Places To Meet People
Sometimes people have lots of potential friends in their lives and they just need to do more to try to hang out with them and start a relationship. But the opposite is just as often a problem, when they don't have many friendship prospects around. In that case they have to meet some.
Below is a long list of ways to meet new people. Once you've met someone, you can take the other steps required to possibly turn them into a friend.
Some more general points about being able to meet people
Before I get into the many places to meet people, here are some broader principles:
Characteristics of good places to meet people
Some places to meet new friends are better than others. The more of the following that apply to one the better:
- It's somewhere where the situation breaks the ice for everyone and naturally gives them reasons to talk to each other.
- It allows you to reliably see the same people several times, so you have a chance to get comfortable with them and gradually get to know them. It's not that you have one five minute chance to make a good impression and then you may never see them again.
- It allows you to meet people who are similar to you, in terms of your hobbies and values.
- It's somewhere where there's a core of regulars, but also new people continually entering the mix.
In the list below I've roughly arranged the points along these lines, with the easier ones toward the top.
You may have to force yourself out of your routine to meet people
Some people are a bit lonely because they've gotten into a daily pattern where they're either at work or school, or they're hanging around at home pursuing solitary hobbies. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, but if they want to meet some new friends they may have to shake up that routine. They might need to add some more social hobbies to their repertoire, or push themselves to get out and do things in the evening when they'd normally be chilling out in their apartment.
You may have to try out a few ways to meet people before one works for you
I don't have any official stats for this, but in my experience meeting people is one of those 80/20 things. You'll meet most of your new friends easily through a handful of avenues, while other ones won't really work for you at all. You may go to a few events and not really run into anyone you could get to know better. Or you'll find making friends there is technically doable, but logistically difficult and aggrevating. Then you'll join one more club and effortlessly fall into an amazing social circle. Don't get discouraged if your first few attempts don't seem to come to anything.
Lots of ways of meeting people aren't perfect
You can handicap yourself by looking for the ideal set of circumstances to meet people under. Sometimes you have to work with the so-so hand you've been dealt. For example, someone may attend swing dancing classes and feel there's not enough opportunity to get to know anyone, since new people are always coming and going, and there aren't a lot of chances to talk. The situation may just not be workable for them, like the point above was getting at. Or they may have success if they stretch a bit, say by inviting potential friends out anyway even if it is more of a low percentage play, or by coming earlier or staying later to create time to chat.
You've got to have some tolerance of uncertainty and rejection
If someone is minimally confident and sociable they should eventually be able to meet some new friends, regardless of where they do it. On the other hand, if they're just too shy or insecure or awkward, then none of the methods for meeting people will seem to pan out. If that's the case they should try to work on those other issues as well.
Places to meet people
Right before I get to the list, I'll mention that this article covers some ways you can find out about things that are going on in your city in the first place: How To Find Events And Clubs In Your Community
Through your friends, significant other, and other people you already know
This is obvious when you think about it, but I put this point first because it's way more helpful than chatting to strangers in the grocery store. If you meet one person you click with you could potentially meet their buddies.
- If you already have some friends you can make a conscious effort to meet their social circle. You could throw a party or organize an event with the invitation that they bring other people they know. Or you could ask your partner if they've got any friends you might hit it off with.
- Meeting someone's friends is a higher quality "meet" compared to a total stranger. The ice is already broken. You have things in common (your mutual friend, if nothing else). They're probably going to be friendly and make an effort to chat to you. They're somewhat pre-screened for characteristics you like because they already know your friend. You're more likely to meet them more than once and have a chance to get to know them and see if you get along.
- Also, having a friend with you can make it easier to approach other strangers. Two people approaching a group to talk is a little less intimidating than having one person having to go in all by themselves.
- This general point can also work on a much smaller scale. Like you could start a conversation with a guy in a pub and two minutes later be introduced to his mates.
- Ideally you can meet somone new who has a ton of friends, and is always inviting you to group events or throwing them themselves. That's not to say you should discount people with smaller social circles.
Another standard option. Your job gives you lots of time to get to know your co-workers:
- People who are student-aged in particular often report being able to meet a lot of friends from part-time jobs in call centers, restaurants, or large stores. The other staff are generally in the same age group, and new employees are constantly coming on board.
- If you work alone from home, you could join a co-working space.
- I realize it's not realistic for most people, but if it's possible you could consider switching to a job with more social opportunities, or picking up another one on the side. For example, if your current part-time position is doing data entry all by yourself, you could start working the odd shift as a banquet waiter.
Like you could put in a few hours a week at a food bank, or agree to help out at a one-off fund raising party. It can be a good way to meet people who have similar values to you. I mean, not just anyone signs up to help a particular organization for free.
There's classes in the sense of being a high school or university student, where of course you'll have a ton of chances to meet people. There's also the option of signing up for a class out of your own interest in cooking or drawing or whatnot. Personally, I think signing up for a class purely to meet people is a bit excessive, but if there's a topic you want to learn about anyway, than why not?
