- Moving to a new, unfamiliar place can lead to your feeling lonely—but you can find back against these feelings and turn it into a positive experience.
- It’s important to get connected to your new home however you can: check out organizations and groups around you, or consider volunteering.
- Stay connected with your old friends, as keeping close ties with them will help to combat loneliness and they may even help you find connections in your new city.
- Consider seeing a therapist, as they can help you to address your lonely feelings, feel more comfortable opening up to others, and brainstorm ways to meet other people.
- Finally, be patient: growing comfortable in a new place and making new friends takes time—and that’s okay, don’t rush it.
I lived in the same neighborhood, in the same house for 18 years. And as much as I loved that neighborhood, that house, those people… I knew it was time for a change. So, I made my move, slowly but surely. I got into and attended my dream school, which was a few hours away from home and with very few familiar people. I know this might not sound like much, but to an 18-year-old who had never experienced a new place with new people, this move was big. Necessary. Exciting. And also extremely scary.
The first few weeks of my freshman year were difficult. Sure, I had a roommate, but we didn’t get along. And sure, there were at least 100 people in my dorm, but I was shy. And yes, I know—there were endless opportunities to connect with my classmates… but I kept to myself. Moving to a new and unfamiliar place is hard enough, throw social anxiety into the mix and things feel pretty hopeless pretty fast. Fortunately, though, I finally sucked it up and acknowledged that I’d have to put some effort into turning things around. And I quickly realized that opening myself to new people and experiences wasn’t as excruciating as I thought. If you’re in the same boat as I was a few years ago, put Andrea Liner’s tips to the test. Liner is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in young adults, life transitions, and relationships, and her advice perfectly aligns with the actions I took to turn my life around:
1) Get connected. “Many cities have a variety of social groups tied to organizations you may have been a part of. University alumni chapters, sorority and fraternity groups, national volunteer organizations, etc. By getting involved with these groups, you already know you’ll have at least one thing in common with the folks you meet there.”
2) Ask a friend. “Do you know anyone who knows anyone in your new city? Ask existing friends to connect you with people they know. If you have a friend in common, you may get along. And if you reach out offering to buy them a beer, who could say no?”
3) Get a hobby. “Join a run club, a gaming group, a gym, an art or language class, a kickball league, etc. Going to activities you enjoy basically guarantees that you’ll meet people with shared interests. And if you go consistently, people will start to look familiar and it will feel easier to strike up conversations.”
4) Stay in touch with old friends. “It can be easy to have an out of sight, out of mind mentality, but schedule time to stay connected with your old friends. A weekly FaceTime, or a quick hello text can help you feel connected and not alone while you build a new social circle.”
5) Find a therapist. “Therapy can be a great idea when you move to a new city, especially if you want to reinvent yourself or abolish old patterns. Qualified therapists can help you learn more about yourself, which leads to further comfort with others. Therapy can also help you identify interpersonal patterns that may be hurting your chances of finding new friends. Plus, it’s great to have at least one person to talk to in your new city.”
6) Take a deep breath, and be patient. “It’s incredibly normal to feel alone in a new city. Unless you’re someone who has always struggled to form relationships, chances are you will be able to make friends here just as you did in your last city. You won’t feel completely at home or like you’ve found a new crew right away, and that’s okay—don’t rush it! Let yourself feel lonely from time to time and you’ll appreciate your future new friends even more.”