How to stop feeling lonely, start connecting and make new friends
There’s nothing worse than feeling all alone. Moving to a new location can be isolating and leave you feeling lonely, depressed and despairing that you’ll never fit in and belong.
Yet a sea or tree change offers you a chance to:
- End old relationships that have passed their ‘use by’ date
- Preserve and reinvigorate your valued friendships and
- Start this next life chapter with fun and interesting new friends.
How would it be if making new friends and connections was easy? Even if you’re a naturally shy introvert who’s slow to warm to people, these 10 tips will help you settle in to any new community.
1. Make friends before you move
Introduce yourself to the locals and ask those you connect with if you can keep in touch via email, phone or online, prior to moving. That way you’ll already know people to connect with when you arrive.
2. Don’t wait to be asked round for coffee or dinner
Potential new friends may not want to appear too pushy so reach out to them first.
3. Seek and offer help
People are generally happy to help, particularly if they know they can call on you too. Need a plumber or not sure when to put the bins out? Simply ask – basic requests like these are great ice breakers.
On the flipside, be willing to offer your time to help others. Doing favours is like making deposits in the trust bank that will become a friendship over time.
4. Ask questions (but don’t be too nosy!) to learn more
It’s surprising how many people are happy to talk about themselves! Come from a place of curiosity and suspend judgement.
5. Find common ground to talk about
Shared experiences, interests and hobbies are a great place to start.
6. Use your intuition and follow their lead
People may be reluctant to become instant friends so be prepared to take it slowly or at a pace that feels right for you and them. Strong, trusted relationships take time so be patient.
7. When you connect with someone, agree on when you’ll next catch up
The easiest way to build new friendships is with mini-commitments. Be flexible and open to ideas whilst still being clear on your own personal boundaries.
8. Do the right thing
This may sound obvious but if you borrow something, remember to take it back before or when you said you would. We soon decide whether people are worthy of our friendship based on their values and whether they match ours.
9. Beware town gossip!
Small communities are renowned for knowing everyone’s business but that doesn’t make what you hear always true. Take what others tell you with a grain of salt and make up your own mind. Likewise, resist the temptation of sharing stories about others. In a small town, it will come back to bite you and quickly.
10. If it’s not right, back out respectfully
When you make a connection that is unlikely to develop into a friendship, be tactful, respectful and honest. Rather than ignoring requests to call back or texts to catch up, say ‘No, but thank you for asking.’
What do you need and what can you offer?
The following questions will help you become clearer about the friendships you want to make and how to establish them. Rather than relying on intuition alone, your answers will give you more certainty about the people you’d like to connect more with, or not.
- What’s important to you?
Identify your values, passions and interests – those all-important drivers of your beliefs, decisions and actions.
- Who have you made friends with easily in the past?
What was it about them that made it easy to connect and build a trusted relationship?
- What type of people do you connect easily with?
These could be people of a similar age, cultural or professional background and those with common interests. Alternatively, meeting people with different backgrounds may have been part of your reason to move and one of the attractions of your new location.
- What are you looking for in new relationships?
Some people are great for passing the time of day, while others are people you’d like to become much closer to. Intuitively you’ll know within minutes of meeting someone which category they fall into.
- What do you have to offer?
What makes you a great person to know and how will you enrich the lives of your new friends?
- What’s ‘on’ in your new community?
Go to the local council, community centre or library to find out when and where common interest groups meet. This could include service groups (eg Rotary), volunteering organizations (eg SES or CFA), sporting clubs and the arts.
- How can you get involved?
Special events such as festivals or theatre productions take a lot of organizing and there’s always room for someone who can lend a hand
- What would it take to pop over to your new neighbours’ homes and introduce yourself?
Take a bunch of flowers or a slab of beer; put a smile on your face and reach out. Neighbours are often ‘local area experts’ and in the course of sharing their knowledge, your friendship will grow.
- Who could you ask to introduce you to others?
Moving into the area may have involved finding a house or school for your children. Ask the locals who are helping you move to introduce you to more people in the region. Teachers, tradies, real estate agents, new employers and work colleagues are already connected and can help you break the ice.
- What will it take to put in the effort?
Close connections and friendships are built up over time. Make a commitment to set aside time each week to build your new relationships.
There, that’s not so hard, is it.
Take it one step at a time; give it time and before you know it, you’ll be an integral part of the community, feeling like you’ve lived there for ages. How quickly that happens will depend on you and the community you’re joining.
Need more help to overcome your Sea Change worries?
Sea Changing Made Easy – the Emotional Side will show you how.READ MORE >>