Did you know 22 percent of adults in the U.S. said that they either moved or knew someone who moved due to the pandemic? As if making friends as an adult wasn’t already difficult, COVID-19 brought its own new set of challenges. In the past, we could meet new people in person, but in our collective effort to defeat the pandemic, social distancing restrictions and nation-wide closures of establishments have made it harder than usual to connect with those around us. However, just because a lot of the more natural, organic ways that we might meet people have been reduced, that doesn’t mean we can’t make new friends. Here are some tips on how to make new friends with or without a pandemic:
Reconnect With Your Old Friends
Reconnect with old friends that you’ve fallen out of touch with whom you wish you hadn’t.Research shows that when we reconnect with old friends, we have a higher level of trust with them than we do with current friends, and we start our friendship off with more shared memories and knowledge of one another, and so, our friendship potential is strengthened. Here is an example of how this looks like: “Hey! It’s been a while since we talked and I’ve been wondering how you are. What’s new with you?” Take it from there, and if the other person who you are trying to reconnect with is responsive, suggest a time to catch up.
Connect With New People Digitally
There are many ways to connect with people online. You can download apps, such as Bumble BFF or Friender; visit Meetup.com, which host a variety of virtual events; join a Facebook group, post regularly, and ask if anyone is open to a virtual chat; or connect with strangers through Instagram or Twitter by commenting on their posts first and then over time, direct messaging them to develop a more meaningful connection. Here is an example of how this looks like: “Hey! I’ve been such a fan of all the things you post. It seems like we have [insert thing] in common. I was wondering if you’d be open to connecting further over a virtual chat.”
Turn Your Acquaintances Into Friends
Do you have some people in your life who you would love to get to know a bit better? Maybe it’s someone from your old book club or biking group or a friend of a friend you met at a gathering. Whoever it is, you can turn an acquaintance into a friend when you take the initiative to reach out and ask them to meet up in person. Here is an example of how this looks like: “Hey! It’s been a while since we had a chance to connect. I’ve been meaning to reach out to you so we don’t lose touch with each other.”
Befriend People You Already See Regularly
When we become friends with people we see regularly (e.g., our neighbors or our co-workers), we benefit from something called the mere exposure effect – our tendency to like people the more familiar they are to us. Because of this, we already have some friendship grip when we try to build relationships with people we see frequently. Here is an example of how this looks like: “Hey! I know we’ve been working together for a while and I’ve been meaning to find some time for us to get to know each other more. I was wondering if you wanted to set aside some time for a virtual coffee?”
Connect With Friends of Your Friends
Tell your friends or family to put you in touch with friends of theirs you might get along with, so these new connections are pre-vetted. Research has shown that we’re less likely to be lonely when we’re friends with our friend’s friends and this may be because now, every time our friend and their friend spend time together, they’ll consider inviting us to join, so it’s a win-win all around! Here is an example of how this looks like: “Hey! I’ve been wanting to connect with some new people. Do you know anyone who you think I’d get along with who you’d be willing to connect me to?”
“5 Ways to Make New Friends When You’re Stuck at Home,” Marisa Franco Ph.D., pyschologytoday.com, July 17, 2020.
“How to Make Friends in a New Place During the Covid-19 Pandemic,” Cordilia James, wsj.com, Sept. 22, 2020.