HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS In a New City
We’ve been in San Diego for almost 2 years and I’m finally feeling like we have solid friendships. For me, making friends – not acquaintances – takes time. I’m not someone who is going to fill my schedule for the hell of it, especially with people / activities I don’t vibe with. So when we moved, I knew it’d be an adjustment.
I’ve heard from some of you who are also new to cities and struggling to make friends. Which I get because it’s awkward to make friends as an adult! At this stage, most people have their set friend groups, routines, and life, and when you’re new to a city, things can feel isolating. Here’s what has worked for us to find our people:
This is probably the most painful of the tips for me LOL…but it works, so I’m including it.
If you have young kids, you know that most ‘playdates’ consist of the kids being shy and not actually playing together, at least when kids aren’t too familiar with each other. A big part of playdates is engaging with other parents & essentially going on a date accompanied by your kids. This can be awkward when you don’t click with the other parent but it can also lead to friendships, so I try to do these often – both for me and the kids to make friends.
+ Get your kids involved
It’s important to us that Capri and Walker try out activities, clubs, sports, whatever, and we’ve found it a nice way to make friends for everyone. We’ve found friends through Capri’s dance classes, etc. Even if you don’t become BFFs, it’s nice growing a community and bumping into people when out and about.
+ Say ‘yes’
Luckily when I moved to SD, I knew a couple of people and since Paul went to undergrad here, he had a few friends. They’ve included us in things like dinners, birthdays, sporting events, etc. and through that we’ve met other people. Did I want to go to every event, especially when I knew it’d be mainly small talk? NO. Did it ultimately result in me forming relationships that I’m glad I now have? YES.
So say ‘yes’ to more than you usually would if you’re looking to grow your circle. This is something I repeat to myself 500x when I’m not looking forward to plans… and I usually end up having a better time than expected.
+ Start conversations
In SD, I’ve found myself going out of my way to start conversations when I wouldn’t have thought of it back in LA. It’s out of my comfort zone, mainly when I want to tune out and not do the small talk thing, but I’m trying. If I see a cute family at the park or whatever, I’m more likely to be the first to say hi because I’m actively trying to build relationships. Our neighborhood has very private lots, so it’s literally the only way to meet people here. Luckily Paul is good at this so I make him take initiative most of the time, and we’ve met a couple of families this way.
+ Friends of friends
Whether you’re in a new city or not, this is a go-to. Your friends likely hang out with similar people, and if they like them, you have a good chance of clicking too. Try to get to know them when you’re out and put in extra effort there. We’ve now become close with friends of friends here in SD, which has been great.
I actually can’t wait to do more of this once our life-long construction projects are over because I truly enjoy hosting (most of the time). When you don’t know many people and don’t want to join groups to meet people, take initiative. Honestly, I find it’s less awkward to host than to put myself in situations where I know no one, so I don’t mind it. Especially with husbands, kids, etc around – it’s not only on you to hold a conversation.
+ Be picky
I want to end with this. I’ve intentionally put myself out there but I’ve also stayed picky with who I choose to continue close relationships with. I never want to be rude and will always give someone a chance, just as I hope they would to me, but in my experience, you make true friendships when you stay picky. Don’t force yourself to hang with people if you repeatedly don’t enjoy their company, and don’t make your kids do it either. Quality over quantity for life!