• Making Friends

How To Make New Friends During The Coronavirus Pandemic

May 16, 2020 | By | 7 Replies Continue Reading

Making new friends can be challenging during the best of times but the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing measures associated with it have added another layer of complexity to friend-making and socializing.

In this era of no hugs and no handshakes, many people report that stay-at-home requirements have even strengthened their desire to be with other people. They can’t see older parents, grandparents, adult children or extended family, and those who are working remotely are physically separated from co-workers, too. 

There are fewer opportunities, too, to have even casual contact with other people, something that ordinarily takes place while shopping, commuting or going about the tasks of daily living. This social isolation can be especially hard for people who live alone.

Previously, someone might take a class, join a gym, or join a civic or neighborhood group to make new friends but these are no longer possibilities. Even Meetup, a popular platform for creating and participating in local get-togethers based on shared interests, is only operating online during this crisis.

Not only is making new friends more difficult now but many of us have less psychic energy to do so because of the stress associated with the virus and the havoc its wrought on our lives and livelihood. There are still so many unknowns, including the duration of the restrictions in place. 

One reader posted on Facebook: “I would have a hard time finding the emotional energy to pursue a new friendship at this point. Getting from day to day maintaining a reasonably optimistic attitude is taking all my time and energy right now.”

Making new friends during a pandemic

 

Tips for making new friends during a pandemic

For those who do want to connect with new friends or nurture a dormant friendship from the past, here are a few suggestions:

Mine your neighborhood

Your neighbors are in the same proverbial boat as you and you already have something in common. Is there a list of neighbor contacts in your apartment building, in your housing development or on your block? If so, you can initiate contact by phone or email. If not, you might want to check out an app like Nextdoor that creates neighborhood-based networks. A few years ago, my friend and colleague, Laura Kelly, wrote a guest post for this site that described her experience using Nextdoor. 

Track down old school friends

Using Facebook and LinkedIn, it’s gotten pretty easy to connect with schoolmates from the past, whether they’re from elementary school, middle school, high school or college. Many people are home with more free time and they might be pleased to take a trip down memory lane with an old acquaintance. You can start with an email to assess their interest in reconnecting and if they are, you can plan a phone call or video meet up afterwards. Of course, there is always the risk that the person you contact will either be busy or have no interest in reconnecting but don’t take it personally. Just move on to someone else.

Reach out to work friends

For many essential workers, it’s business as usual but legions of others are now working remotely from home. Some of your former colleagues may also be retired. Regardless of their status, it’s a nice time to catch up with friends you worked with in the past, or to suggest a phone call with someone you’re currently working with during the day. Many people who rely on videoconferencing for work complain of “zoom fatigue” after a long day of meetings but might welcome a relaxing evening phone call. One practical tip: Be mindful of interrupting the work schedule of someone who is working at home or who has the additional responsibility of home-schooling their children. Most people appreciate a head’s up text before getting a phone call.

Take a walk

With the weather improving and plants in bloom, getting outdoors can be beneficial for one’s physical and mental health as long as people avoid densely populated areas, maintain social distance and wear masks. As you walk, it can be nice to wave and say hello to people in the neighborhood, even if the relationship remains casual. Don’t limit your interest to people who “look just like you.” If you’re a younger person, you might offer to shop for a high-risk or vulnerable neighbor who lives nearby.   

Pick up a pen

With more time on their hands than ever, many people would enjoy getting a heartfelt letter from a once-friend. Share some of your thoughts and add a few words of encouragement to someone who may be just as interested in a human connection as you are. As the political season gets into high gear, you might want to volunteer to write postcards to potential voters encouraging them to get to the polls on Election Day. One of my neighbors is involved in an organization called Postcards to Voters. (There are probably similar efforts being made by other political parties.) Not only will you feel a sense of belonging but you will also be making a difference.

Making friends during COVID: The bottom line

Admittedly, it is a tougher time than usual to make new friends. If you are fortunate enough to connect with a new person over shared interests or experiences, these friendships might not last when things get back to the new normal. Most friendships, even very good ones, don’t last forever. But some of your experiences in seeking our new friends during this challenging time might serve you well in the future.


6/10/20 A recent word of caution about NextDoor

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Category: MAKING FRIENDS

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  1. Clarity says:

    Making friends? I can’t even connect with the ones I have! I belong to a walking group and of course we can’t meet now. So I’ve been sending short chatty emails and cartoons to them trying to keep in touch, but I don’t get much in the way of reply.
    Once we were allowed one person in our house I invited a couple of them over, individually, for coffee. I made biscuits and cake, and I thought they enjoyed it.
    But since then I’ve had no contact, no return invitations, no emails. They have family nearby, children and grandchildren. I only have one family member in my town and I don’t dare get on public transport to visit. So I’m completely alone.
    I don’t have neighbours I could connect with, they’re all very young renters, mostly out during the day, and some have been quite hostile to me.
    I will have to give up looking for company and resign myself to being alone.

    • Irene says:

      Sorry you had these disappointing experiences. Many people are psychologically inaccessible during this pandemic. They may be consumed by worry or frustration, or be overburdened with responsibilities. All you need is one person to connect to so don’t give up completely. Sending short chatty emails sounds like a great approach.

      • Clarity says:

        No, the people I know are all doing just fine, no money worries, and they have family living near them. That’s the problem – they have family close by so they have no interest in friendships outside of the family circle. I have no relatives close by. So I’m trying to reach out and maintain friendships but they really have no need of me. Actually this has always been a problem, Covid or not. Many women in the over 60 age bracket can’t seem to open up to people outside of their families.

        • Kim says:

          Hey Clarity,

          It is super tough out there. I have my family in town and can see them but I’m still lonely and depressed. I seem ok on the outside but I’m not. I can tell you, if I was one of your friends I would be so delighted to come over even if I didn’t return the favor. I encourage you to try again and before they leave- set up the next get together. I forget to reach out to people and feel like they may not want me over but I’m wrong and the second I reached out to friends- they were happy to plan a meetup. Hopefully it sticks. I did tell each one of them that I want a friendship where I see them weekly or at least a few times a month. Let your needs be stated so there is no confusion. Good luck. I think they are lucky to have you.

        • Kay says:

          Clarity…Hi Your problem resonates with me!…I have found exactly the same situation…I live on my own and have one or two friends…but naturally their families come first..and if I dont phone for a chat they dont contact me let alone visit! I too sometimes feel lonely and depressed and I used to be so carefree! You are welcome to contact me if you wish..if only as a penfriend as You live in the USA? Regards Kay

          • Alma Bond says:

            I am an elderly woman, a much published writer, who is looking for a correspondent. If you would like to communicate with me to discuss our lives, I would be happy to hear from you.
            Warm regards,
            Alma

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