Has the pandemic made it harder to meet friends?
I get it. It has for a lot of people.
But the good news is that while there are new limitations on socializing these days, there are still simple ways we can adapt to keep growing our social lives even now.
In my course about how to make friends and create better social circles, I point out how important it is to take the initiative to spend time together with the people we want to build friendships with.
And while that is still true, there’s no denying that it’s a little trickier now than it was when I first made that course back in December.
For the last few months, I’ve gotten several emails from students asking how they can adapt to the pandemic, instead of giving up on making new friends.
So this article will be about how to make friends in the pandemic. And it’s especially aimed at those who live in areas where their every-day situation is noticeably different than before.
The basics still stand.
Let me get this out of the way first. Every piece of advice I share in the course still works. And most of them are still important.
We just have to adapt them to what’s safe and do something that fits within ours and the other person’s boundaries.
Our number one priority should be to keep ourselves and our fellow humans safe. Once we know how to do that, we can apply our techniques and strategies in whichever way they fit.
An example of adaptation.
Let’s say that you’ve been pinging an old acquaintance. The conversations have started flowing nicely, and it’s time for you to give your invitation.
In the old world, all we’d have to do is say, “We should get together in real life, let’s go do <activity> on <day> at <time>.”
Today, though, many activities are shut down. And more than that, many people have new boundaries for what they’re comfortable doing socially.
So how do we adapt?
By learning those boundaries and creating an invitation that fits within them (as well as our own, of course).
And how do we do that?
By sharing and asking.
We tell them that we’d like to meet and suggest something that is within our boundaries. Then we simply check to make sure that it’s something the other person is ok with too.
“I’d love to get together in real life. I’d be comfortable meeting up for a walk outdoors with masks. Is that something you’d be ok with?”
If the answer is yes, we’re good. Just set a day and a time, and enjoy your walk together.
If the answer is no, we simply ask what their boundaries are and see if there’s anything we’d both like to do within those. If there isn’t, or if the other person is choosing not to socialize at all, we accept that and move on to what I describe in the final section of this article.
Adapting everything else.
So as you probably see by now, there’s no rocket science to this.
All we have to do is take a moment to think about how the strategy or technique we want to use fits within the pandemic boundaries we have and check with the other person if their comfort level matches ours.
But what if the other person is someone you don’t know? Or it’s a situation where you can’t know their comfort level before you use the technique?
All you have to do is to make sure you adhere to the guidelines and mandates that are in effect for your area.
An example could be if you’d like to start a conversation with a stranger at the supermarket.
If your area mandates wearing masks and social distancing, just make sure you’re wearing your mask and staying appropriately far away when you start talking to them.
Once the conversation gets going and you want to move on to something more, you can now check for their boundaries.
“It’s been really nice talking to you, I’d like to do it again sometime. Would you be comfortable getting together for a walk outdoors later this week?”
(And remember, like I point out in the course, there are also lots of ways to meet new people online. And these days online communities tend to be more active than ever!)
When comfort levels don’t match.
If your comfort levels with the other person make it impossible to come up with a real-life activity that you can both enjoy – don’t.
Keep nurturing the friendship via phone, video chats, messaging, or whatever the two of you prefer.
Several of my clients in heavily affected areas have created “online friendships” with people that they now talk to regularly. And most of them feel like that’s almost as good as real-world friendships these days.
Don’t let the fact that there are fewer opportunities discourage you.
If you focus on the problem, it might end up seeming impossible to make friends in the pandemic.
So instead, look at the possibilities that still exist, and take advantage of them.