New In Town? How to Make New Gal Pals

By Shasta Nelson, M.Div

I think finding new female friends is harder than dating.  Hear me out!

First, for some odd reason there is less stigma in saying “I’m looking for Mr. Right” than there is in admitting “I’m looking for friends.” We somehow think that in whispering the latter it’s as though we’re saying “No one likes me!”

Second, the ring makes it easy to tell if a guy is married or not. How are we supposed to know if the woman we just met is looking for new friends or has a life already filled with them?

Third, when it comes to romance, we know whether we’re attracted to him and how to flirt to get his attention.  But how do you walk up to some woman and ask for her phone number? We have no platonic words for: flirting, picking-up, dating.

But, regardless, the fact is, we simply have to do it. Few things in life will help you feel more rooted and strong than knowing you have friends nearby. We are moving more than ever, going through life stages at a varied pace, increasingly working from home or working in male-dominated fields where we find ourselves often needing to create a new local circle of friends.

Here, GirlFriends, are some ideas to help inspire the process:

  1. Own the Opportunity: No shame ladies—be proud that you value friendship enough to do something about it! Be proud of yourself.
  2. Use your Resources: Who do you know here? Offer to help them host a dinner party with their friends. Email your friends from across the country and ask them if they know any fun women in your area they can connect you with since you’re new! Look through your friends’ local friends on facebook and introduce yourself. Follow locals on Twitter and see what events they’re inviting people to attend.
  3. Practice Friendliness: If you hang out at home, your friends become the characters on the shows you watch! Even if you’re shy, you simply have to decide what places feel authentic for you to be practicing friendliness—association meetings, lectures, networking events, the dog park, church, poetry readings, cafes, classes, etc. 
  4. Affirm Her: Compliments from other women almost mean more than from guys! No need to talk about the weather! Start conversations with the things you noticed about them—their hair, their outfit, their confidence, their laugh. We like people who like us.
  5. Make the Ask: Just making small talk with someone in the locker room after yoga is hardly the same as making a friend. As you meet women that you want to get to know better you have to take the friendly chat to the next level. Try this: “Wanna get a drink after class sometime next week?”
  6. Be Specific with your Availability: The disease of “we should get together sometime” can ruin the best of potential BFF’s. Instead, try “I’m usually available for happy hour most nights on Sunday morning brunches—what works for you?”
  7. Ask Personal Questions: By personal, I don’t mean private, but make sure conversation is about the two of you. Don’t risk an entire evening gone to celebrity gossip, latest movies and dates-gone-bad. They feel temporarily bonding, but you haven’t shared you. Ask her why she appreciates where she works, what she looks forward to becoming, what she loves to do in your new city & what her highlights have been in the last few months.
  8. Share the Positive: It’s a proven fact that we want friends to improve our happiness and health, not bring us down. Get over the notion of crying on each other’s shoulders—you haven’t earned that right yet. Be warm, be positive, be open- be someone she wants to spend more time with!
  9. Follow Up. If it were a guy, we’d be pissed if he didn’t call for 3 days after our first date. Give the same respect to the women you connect with by writing a note of thanks!
  10. Follow Up. Again. And, if it were a guy we were interested in then we’d clear our calendar to find the very next time we could pull off another rendezvous! Let’s just say it takes 6-10 times of connecting with someone before we feel “close” to them.  Why spread those out over a year if you can make a friend in two months of weekly get-togethers? Momentum helps the bond—keep getting together as frequently as possible.

Shasta Nelson, M.Div, is a life coach and non-profit director who saw the need for an authentic way to help facilitate new friendships so in 2008 she founded, the only online community that matches new friends offline by connecting circles of women in local areas.