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How To Meet New People: 25 Ways To Expand Your Social Circle

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I’m not ashamed to admit that I have stalked friends. I didn’t really have a choice. After living most of my life in LA, I made a radical decision and moved to southern Mexico to be with my now husband.

Now I’m a girl that’s very comfortable with her own company, but who really wants a life without friends? Yes, there are studies that prove that people with meaningful social connections live longer, but do we really need science to tell us that friends make us happier?

Life is just so much richer when you have people to share your thoughts with, laugh with, vent to and share your successes with. And you don’t even have to move to another city or country to feel like you’re a little lacking in that department.

Sometimes we outgrow or just grow apart from our friends. We get caught up in our jobs, families and the other demands of life, and suddenly we feel lonely although we’re surrounded by people.

So what do you do when you don’t have a tribe and walking up to someone and saying “wanna play” is no longer an option? You stalk friends. My bestie from LA always laughed when I said I was stalking friends in my new country.

But it was just another way to say that I was consciously putting myself out there. Instead of waiting for friendships to happen, I treated my peep search like it was a special project and started actively looking for my tribe.

And it worked. Not overnight. And some friends that I met at first went by the wayside after introducing me to people I had more in common with. The point is, you can make some great friends at any age if you open yourself up and push yourself even mildly out of your comfort zone.

So to all of you looking for a new bestie or even a whole new tribe, here are 25 ways to expand your social circle.

Related: What To Do If You’re Tired of Life [It IS Possible to Live Your Best Life] 

Take a Class

One of the keys to making new friends is finding people that share your interests. And a great way to do that is to take a class. It could be anything you’re into or want to get into.

Always wanted to explore Asian cooking? Learn more about photography? Maybe martial arts is your thing. These days, there’s a class for just about everything. And walking in, you already know that you share at least one interest with your classmates. You don’t have to be a wild extrovert to build up some friendships in class.

Yeah, it’s harder to make friends once you’re out of school. So why not go back?

Hang Out at the Gym

A lot of us tend to put in our air pods and focus on our set without connecting to the people around us. But gyms are actually a great opportunity to meet people. Whether it’s connecting with someone in our weekly pilates class or striking up a conversation with someone in the weights area, this is fertile ground.

So make a little small talk. Maybe ask someone if they want to grab juice after spin class. That work out buddy just might turn into a close friend.

Related: The 15 Best Gym Bags For Women Who Like To Work Up A Sweat

Join a Sports Group

Maybe you’re the athletic or at least the mildly athletic type. Whatever the case may be, there’s probably a league or group for you.

You could try a team sport like soccer, softball or even dodgeball. But you could also join a group of people that meet up to practice sports that you usually do alone, like a cycling or running club, for example.

And you don’t need to be intimidated if you’re not exactly a contender for the Olympics. Apps like Nike Run Club can help to hook you up with people of all levels who are training for a race.

And if you’re looking for something with a lot less cardio, there’s always bowling!

Check Out Local Sports Teams or Join a Fan Club

Maybe you’re not so much into playing sports as watching them. In that case, there’s still plenty of ways to meet new people.

Try striking up a conversation in the bleachers as you cheer on your local baseball or soccer team. Or, if you’re into the big leagues, join a fan club online and suggest a meet up at your local bar to see the big game.

You just might meet someone that’s also a fan of you.

Related: The 5 Best TVs Of 2020 [Under $1,000]

Volunteer

Is there a cause you feel strongly about? Why not put your passion to work and help out a group in need? It might be an animal shelter, a soup kitchen, helping at-risk kids or many other causes.

People who volunteer tend to be very empathetic, and bonding with them in a shared passion is a wonderful way to find meaningful friendships. Check out VolunteerMatch.org to find a group that matches your social concerns.

Join a Book Club

Maybe your interests are a little more intellectual. Joining a book club will not only expand your literary horizons, but it could also be a way to socialize more.

The beauty of a book club is that you automatically have a topic to discuss, and you’ll learn a lot about the people in the group as they share their thoughts. Check out websites like Reader’s Circle to find clubs in your area.

Related: 15 Ways To Start Reading More Books Right Now 

Join a Wine Club

When you mix people and alcohol, conversation usually begins to flow. And unlike walking into a bar during happy hour (which can be super intimidating), seeing the same people each week or month with a glass of wine will help you get to know them over time.

Even if you don’t meet your new bestie this way, you’re guaranteed to learn about some new vintages. And that’s never a bad thing!

