How millennials make new friends after a move is a lot like dating. Sometimes, it’s easy and natural, but most of the time, it’s difficult, awkward, and fraught with uncertainty. Millennials are waiting longer to get married, shy away from buying a home, and switch jobs every two to three years. Like their phones, millennials are both mobile and connected too; this means making friends in realtime can be a challenge.
Psychology Today author, Hara Marano writes, “Friendship is a lot like food. We need it to survive.” Without it, our health suffers. Psychologist John Cacioppo of the University of Chicago found that a lack of friendship causes increased stress, artery erosion, high blood pressure, poor memory, and a reduction in one’s quality of sleep. In other words, friendships are vital to our emotional and physical well being.
How millennials meet people when they have to relocate to a new city for work is different from how previous generations of movers and shakers did it.
Take this short quiz to find out if you might struggle with making new friends in an unfamiliar city or town:
- Are you more comfortable with digital communication than face-to-face connection?
- Do you spend so much time texting, emailing, and interacting online that those mediums feel like second nature?
- Does the idea of meeting strangers face-to-face, or talking in person sound a little scary?
Take heart – according to Harvard Business Review, having friends at the office is a predictor for increased job opportunities as well as protection against being fired. Additionally, the study reveals friends at work also offer protection against being fired. Read on to learn some quick tips on how to meet people and make friends in a new city.
5 Strategies | How Millennials Meet People and Make Friends after a Move
Befriend coworkers at your new company
The majority of millennials want “fun and social” work environments. Unlike baby-boomers, which separate work and socializing, millennials are open to making friends at work. These friendships can become long-term sources of support, both career-wise and in personal matters.
However, workplace friendships are also more complicated than other types of friendship. If you get promoted, for instance, the friendship dynamic might change.
Reconnect with old classmates from high school or college
Social media can have a positive or negative impact, depending on how you use it. One positive way to use it is to look up old classmates and friends who live in your area, then ask if they’d like to meet up sometime. This way, you don’t have to start from zero. You already have a shared background to build on.
Old friends and classmates can also introduce you to other people in the area. If you hit it off well with them, they can invite you to other social events and get-togethers, where making friends will be easier.
Find social groups where millennials hang out
If you can’t find any sports, classes, or music groups that interest you in the area—or if you can’t afford them—you can try looking up social groups online, which also meet in person. Meetup.com is one popular option for urban areas, but there are other possibilities, too.
For instance, if you’re overseas, you can find websites for expat clubs, which organize regular events like walks, dinners, and museum outings. You can also find book clubs that meet every month, or gaming groups that meet every week. At the very least, you can find volunteer opportunities and meet people that way.
Sign up for a sport, class, or music group
Joining a sport, class, or music group can bring you together with people who share your interests. It’s like making friends in high school or university. Even if you have widely different backgrounds, you can connect over the music, sport, or class. It gives you an easy topic to begin a conversation. Besides, if nothing else, it gets you out of the house and socializing.
Take initiative to build friendships
Meeting people is only the first step to building friendships. The second step is following up on those connections. For example, if you meet someone you enjoyed talking with, the next step would be asking to meet up with them again—not “someday,” but an actual date on the calendar.
This step is harder because it takes courage and effort. You have to reserve time in your schedule for it and hope they will do the same thing. It’s like asking someone on a date; you risk being rejected. The risk is ultimately worthwhile, though. Even if you suffer rejection a few times, when it does finally work, you just might end up with something beautiful: a true, meaningful friendship.
Millennials know how to make friends online
One common way to escape this awkwardness is to bring out a smartphone, retreating into the digital world. This tactic can relieve social tension, especially when everyone is on their phone, but it typically doesn’t help build meaningful friendships.
This reliance on digital communication is related to a second problem: social media. After moving, millennials can keep up their old friendships via social media. This strategy can work well if those friendships include regular meetups in person. Most of the time, though, those friendships stay online.
At first glance, online connections seem like a good thing—they allow people to move without losing contact with friends and social groups. But in fact, online social networks can also increase feelings of loneliness. They give the illusion of meaningful friendship but are superficial, existing purely online. They don’t fulfill the longing for real, face-to-face human contact.
Online friendships are not the same as hanging out with local friends
Nevertheless, digital communication can give millennials the impression they don’t need more friends, even if they’re lonely. After all, according to social media, they already have friends, a lot of friends. They might even feel “in touch” with these friends, despite rarely seeing or speaking to them, because they stay up-to-date on each other’s lives via social media.
This impression of not needing friends can cause millennials to underestimate their loneliness or blame it on something else. For example, they might think they’re feeling blue because of the rainy weather or their lack of sleep, when in fact, the core problem is that they’re missing personal contact with genuine friends.
This tendency to downplay loneliness can be especially detrimental after a move. Instead of going out and meeting new people, lonely millennials might turn to the Internet for social connection. This approach can help relieve loneliness, but only temporarily. In the long-term, virtual connections can’t provide the same level of satisfaction and happiness as real, face-to-face social groups.
In other words, it’s worth putting time and effort into making local connections, even when it’s difficult. Local friendships not only make a person happier; they also come with health benefits, such as a longer lifespan and a lower risk for dementia. If the idea of meeting new people is intimidating, here’s a list of ideas to inspire you