Because we’ve moved so much in our marriage (I think the count is 13 or 14 moves at this point), I’ve had a lot of practice in making new friends.
I’m not naturally very outgoing. I’m an introvert to the core, but I’m also a human and humans are wired for connection with other humans. Friendships are important to me, even if making new friends doesn’t come super naturally to me, so I’ve worked to make new friends everywhere we’ve lived.
It’s not the easiest task in the world, but it’s always been worth it.
Whether you’re looking for how how to make friends in a new city or cultivate friendships in a place you’ve lived for a long time, here are some of my best tips on how to make friends.
9 Tips for How to Make Friends
- Go to places that are likely to attract the kinds of friends you want. Want friends that have similar interests or life circumstances as you? Go to the kinds of places those people go! Both in London and Texas, I met my closest friends at the library story time. If you have young kids, go to the local playground. Check out events that local business put on. Google events in your new city (and then GO).
- Join something. Find something that appeals to you – a book club, a fitness class, a church, the school PTA, a climbing gym – and join in. A bonus is that joining something generally means there will be built in getting together opportunities – monthly book club meetings, weekly Sunday church attendance, gym classes multiple times a week.
- Let people know you’re looking for a book club or a church or a friend. In Texas, Arizona and Utah, I was invited to join book clubs (which turned into some of my dearest friends) because I mentioned on Facebook or Instagram that I was moving to the area and would love to join a bookclub or a friend of a friend knew I was a big reader and reached out to invite me. The beauty of the social media world is that if you’re willing to make your wants known, there is often someone who can connect you with the right group or person! I made one of my best Arizona friends because we had a mutual friend in another state who suggested we might like each other and she was right!
- Invite people over. I think it’s easy to get in your head about hosting and how it needs to be Pinterest worthy, but the VAST majority of people just want to be invited. It doesn’t have to be fancy – invite another family over after school for popsicles or to grab a coffee after preschool drop off. Our annual Pi Day party has been one of our greatest tools for easily meeting new people in the neighborhood and it’s so simple and low-stress. Have a family over for dinner ($5 pizza is just fine!) or for dessert on Sunday evening. I think so often, we want to wait for someone else to do the inviting, but if you’re willing to make the first move, it’s one of the best ways to make new friends.
- Know that the early stages will probably be a bit awkward. Getting to know someone is usually a little bit of effort! Every now and then, a friendship clicks fast and is easy from the first sentence, but that’s not the norm and it’s helpful for me to not expect it to be. Recognize that it’s going to take time to develop really great friendships and that a real relationship is on the other side of the initial stilted small talk or awkward silences. Be patient and keep with it.
- Repetition is key. One of the things I’ve learned about making friends is that one or two interactions don’t make for a deep friendship. TIME is the key to any relationship and it’s going to take more than one lunch date usually to get enough time in for a real friendship to form. I always try to prioritize a mix of different friends with repetitive time with the same friends.
- Be open to friendships with people that aren’t just like you. Obviously, it’s lovely to have friends that are in your same life circumstances, but there is also magic in friendships with people older or younger than you, with people who don’t have kids when you do or vica versa, who work when you stay at home, are married when you aren’t, and on and on. My life has been richly blessed by friendships with women many stages ahead in life than I am or who have a very different circumstance than mine.
- Friendships can look all sorts of ways. Some people have a BFF they met in kindergarten and they’re still besties six decades later. Other people are part of a super tight group of four or five or six. Some people have a lot of good friends but not necessarily a BEST friend (I would say I fall into this category). It’s okay if friendship for you doesn’t look the same as friendship for your neighbor or sister or high school acquaintance.
- A little effort can go a long way. Many of us are in a life stage where we are incredibly busy and we might not have the time to put into making and keeping friendships like we did in previous times. I try to remember that a little bit can go a long way – a friendly text, a quick stop by with a birthday treat, a photo of a previous shared experience, a quick Marco Polo about a book or movie or food they might like. One of my high school friends lives about 30 minutes from me and we almost never see each other, but for the past two years, she’s texted to schedule a couple of hours of skiing together and that one time a year, even just 2-3 hours, makes me feel like we’re still good friends!
And if, like me, a book is a great roadmap for developing new skills, here are some excellent book recommendations on how to make friends:
5 Books about How to Make Friends
This is Where You Belong by Melody Warnick
I LOVE this book. It’s not specifically about friendships, but it IS about how to feel at home in whatever place you live, including building your own community and feeling connected to a specific location. I can’t recommend this book enough – it feels like one of those that EVERYONE should read.(Full review here).
Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come: One Introvert’s Year of Saying Yes by Jessica Pan
I think lots of us introverts can relate to the title of this book. We want to be invited, but when the moment arrives, we don’t actually want to leave the house or put ourselves out there. This book, all about saying yes as an introvert, skyrocketed to the top of my to-read list as soon as I saw it.
I’ll Be There (But I’ll Be Wearing Sweatpants): Finding Unfiltered, Real-Life Friendships in This Crazy, Chaotic World by Amy Weatherly and Jess Johnston
Every time I talk about friendship, I get a million messages from people saying “I feel like everyone else already has friends” or “I’m the only one who doesn’t have a BFF.” If you feel that way, this book is for you, with lots of practical strategies for finding and building the friendships you want in today’s busy connected world.
Frientimacy: How to Deepen Friendships for Lifelong Health and Happiness by Shasta Nelson
If you feel like you have a lot of acquaintances but not really close, deep friendships, this book is worth picking up. The author looks at what makes friendships (especially female friendships) challenging and then lays out strategies for overcoming those issues in a way that make for long-term, life-giving relationships.
The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters by Priya Parker
This is one of the 2022 Everyday Reading Book Club picks and I can’t wait to discuss it later this year! If you need some inspiration of hosting, getting people together, or meeting up with new and old friends, this book is for you.
What are your best tips for how to make friends? I’d love to hear!