Hang Out at the Dog Park

Your best friend might just be the key to finding another good friend. Chatting with other dog lovers as you watch your pets play is a natural way to socialize. And if you don’t have a dog park nearby, try walking your dog in areas with a lot of people around.

Many animal lovers like to stop and pet dogs, which gives you the perfect excuse to strike up a conversation. A cute pet can make the perfect wingman!

Join the Political Conversation

If you’re interested in politics, getting involved in local or even national issues will keep you engaged in the current events and with other people.

It could be volunteering in a political campaign or canvassing to get a local measure passed. Maybe there’s a hot button issue that has you really fired up. In that case, you may want to join a protest or rally.

Staying involved in what’s going on in the world is a great way to keep both political and personal conversations rolling.

Hang at Your Local Coffee Shop

Hanging out at your local coffee shop is another place where it’s natural to strike up conversations and meet friends. Yes, some people are buried in their computer or phones, but openings tend to present themselves if you’re looking for them.

So instead of staying glued to Instagram, take a look around while you sip that latte. And if you see someone that looks interesting, be ready with a friendly smile. There might just be some home office worker out for a coffee that’s just as anxious to make conversation as you are.

Be Neighborly

Why do we usually ignore our neighbors when we’re looking for friends? They’re like the obvious answer that is staring us straight in the face.

Neighborhoods have become the place to be thanks to this pandemic.

So if you want to connect with your community, try a friendly hello when you see your neighbor out in the yard. Or, if you’re new to the hood, try dropping by with some baked goods as a way to introduce yourself.

If you’re feeling really bold, you could even organize a neighborhood block party.

Don’t forget to love your neighbor, and they might just love you back!

Join your Chamber of Commerce or Networking Group

Maybe you own your own business, or you’re a driven professional. In that case, networking at your local chamber of commerce or with another professional group could help you meet business contacts and potential friends.

If you steer the conversation beyond business and into personal interests, you may find a business contact that also turns out to be a friend.

Club or a Pub Crawl

Going to a club or a pub by yourself can be pretty intimidating. But if you join a crawl, you’ll be surrounded by people looking to have a good time, which makes it the perfect atmosphere to jump in and start socializing!

And who knows? You could make a friend that lasts way beyond one night.

Related: 35 “Friends” Facts That Will Blow Your Mind 

Learn a New Language

Ever wish you could speak French, Chinese, Spanish or another language? It’s never too late to learn. And language class is definitely a place where you’re asked to interact with your fellow students.

You can even take your involvement beyond the classroom and form a study group. And if you get really fluent, you can even make friends in another language!

Join a Religious or Spiritual Group

If your faith is an important part of your life, it could make a solid base to start new friendships. Try joining activities at your local church, mosque or synagogue, and you’re sure to be surrounded by people with similar interests.

If your spiritual leanings are less conventional, you could get involved with a meditation group or another type of practice where people are looking to connect with their inner selves.

Go on a Spiritual or Yoga Retreat

When you go on any type of retreat, you’re not only surrounded by like-minded people, but you’re also usually immersed in an atmosphere where people are asked to share their authentic selves.

And what better way to start a meaningful friendship?

Get Cultural

Do you like theatre, the symphony or just hanging out in art galleries? Attending events is a good way to keep yourself in the public eye, but meeting people might be easier if you try to go a little deeper.

You might try becoming a member of the symphony and get involved in fundraising. If it’s the magic of theatre that appeals to you, you could think about volunteering backstage with a community group.

In other words, try taking your involvement from a spectator to a more active role, and you may be surprised at who you meet.

Related: 30 Things You Must Do Before You’re 30 [You Only Live Once]

Farmer’s Market

Farmer’s markets are a great way to buy local, healthy foods and other artisanal goods. And because they tend to have a more relaxed and friendly atmosphere than a grocery store, it’s usually easy to strike up a conversation.

Make shopping there a weekly ritual, and one of your casual acquaintances could grow into a genuine friendship.

Lectures and Book Signings

Lectures and book signings are a great place to strike up conversations with people as you automatically have a shared interest and a topic to discuss. And, it’s a great way for otherwise home-bound introverts to find like-minded friends.

Find something that interests you and be open to chatting with the person sitting next to you or other people as the mill around at intermission.

Dive into the Great Outdoors

Do you love spending time in the great outdoors? If you want to find other nature lovers like yourself, you could join a hiking group to start exploring your local terrain.

