by Ally Gibson | Last Updated: Jul 25, 2020

Making friends in NYC can be tough.

When I moved to New York from Pennsylvania at 18, I didn’t know a single soul.

I went through a lot of temporary friendships and even a phase where I felt like I had no friends during my first year in the city.

The truth is, I’ve always felt awkward making new friends. It’s rare for me to meet a person and connect with them right away.

For a long time being social was something I had to try at—I was always the shy, quiet kid growing up. 

But over the last decade, I’ve been fortunate to make some of my very best friends in the city. 

Below are some general tips that helped me build my friend base in New York City. As long as you’re prepared to be a little vulnerable and take on a positive attitude, I’m confident they’ll help you out, too.

1. Use Social Media and Apps

Social media is a magnificent tool for connecting with people. And not just digitally. 

There are a lot of different apps these days that focus on finding friendships—I’ve made more than one friend via Instagram and Facebook Groups that have turned into real-life friendships.

You should also check out some of these popular apps are specifically for making friends:

Skout 

Skout is an app that uses GPS to put you in touch with people nearby. You can chat with people, send virtual gifts, and share photos.

Meetup 

Anybody who’s a member can set up a Meetup event. From there, other members can join. Activities range from putting together sports teams, to book clubs and happy hours.

Meetme 

Meetme is a social network with a live chat. Members can also go live and create a live video that other members can tune into (think IG live).

Bumble BFF

Bumble isn’t just for dating—the Bumble BFF version matches you with other people looking to find their new best friend. 

2. Meet New Friends By Going Out Alone

Don’t be shy about going out to have experiences on your own. 

Take that wine tasting or cooking class that you’ve been debating. Eat alone at the bar of that restaurant you’ve been dying to try. Wander around a museum or see a show.

I used to work in a bar and would see people night after night come in alone to enjoy a drink or dinner at the bar. By the end of the evening, most of those people had become friendly with the people around them. 

There’s a marvelous chance you’ll meet someone else who’s alone or maybe even start chatting up an entire group of possible new friends.

People who do things alone give off a confident vibe—and who doesn’t want to be friends with a confident person?

Pro-Tip: Make friends with bartenders, they’ll introduce you to other regulars. It’s the perfect way to build a little community at your favorite neighborhood spot.

3. Neighbors, Co-workers, and Roommates Make Great Friends

Neighbors

I know that sounds crazy in a city as big as New York, but it’s worked for me. She started a conversation in the hallway which led to us eventually hanging out. We’re still friends almost 8 years later. 

Co-workers

If you work in an office, try hanging out with some of your co-workers. One of my best friends to this day is someone that I met at an old job. 

Roommates

Taking a roommate doesn’t have to just be a financial decision—it’s also a brilliant way to end up with a new friend (or even a friend group). 

Yes, it takes two to tango—but the key here is to make an effort.

Schedule a wine and cheese night or happy hour to hang out and get to know each other better. It’s way less awkward living with a friend compared to a distant roommate.

4. Make Friends With Common Hobbies 

When you meet someone in the same class or show, you already have an easy topic to start a conversation. 

You know that you have a common interest.

I’ll be the first to admit this takes some courage on your end to start conversations. I know it can be hard putting yourself out there, but what’s the worst that could happen if you start a conversation?

I’ve made brilliant friends over the years from weekly ballet classes, acting classes, and even through volunteering. 

Take a deep breath and try to strike up a conversation the next time you spot a potential friend. 

5. Follow Up on New Connections

You had a great time chatting with that unknown person at a party or after class, so you both exchange contact info. That’s only half the battle.

Attempt to text or message first. Ask them if they want to do something fun. 

Making wonderful friendships is like dating. You need to see them with some consistency to build an excellent relationship. 

Seriously, this isn’t the time to play hard to get—the longer you wait the harder it will be to connect later.

6. Plan A Group Get Together

Plan a group night out with a few people you’ve met. Pick a bar or somewhere you don’t need reservations and can openly mingle. 

Tell everyone you invite that it’s the more the merrier. You never know, maybe your new best friend will be someone your roommate or yoga buddy invites to join the party. 

I met one of my best school friends this way—we met randomly at an enormous party a mutual friend was throwing and by the end of the night, we knew we’d be lifelong friends. 

7. Just Say Yes

Okay, so you’re tired and want to go home after work. The city is exhausting (I get it)—but you can’t always turn people down when they ask you to hang out. 

Making friends in the city depends on how social you are as a person. You’ll never make new friends if all you do is sit around in your apartment. 

If someone is interested in hanging out and getting to know you better, then go hang out.

As a rule of thumb, attempt to say “yes” to plans at least 75% of the time.

If we get lazy and don’t try with people, then they assume we’ll always say no and just quit asking. 

8. Be Open-Minded When Making Friends

One thing I learned over my years is to not judge a person by their age. When I first moved to the city I was super young. It seemed so strange to me that some of my friends were hanging out with people ten years older than them. I still had that high school mentality that age is an enormous deal. 

Age really is just a number. 

Some of the greatest friends that I’ve made over the years are a good bit older or younger than I am—I also have gay, straight, and trans friends, native New Yorker friends, and transplant friends. New York is a melting pot of different backgrounds and friendships. 

It’s wonderful having friends who have unique perspectives on things.

Be open to anyone trying to make a genuine connection and give them a chance (unless they’re giving off a creepy vibe—then trust your instincts and bolt). 

9. Choose Your Friends Wisely

“Surround yourself with people whose eyes light up when they see you coming.”

André De Shields

Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of having just “party friends” who don’t truly care about you as a person. 

It’s a mistake to try too hard to fit in with a crowd.

Stick by the people who put in the effort, support you, and genuinely are happy for you when you succeed. 

10. Don’t Rush Friendships

People think New Yorkers are rude and abrasive, but that’s really not the case.

We’re typically just busy and focused on what we need to complete. Don’t get offended if someone just doesn’t have time to hang around right now. 

Just move on. If the friendship is meant to be then you’ll connect eventually. 

Conclusion

I know as much as anyone that putting yourself out there is hard—especially in a city like New York. 

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Just put your authentic self out there and have fun. You’ll meet the right people if you surround yourself with the things you love the most. 

Be true to yourself and the rest will follow.

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