Can we take a moment at how easy it was to find a friend when we were younger? We had playgrounds, school (though, at the time, felt like a prison!), sports, dance classes, (or any kind of extracurricular classes, really), to go up to someone your age you found interesting and say simple phrases to them like, “want to be friends?” after you engage in conversations like, “do you think Care Bears really live up in the clouds?”. Ah, those were the days!
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I moved around a lot in my life (my parents were in the U.S. military), so I constantly had to let go of old friends, and make new friends, so bonding with people from different environments around the world was easy for me. College was still simple enough– I made friends with those who shared the same interests in the classes I was taking, I also was a journalist at the time, so I was forced to talk to people I did not know well. I was more inclined to feel sociable, and often had the drive and energy to keep friendships going.
However, as I grew into adulthood, it became more and more difficult to build relationships with like-minded people. My friends and I started growing apart due to career changes, starting families of our own (more so my friends, I was more of a “free-spirit” and continued the moving-every-few-years tradition that my mom always encouraged me to do.) Life came crawling with demands, and as a result, a lot of my friendships either evolved, or fell apart, and at times, I ended up feeling lonely (even though I had social media platforms to keep in contact with people).
Now that I am in my early 30s, I decided to move back to Europe (I grew up in Germany and moved to America when I was seven-years-old) to start a new life as they have better resources to start a family of my own (I was single at the time.) I moved to Dublin, as I was always drawn to during my visits to Europe, and I still have to say that it was the best life decision I’ve made (so far!!)
One of my biggest concerns when I moved to Dublin last year was finding real friendships. According to a study from the University of Kansas, two people need to spend at least 90 hours to become friends or 200 hours to quality as close friends…. Just thinking about that made me cringe as it seemed so damn near impossible to do. Where the hell would I, or potential friends, find the time?
So, I got creative: the first thing I did when I moved to Dublin was Google “How to make friends in your 30s”. I know— it sounds silly and stupid, but there were some really cool articles about adult friendships. Here’s what I did:
Downloaded GirlCrew App
Nearly a week after I moved to Dublin, I came across GirlCrew, a platform for women to make friends. I absolutely loved the concept of this app, so I was highly optimistic. You can introduce yourself to a thread in the city you’re currently living, and post events that you’re either going to (as simple as having coffee at 3fe, attending a concert where you would like to meet new people, or even set up a travel holiday!) or attend one someone has posted already!
I saw an event of a show I was going to at Whelan’s and met a few women there. I developed some friendships with a few of them, but one woman left Dublin shortly after, and another friendship didn’t really stick as we slowly realized that we were not compatible whatsoever. (Which was totally OK! Finding a friend is just like dating, you will click with some people, and sometimes you won’t click, so don’t be discouraged! It’s all about finding the perfect matches for you!)
I went to a few more Girls Night Out events, but I found that a) most of the women were in their early 20s and b) most women weren’t really keen on making friends, they just wanted to go out and have fun.
I am not sure if this App was for me, but it is definitely a good starting point if you have moved to a new city. Note that this App isn’t just for the city of Dublin, you can change to any city location, I believe!
Joined a dance class
The first couple of months of settling into a new city were super exhausting. I had to start a new job and find a place to live. Finding any time to do anything after work felt impossible for me and ended up lounging around the house. It was not healthy and I felt very lonely as well. So I started to think of my interests and passions and researched any classes that would spark my creativity. Also, what better way to make friends if you’re taking a passion class!
I always had a love for dancing: I grew up dancing ballet and tap, and in my 20s I picked up swing dancing. I know this is a bit cliché, but I always had a fascination for Irish Dancing, so I started taking Irish Dance classes in Dublin. Luckily, there were some adult classes available at Dance Ireland.
I absolutely adore taking Irish Dance classes because a) you’re working out without even realising it, b) you’re learning something new, so you feel accomplished and passionate, and c) you see the same people in class at least once a week! What better way to make some gal pals!
Now, it can be challenging to make friends in class when you’re all learning something new, but I totally recommend to go to class a little early, or stick around after class to strike conversations with fellow students. You’d be surprised how many people are taking classes like dancing solely to make some new buddies. We also created an Irish Dance WhatsApp group where we share dance videos and make plans of seeing Irish Dancing at pubs. Super fun!
Find your interests in social media groups
I found that the most effective way that I made friends in Dublin was finding a Facebook Group of one of your interests. For me, I am completely obsessed with an incredibly popular true crime / comedy podcast called My Favorite Murder by two badass women from L.A., Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. Not only do they talk about Murders, but they are also advocates of normalizing Mental Health. They are not afraid of talking through their mental health issues, which as a person with depression and anxiety, is very refreshing to hear. Their community of listeners (also known as ‘Murderinos’) is also what makes this awesome podcast successful. It’s an inclusive, open-minded community where we share our struggles, and discuss horrendous topics, such as murder, which helps us cope with trauma. It let’s us know that we are not alone in the world.
My Favorite Murder had a Facebook Group, which then sprung out to hundreds of sub-groups, including the Irish Murderino Facebook group. It’s not public, but you can ask to be invited into the group, which is easy to you. (Basically to weed off the haters, you just have to answer a few MFM questions to make sure you’re not trolling). When I introduced myself that I was new to Dublin and Ireland, I was welcomed with open arms to a number of women who also lived or moved to Dublin in the last few years. I then set up a brunch meet-up and met the most wonderful friends. To this day, a tiny group of us meet up at least once a month, if not more. They have basically become my core group of friends here!
Now, some tips to keep in mind to keep friendships going: as we are in our thirties, we have to be persistent in keeping new friendships alive. However, don’t be too pushy: we are all very busy individuals who have careers and/or families of our own, so please don’t lose confidence if someone says they’re too busy to hang out. However, follow up with them and make realistic plans with them (just like I did with my Murderino group!. We are all struggling to make and keep friendships, so go out there and have an open mind! Now go out there and find your people!