Or maybe you love the beach, but don’t love going alone. Try joining an organized activity at the lake or ocean like paddle boarding, kayaking, volleyball or even a surfing class.

Being in the great outdoors is a great way to put yourself out there!

Related: 14 Of The Most Beautiful Places To Go Camping 

Join a Foodie Group

Maybe there’s nothing you like to do better than try new restaurants. Well, you don’t have to go it alone. There are plenty of fellow foodies out there ready for culinary adventures.

Try finding a group on MeetUp or Facebook, and cuisine could be the entree to a whole new tribe of friends.

Have Your Friends Set You Up

What better way to make a friend that you’ll like than through friends you already like? If you’re moving to a new town and one of your friends has an acquaintance there, have them set you up. Locals can help you to get to know your new city, and you may end up having a lot in common.

Or if you haven’t moved but are just looking to expand your social circle, ask about other activities your friends are involved in and think about joining. You could find a new passion and a new friend along the way.

Join MeetUp.com

Maybe a lot of these activities sound fun, but you’re not quite ready to go it alone. In that case, MeetUp is a great way to connect with groups of people who are interested in the same things you are.

All you have to do is enter your city and a category, and you’ll find a ton of meetups near you. And because it’s not a date, there’s no pressure!

Join or Start a Facebook Group

Facebook groups or other social media platforms are also a great way to find people that share your interests. Put in your city’s name to see what local events are popular in your area.

Or you could even start a group yourself. It could be about anything! Board games, music, local restaurants. As the administrator, you’ll have to interact with all of the people in the group and can also set up get-togethers.

Related: 21 Virtual Birthday Party Ideas [Great For Any And All Ages] 

Try an App

People have been using dating apps in search of true love forever, so using one to find platonic love just makes sense. Skip the Tinder drama and check out some of these apps when you’re looking for that real-life friend:

Bumble BFF

This is the platonic version of the Bumble dating app.

Friender

Write a profile with your interests and this app will find “matches” for you.

Vina

This one is strictly for ladies looking to meet female friends.

Peanut

This is an app for new moms looking to connect with other new moms.

ATLETO

This app will hook you up with running buddies, tennis partners or people that practice any other sport you’re interested in.

REALU

This cool app helps you meet people IRL. If someone with the app is near you, say when you’re having a coffee, you can meet up and sip your soy lattes together!

Nextdoor

This app doesn’t match you up with specific people. But it does let you know everything that’s going on in your local community so that you can find things that interest you and become more a part of your neighborhood.

Meet My Dog

This is an app where you can set up playdates for your dog, which is also a playdate for dog owners by extension. If nothing else, your best friend may make a new friend.

Just Say Yes

Group of friends enjoying some music together

Well, friends, we hope you found some idea here that will inspire you to get out there and start meeting new people. In my personal journey, I’ve found that meeting new friends is really about expanding your own personal horizons.

And that means saying yes not only to things that interest you, but also saying yes to things that might make you a little uncomfortable at first. (Like asking a stranger out for coffee or accepting that random invitation to an office karaoke party.)

And though you may not make a new BFF at every single event, you will definitely become a more interesting person along the way. And you will eventually make new friends.

I’ve made new connections through my swim club, gym, Spanish class, chatting up my neighbors and other things on this list. And in recent years, I met a group of people that I can truly call my tribe through a Chi Gong and meditation class.

So I can personally attest to the fact that it is possible to make new friends after college. Even in a new language! Just put yourself out there and start saying yes!

You might also be interested in: Why Is My Vacation Self So Much Cooler Than I Am? 

25 Ways to Meet New People: 

  1. Take a Class
  2. Hang Out at the Gym
  3. Join a Sports Group
  4. Check Out Local Sports Teams or Fan Club
  5. Volunteer
  6. Join a Book Club
  7. Join a Wine Club
  8. Hang Out at the Dog Park
  9. Join the Political Conversation
  10. Hang at Your Local Coffee Shop
  11. Be Neighborly
  12. Join Your Chamber of Commerce or Networking Group
  13. Club or a Pub Crawl
  14. Learn a New Language
  15. Join a Religious or Spiritual Group
  16. Go on a Spiritual or Yoga Retreat
  17. Get Cultural
  18. Farmer’s Market
  19. Lectures and Book Signings
  20. Dive into the Great Outdoors
  21. Join a Foodie Group
  22. Have Your Friends Set You Up
  23. Join MeetUp.com
  24. Join or Start a Facebook Group
  25. Try an App

Sherry De Alba

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