Now that weíve got another World Series under our belt, you donít have to look far for a vitriolic piece slamming Boston, the Little Big City People Love to Hate. The writers have their reasons (I wonít get into the sports stuff), but one thing that resurfaces time and time again is how cold and unfriendly we are, which tapers off of a complaint I hear often: itís hard to make friends here.
Maybe itís because Iím from New England, but I call BS. Iíve been to other cities that are notorious for being cold, if not rudeóParis, London, New Yorkóand have found that, cultural differences and geography aside, itís more of the same. In other words, weíre all just trying to figure it out; and yes, we want to make friends. There are exceptions, but what we perceive as a bad attitude is often a front for insecurity.
I moved here seven years ago not knowing many people, and over the course of that time, Iíve seen my own social circle shift as life changes. One thing thatís stayed consistent, though, is that Iím constantly meeting new people. (I wonít bore you with my thoughts on attraction and vulnerability; if youíre interested in learning more about that, check out Brenť Brownís TED talk.) Sure, some people donít stick, and after a few friend ďdates,Ē it becomes obvious that things wonít develop beyond the occasional cup of coffee. But some of those random encountersósaying hi to a stranger on a nearby towel at the beach; going to a birthday party for a friend of a friend even though I didnít really feel like it at the timeóhave turned into some of my closest friends.
Here are the tactics, if you want to call them that, that have served me well. Of course, you can always stick to a tried-and-true method of sitting at home, alone, and complaining about how much Boston sucks. But thatís your call.
1. Schedule it
Look, weíre all busy. Using that as an excuse as to why you havenít made new friends since college or how youíre so dedicated to your routine of going to the gym after work is just thatóan excuse. And no one wants to hear about it.
I recommend a paper calendar, so that you can mark off the days of when youíll be busy meeting new people. (Busy doing what? Thatís for you to decide. Need suggestions? Keep reading.) Then, your commitments to yourself are staring you right in the face, a friendly but stubborn reminder to stay away from the couch.
Iím certainly not the first one to acknowledge the magic of volunteeringóit feels amazing to give back, sure, but youíll also be surrounded by like-minded people who care about the same cause(s) as you. Iíve been involved with several non-profits in Boston during my tenure in the city and have met some wonderful people along the way; if youíre drawing a blank on where to you can always use a site like VolunteerMatch.
3. Go out alone
I know, I know. Iím harping yet again on the glorious benefits of going out alone. But seriously: itís worth it. Whether youíre new to Boston or youíve outgrown your existing clique, going out alone increases the chances of meeting people. Why? Because when youíre not surrounded by a crew, youíre more approachable, romantically and platonically. Plus, if wherever you decided to go doesnít fit the bill, thereís no need to check with multiple people if itís okay to leave.
4. Join a professional organization
Like volunteering, joining a professional group will expose you to people who are like-minded, and probably also on similar career paths. Before you drop the ďNĒ wordónetworkingóIíll say this: donít view it as a merely way to climb the career ladder. Itís behavior thatís not only extremely shallow, but itís transparentósmart people will see right through it. Be genuinely interested in the people you meet. Everything else, whether itís plans to meet again for dinner or a job opportunity, will follow in time.
5. Use social media to your advantage
Social media can be a great way to connect with peopleóas long as you eventually emerge from behind the screen. Iíve used Facebook to reignite old friendships that have fallen by the wayside, and Twitter to spur friendships that eventually transferred offline. (Whatís that? I met people from the Internet and Iíve crapped on online dating? Oh, I decided to join. For real. More about that in next week's post about how to get over your fear of dating online.) Just make sure you're following proper etiquette, a handy guide to which you can find here.
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