I think that meeting new friends as an adult is probably one of the hardest things we do. It’s not like you’re in school and are put together with people – and the people we’re put together with at work aren’t always people we could approach to become friends with.
Cambridge is a strange place. Big enough to have a lot going on, but small enough to feel like a village. Everyone knows everyone else, and once you’ve made a few connections, you’re sorted. But it’s taking those first few steps and getting those first connections that is the hardest.
I’ve written about this before, but having spoken with people recently about what they can do right now to help them make more friends, I thought it’d be worth writing about it again.
Here are 5 steps you can take right now, to make friends:
This is an excellent website and a good first step. Meetup.com has a lot of groups for a wide range of hobbies and interests, who meet up (duh) to bond over those hobbies and interests. Our apprentice at work was looking over them the other day and was in stitches over how niche some of them go! When I lived in Maidenhead, I went to a large number of meetups, from volunteering to social pub quizzes, to sports. It kept me busy until I’d made enough friends to branch out on my own.
Make your own Facebook group
When I came to Cambridge, I wanted to meet Japanese people, so I didn’t forget my Japanese. There wasn’t one place where they were meeting, so I decided to create one. The Cambridge Japanese Circle is a group I made, meeting up every Sunday afternoon to talk in Japanese and English. It took a while to advertise it, but now we have such a nice group of people and we do nice things together like go for dinners and go to the botanical gardens.
Invite people for dinner
So, you don’t know many people, but you have a couple of people you half know. Invite them for dinner. Get them to bring people. Boom.
I regularly have dinners where I invite people I only half know. They get to meet other cool people, and I get to know people better, and we all come away happy. The last couple of these that I did, I actually invited girls I’d never met before – but those I had connected with on Instagram. I love hanging out with these ladies and I’m so glad I was a total weirdo and asked them over.
Join networking groups
I hate networking. I have to do it as part of my job. However, networking events tend to have some fun themes and plans (like last week I did a cookery networking session) so they can be a good place to meet new people. I’ve made a number of friends via these events, probably more so than I have business contacts!
Turn Bumble to the friendship setting
On the dating app Bumble, there’s a feature called BFF, where you can look for friends instead of lovers! Try it, it looks cool!
Now, all of these steps involve a certain amount of bravery. Bravery for going into a situation not knowing people, having to be brave and make new conversations with people. I’m a secret introvert (I seem to some people like I’m extroverted, but actually I hate meeting new people and would much rather read a book than go be at a party). If you are reading this thinking that all the above seems very daunting and not within what you’re able to do, then I have one last way to make friends that might be easier.
I joined Reddit a few years ago, as I was bored at work. Reddit has “sub reddits”, little groups of people who share an interest or want to share information about a certain thing. There’s one for everything…seriously! I’m a member of loads of them, from Cambridge to watching Black Mirror, to helping people who want to visit Japan, to this amazing one called “Mom for a moment” where people post things they’d tell their mums but for whatever reason, can’t, so post there and everyone “moms in” saying that they are proud, or giving advice, or reassurance. It’s SUCH an amazing space.
Sometimes, it’s not about making friends, it’s more about feeling accepted in a community, so have a look at some sub reddits and see what kinds of communities you could be a part of.
Got an idea for making new friends? Let me know in the comments!