Australia to NYC: Making new friends as an adult
Recently, I moved from Australia to New York City. It was, and still is, incredibly scary and challenging. While I knew a handful of people, they were scattered between Manhattan and New Jersey, and most were friends of a friend- not my own connections. I didn’t want to pity-invited along to any event. In a city of 8 million people, it doesn’t seem like it would be difficult to find, and make, friends but it was, and it wasn’t long before I started to feel a little bit isolated and consider a life where my only friends in the city would be the raccoons in Central Park.
Raccoons, and possible rabies, aside, I knew I had to do something about this feeling of disconnect from society, or I’d end up a lonely spinster in arguably one of the greatest cities in the world, known for its vivid social scene.
So I got to work. Thinking about how I’d made friends in my previous, Australian life, it dawned on me that not all of my best and closest friendships had been formed at school or work places- the two places I assumed were the time-honoured friend-making scenes. So, I put together a list of ways to meet great friends in my new city. Here are some things that worked for me:
I discovered that going along to meet ups for something you’re interested in or passionate about is a great way to meet people. Not only are you mingling with other living, breathing hominids, but you’re also meeting people with similar interests to you, and because you have an inbuilt convo starter, you don’t need to make small talk about the local sports team or the unseasonable weather we’ve been having lately.
Book or Movie Review Clubs
Similar to meet ups, a book club or movie review club is a great way to meet people because you’re forced to not be a wallflower and to participate in the conversation. Maybe you’ll find your next bestie after you both give 50 Shades of Grey withering reviews, and bond over your shared highlighting of all the naughty parts in the book- (the only parts worth reading). The other benefit to making friends at things like this is that you’re still keeping up with your passions and hobbies. You get to keep your interests and make friends.
Take a look around you, is someone struggling with a map or a Metrocard? Give them a hand. It won’t take much time and maybe you’re catching the same train, so you’ll have some time to chat.
This is exactly how I made a friend from Boston, after witnessing him struggle with the ticketing machine and offering my assistance.
Even if you don’t make a lifelong friend, you’ll feel good for helping someone and you’ll become well-practiced at approaching people, and with this comes confidence- good practice for more new friends!
I use a co-working space and I witnessed the blossoming of a new friendship right before my eyes recently.
Dan was casually working away at a desk in an open spaced area shared with others when Al, the eagle eye, spots some kind of gaming-card deck, the name of which is unknown to me, and asks Dan if he can “check out his deck”. Dan responds in the positive and the next twenty minutes they were dedicated to talking about the game, the styles they played and where. At the end of this brief encounter, the pair were Facebook friends and making plans to hook up to play said game in the future. While I wouldn’t advocate laying out a token of all the things you’re interested in like a weird, religious shrine for others to see and remark upon, open planned spaces encourage and foster these kinds of interactions and I have found them to be a good way to meet people.
I once met a group of guys out one night on the roller derby scene and as the night progressed, my best friend and I hung out with them more and more and we bonded quite quickly. Drunkenly insisting one of our new found pals couldn’t possibly make the late night commute to his home- in another town an hour away, we forced the poor guy to spend the night on our too-small couch. Waking in the morning to see he’d since left but had neatly folded his sheets and blankets, placing them on said couch, and hadn’t made off with our TV, made us think he was an ok guy. Later on in the day, I’m flicking through potential suitors online and see someone who looks awfully familiar to our new found friend- we were a match! We thought this pretty funny and laughed ourselves silly and then we forced him to move in with us and we’ve been great friends ever since. While we were never romantic, as the site had intended in pairing us up, that person is now one of my best friends, and I’ve met other friends through him. So while internet dating can be , it’s not entirely unreasonable to use it to make friends.
A tip - while you may be tempted to invent romantic scenarios with this new person, or people, in your head- don’t. It isn’t that actively dating someone is a bad way of meeting friends, but you want your own friends and not temporary friends you’ll have to give up if the relationship doesn’t last. So you may have to sacrifice one hottie, and the relationship potential they have, in order to make, and remain, friends. .
So while it may seem daunting and an impossible task, it isn’t always doom and gloom when it comes to making friends as an adult. I hope this list has inspired you to look outside the box when it comes to making new friends. What did you think of this list? Have you tried any of these things?
About Jamie-lee Owen
Jamie-lee Owen is a writer and raccoon lover. More of her work can be found at jleeowen.com