We humans evolved to need connection with other people. Like other mammals, we need the pack or the herd for safety and companionship. But modern life makes social connection (the in-person kind) harder than it was when we lived in villages with extended family all around. Many people are lonely, would like more friends, or are looking for a romantic partner.
Fortunately, there are lots of ways to meet people. The key is finding activities you enjoy—and finding ways to do them with a group.
If you’d like to expand your (non-digital) social network, try any or all of these:
Do an activity sponsored by your parks & rec department. Most towns have a recreation department that offers a range of activities, including some for adults. Pick-up volleyball or basketball, maybe? You don’t even have to be good at the sport, just willing to make an effort.
Join a Meet-Up group. Look on-line for Meet-Ups in your area. There are groups for every imaginable interest–dining, movies, kayaking, knitting, you name it. Someone organizes a group, posts it on-line, and other people show up at the appointed time. The whole point of Meet-Up groups is to get people together around a shared interest–perfect for finding new friends.
Go to lectures or organized hikes. If there’s a college anywhere near you, there are likely free lectures open to the public. Or maybe the local museum, art group, grange, or historical society offers lectures or walking tours, or a conservation group offers themed hikes. You might learn something 🙂 –and you’ll be out with like-minded people.
Join a sports group. Is there a softball league in your area? a bowling league? adult soccer? kickball? hockey? a cycling club? Anything you enjoyed when you were younger—or always wanted to try—is a great place to start.
Take an adult education class. Adult ed courses are a great value, and there’s likely a huge variety of offerings—everything from Italian cooking to guitar to meditation to crafts to French to computers. Read the local adult ed brochure (on paper or on-line) and sign up for a course that interests you.
Participate in an exercise class. If you like to go to the gym, add a class into the mix. Zumba? Spin? Boot camp? Yoga? Water aerobics? You’ll get the same health benefits as working out solo, plus you’ll meet people.
Join a faith community. Churches, synagogues, and temples are wonderful places to meet people and form deep connections. People in faith communities aren’t perfect, of course, but they’re almost always welcoming. If you’re not part of a faith community, consider visiting one (or several, to see what feels like a “fit” for you). You might start with a faith tradition that’s part of your heritage, or maybe something quite different. (You don’t have to believe 100% of what the faith espouses, by the way; it’s enough to just be curious.) At a minimum, attending a worship service gives you quiet time away from the swirl of daily life. If you attend regularly or get involved, you’ll get to know wonderful, caring people.
Find a social dance group. In many areas, there are groups of dancers that meet weekly or monthly, sometimes with live music. There are often beginner lessons available for newbies. What might be fun to try? Swing dance? country line dance? hip hop? ballroom? blues? A quick on-line search can show what’s available near where you live.
Join a book group. Most libraries offer at least one book group. If you’re a reader, find one that fits your schedule and give it a try. Discussions about the books open doors to curiosity about one another’s lives, so you really get to know the people in your group.
Volunteer. There are dozens of ways to get to know people while doing good in the world. What appeals to you? You might serve meals at the local soup kitchen; organize a fundraiser for a family in need; advocate for a candidate or for an issue; tutor kids at a local school; welcome visitors at the hospital; drive for Meals on Wheels; help at a charity thrift shop; visit residents at a nursing home or a prison; care for animals at a shelter. There is a volunteer possibility to fit every interest and skill set.
Any of these options will give you something fun to do—which is much better than sitting home alone every night. Many of them will make you more knowledgeable and more interesting to the people you meet. Others are good for your health, which obviously benefits you but also makes you more attractive to potential friends (more energy, rosy glow, and all that 🙂 ). All of them give you something to talk about when people ask “What do you do with your free time?”
In each setting, your goal is to be friendly and to look for people you’d like to get to know better. Who seems like a nice or interesting person? Who in your class or on your team would you like to have coffee with? Begin to talk to people, and before you know it, some of them will become friends.