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Sunday 17 November, 5:22pm
I’ve just walked back from the train station in the town I now live in and bumped into three different people I know. One from my book club, another a friend of a friend, the third someone in the running club. Three years ago I moved here, and already I know more people than in my previous city, where I’d lived for more than 15 years.
When my husband and I moved here, we were well aware that we were moving to the other end of the country, well away from our set of friends that we’d known for years, some since school. It was daunting, but in a strange way it was an advantage. Previously we’d relied on established friends and people we met through work, but moving so far we knew we had to make a concerted effort to make new friends. What did we learn along the way, looking back?
Joining the online friendship site for women, togetherfriends.com really helped me, particularly in the early days. It put me directly in touch with women who were also looking for friends, some in a similar situation, without me having to break into an established clique or friendship circle. Two people I met in this way have become firm friends. A third was a good initial friendship until her circumstances changed and ironically she moved away.
We made the effort to join clubs that reflected existing interests, such as singing and sports. We already had something in common with these folk, but these have been slower burn friendships as it took time to develop outside the club. These became deeper friendships when we met one on one, bumped into each other in the pub, or were invited to a birthday party.
Some good friendships have been formed by friends who have been generous enough to introduce us to their friends. One running friend invited me to join her book club, which opened up a new circle of people. A good friend from online introduced our husbands to each other, they gelled and that created a different network of hobbies and connections.
I am naturally shy, but the challenge spurred me to be brave! I invited a work contact out for coffee, which developed into a friendship. I volunteered for a charity and joined the committee of a club. Finally we threw a birthday party and were amazed at how many local people we knew who packed our house out.
Some friendships developed quickly, others have taken time to deepen. We tried several outdoor activity clubs, until we found one that we felt like we fitted into and then the relationships flowed from that. Some early contacts fell away naturally to be replaced by new ones.
I want to keep that spirit of openness that I cultivated when I first moved and be open to new experiences and friends.
I hope this helps you if you are moving to a new area, or your circumstances have changed and you
are looking to develop new friendships. And remember, if you are struggling to make new friends in your local town, togetherfriends might be able to help!