Volunteer. I know, I know. You barely have time to buy new underwear. How could you possibly commit to a soup kitchen? But even a three-hour shift somewhere can bring a multitude of benefits: from the mood boost of helping your community to the interaction with other energetic people. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box: from animal shelters to stream cleanings to nursing home theater troupes, there’s a volunteer opportunity for everyone.
The Wonders of Technology. Much has been written (in print and online!) about how much technology has revolutionized the way we socialize. But here’s the best part: meeting online can lead to in-person relationships, and no, we don’t just mean for men seeking out “HotChick439.” Virtually any interest you have, from knitting to horror films to that wisecracking local blogger, can provide an opportunity to connect with like-minded folk. Check out meetup.com for a great introduction.
Overcome Playground Awkwardness. It’s intimidating to try to strike up a relationship with someone you just met at the park; as you size her up and realize she uses the same sippies you do, you might fear becoming a stalker. But a simple “I’m often here on Friday afternoons if you ever want to meet up!” as you say your goodbyes is specific but open-ended enough to not be weird.
Build a Community. Whether you live in a high-rise or a cul-de-sac, you’re part of a community- like it or not. And research shows we have a much easier time befriending those with repeated proximity to us (as you and your college roomie can attest). If your neighborhood or condo building doesn’t have a listserv, start one. From there, why not initiate a book club, or a 4th of July block party, or a pet-sitting swap? The opportunities are endless once you have the initial connection.
Get Moving. You’d be amazed how quickly some get-up-and-go can translate into meeting new people. Whether it’s doing a more regular stroller circuit or squeezing in some gym time once in a while, the surge of adrenaline you feel can make you more energetic and engaged when connecting with others- and give you an easy, structured activity to lay the foundation of getting together.
About Andrea Bonior
Andrea Bonior is a licensed clinical psychologist, professor at Georgetown University, and writer. For more than five years, Dr. Bonior has written the twice-weekly mental health column “Baggage Check” for the Washington Post’s Express newspaper, known for its wit and frequent pop culture references. She’s appeared regularly on TV, writes a friendship blog here on ModernMom, has written on friendships for Yahoo! Shine, Woman’s Day and more. The Friendship Fix is her first book. www.friendshipfix.com.
Follow Andrea on Twitter @DrAndreaBonior