends"
you have a friend in the blogworld!

Kayla said...

1. Girls game night. Invite girls to come over after the babies are in bed. Provide snacks. Play games that are good for big groups like Apples to Apples.

2. Become a hugger. I have a friend who makes friends SO easily and I seriously think it's because she hugs everyone hello and goodbye. I love when she hugs me. I'm trying to become a hugger too.


Kayla
Freckles in April | a modest fashion and lifestyle blog

Kim said...

i've lived in richmond my whole life and just from moving across town i have this same problem. i'm loving all of the advice here, some of it is a bit intimidating because i'm a terrible icebreaker. that being said, let's be friends :)

Kayla Poole said...

Hmmm, I agree with some of the already suggested ideas, like joining a local interest group (book club, craft night, etc.). Also, I'm notorious for starting up random conversations in public places (bookstores, trains, parks). But yeah, I've also been feeling this a little bit too lately, especially since moving out of Manhattan and into the 'burbs last spring. Getting together with friends on the weekend often involves orchestrated planning.

sara b said...

Make the first move. It seems natural to wait to be the invitee in a new city, ward, neighborhood, play group etc. But instead, be the invite-er. This was my greatest discovery as we moved around for the last 10 years.

It seemed liked Sunday afternoons were always the easiest time to plan something....something casual so there is no pressure on either end. Waffles for dinner on Sunday is a staple for us and we love to invite people to join us.

Also....I found that my dearest friends in New Orleans, Nashville and Philadelphia were gals who were far different from me....maybe someone I wouldn't have pinned as my "typical" friend. It is a beautiful thing. I guess what I am saying is don't wait to find people who are similar to you, or who have things in common before reaching out. I learned and gained so much from those unexpected friendships and will be forever grateful. They are solid and genuine friendships built on nothing but pure goodness. :)

I bet everyone that lays eyes on you and Mr. O are dying to get to know you better! Good luck (but you don't need it, friend)

Hannah said...

This is tough, I know. My closest family member is in Nebraska. (I'm in Utah.) I have made several friend over the past year by starting craft groups, bunco groups and cooking clubs. It is an easy way to meet people and to make friends.

Good luck, Ali. I wish we were closer. I'd love to hang out.

Christina said...

oohhh i wish we lived closer.

isn't it hard to make friends in a new area.

one thing that helped me... cooking clubs and book clubs. kind of nerdy, but that's me, kinda nerdy. ; ) i met a handful of really good people, and we enjoyed a lot of the same things. the cooking club was at a local high school, which led to a lot of friendly people, who gave great directions. ; )
xo

Alisha Stamper said...

Invite your lady neighbors over for dessert one night.

Have lunch with someone new once a month.

New friends is like dating. FOR REAL. You just need to keep going out there.

I'm kinda in this place a little too, and finally I had ENOUGH. So i invited out all the other photogs I had friendship crushes on, and now we meet monthly. Being PHYSICALLY around other smart women who inspire you is totally worth all the leg work you'll be doing. Don't get discouraged :)

Alisha Stamper said...

p.s., through perusing your blog-- you're in richmond, va? My sister lives there and she is LEGIT. totally rad and marvelous. You can totally try her out as a new friend!

Emily said...

I have made great friends by coming out of my shell and talking to people while I am at the park with my kids, and inviting people over to dinner, whether it be members of my congregation, people I meet at the park, or co-workers.

Marissa Noe said...

I've felt this same way this past year- and honestly I prayed very hard that I would find meaningful friendships. It helped- and then I met someone who I really clicked with and we were immediate best friends. And it's funny because she found me on facebook after just moving here and heard that I was also a local photographer just like her. We also found out later that our girls were going to attend the same preschool and we belonged to the same church! On a whim, I invited her to join me in photographing the wedding of one of my high school friends and spent the whole trip talking about our lives and how much we had in common! I really feel that prayer helped. I also think it helps to join mother groups, especially if your church has one (if not start one?) book clubs, crafting clubs or whatever you might be interested in! When there is talk, friendships form!

