How do you make friends in a new town as an adult?

I knew it was going to be hard, but here I am, and this stuff is hard. I’m trying my best to hang out in public, seem open, take classes and so on, but nothing’s clicking. Any ideas?


I don’t!

Over the years it seems that I need a very specific kind of environment in which to engage with people socially, and it appears to be rather elusive. Part of this is probably as a result in my living in different areas, and partly as a result of changing cultural dynamics over time. Basically, even though I have no formal education, I need to live in a college/university area. Anywhere else and nobody seems to have anything to talk about, so they would otherwise gaze upon me as if I were a freak. I tend to do fairly well in and around galleries of contemporary art.

As I get older, street people increasingly dismiss me as a posh person - while posh people dismiss me as a street person.

I got where I am now as sort of a hapless mail-order-spouse fifteen years ago, and this process severed my existing social networks from other cities. But even years after an abusive marriage has ended, I don’t appear to be able to establish new networks here. Twenty years ago, hundreds of people in my neighborhood knew who I was - I didn’t go anywhere without seeing and speaking with many friends. Now, I seem unable to even make friends with any one person. It’s weird.


If it is a small town, then volunteer - township committees, boards, recreation committees, public events, economic development - you will meet lots of people and become vested in your new town. Start on the town website, see what kinds of things are going on, and what you would enjoy working on most.


What sort of city are you living in… and why?


The town is called Boulder.

I came here to chew bubblegum and make friends… and I’m all out of bubblegum.


Well what I mean is, what kind of town is it. Big, small, conservative, liberal, urban, rural, warm, cold, northern, southern, thriving, destitute. Just get a picture. That sort of info.

Is this Boulder Colorado, happiest city on Earth and home to Mork and Mindy?


Check Meetup (or the library or the comic shop…) for groups with similar interests and attend free events. And remember that making friends takes time, so it’s best at first to just go with the goal of meeting and talking to interesting people.

ETA: Commander Logic said it first and better than me. The most relevant bit starts just after the picture from Anne of Green Gables.



I called a friend tonight & we figured out that, even though I moved here two months ago, because of various trips & illnesses since then, I’ve effectively only had even the capacity for a social life for a couple weeks. So really I shouldn’t expect anything to have happened yet anyway, although I do still want to socially position myself to create those opportunities.


I definitely agree with the philosophy that it’s possible to find your peoples anywhere. That’s mostly been my experience.


Take all of my advice here with a giant grain of salt- I tend to have very few friends (and that’s how it works for me).
That said:

  1. Do the things you like doing. Find the groups of people doing those things and start showing up. If you read, find the book clubs. If you rock climb, get to the rock gym. Etc.
  2. Worry less about making connections and whatnot and focus on showing up. Much like here, be there a lot and you become a known quantity, and people will respond to that.
  3. Observe social norms of the group. Don’t show up at the book group and immediately launch into a deconstructionist rant about the novel of choice. By all means, be you- just take the temperature first.
  4. Say yes to adventure and new experiences.
    Good luck!

I was away from my home city for twelve years. When I returned, all my old friends were scattered to the four winds, and anyway we’d already grown apart because our lives were so different.

For a while I felt at loose ends, and then I just started doing things I enjoy anyhow, not worrying about whether I had anyone to do them with. By myself or with other people, I was going to have fun.

That’s how I met the friends I have now. I also dropped a lot of new acquaintances along the way when it turned out they were toxic in one way or another. Doing that was important too.


This. When I was trying to make new friends, the threshold was a couple weeks before “Hey, I’ve seen you here before, do you want to sit with us?” Everyone is busy, and people don’t always make the investment if they don’t know you’ll stay.


I’m actually going to talk about this in my Facebook group Thursday night, but basically the trick is to pick something you think you are interested in being a part of and then consistently show up. For a long time you will feel like an outsider, and that’s fine. That’s why it’s good to pick something that has an inherent interest to you to learn about or participate in. Whether that is going to a church and being part of a committee, going to yoga classes at a studio, joining a bicycling club, origami meetup group, whatevs. And then just show up show up show up. I’d say it takes 2 years for the magic to happen and you to become one of the gang.


I’ll second the recommendation of meetup,.

My city might just be particularly good on it, but there’s so much stuff listed on there, you could find a group that does something you’re interested in every day of the week. A club I help to run had huge success when listing on there, we’ve had loads of new faces through it.


One question you have to ask yourself is “does this place suit me?”

I’m currently living/stuck in a city I don’t care for, and one of the reasons for my dislike is the people who live here. I don’t get them and they don’t get me.


I’ve started making friends here. Real life is a refuge from the internet.


I’ve lived in the same city now for the past - whoah, it’s been since 1999! - so that’s 22 years now, and I have problems making new friends, after being rather good at it. Why?

  1. I’ve learned that a lot of people are not emotionally healthy, but they’re good at hiding it. Which has resulted in me being treated like shit.
  2. It’s not as easy once one’s older than, say, forty years, to make new friends because they all seem to have all the friends they want.
  3. I’m not interested in the same crap as my peers are, for the most part.
  4. I don’t drink.
  5. The Meetups I’ve been interested in charge money. I’m not kidding, or else meet at a restaurant. I’m financially limited so I can’t do those things.

This is causing me to be better to myself, because ain’t no one gonna do that for me.


A few words from Lorenz Hart on the subject:

You can count your friends
On the fingers of your hand.
If you’re lucky, you have two.
I have just two friends,
That is all that I demand.
Only two, just me and you.
And a good friend heeds a friend
When a good friend needs a friend.


In addition, not as a substitute, find a bar. Go 3 times a week. At least.

Can’t find a bar? Lower your standards for a bar for a time and make plans to move.

If your brain plasticity doesn’t move while your standards are lowered, find a new town. Suburb. Whatever.


How about volunteering for a charity that does something you care about? I used to volunteer on a listening hotline. I learned a ton of new skills and though it took a while, I finally did get to know some very cool people through it.