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
- I don’t know anyone. There isn’t anyone I could call if I wanted spend time with a friend.
- 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.
- 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.
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.