Lisa Maria said...

My loved ones are in Southern California and I've been in DC for about six months now. The most important thing I've learned is to be patient with myself. I'm a pretty friendly person and expected things to happen right away and would then get discouraged when they didn't... friendships don't happen overnight. Especially in the married/family scene. I've really bonded with people over a mutual love of food. That being said, we should get lunch if you're ever in DC!

Allie said...

Time.

If I give myself time, I can usually find a few close friends. And that's all I need!

Lorilee said...

i had a friend in hawaii, who was always up for anything.. no matter when i called her, her response was, yeah, i'll come and get you, let's go. i loved that about her and want to always be more like that in my life. miss you.

Nicole said...

Hi Ali,

I've just discovered your site and I think it's so lovely!

I totally understand what you mean. I was just having this conversation with my sister and one of my girlfriends. It's challenging making friends. But I agree with a previous comment that praying for meaningful, long lasting friendships does wonders :) It opens up doors and opportunities to meet people that perhaps were not open before. It encourages you to jump into activities like going to the park, joining a book club or cooking class or meeting someone at a clothing swap meet. You're such a personable and friendly person that it's only a matter of time before you bump into that person serendipitously who'll be a truly great friend.

Have a wonderful day!
Nicole

blythe said...

I'm not sure if you go to church, but I've found that going and getting plugged in to a small group or a ministry (some churches have art ministries or outreach groups to nursing homes and such, or children's ministry) or going on a women's retreat through a church is a way to get connected with a larger group of people, fast. even if you don't connect with many of those people, those people know other people who you might connect better with. This is why I love meeting friends of my friends- you never know if you might connect with them on a deep level.

anyway, a good church can often provide an instant community of sorts. sometimes it can be clique-y, but keep hanging around and stay positive. take an interest in other people and they'll sort of naturally take an interest in you.

hope this helps! :)

Dansie Family said...

i'm with you on this topic. tom and i are finally comfy and feel like we have friends (and friends we both like). i think we developed these friendships based on common interests. luckily we aren't the only ones obsessed with running. our running crew is our weekend game night crew and our play at the park with the kids crew and watch the superbowl crew. i love good friends.

Christina said...

I agree with church connections, and also with creating your own fun. One of my current close friends was made through blogging. Another close friend was someone I decided to take lunch to after she had a baby, and it's grown into something wonderful. A good friend made post-college is really a special gift, I think. Time is more precious in this stage and it takes a lot more effort, but it's also a stage when you really need friends to make it through the stresses of family life. Good luck, Ali!

Lisa said...

I've enjoyed reading everyone's ideas. I've lived in the same neighborhood for over 8 years and although I know everyone, I've been really feeling the need/desire to branch out my friendship circle. I feel so stagnant. It's amazing how I can have a busy enough social schedule and yet feel like I'm not connecting with people in a meaningful way. I don't feel like I need a large quantity of friends - just a few quality friendships.

Being a SAHM of 5 littles (ages 8 to 2), I find it difficult to meet new people. But, I like the suggestions above to 1) never turn down an invite, 2) take an interest in other people, and 3) plan an event.

Today, I went to a lunch at a friend's house with about 15 other women. Although I wasn't really thrilled about going, I made an effort to really ask questions and engage with a few other women there. If they feel like someone listened and cared, maybe it made their day a little better.

It's hard to make good friends as we get older but I'm committed to it. Good luck!

PS - I was roommates with Lane at BYU. Style and great writing skills runs in the family! Love your blog.

Elisabet said...

Hi, I just found your blog and im in love, so beautiful an inspirational.
Living in Melbourne, Australia, being Swedish, i know what you are talking about. Its hard when you are away from your friends and family and it is hard to fins new, close friends when you get older. Good luck.