Making friends

I was talking to my friend on the phone the other day about moving to a new city and making friends. I was telling her how I’ve been in Austin now a handful of months and I know I’m leaving soon, so it kind of feels like I should just leave now. I don’t have any friends I’m super close with and making friends takes a lot of work, you know, so it just sort of seems like I’ll make it happen in California.

We really dug into this. It was a beautiful conversation. We talked about how there are three stages of making friends when you move to a new city.

The stages of making friends

  1. I don’t know anyone. There isn’t anyone I could call if I wanted spend time with a friend.
  2. I know some people. They seem nice and normal. They aren’t the same as my old friends though. Hanging out feels like half fun, half work.
  3. We’re friends

If you go to a new city and you want to make friends, you need to get from stage 1 to stage 3. That means you have two gaps to cover.

The gaps

Gap 1: I don’t know anyone → I know some people

Gap 2: I know some people → They are real friends.

Bridging the gaps

So, then, to make friends it becomes how to bridge those gaps. I don’t know the answers, but I can share some ideas we tossed around:

Gap 1 is helped a ton by moving to a new place as part of something — going to college or for a new job, for example. It also helps if it’s a place where there are new people quite often so people aren’t rigid in who they spend time with and are used to letting new friends into their lives.

Gap 2 seems to be the tougher of the two gaps. It’s where I am leaving Austin: With a bunch of people that are cool and could have been real friends given more time and different opportunities. The key to gap 2, I guess, is showing up over and over again. Going to kickball on Wednesday night this week, then next week, then the week after that.

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