THE LATEST THINKING
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How do adults make new friends in new cities?
When I moved across the country from Michigan to Southern California at 21, I was excited and nervous. I'd always wanted to explore life beyond the Midwest, and I couldn’t wait to spend all my time on the beach. I had a job that used my degree in IT, and I was relieved that I’d secured a position right out of college that directly related to what I’d studied. I couldn’t believe my luck that my internship had actually turned into a full-time job.
My boyfriend-now-husband was going with me, but otherwise I was leaving behind all of my family and friends, which bothered me a little on a subconscious level but really hit home once we left Michigan and were on the road in Indiana somewhere. It didn’t feel real until we cross the state line. After a whirlwind five-day road trip, we arrived at the hotel we’d reserved and began the process of establishing ourselves: finding a place to live, buying furniture—we’d both moved from our parent’s homes and left our bedroom furniture at their respective houses—registering the car, etc. After all that, though, I wondered: how does one make friends in a brand new location?
Most of my friends in Michigan were people I’d grown up with, or at least met in high school, and thus we had long, established histories together. I made some connections in college, but since I was a commuter student who worked full time it was tough to make lasting friendships. I hadn’t had to extend real effort in making and maintaining a new friendship with someone in ages. I knew some folks from an online forum where we posted and was fortunate to meet them in person, but aside from that, I decided to try Meetup.com which many people suggest when the “how one makes friends in adulthood” question is asked in articles or other forums.
Meetup.com has been hit or miss for me. There is a group for literally everything, including tea groups that go out to different tea houses for afternoon tea service. There are also language groups, hiking groups, singles groups, religious groups, anti-religious groups, gaming groups, and well, I could write a whole article just based on Meetup group types. I’ve met some very nice people on meetup, along with some groups that were extremely cliquish and not welcoming to new members. Since Meetup charges organizers to host their groups, I never understood that mentality. None of those connections, however, have turned into anything past a friendly acquaintance and I have concluded that Meetup is mostly for people to enjoy their common interest before going back to their lives.
Since I’m looking at moving again in the near future, I’m going to try changing tack and volunteer with organizations I believe in and try to make connections that way. I’m curious though, what have reader’s experiences been with Meetup? What ways have you found to make real, lasting friendships into adulthood?
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