How to make friends during a pandemic

Meredith Stogner, Contributing Writer

People thrive on human connection and one of the most important of those connections is friendship. According to Help Guide, “friendships have a huge impact on your mental health and happiness. Good friends relieve stress, provide comfort and joy and prevent loneliness and isolation.”

Having friends is fulfilling and rewarding. Your friends are those you share your life with and who you go to for advice, company and fun, but making friends is not always easy.

During the pandemic, the process of making new friends has become much more difficult, even impossible. Without in-person classes, club meetings or parties, it is not easy to make new friends. But whether you are a first-year student that does not know anyone at college yet or an upperclassman with a social group already, everyone likes to make new friends. So, to help you out, I went on a friend-making search during the pandemic. Here are my suggestions.

Try an app like Bumble BFF

Out of curiosity, I downloaded Bumble BFF. Bumble is basically the normal Bumble—the dating app—but designed for finding friendships instead of people to date. As someone who has never used a dating app at all, I was intimidated. I was afraid to put myself out there and admit that I would like to meet new friends. A lot of young people have the idea that they should have a large group of friends whom they get along with perfectly, like their life is supposed to be a sitcom. It can be embarrassing to admit you would like more friends when it feels like you should already have a ton.

I was pleasantly surprised when I made my profile and started looking through profiles of other girls looking for friendship. There were so many people my age from around the area looking for new friendships. They were all so cool and interesting, I found myself sparking a lot of conversations and interacting with others for the first time in a while.

Downloading an app like this and putting yourself out there can be scary, but my recommendation is—do it. Bumble BFF is a safe way to meet new people and have conversations with them virtually. It is also a helpful tool to those who may be a little shy. Approaching and starting a conversation in real life can be intimidating, so this is a useful alternative to that.

 

Join a club, even if the meetings are virtual

In a normal semester, clubs are one of the best ways to meet new people, and while it can be a bit more difficult to do while events and meetings are happening virtually, it is still possible. A lot of clubs still have Zoom meetings and socially distanced events during the pandemic.

Clubs are a wonderful way to meet like-minded friends because if you are interested in the club, the people in the club will have similar interests to you. If you like writing, try The Seahawk (I’m not biased or anything) or Atlantis. If you are into the sciences, UNCW has great environmental clubs like Plastic Ocean Project and several others. If you enjoy the idea of being a part of a group, try joining a sorority or fraternity which usually hold their meetings and events virtually.

In an article by USA Today, it says that one of the most important aspects to making new friends is to be yourself:

“No matter which college you go to, there will be people who share your interests and personality. It is important that you let your personality shine through so that your friends will be drawn to who you are as a person.”

If you do join a club, do not be afraid to reach out to other members and start a conversation. Putting yourself out there may be scary but try to remember: most people are nice and would like to befriend you too.

 

Reach out and reconnect with old friends or acquaintances you already know

Okay, this may not be making “new” friends, but can be just as fulfilling. Maybe you have fallen out of touch with some of your old friends and find yourself missing them from time to time. I certainly do. If so, reach out to them. Old friends can be the best friends. If it has been a while, you surely will have many new things to talk about. Chances are, if you used to be friends, the friendship would naturally flow. They will be glad to hear from you and you will be happy to hear how they are doing as well. I texted an old friend last week, out of the blue and her response was “it is so nice to hear from you” and a great, nostalgic conversation ensued. Try it for yourself.

Another way to make a “new” friend is to reach out to an acquaintance you already know. Maybe you were friends in a class before and you always wanted to be their friend outside of class too. Maybe it was someone’s company you enjoyed at a party that time. Anyone you have met and thought “hey, they’re pretty cool” but never had the nerve to befriend, try shooting them a text or DM and striking up a conversation. Most likely, the person will be excited to hear from you.

Obviously, you cannot hang out with people like you used to; the days of going out for coffee or to the beach are gone, for now. Safety is important in this time. Instead of hanging out in person, you can FaceTime or Zoom. This may not be the best-case scenario, but it is the best alternative we have. It is still fun to talk on the phone, especially because it provides a chance to get to know one another without worrying about catching the COVID-19 virus. It keeps you and them safe. If you do get together in person, consider activities that can be done while socially distancing like going for a walk or going to the beach.