If you have no or few close friends, what can you do to gain that social connection you crave? Keep reading for some ideas.
Long gone are the days when your best friends were people who lived across the street from you, or were in the same grade at your school. If you aren’t someone who has stayed tight with people you’ve known since you were a kid, chances are you might be a bit lacking in the close friend department.
This is even more common now that so many people work remotely: without the rapport that can develop with work associates, loneliness and alienation just intensify.
That said, making friends as an adult is a lot more difficult than it is for children, and it can be difficult to break into a new social scene, especially if you’ve moved to a new city and are trying to figure out where you fit in.
Below are some social activities you can check out solo, so you can get some much-needed interaction.
1. Museum And Gallery Openings
Are you a fan of art, culture, and history? Museums and art galleries have opening parties for their special exhibits on a nearly weekly basis. These are great opportunities to chat with other people in a low-stress environment: you know that they’re there because they also like art (or whatever era of historical bits are on display), and as such, there’s no pressure to talk about yourself immediately. You can discuss what’s being shown, and will most likely keep running into the same people at future events.
There’s also usually wine and cheese and such being passed around, so you can snack while you’re socializing. It’s also a great opportunity for poor students to take full advantage of, as you can get fed while taking in an awesome exhibit.
2. Ghost Walks (or Hunting…)
If you have a predilection for all things supernatural, look into ghost walks or other tours taking place in your area! Just about every city on the planet has a few haunted buildings to check out, and if you’re interested in diving into spooky situations, you can rest assured that others nearby are as well.
Should you happen to be a more adventurous creature, you can get together with a ghost hunting or paranormal investigation group. Rather than just walking around places that may or may not be haunted and listening to a tour guide talk about who died where, these groups take a more active role and try to seek out the departed denizens of a particular place. Depending on where you live, you might get to explore castles or abandoned hotels, and use cool equipment to take energy readings and record disembodied voices.
Bonus: your shared terror can be drawn upon for bonding purposes in a pub or café after the event.
3. Community Groups
Many communities have regular get-togethers where you can hang out with your neighbors and take part in things that affect your own area. These could be community garden projects, charity events, sports tournaments, and swap meets.
Most of us are quite insular and don’t even know our own immediate neighbors, let alone other people down the street, so this is a great chance to get to know new people nearby.
One very positive aspect about this type of social activity is that you can stay close to home, and if you need to leave at any time, it won’t take you long to get back to your house. This is especially good for people who suffer from social anxiety, or have health issues or limited mobility.
Cooking classes can help you meet people with similar culinary interests, while creative classes will help you hone your own skills while interacting with those who may share your leanings. Many of these groups are also intergenerational, so you can interact with people of all different ages and backgrounds.
You can determine for yourself how much personal interaction you’d like with the other people learning around you: sometimes it’s nice to just be in the presence of others while doing your own thing, ye know?
If you’re looking for more interpersonal social interaction, taking a language class is a great option, as you’ll have to practice your reading and speaking skills with a partner.
Those who haven’t taken part in volunteer work will be pleasantly surprised by how fulfilling it can be on countless levels. By taking part in volunteer opportunities, you’ll not only be doing good in your community, you’ll meet people with similar values while making a real difference in the world.
There are countless volunteer opportunities everywhere you go, so you can be sure to find one that suits you best. If you get along well with the elderly, you can volunteer at a retirement home. Love animals? Sign up as a dog walker at your local shelter so you can cuddle pups while giving them much-needed exercise. Soup kitchens almost always need additional help to feed the homeless, and charitable fundraising events generally need all manner of helpers to make them succeed.
6. Online Gaming
This might seem like the antithesis of what many people consider to be a social activity, but believe it or not, playing an MMORPG (that’s a massively multiplayer online role-playing game to you and me) can be a great social activity. In games such as World of Warcraft or Guild Wars, you can team up with others, join factions, and even talk strategy over a headset if you feel like interacting verbally.
By joining one of these guild groups, you can cultivate something akin to a band of brothers/sisters: you obviously share this interest, and you have each other’s backs. Balthazar the Cleric can raise you from the dead after an orc shoots a crossbow bolt in your eye, and you would gladly cleave a wyrm in twain to save Lord Vladimir98!
Gaming like this is also a great option for introverts who would otherwise have difficulty creating new bonds with others. Once you get comfortable interacting with those in your guild, you might have the opportunity to meet in person at a convention, should that interest you.
7. Meetup Groups
If you’re in a town with more than a hundred people in it, it’s likely that there will be some Meetup groups nearby. By checking out some of them, you can find others with whom you can discuss alien conspiracies, knitting techniques, imported cheeses, anime cosplaying… anything.
Just do a search online and prepare to be amazed at the social groups that exist all around you. Then, all you need to do is sign up, and show up! You’ll likely have an absolute blast, and can look forward to the next meetup. Over time, you may even develop some great, long-term friendships with others.
The key to getting involved in social activities is to look into those that actually suit your sincere interests, instead of trying to inject yourself into one that you feel you should look into because they seem cool. After all, the close friendships we develop tend to be with those who share our interests, values, senses of humor, and the like.
Real connection happens when we’re sincere, and that kind of sincerity only occurs when we can drop our ego walls and be authentic about what we love. If what you love happens to be Doctor Who-themed knitting projects and fusion Thai-Hungarian cuisine, you rock those passions! There WILL be others who share such loves, and those… those are your people.
Catherine Winter is a writer, art director, and herbalist-in-training based in Quebec's Outaouais. She has been known to subsist on coffee and soup for days at a time, and when she isn't writing or tending her garden, she can be found wrestling with various knitting projects and befriending local wildlife.