Alone in a New City

Have you ever moved to a new city without knowing anyone, and found yourself unsure of how to meet new people and network? Matt Pearce has a really great essay in The Pitch about his quest to make new friends in Kansas City—a very difficult task considering that Kansas City doesn’t really have a big urban center where people go to meet each other, and was ranked dead last in a list for the number of single people in the 40 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S.

In search of friends to hang out with, Matt turns to Craigslist. Here’s one of the more depressing ads:

Months later, one ad still stands out to me: “Married soldier here in need of friends, I came back from overseas and everything is different nothing is the same at home and with friends,” the post read. “Lots of my friends wont talk to me anymore, due to their views of my job and why i had to go. My best friend hates my guts, my wife cant stand me sometimes I just need some one to chat on here or meet for lunch once in a while.”

I messaged him. He never wrote back.

Matt does find a few people to hang out with, but he never really clicks with any of them—much like what happens with online dating. Eventually, he does a thing to help contribute to the low number of singles in Kansas City: He moves.

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20 Comments / Post A Comment

WaityKatie (#1,696)

I’ve found this in every new city I’ve moved to. It just gets harder as you get “older” (I’m only in my 30′s, but still) and everyone you meet in your age group is coupled off and flees to their family every night, lives in the burbs, or both. Basically if you can’t meet friends through work, I’m at a loss as to how to do it. Even in NYC. Especially in NYC.

sparrow303 (#1,641)

I had that experience in Chicago when I first moved here without knowing a soul. Luckily, being a grad student helped, and I found it was relatively easy to marshall people into hanging out? Throw a party, make sangria?

After the grad school friends moved back home, I got to know my work friends better. I suppose it would be a lot harder if you were 1) not a student and 2) not working in a more social job (I’m a teacher, but I could see being a freelancer or a copy writer, for example, would not perhaps lend themselves as easily to socialization…)

oiseau (#1,830)

I don’t work with anyone I can really relate to (all 10+ years older with families) and have lost touch with most high school/college friends. Am thinking about doing something like signing up for a class or going to a book club to meet people? How does one proceed with this stuff? The whole Craigslist thing skeezes me out big time.

Mike Dang (#2)

@oiseau I think Craiglist could work if you specifically look for “book clubs” or “writing groups” or something of that nature. The platonic section to find friends is a little sketchy. Also volunteering—I happened to meet two Billfold readers last week at a volunteer thing for Sandy, which was cool.

aetataureate (#1,310)

@oiseau Oh my gosh, please try any of the following things that look or sound interesting to you: Meetup.com groups (I play cards and run a Scrabble group), pickup sports at a local park or Y, league sports (even funny ones like kickball), bowling, knitting circles, literacy organizations you can volunteer with, churches or whatever that organize big rummage sales and need help. So many things you can try once.

themegnapkin (#444)

@aetataureate Right? I was miserably lonely in my “city” until I joined a knitting group and an exercise class. Now I am closer to the friends I met through these activities than I am to most of my college or grad school friends.

swirrlygrrl (#2,398)

@aetataureate Meetup!! I totally use them when I am working overseas (for about 2 month stretches – worked great in UAE, not so great in Egypt). I also found Counchsurfing events were great – people who like travelling and new people are generally awesome.

BornSecular (#2,245)

@oiseau You could try events at the library, if yours has a good program schedule. If you sing or play an instrument, you could look into local community music groups. I think a lot of people find a community with a church, but if that’s not your thing, I totally get it (me either). I need to make new friends soon because most of my cohort is having babies and can no longer hang out late.

selenana (#673)

@oiseau Definitely volunteering and book club. I found a whole new group of friends through volunteering, and I love my book club that I just joined two months ago. We only meet once a month but sometimes do other things like going together to the movie version of a book we’ve read.

aetataureate (#1,310)

I’m going to be really candid right now and say I don’t know whether to envy or pity people who find it easy to make friends. Because for me it has never been easy and the people I’ve ended up with are just fucking spectacular. And it has been a lot of work to find them and keep them, and it has taught me countless things about how to deal with conflict and differing values and people’s drastic life changes and choices. How to remember everyone’s different Things and know who will want to do what. All of it.

pretzels! (#853)

After college it’s been so hard to make friends. I meet people but never really connect with them. I moved to NYC five years ago and I still haven’t found anyone I would call a close friend. I have a social life but it’s all around a big group of acquaintances. Like, there’s no one I would call for a one on one lunch or to hang out with alone. It’s an odd feeling to live in such a big city and feel like you can’t connect with anyone.
I did the book club thing but then they changed it for only writers, of which I’m not. They didn’t even tell me…sad day that was.

WaityKatie (#1,696)

@pretzels! I feel ya, I’ve been in NYC over 2 years and still with nary a close friend. It really hit home when I had to evacuate due to the hurricane (I and my apartment ended up being fine, no worries) and there was no one in the city I could go stay with. I mean, I know several of my coworkers would have let me stay with them if I needed to, but it was awkward to ask because we aren’t close. I ended up staying with friends in Philly, which was great, but it also made it hard for me to get back to the city later because all the transport was shut down. It was like, if only I had a damn friend in the city that I live in! Ugh.

Flora Poste (#2,586)

This is making me feel so nervous about moving to start my first job on Sunday! Especially as the (large) office is actually in a small village, and I don’t know the surrounding area that well. And I don’t have any hobbies. Apart from maybe drinking? Aaargh!

Brunhilde (#78)

@Flora Poste Drinking is the best way to make friends.

Flora Poste (#2,586)

@Brunhilde Propping up the bar it is then!

Brunhilde (#78)

@Flora Poste I honestly have met all of my friends at bars. Every time I switch neighborhoods, I find a good local tavern, have a few drinks, chat up the bartender. After a couple of weeks, all the regulars know you! Downside, all your new friends are alcoholics.

Megano! (#124)

Most of the friends I’ve made here are ‘Pinners, and now, slowly, people I’ve worked with, now that I have actually started working. It’s really hard! But I have never been great at making friends.

BornSecular (#2,245)

Too bad he moved away. I would be his friend.

blair (#1,962)

I’ve been mentally referring to my post-college friend drought as “the big chill,” but I just looked up what that movie is actually about and it doesn’t apply as well as I thought but OH WELL

I’m not yet six months out of school, but I’ve lived in two different cities (and am about to go to a third, yet-to-be-decided one) and for me, the worst part isn’t so much not having ANYONE to hang out with (INTROVERT) but mostly that I don’t have MY anyones to hang out with. It’s hard to go from having your best friends live in the apartment upstairs to living three time zones away, especially on times like election night or Halloween when I would feel way less lame staying in and drinking if my buddies were there, too.

Ugh, now I’m depresseder.

LynnMichelle (#2,578)

I did this! Moved to DC, and thank god I didn’t know what I was getting myself into before I actually did it.

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