It was a Thursday evening after work and I was waiting at a table in a popular bar downtown. As Lauren walked in, she sat down and we ordered drinks. She asked me how my day was and we chatted and caught up since seeing each other out last weekend and meeting through mutual friends.
She told me about her life in high school and college and all about her family. We ended up having a lot of things in common, like our love for writing, shopping and champagne; it was a match made in heaven.
OK, so this is not what you are thinking. That was my recollection of going to happy hour with a "new" friend… not a first date.
In high school, I was captain of the cheerleading squad, and in college, I was a member of the executive council in my sorority. I’m outgoing and socially active. I’ve never had trouble making friends.
As a post-grad, that all changed. I moved back to my hometown and a lot of my high school ended up scattered around the country. Not only that, but most of my college friends were at least a four-hour drive away. What to do, what to do... make new friends? Sounds simple, right? So. Entirely. Wrong.
There are no tailgates, formals, fraternity parties or any other organized social event in "the real world." This is an issue and you don’t even realize it until you’re actually in the real world and your friend tank is on E.
So how do you find quality friends post-grad? Luckily, I’ve dealt with it and I’ve got some ideas…
1. Reconnect with friends whom you’ve lost touch with.
Making plans with old friends is the best way to make new friends. Maybe you weren’t the best of friends in high school or college, but maybe this girl knows another girl and the two of you will become the best of friends.
2. Go to that boring networking event your boss invited you to.
Chances are that there is A. a cute single guy or B. a girl who could also use a friend!
3. Go to the gym… or get work done in a coffee shop.
One of my best friends was taking a yoga class a few times a week and started to chat with a girl in the class. They ended up getting coffee afterwards and they lived happily ever after. If you’re not into the gym, instead of eating lunch at your desk, grab a coffee and sit down.
If nothing else, you get some quality people-watching time in, but you just may make a few friends, too.
4. Go out with guys you don’t necessarily love.
This may sound a little weird, but I met one of my best friends through a first date. The guy and I went out for drinks and dinner a few times when he asked me to go as his date to his friend’s wedding.
I went and we had a great time and are still friends to this day. At the time, I didn’t know the bride nor the groom and now the bride and I are best friends! We always laugh about how I went to her wedding, but didn’t even know her.
5. Go to the alumni events in your city.
You are bound to make friends there! You won’t even a chance to have nothing to talk about/an awkward silence because, chances are, you all have mutual friends and that can keep you talking for hours! Even if you don’t have mutual friends, you can talk about a mutual class taken or favorite professor or, if you’re really desperate, talk about your love for your school.
6. Blog/Social Media
So this only applies to people who actually blog or are on social media, but nonetheless you can apply the theory to most situations. I have had a blog for five years and have made countless friends through connecting via the Internet.
If I like someone’s blog and he or she lives in my area, I reach out and ask if he or she wants to get drinks and it’s all roses after that. I also do this if I am traveling. At a work event in another city and have some time to kill? Reach out to your favorite bloggers in the area and set something up.
7. Junior League/Join a Club
With Junior League, you’ll be killing two birds with one stone: making friends and being philanthropic. If Junior League isn’t your cup of tea, find a club in the area that caters to your interests. Or even try something new. Some friends and I joined a trampoline club… so random, but have had great luck making new friends. Dodgeball leagues are another popular club for young professionals.
8. Ask Questions.
New in town? Ask everyone you come across something about where you live. This will teach you about your city as well as give you the chance to meet others.
For example, at the grocery store, ask the person behind you in line the best place to grab a burger. Or if you are at Starbucks and the person in front of you is holding a shopping bag from a store you like, ask where that store is, explain that you’re new in town and let the conversation flow from there.
The key to the entire process is to be patient. Think of all of your friends… did those friendships happen overnight? Probably not. Take it slow and soon enough, you’ll find "the one."
Photo via We Heart It