I think one small flaw with classes is that you spend a lot of time learning and focusing on the teacher and not necessarily being able to socialize with anyone. You're often restricted to before the instructor starts talking or afterward as everyone is filing out of the room.
- You can break the ice with someone with the whole, "Let's exchange contact info in case one of us misses a day" thing. Talking about the course material or instructor also comes naturally.
- If you get assigned to do group work with people, then the class just did you a favor.
- If you meet someone you like early in a university course, it's probably better to become their class buddy and sit with them for the rest of the semester rather than seeing what's behind "door number three". You can get to know them well and hopefully become friends outside of class.
Workshops or retreats
These are similar to classes, but take place over a shorter, more intensive time. When you've spent three whole days with a small group you can really get to know everyone, and it often feels like a logical next step to exchange contact info and keep in touch with some of the other participants after.
A club or organization
The appeal is obvious. You join up and you instantly know a group of people who share a similar interest to yours. You can also start your own club or informal meet up. For example, you could start up a book club and have the first meeting be at your house or a quiet local cafe.
A sports team or league
Joining the team gets you admission to a group you'll see for the next few months at least. You'll develop some camaraderie from playing together, and socializing after the game will naturally. Leagues also vary in how sport-focused and competitive they are. Some are all about playing and take it pretty seriously. Others are just a glorified excuse to go for drinks once the match is over. They may not even play a "real" sport, instead going with something much more casual and friendly to non-athletes, like dodgeball or kickball.
Through your religion
If you're religious there are lots of opportunities for you to meet like-minded people. Besides from attending regular services at a church / temple / mosque / etc., and meeting people that way, there may also be offshoot events, recreational activities, and clubs you can take part in (e.g., a religious study class, a group that organizes monthly charity events, the stereotypical bingo night). Different churches have different flavors to them based on their denomination, the types of people who attend, and so on, and you may have to try a few out before you hit on one that has a community you click with.
Through your kids
If you've started a family there are a lot of ways to meet people, mainly other parents, through your kids:
- You can talk to other parents at the playground, or before and after daycare or school, or during Little League games.
- You can get to know the parents of your children's friends.
- You can get involved with organizations like a Parent-Teacher Association.
- You can volunteer your time as a coach or whatnot, and get to know the other adults who are involved as well.
Your living situation
Obviously more things factor into a decision of where to live than whether your place can help you meet people. However, if you really want to improve your social life then your living arragement is something to consider:
- If you're in university living in a dorm during your first year is a good bet (many people who chose to live on their own off-campus first year will tell you it cost them too many chances to make friends). You'll meet a lot of your neighbors naturally, but you can also go out of your way to introduce yourself to everyone. Or just make sure to hang out in the common areas and chat to whoever shows up. Joining a fraternity/sorority is even better, though it's not for everyone. Another decent choice is sharing a house or big apartment.
- Having the right roommate can be a big boost to your social life. You may hang out together, or get to chat to their friends when they bring them around.
- Living in a large building with lots of other people your age around is better than being in a small place with no one who's similar to you.
- Even in smaller apartment buildings sometimes months can go by between running into a particular neighbor in the hall or laundry room, but if you do see someone, chat to them and possibly invite them to hang out if they seem alright. If they invite you to drop by their apartment one day, actually take them up on their offer.
- If your living situation really hinders you (e.g., you live alone in the middle of nowhere), moving might be something to consider. But again, I know this isn't something everyone can just do spur of the moment.
I find this one tends to vary from family to family. Some people are close to their cousins, and hang out with them as they would with any other friend. In other families there's more an attitude of, "Ugh, why would I want to spend time with my dorky relatives?" The same thing applies to siblings. Some people get along with their close-in-age brothers or sisters quite well, and their social circles intermingle. For others, being buddy-buddy with their sibling is the last thing they'd want to do. If you're from the type of family that's open to hanging out with relatives or siblings, there may be some potential unexplored friendships there. Maybe you'll hit it off with all of your cousin's buddies?
A job where you get to be friendly with the public
The first ones that come to mind for me are nightlife job like bartender, bouncer, or DJ. The next thing that comes to mind is being a barista in a coffee shop. The idea is that the customers will tend to talk to you, or it's natural for you to chat to them during quiet periods. Any kind of customer service position can work really. The ideal situation is probably working at a store directly related to one of your hobbies, and where customers stick around for a while to speak to each other and the staff.
At a party
A party may be held by a friend, through your job, or through an association at your school. You could also throw one yourself. Either way, they gather a lot of people together, who are all pretty open to mingling with each other and making new contacts.
An individual sport
If team sports aren't your thing then you can still get a lot out of more individual sports where people gather together to train or compete.
- If you play a competitive individual sport then you can meet the people you play against. Your gym may have a day where people can show up at a certain time and then pair off to play. Some will have bulletin boards where you can leave notices or put your name on a sheet to find opponents.
