When I returned to Melbourne in 2016 following a five-year absence I went on a new friend making mission. Yes, I had my super close friends but many had moved interstate or overseas. The larger group of acquaintances that come with growing up in a place had slowly peeled away after years of only the odd ‘happy birthday!’ Facebook post back and forth, which unsurprisingly, failed to breathe life into our admittedly flimsy-to-begin-with friendships.
Falling into friendships is easy as a child and a teenager, but as an adult in a big city, can be daunting. Unfortunately we don’t pursue friendships with the same gusto as romantic relationships. Here are some tips in case you’re interested:
Put yourself out there
I recently sat next to the loveliest lady at the nail salon. We chatted about our respective upcoming weddings, about travel in the USA and about where we worked. As her manicure wrapped up I wondered if we should swap numbers to set up a coffee date. But before I could internally prepare my pitch she leaned over to say goodbye, said how nice it had been to meet me and I bade her farewell in return. I immediately regretted it and when I got back to my desk I used my freshly lacquered fingertips to google various spellings of her name and workplace like the creepy stalker I am. To no avail. I failed to put myself out there and so I failed to make a new friend*.
On the flip side, a few years ago my housemate (and good friend!) Dim and I planned to host some drinks at home. When we talked about who was coming she mentioned she’d invited our mutual hairdresser Jess whom she’d just met the week before. I was seriously impressed. We’ve been friends with Jess ever since! It’s just that easy. Lesson learnt: if you want to be friends with someone just invite them somewhere! The worst someone can say is no, but honestly, I don’t know anybody who wouldn’t want a new friend.
(* this story has a happy ending! My friend Lucy started working at the same place as my nail salon friend and managed to track her down. Apparently she also tried to find me on social media! We have plans to catch up for a drink some time soon.)
Woo the friend-of-a-friend
The easiest way to find friends is through the friends you already have. Say your friend Boris is having drinks for their birthday, go along and try to chat to someone you haven’t met or someone you’ve met in passing and would love to know better. Then in the following weeks, ask Boris if he wants to go to dumplings and to bring the friend you chatted up. Boom! You’re on your way.
I recently went to a hens party where I only knew the bride, I met so many great ladies that night and then we danced up a storm at the wedding. Now we are all going to drag queen bingo in a couple of weeks. Voila! A friendship love story.
Meet your online friends IRL
Meeting strangers from the internet is not weird or lame, it’s actually the best. Case in point: there are SO many Tinder weddings these days. Romance aside, it’s also a great way to make friends. I find Instagram to be the best friendship source. The aforementioned bride Sarah and I first ‘met’ through our respective WordPress blogs before following each other on Instagram. A few years later I realised she was friends In Real Life with my school friend Claire and now we attend each others’ weddings. So good!
I also met my friend Carmel, through Instagram. She lives in Hobart and we catch up for a drink every time I’m down there. I have two other Insta friends earmarked for a coffee soon, we just need to find the time.
Invite the work friend out
This is probably the second easiest way to make friends as an adult, but transitioning from work pals to weekend pals can be a challenge. The best way I’ve found, is to start with grabbing coffees together and then perhaps an after work drink and then move to hanging out outside work hours. I remember when my friend Brodie and I organised our first brunch together with our partners, it felt like a first date! I was nervous. Fast-forward a few months and the four of us are taking a ski trip to Mount Hotham together. Brodie and Andy now take each other on nerd movie dates. With my friend Lucy, I invited her to come to a really casual Christmas catch up at my house- friends ever since!
Join a club
I can’t speak from experience of joining a club in a city. But it definitely worked in the country (read about that here). The options are far more abundant in a large city so joining a sewing club or a pole dancing class or a table tennis squad is your ticket to finding friends with mutual interests. After a few weeks you can suggest going out for a coffee/drink/breakfast after training/class/rehearsals and go from there. That reminds me I’ve been meaning to join a salsa class for the last three years…
Reach out to a long-lost friend
There is absolutely no reason why you can’t become good friends with someone who has fallen off the radar (unless you accidentally ran over their guinea pig or something equally horrific). Unfortunately, the only people who seem to randomly reach out on social media are former schoolmates trying to sell you plastic containers or weight loss shakes. But that’s why it would be a wonderfully pleasant surprise to hear from an old friend, keen to catch up and talk about old times. Since moving back to Melbourne I reconnected with an old work friend and we regularly catch up, it’s super easy when people know your back story. The worst that can happen is they don’t reply. Oh well! Their loss.
Follow up and stay in touch! We are all busy people, no one is going to have endless hours for face-to-face catch ups but it’s super easy to send a ‘it was great hanging out last weekend!’ text or a ‘thought you’d enjoy this meme’ DM to stay in touch with someone. I was recently disappointed that I hadn’t seen a friend in a while so I put in my headphones and called her on a random Thursday night. We chatted for 45 minutes. We talked about the Bachelor, our careers, what was for dinner etc. It was like we’d just sat down for a coffee together but I was able to do the dishes at the same time. The older I get, the more I appreciate my friends and their assistance in wading through life’s tricky waters. So I’m going to cling to them like proverbial life rafts. How do you make new friends?