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One of the hardest things about moving is leaving your old friends behind. We are naturally social animals, and if you’re moving from Saint John’s to Calgary, Toronto to Vancouver, Montreal to Halifax, or practically any other combination you can think of, you may feel as though you don’t fit in. We are all Canadians, though, and ultimately, we find common ground – it’s just who we are. You will make new friends in your new location, but if you’re finding it difficult, try these strategies.
Often, we try too hard to find like-minded people. Maybe you’re used to hanging with hipsters, but the quiet, conservative couple next door could be a great source of conversation and different viewpoints. And vice versa.
Not everyone is going to like you, and not everyone is going to respond to your overtures of friendship. But if you don’t reach out, you’ll never know whether you would have been rejected or welcomed. Chat with people you meet, and if you like them, suggest going for coffee.
Sign up for classes that interest you. It’s a great way to meet people that you’ll have things in common with. Worst case scenario, you learn a new skill.
If you meet someone, and you hang out for a while, but they don’t return your calls or emails, or suggest a follow-up get-together, cross them off your list of potential friends. You may think you’ve “clicked,” but if they’re not following up, then obviously they have a different perspective. Also, don’t continue to socialize with people that you really don’t like all that much, or have much in common with, just because you’re lonely. Move on and look elsewhere.
Understand that you may not find one person – a best friend – who is going to meet all your needs. Instead, compartmentalize. Maybe you can find one person to go to the gym with, another who likes theater, another who enjoys thoughtful conversation over coffee, and so on. Sometimes, it’s neither realistic, nor fair, to expect one person to be everything to you.
You don’t always have to be with someone else. Maybe it seems a bit odd to, say, go to Tim Hortons without a friend, but one thing is almost certain – if you sit close to a group of “regulars,” at some point they will include you in the conversation. If they don’t, jump in with something like “I wasn’t exactly eavesdropping, but what you said is so true!” Next thing you know, you’re a regular.
You can also go to museums and strike up conversations with other visitors, chat with the cashier at the grocery store, talk to your bus driver, or even interact on the phone with a wrong number. You might be surprised at how many friendships end up being formed over things like “This isn’t Jeannie’s number, but since I had to answer the phone anyway, do you think the Toronto Maple Leafs have a chance at the Stanley Cup this year?”
These are just a few of the ways that you can make friends in your new location. And thanks to modern technology, you can always keep your old friends close, even when they’re far away from you. Stay in touch via email, on Facebook, or by phone. Hold your old friends close while you make new ones. Both will take effort, but both are also well worth it in the long run.
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