- Another broad category is sports where people show up at one place to train together, for example, martial arts or rock climbing gyms, or skate parks. These places usually have a pretty informal atmosphere and it's common for people to chat or help each other out (e.g., holding the pad while one person practices their kicks, belaying someone or giving them pointers, etc.)
- Finally, there are some individual sports like swimming, where everyone pretty much does their own thing, but they all have to show up at the same place to do it. After a while you're bound to end up talking to some of the other regulars.
Any hobby or sport where people congregate at a designated time and place
Near where you live there may be a basketball court with a pickup game that goes on every Saturday morning. There may be a spot at the university where every Monday at 9pm students who are interested in break dancing get together to practice. Every Sunday morning at a nearby nondescript parking lot hobbyists may meet to screw around with their remote controlled cars. If you're into the same kind of stuff, you can show up and join in.
This method still has a touch of outdated stigma attached to it, but pretty much everyone does it at some point.
- You could go on a site like Meetup.com to find events to attend. You could even start your own group to meet like-minded people. Meetup.com is the most known, but there are other apps and sites dedicated to meeting friends.
- You could post on a local social media group to say you're looking for a tennis partner or spread the word about a club you're organizing.
- You can directly reach out to people in your area on social media. Like if you're a musician you could send a message to another local performer, say you like their work, then eventually ask if they'd like to get together.
- Some people use online dating sites or apps to look for friends. In their profile they'll say something like how they're new in town and are just looking for people to hang out with, not date.
- On groups or forums related to things like music or bands you can announce you're going to a certain concert and put out an invitation for anyone else who's coming to meet up with you.
- You can meet up with people from a website you frequent in real life. Discussion forums often arrange local meet ups. Other types of conversation-oriented sites can do the same thing.
One issue with meeting possible friends through sites where the members have time to build a presence for themselves is that sometimes people portray themselves a certain way online, and come across totally differently in real life (whether intentionally or not). This can lead to disappointment on either end. Sometimes you'll be disappointed in the people you meet. At other times it's you who's doing the disappointing. The latter can be a knock to your self-esteem. Be aware of this, especially if you tend to come off as awkward in real life, but are confident when you're behind a screen.
A solitary activity that you can make social
If you have an interest that you normally partake in on your own, you may be able to introduce a social element into it. For example, if you like running, then put out a call for a running buddy. If you normally mountain bike by yourself then you could find a group that rides together on the weekends. If you like reading you could start a book club. If you like playing an instrument then start a band or join one. If you're a writer you could organize a group where people meet to share what they've been working on and help each other improve. If you're into comics or card games maybe you can hang around the store with the other hobbyists instead of staying at home.
If you think a certain type of group or club would interest you, but there isn't one around then try starting one yourself. As I mention at the start of this article on making plans being an organizer is a powerful way to take charge of your social options.
Having something to offer other people
This works in two ways: First, it can cause people to seek you out. Second, it gives you leverage to start conversations. With this approach you do have to be careful not to let yourself get used. If there's something you have that other people appreciate, there's nothing wrong with leveraging it a little, but don't let yourself be taken advantage of by someone who has no interest in being your friend.
There are tons of examples:
- If you're good at something, and have a reputation for being helpful, then people may come to you for advice. For example you may be one of the better members at your rock climbing gym, and if you're not too aloof or condescending, people will come to you for pointers.
- If you have artistic talent you could join a club and offer your services, like volunteering to design the posters for a student association's pub night.
- You may have access to something other people like or find useful, like a car, cottage, nice apartment, or connections to get into certain bars for free.
Bars or pubs
First, if you hang around a place long enough eventually you'll see who the other regulars are and it will only be natural to get to know them. Also, if you play a game like pool, darts, or air hockey you can ask other people to play against you. You're bound to talk to them as you play.
A part of town where people from a certain group tend to hang out
If you identify with a certain scene or subculture and know other people from that group usually hang around in a certain area, then go there as well. You may end up striking up a conversation with someone you have a lot in common with, especially once you've been seen around enough that other people decide you're probably alright.
Crowded places (e.g., a small bar with music, comedy, or readings)
If you're going to a book reading you may meet some people just because the circumstances force everyone to sit close together, or ask to share a table. Often it's only natural that you chat to each other a bit.
Random local events
On any given week there will be lots of assorted events in your town. There may be a food festival at a local park. The library may be holding a talk by a filmmaker. Go to any that strike your fancy. Some of them may be a bust in terms of meeting people, but if nothing else you'll get to have some new experiences.
You know, coffee shops, museums, the grocery store. If you're outgoing and confident you can strike up conversations with people in these places, and you may hit it off with some of them and arrange to keep in touch. However, I think the options above are easier. Approaching strangers can be scary, and your average person who's out shopping isn't in a "meeting new friends" head space.