Later, returning to London after a period of absence, he found himself in a new area where he knew almost no one. “I think I knew instinctively that volunteering at Parkrun would be a good way to meet people locally,” he says.
Despite describing herself as “naturally introverted,” the collaborative efforts of organizing the run and timing the participants led to “an organic development of friendships—we’d have coffee at the bakery afterward and talk, and then a fellow volunteer invited me to join her team pub quiz. I’ve been going every week for two years now.”
Sarah Oliver, a teacher in her 40s originally from the US, knew she would meet new people through volunteering, although she primarily chose to work at her local environmental center and community garden to do what she loves – being outside and in nature.
“In the nature reserve,” she says, “I’m the youngest there – everyone else has seen it The Beatles live. They have a different life experience and if something is difficult for me, they always have something to help.”
A recent survey of members of the National Council for Voluntary Organizations found that while only 14 percent of respondents cited making new friends as their motivation, once volunteering was underway, 87 percent said it helped them meet new people with 68 percent reporting feeling less isolated.
5. Online isn’t just for dating
While the rise of the Internet has deprived us of many social interactions, it can also provide ways for us to establish new ones.
“Meetup is a great website where people organize different activities like book groups,” says Seigert, “while a lot of my clients used apps like Bumble BFF, which uses app technology for dating, but for friendships instead.” You swipe for people you’d like to hang out with just like you would swipe to find new partners.
A quick look at Meetup shows that there are plenty of opportunities to make friends. The Bexley and Bromley Belles, for example, are a group of over 100 women aged 45 and over, all looking to meet new friends in the area. Elsewhere, there are sober hangouts, badminton clubs and burlesque dance groups.
6. Keep it local
Sometimes friends are not necessarily those who are most like you, but those who live closest. It’s far easier to cultivate new relationships if you don’t have to travel to see them.
Grace Cameron, 63, has lived in her garden in the square for more than two decades but has never felt close to her neighbours. That changed during the pandemic when the council stopped tending the garden so they banded together to do it themselves. “I got to meet a huge amount of people I’d never been in more than a nod with,” she says. “Now we meet for dinner, we’ll cook for each other if someone is sick and share stories while kneeling in the mud for two hours weeding.”
It transformed its sense of place and community. “I feel great value and warmth watching people in the square and gardening with them. I could never move away.”
7. How to deepen new friendships (but don’t worry if you don’t)
dr. Franco talks about the importance of “resetting—changing the environment in which you interact to deepen your relationship.” Find someone you can relate to and ask them if they want to have coffee sometime.”
But this can be difficult—Seigert says it can feel like asking someone out: “Keep in mind that it’s going to be scary, but it’s going to get easier the more often we do it.”
She suggests breathing exercises and physical exercises to her clients, as well as practicing meeting proposals and dealing with potential feelings of rejection. “The worst thing that can happen is emotion, which we can all go through,” she says.
At the same time, these friendships do not necessarily move beyond the boundaries of wherever you meet. The joy of friendships associated with an activity or place is that you can get all the benefits of socializing without the effort of organizing it. “Even if it doesn’t expand to other times, it’s important not to reduce that time on Saturday or Sunday morning,” says Dan McVeigh. “I find these anchors so valuable.”
Sarah Oliver agrees: “I don’t need to see them more often because I know I’ll be doing one of my favorite things with them every week.”