Sydney can be a difficult place to make friends. One can feel the awful irony of being surrounded by thousands of people while still feeling lonely and isolated.
Vaenthan Thiruvarudchelvan's blog called "Sydney Sucks: Why I Hate Sydney," describes Sydney people as snobby, anti-social, obsessed with wealth and glamour, strung out and stressed out. "Nobody in Sydney wants to make your acquaintance," he writes. "Sydneysiders are incompassionate, rude and snobby. They walk briskly while listening to their iPod and averting eye contact. Sydney motorists will overtake you while you're sliding down the road after falling off your bike (true story)."
Sadly, there is some truth in this and the fact that stress which often comes with living in a busy city creates forces that work against building community.
If you are reading this, I take it you are possibly new to the city or recently have become single? Or perhaps you just want to expand your circle of friends.
Regardless, loneliness is one of the most awful things in life. A recent research paper highlights the fact that loneliness is fast becoming one of the leading social problems in Australia, strongly linked in turn to depression, yet an issue that remains largely un-recognised by health and urban planning strategies.
My list (below) of the most "Common Ways to Meet People in Sydney,' may seem obvious to you, but the idea is to guide your mind to seeing the opportunities in these situations. If these ideas aren't working for you, it's time to get more creative and pro-active with the list of 'More Inventive Ways to Meet People'.
In reality, there is no boundary to the infinite methods of meeting potential new friends. I have met people on trains and snorkeling. For some, making friends can be more challenging than for others. Thus, I've included a list of tips to make yourself more of a people magnet. You may be the type of person who likes to have only a handful of very close friends, while others may aspire to many. Either way, this guide will help you.
"The Heart is a Lonely Hunter," according to Carson McCuller's famous book of the same name. So, let's get on with the hunt.
Social connection and attachment are integral to human health, yet a third of all Australians report loneliness as a problem in their life, according to a recent research paper.
Work: Once you have had lunch or morning tea together, you have made a start in building a relationship that is more than mere work. From there, move to inviting your work buddy out for a drink or other event. If you want to make friends at work it's a good idea to turn up to the after work functions.
Friends: Friends introduce you to other friends. You know how it goes.
No good being a wallflower if you want to make friends. If you don't accept those rare party invites that come your way, you only have yourself to blame. It's true that some social scenes in Sydney are 'tight' and many individuals have a full social calendar that won't have time for you in it. But, it's also true that there are thousands of others out there that are looking to connect with others.
People often (but not always) wind up becoming friends with the people they share house with. All that time together and those shared experiences (such as your flatmate cleaning up your vomit after you drank too much one night) must amount to something.
More Inventive Ways to Meet People
Organise a Social Event:
Rather than wait for the party, invite the party to you. Get pro-active and organize your own party, relaxed BBQ, games night, meal at home or restaurant dinner. Request that friends bring other friends. Invite close friends as well as others you barely know. I once organised a big Valentine's day party at my house and handed out invites to strangers at a posh nightclub. Let's say it turned out to be an interesting night.
Enrol in something you're interested in – like an evening college course. Either way you get a qualification and some social stimulus. Plus, it's quite a good way to meet someone you may have something in common with. I've made friends in this way – one who turned out to be a psycho (but that's another story).
Take Up a Hobby:
Hobbies have as many variations as there are types of people. It could range from Meditation to an Aerobics Class or Dragon Boat Racing. The main thing is for it to be something you are genuinely into or you might end up being around people you don't have much in common with.
Everyone's heard of RSVP. Yet there are many social groups on the internet based purely on finding friendship. You can find everything on the internet after all. Have patience and remember it might take a lot of weeding to find the right rose.
These groups of people are kingpin when it comes to hospitality. If spirituality is your thing, then you need to be here. Google the spiritual groups in your area or look up local community groups in your local paper.
Once again, the work needs to be something that you are into. Volunteering with the local Conservation group isn't going to make many friends if you're into hunting.
Special Interest or Networking Groups:
These groups are established to support and promote special interests, like gay, small business or ex-pat people's. They can be a wonderful resource to meet people in similar situations. If you are a parent of a young child, parenting groups can be wonderful. Contact your local council, look up local community groups or search the internet or Facebook to find them.
Oddly, getting away from Sydney might make you more friends. Tours and backpacker's hostels can be great social destinations. Hanging out with the backpackers / traveller crowd might earn you some friends as these souls are often more interested in meeting new people. On the downside, they will eventually go back to wherever they came from.
This might be a shop, library or café you frequent. Habit does have a way of reinforcing itself.
Potentially a way to meet people. Alcohol does have a way of loosening the inhibitions between humans and this can sometimes work to your advantage.
Tips For Becoming a People Magnet
If you are reading this, you most likely 'like' people and their company. You are already well on your way to becoming a people magnet then.
Some basic rules and strategies include the following:
- Have a positive attitude, be friendly and approachable.
- Don't make others uncomfortable with mean behaviour like sarcasm, belittling, arrogance, lying and other undesirable conduct.
- Be the kind of person you want as a friend. This means exhibiting such qualities as reliability, consideration, affection, honesty, generosity and appreciation. People are inherently selfish and want something from you. Be a good listener.
- Like yourself and be your own person. Self-confidence and being yourself attracts others. The best way to develop a like for yourself is to be true to yourself, know yourself and follow your own dream. Practice self-improvement if you think something needs improving.
- Take risk and be pro-active. To get anything in life you need to take risk. Taking risk means making the first move, starting a conversation, attending a party where you don't know anyone and trying new things.
- Don't hang out with sheep if you're a gazelle. Some people's difficulty lies in the fact they are hanging out with people they have nothing in common with. These people often blame themselves or start to develop a complex, when in fact no-one is to blame. Footy fans and high-brow academics aren't probably each other's type though they sure can respect each other's differences. Don't try and fit yourself into a round hole if you're a square peg. That's only going to cause angst.
- Understand the stages in friendship. Some people have no idea about this. They assume that a friendly chat at the photocopier means you are suddenly on best friend level. No. Just as there are stages in romantic relationships, there are stages to friendship. It's just not possible to jump from the first stage to a much higher one and sometimes, trying to, can ruin things or end up in plain rejection. In building a friendship one needs to start with getting to know that person, then build on shared experiences and shared confidences. Some people never get to higher levels of friendship because of an inability to confide in others.
You don't have to be anyone special to make friends. At the end of the day, the beauty of it is that anyone (from the poorest pauper to the richest movie star) can make friends. Best of luck with your endeavours in the Big City. May friendship find you.