I’m happily married to one of my best friends and we have a beautiful son together. However, that’s just one part of my life. I’m the type of woman that thrives on a healthy home life and strong, meaningful female friendships. I need both in order to feel balance in my life. I’ve moved so much in my early adulthood that I have girlfriends all over the place. Luckily keeping in touch has become so much easier with technology like WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram. With that said, it’s really important to have girlfriends local to me. Whenever I move, it’s a priority to get out there and meet new people.
Whether you’ve just moved or you’ve lived in the same place forever, it gets harder and harder to make new friends the older you get. Much like dating, you have to meet a lot of people before you find your tribe. I’ve moved a lot and have become somewhat of an expert in making new friends.
Here are 5 tips to get you started on making new friends.
1. Join local groups
During your pre-move planning do some ground work so you can hit the ground running when arriving in your new home. Check Facebook groups, meetup.com, and LinkedIn to get involved with local groups that align with your career or personal interests.
2. Take part in community events
No better way to get to know your neighbors and to understand the community culture than by taking part in community events. Actively seek community social events, such as fundraisers, neighborhood parties, or local business events. So far I’ve found Facebook Groups to be one of the best ways to learn about local social events. By going to community events you’ll be exposed to people that care about their community and support local businesses.
3. Make the first move
You’ve made a real connection with someone who you think could be someone you’d like to hang out with again. Don’t just walk away and say you wished you got their number. Ask for their number and suggestion a coffee date or wine night. Also, don’t make it an empty invitation with no follow-up. Send her a text in a couple of days. They’ll appreciate your effort.
4. Listen and speak second
You’re meeting up with a new contact for some one on one time to see if there is a potential friendship there. Don’t just talk about yourself. Ask questions and let them speak first, listen to what they have to say and stay engaged. When you let someone speak first you are learning about them and showing them a genuine interest. It will also help you determine which direction you want to take this relationship.
5. Keep an open mind
I think this last tip is common sense but I put it in here as a reminder. Don’t judge people before you really get to know them. You just never know who might be your next best friend. It could be someone you least expect. Regardless of the depth of your relationship, it’s always good to meet people and build a network in your new home.
Now that you’re on your way to making new friends don’t forget about the relationships you’ve already invested in. With this being the month of Galentine's Day, it’s a good reminder to show love to the special ladies in your life. At one point these friends were there for you, and you probably shared a lot of laughing and crying together. Through much trial and error, I’ve found there are three key tactics you can use to keep the friendship with your long distance girlfriends alive and healthy.
1. Realign your expectations
You just moved so you may not have your crew yet and you begin to feel like you’re the only one putting effort into this long distance friendship. You’re always texting your girl and she just won’t get back to you. You can’t expect your best friend who once was your go-to girl for all venting and celebrations to still be that friend for you. Try to respect the fact that she may have stuff going on in her life that makes it hard to give you the attention you once had. She still lives in the place you just left and has her own day to day routines established. It’s not fair to expect her to respond immediately to every text or message and vice versa. You may feel like you’re giving 100% and only getting 50% in return. The reality is that your girlfriends 100% effort might feel like 50% but that IS her 100%. Don’t expect her to stay in contact over all of life's little moments. It’s not realistic and will set you and her up for a fall-out. When you communication changes make sure you…..
2. Never assume
Don’t assume she doesn’t care about you or has forgotten about you. Don’t assume she is mad at you for some unknown reason. You obviously had a good relationship at one point so give her the benefit of the doubt. Lastly, make sure you….
3. Keep communication channels open
Communication today is easy compared to just 10 years ago. Don’t bog your long distance girlfriends down with the play by play of your whole day. Instead, reserve your communication for more meaningful conversations and little positive messages. Don’t worry if you are the one that initiates the majority of the conversation. Sometimes that’s the role you might play in the relationship. We’re not all built equal so why would you expect her to be the exact same when it comes to long distance communication. Ask her how she is and be a listening ear for her. Just because she doesn’t actively seek you out to vent doesn’t mean she wouldn’t like to talk to you.
Keep in mind that any relationship in your life is like a living, breathing organism that requires nourishment and patience to reach full potential. Making friends and keeping friends both take a lot of work and time but is definitely worth it when you find those gems. Happy Galentine's Day and remember to send some love to your girlfriends on February 13th!
Colleen Rossignol is from eastern Canada, which is where she graduated with a Bachelor of Business Management from Dalhousie University. Post graduation, she enjoyed a successful 8-year career in marketing and advertising in Canada’s largest city, Toronto. She had the opportunity to work on some of the world’s largest brands such as Microsoft and Samsung along with other smaller brands and start-ups. In 2012 she immigrated to California and decided to change her career focus towards nonprofit work. After working with a global nonprofit focused on developing women leaders for a year she co-founded a nonprofit called The Village Link where the organization's focus is on sustainable economic development in the rural underserved communities of Sierra Leone, West Africa. In addition to her passion for nonprofit, she also operates a small photography business, C.R. Photography. Whether it’s taking pictures for a local family or documenting nonprofit projects, her passion for photography is to tell a visual story in it’s most authentic candid way.