How to make new connections after a long period of isolation
Loneliness in Lockdown
Throughout the past 18 months, so much of the world has changed. The collective trauma of a global pandemic has had a profound impact on the way that we socialise and where we can do it. So much of life has been moved online which has, understandably, made people potentially unable to make new friends in a physical space.
Provided that everyone has been safe, and that they are protecting themselves and others, there is no reason that we can’t begin to make new friends. The physical distancing that has been so necessary over the last year and a half has impeded our ability to make new and potentially meaningful friendships.
As a result, it may have spawned a new sense of social anxiety in many people: a very real sense of a lack of trust in people. The best piece of advice that we can offer is to be clear and direct when communicating with friends when meeting up in person. Ask them if they’ve been vaccinated, ask them to do a lateral flow test before coming over, tell them if you’ve been in contact with someone who has symptoms. It’s a difficult conversation to have sometimes, but have it. Friendships are based on communication, so in a way, it’s a good way to start off a potential friendship.
How to make new friends
We’ve compiled a list of pragmatic and active tips that you can use to help create new connections between yourself and others. These tips can be done online or in person, and we hope that they give you some help in creating new and meaningful social connections.
These factors are dependent on having the right mindset. If you start this process thinking that you’re not going to make any friends, then chances are that you are going to be disappointed.
Focus on being open
When we’re younger, we tend to be placed into situations and environments where we wouldn’t find ourselves normally (school, church etc.), and we are more or less stuck with the people around us. Try and embrace the way that you were in those situations, try not to overthink every last little detail of the friendship and where it might lead. Instead, remain as open as possible, within reason, and find common ground with those around you.
Make a list of potential friends
Another great (scary) thing about being an adult is the ability to choose who we spend our time with. Choosing a person that you are interested in, and reaching out to them specifically is a deliberate choice. Then putting in the effort to make a connection with that person may result in a new or stronger relationship. Remember to keep an open mind, and let things progress as they are.
We’re all busy people, doing lots of awesome things with our time, but if someone invites you to an event (online or in person), try and go along. Try not to frame it as an obligation, make a conscious choice to attend and frame your expectations as you are going along to be social and potentially make new connections.
Try new things
Nothing ventured, nothing gained right? You may not realise it but you may really like board games, or Iain M. Banks novels, or talking about gardening until three in the morning over Zoom. The point is that there are limitless possibilities, and chances are that there is something that you really love that you haven’t considered before. Be open to trying new things, and be willing to take the risk of being disappointed or bored.
Use a calendar
You’re a busy person with a lot of awesome things happening right now, so it may help you to plan your days in advance, setting aside time for specific events and activities. Why not do the same thing for your friendships? Some friendships are evergreen, in that they don’t require much maintenance, just an occasional watering every now and then, but some require cultivating and effort before they truly bear fruit. Plan and make time for those you want to spend time with.
Where to find new friends
There are many different places you can find new people to make a connection with, or speak to someone you haven’t talked to in a long time. There are many different places that you can meet new people: places of worship, volunteering, networking events or clubs.
With the explosion of things like Zoom and Discord, there are whole communities of people who are interacting online right now. Leverage your social media networks, find groups which are dedicated to subjects that interest you. Don’t be afraid to reach out and strike up a conversation with someone. Like we said before: nothing ventured, nothing gained. Kalda has a Facebook group, where we share our problems and support each other as well as make friends. Come and join us.
The benefit of making friends at work is that you already have a good grasp on the people you work with, so why not invite them out to a non-work thing? It doesn’t have to be the pub, it can be a coffee, or it can be anything else that takes your fancy. You may know them in a very particular context, and if you like them in that context, then there’s a chance that you’ll like them outside of it.
If you’re feeling intimidated, that’s understandable. Friendships require commitment and actively making time for each other. Some friendships require less effort than others, but they all require effort from everyone involved. Communication, coordination and committing to plans are just some of the things that it takes to make a friendship work.
I think it’s also important to remember that some friendships don’t last forever, and that’s okay. As people, we are constantly in a state of change, and some people grow apart from one another. There’s over 7 billion people on the planet, and I’m sure that there’s more than enough friends out there for all of us.