How to Make Friends and Meet People
Moving, divorcing, getting married; life changes – it changes where we are and what we do. Sometimes that means we lose friends and need to make new friends or meet new people. But it’s not easy to do. We live lives over the computer, or we’re so busy that we just don’t have “time” to get out there. But there are actually a number of ways to find people to make friends with. If your first try doesn’t work, keep trying.
The Big Bang Theory: The Friendship Algorithm
One of the first things to do when you’re looking to meet people and make friends is to find people with similar interests or lives. If you’re a mom, look for moms’ groups. If you like to write, look for writing groups. If you like to read, look for book clubs. If you watch movies…well, you get the idea. You can check out local websites like “the Patch” or go look at “Meet up” and find out if there are any groups in your area. You can also find local newspapers that list groups to join. Finding people with similar interests are a great way to find people to share with.
Admittedly, sports aren’t for everyone, but it’s another good place to start. There are adult leagues for softball and even kickball. You can join websites like Active.com and find out if there are runs or walks in the area. Find workout buddies, people to exercise with, and play. Getting competitive is a good way to make friends. You don’t have to stick with traditional sports, either – why not try some belly dancing, yoga, or even roller derby? Mud runs are another way to build friends and camaraderie. You’ll feel good because you’re getting in shape, and you’ll have a chance to make friends doing it!
Depending on what you like, you can often find conventions and conferences on topics you’re interested in. There are science fiction and fantasy conventions, comic conventions, and even romance writing conventions. There are also women’s conferences. One conference I attend every year is about autism, and it provides information for parents and caregivers as well as a chance to meet other parents and caregivers who are involved. Many conferences that are meant for fans or special groups, like women or disability groups, are inexpensive or free. In some cases, you can even apply for scholarships to make it more affordable to attend.
MOOCs are Massive Open Online Classes. They are often free, and many of the major universities out there offer them. You can take classes through Open University, located in the UK, or through Harvard or MIT in the US. Most MOOCs are free and not for credit, but they are a way to meet people. Unfortunately, you may not meet anyone local to you, but you can definitely meet people who share the same interests.
You can also choose to enroll in a local university or community college. Community colleges do not require anything (except a high school diploma or GED), and most offer both mini-mesters and full semesters, giving you a chance to enroll throughout the year. You can pursue a degree or just take classes, and community colleges tend to be more inexpensive than most universities. Universities take more planning as you must apply and be accepted, but if you’re looking to find a group of people to connect with in a chosen field, then you might find just what you’re looking for! Both community colleges and universities also have clubs and groups that you can join, giving you another way to connect with other people.
If you want to learn more about a subject but don’t want to have to enroll in college, continuing education is for you. You can learn to play a musical instrument, cook healthier, write fiction or poetry, program for computers, or even make metal jewelry. You’d be amazed at the number of things that are included at most college’s continuing education departments. They’re great places to meet people and make friends with people who have similar interests, and who knows, maybe you’ll even find a business partner!
If you’re stuck in a rut, and your job just isn’t what you want it to be, or if you need to make a change or get a fresh start, you may want to consider a career college. At a career college, they generally offer certificate programs that end with diplomas instead of degrees. They may help you get a start in careers like massage therapy, medical billing, or office administration. The nice thing is that classes are often small and include all the same students, so you will get to know the people you’re in class with. While they’re not for everyone, and they are often more expensive than community colleges, they are a good place to go if you’re looking for a quick career move.
Many libraries have groups and classes they offer. In some cases, they will have book groups that meet each month to discuss a chosen book. Other libraries offer classes on how to use computers, how to write blogs, or other computer-based topics. Be sure to check out the offerings at your local library; if you’re a parent, there are even groups for children, some of which may be a good chance for you to meet fellow parents whose children share similar interests, like games and anime.
Do you like model trains? What about slot cars? RC cars? If it’s something that a lot of people enjoy, there is probably a hobby group out there for it. Check out the listings for local hobby shops, and go and see if there are any signs up for local groups that meet. You can also check online to see if there are national groups with local chapters. You could be out racing RC boats or flying model helicopters with a group of friends in no time!
Do you like D&D? Warhammer? Bridge? Scrabble? How about bunco? There are many gaming groups out there that are always looking for new members and players. Look for game shops or even look at your local library and book store. Many times groups will meet at those locations because they have free space and want to encourage people to show up. You can also look at the local coffee shop or college to see if they have flyers up.
Book Store Events
If you like to read, chances are you’ll be able to find plenty to do and lots of people to talk to at your local book store. Most stores host signings, reading groups, writing groups, and more! Book stores don’t always just rely on people to come in to buy books; they want people there for all reasons, and they may have meetings when people get together and play chess or Go!. Smaller book stores may have fewer events than the big chains, but they may also have the most signings of authors. Check out your local small book stores and see if they have a listing of authors coming by. Many authors will talk before they sign, giving you a chance to find other people who also like the same authors.
If money isn’t an issue, then why not volunteer? You might make friends in places you’d never expect. Many nursing homes and hospitals actively recruit volunteers to bring around books and other items around to patients, ask volunteers to help run games, or even just come by to visit with people whose family is not local. Not only will you get to meet the other volunteers, but you will also get to meet the patients and residents. Why not do something good for someone else while you’re trying to find a friend? You might even make friends with the residents you help, leading to a connection that helps both of you!
How did you make friends with your current best friend(s)?
Even if you’re not out to make a lot of money, working a part-time job in a place that involves something you enjoy can be a way to make friends and meet people. If you like to paint, find a craft store that needs part-time help. Like to read? Book stores and libraries are there for you! Think about what hobby you have or what you enjoy, and see if you can find a part-time job. Obviously, you won’t get paid a lot, but you may be pleasantly surprised by your co-workers; while many of them will be there for the job, you may also run into others who are looking for friends, too!