I recently wrote a piece on man-dating. Much of that post was about how to handle going out and reaching out to friends of friends or old friends, but one thing I didn’t cover was how to go about making friends any time you go out. I’ve covered it a little bit in the past, but with the new perspective of actually being new to a city and going through this challenge recently, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned in a month of living in New York.
For me, the challenge started when I went to a very popular young professional shul here. I had no idea where to start, aside from the one or two people I knew, and I found myself, for the first time in years, unable to work a room. I made a vow to myself to fix that though, so here’s what I did:
- Don’t act like you know anything about the environment around you… I have a habit that can be both good and bad, and that is my ability to walk into a room and act like I own the place. While it can sometimes be charming, I’m sure it can also come off as arrogant. The greatest mistake I made when moving to New York was acting as if I’d been there forever and understood how things worked.
- And yet, be observant… I’ve said it plenty on this blog, but observe things around you that make you curious. Ask someone if the crowd is normally this big, ask if they know a lot of the people, if they’re from the area, etc. Make comments about the food (food especially is a good common ground), the service, etc. Shared experiences are a basic building block of relationships, and reminding people through observing things that you’re sharing something helps a lot.
- Lean on the fact that you’re new… Introduce yourself immediately as a new guy/gal. It makes you immediately vulnerable and gives people a reason to introduce you around. You can be fairly socially inept at first given the guise of being new. This one even works if you’re not new to town — you may just be new to a group, but even that works at breaking down barriers.
I realize none of these are groundbreaking, but they helped me to make friends at synagogue this last weekend, and maybe they can guide you a bit as well.
under Date Night
It was seven o’clock on a Sunday, and I was frightened. I had already postponed our meeting thanks to a broken 1 train, and I was schvitzing from the bus ride. But I walked into the bar, ready to finally do this. It’d been a while.
We spotted each other right away, and though we’d never met, we instantly recognized each other as the people who had messaged each other such things on Facebook as “yo” and “wanna grab beers?”. It was so nice to have found this again.
“This” was friendship.
Moving to a new city was scary to me in many ways. I didn’t know anyone initially (luckily a last-minute roommate change meant I was living with a good friend who is also Jewish), and meeting new people in the big city can be tough. I was lucky to have mutual friends setting us up. So if you’re looking for new friends, whether in a new city or not, here’s some tips I’d like to offer:
- Tell your friends you’re looking. Like with dating, it’s easier for people to set you up if they know. And in this case, much less threatening to their relationship with that person if things go south.
- Even if you don’t plan to drink beer, go to a place that sells it. One of my best man-dates in the city was at a burger joint where the other guy drank some beers while I downed chicken fingers.
- Reach out to people you haven’t seen in a while. I met a guy in Barcelona who lived in New York and we reconnected, and I reached out to friends I met once in college.
- Work at it. For me, this has been a big one. Moving to a new city has meant I need to be proactive about my relationships. People will seldom go out of their way to make new friends, but building habits by staying in touch with people is a great lesson for all of life.
Though dating has been great here, I think friendships are also a vital part of life, especially with little family around you. Even if you’re not in a new city, try reaching out to friends of the same gender you may not have seen in a while. Building your network is vital, and you never know who might know a nice, Jewish girl (or guy) they never would’ve thought to introduce you to otherwise.