Platforms To Help You Make Friends IRL
Finding authentic community, especially with other women, is no easy endeavor. We live in a fractured world, filled with divisions. Yet, it’s even harder when you move, and you become the new girl trying to make new friends in a new city. Suddenly, your go-to girlfriends, the rhythms and rituals you’re used to, and the neighborhood cafe you’ve become a regular at all hit “reset.” It seems like you’re able to pack everything…except your friends. While long distance friendships can be some of the most meaningful (heart-to-hearts are just a phone call away), it’s a bittersweet goodbye-for-now: old friendships age, while new friendships in a new season await.
It may be hard to push yourself out there, no matter if you’re an introvert or an extrovert. There’s a certain fear of “starting from zero” again to build new friendships (which take time), and the illusion that everyone you meet already has their own tight-knit friend circle, and isn’t looking for more. It can be an even bigger contrast going from college—where your friends might live in the dorm room or apartment complex right next to yours—to the real world, as an adult.
All that to say, even though I’ve now moved five times in my life, making friends still doesn’t come naturally to me. It takes a lot of investment, intentionality, and willingness to get out of your comfort zone. Luckily, there are also a lot of great platforms to kickstart your new girl squad search in a new city—the rest of the relationship is up to you to cultivate.
Go for the low-hanging fruit: don’t overlook the obvious social network when moving to a new city! One of the best, surefire ways to make friends in a new city is by reconnecting with old ones. Simply message an old friend from college or even someone from high school, asking them to introduce you to their favorite spots around town. If you haven’t kept track of your friends’ movements, do a simple Facebook search for “friends who live in [name of city]”—it’s really that easy. Also, don’t be shy to publicize your move on Facebook! When you update your current city, it’s possible you have friends who know other friends living in your soon-to-be new home.
2. Bumble BFF
Enter into the truly Millennial wave by downloading this dating app, which has now expanded its feature for its BFF “friend mode” (as well as Bumble Bizz, for professional connections). It might feel weird to swipe left and right on potential new girl friends at first. But, just like online dating, apps like Bumble BFF are great for expanding your social circle and meeting people you might not otherwise have known. Between girls, anyone can message first!
3. The Wing
This girls-only coworking space is all about "the advancement of women through community," inspired by the ubiquitous women's clubs (scattered mostly across New York) formed in the late 19th century. In these clubs, pioneering women encouraged each other in their endeavors, and hosted events in their community. This space is perfect for female entrepreneurs looking for their tribe, love blush-pink velvet armchairs, and who also want to make an impact—The Wing offers volunteer opps through nonprofit partners like Girls Inc. Have little ones? Bring them along—childcare is included and certified babysitters will take care of them in “The Little Wing.” Right now, The Wing has locations in New York, San Francisco, and DC but is on a fast-track to open in six other cities.
Whether you belong to a faith group or are interested in joining one, resources like church.org or simply Google can help you find a new church, mosque, temple, or other faith-based gathering place. Most have small groups that meet weekly, where you can share more of your daily life together. Some interest groups, like the popular creative community Socality (behind the #socality hashtag), even have their roots in faith-based community.
Whether you have a heart to volunteer at your local animal shelter or a local refugee resettlement agency, platforms like VolunteerMatch can be a great way to plug in to your city. By volunteering, not only are you giving back, you also become more tuned in with the needs of your community. You may visit a different part of town, or interact with different kinds of people than in your typical week. A regular volunteering cadence will allow you to spend consistent time with other volunteers who have the same passion—that’s already one thing in common!
This free, monthly breakfast lecture series for the creative community is a great way to meet others in the field, no matter if you’re a dabbling illustrator, a seasoned journalist, or just love thinking on the bigger issues of life. While overarching themes can range from “Honesty” to “Chaos” and “Restart,” each city gets to pick a local speaker to elaborate on that topic in an hour-long talk. The best part? CreativeMornings exists in over 192 cities worldwide, from Albuquerque to Johannesburg, Lima, and Seattle. Odds are in your favor!
One way to keep your weekends busy and meet people in your city is to attend local events. Platforms like MeetUp list all kinds of events around the city, from concerts to book clubs, sports games, and Instagram meetups. Due to the nature of MeetUp, most attendees are also looking to make new friends. Even better, MeetUps take the pressure off a 1:1 “get to know you” conversation and engages you in an activity together, if that’s more your style. You can also find local events through websites like Eventbrite or by searching upcoming Facebook events near you.
Alice Zhang is a California-based writer thinking on the things shaping urban living, the modern woman’s experience, and living a conscious life of impact in light of a bigger world. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, she recently spent a year abroad in Peru working with a microfinance project. You can follow her latest creative endeavors and musings at Mine Felicity or on Instagram at @alice.zhng.