How to Make Friends When Socially Distancing

You can still make new friends as an adult and reconnect with old during the pandemic.

How to make friends online.

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People are social animals who crave interaction and connections. That’s why people go to foodie meetups or join book clubs, bowling leagues, and sewing circles. And that’s why work colleagues hang-out at the water cooler.

Whether you are young and have a large circle of friends, or middle-aged with just a few long-time close ones, the coronavirus and social distancing disrupted the old ways of maintaining these connections. If you moved away from your social group, worked from home, or your classes went online, you might need to make new friends.

Many of the usual ways that adults make friends are not available now. But there are many ways to befriend new people according to The Lily, you just have to be creative and use the resources you have. Keep in mind that you do not have to be best friends with everyone you meet but that you can form satisfying and lasting connections while social distancing.

Want to make new friends and reconnect with old? Here’s five ways how you can: 

Be Proactive and Creative
This is the time to think out-of-the box and be proactive about meeting new friends. You don’t have to walk around with a sign that says, “be my friend,” but according to Psychology Today, you should be letting your friends and family know that you want to meet new people who they think share similar interests with you. Becoming friends with your friend’s friends is a good way to be invited to do things together now and later.

Reconnect with old friends 
While the pandemic has made it harder to meet new people, it’s really a good time to reconnect with old friends and classmates. There are probably Facebook groups of people who went to the same high school or university that you did.

According to a study from Rutgers’s Business School, rekindling dormant ties – the people who you have lost touch with – is easier than making new friends because you already know and trust them. This is the best time to reconnect with those people you’ve fallen out of touch with and wish that you had remained close to, according to Psychology Today.

Become friends with the people you see
Now is the time to lean on your networks of existing acquaintances like the people you met at your work cafeteria or gym. Contact them to touch base. Or, make a new set of acquaintances that you can turn into friends by joining a virtual book club, playing games online, or by virtually volunteering. Even if your social skills are a bit rusty, reaching out online – or in person if you can maintain social distances –  is easier than you think.

A study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology consisted of putting strangers in a large lecture class for a varying number of classes. At the end of the semester, the participants were asked who they liked the most and it turned out that they liked the strangers that they shared the most classes with. According to Psychology Today, this proves that people like the people they are frequently exposed to. So, keep up those online activities to make more friends and feel less lonely.

Stay Connected   
Whether you prefer to call, Skype, Zoom, What’s App, or send written letters by snail mail; now is the time to stay connected. If you video chat for work and are bored with Zoom, try interacting in a fun new way. Some ideas from Nido Student for virtual hangouts include watching a film, cooking, or doing yoga together.

Social media is also a great way to stay in touch if you cannot meet face-to-face. Catherine Smith moved from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Abingdon, Virginia during the pandemic. She told the New York Times that she started trading favorite hiking routes and local tips with a new friend she made through Instagram. “We still haven’t gotten to meet in person,” she said.

Go on a first Date
Just like going on dates for a romantic relationship, making new friends requires testing the waters to see if you are compatible, according to NYT. So go on one, two, or even three dates. If these are successful, make plans to continue meeting regularly.  Adam Smiley Poswolsky, the author of Friendship in the Age of Loneliness told NYT, “ritual is really important when it comes to connection, especially friendship.” Reinforce this new friendship by keeping in touch and doing shared interests together.

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