Finding Freelance Friends
Some people’s best friends are still their friends from summer camp; good old Timmy, Joey, and Fat Mike. If you’ve made it to adulthood with most of your friends intact, awesome. You should be proud of that because there are many who haven’t. If one takes the traditional routes of adulthood tread by previous generations, this isn’t as scary of a problem. You can meet new people at your full-time job or at the carpool lane at your kids’ school or by chatting up your neighbors. Unfortunately for freelancers, our lives don’t always facilitate these kinds of connections. We aren’t always working one job long enough to make real friends or living in one place long enough to get to know our neighbors. Plus, younger generations are having children later and later and we shouldn’t have to wait to spawn in order to meet new people. Whether your freelance life has made you lonely or you just want to expand your circle of friends, there are some 21st century ways to find new homies.
A major roadblock to many modern adults meeting each other is the very premise of doing it online. Despite Millennials and Gen Z being thought of as the “children of the internet,” it isn’t much more comfortable for them to make brand new friends online. The internet is a poor substitute for real interaction, but the idea really is to start online and then take your relationship to the streets. Plus, there are some new kids on the block making the process easier.
Meetup is a website where groups and clubs of every possible description are formed and looking for members. It doesn’t always have to be as formal as a club or class. Take whatever strange fascination you have, and there’s probably some sort of Meetup for it. Live in downtown Jersey City and love the Gilmore Girls? There’s a meetup for that. With a free Meetup membership you can join groups, from bird watching to wine tasting to scuba diving, in your local area. You can join as many, or as few, as you want, but the trick is to actually attend the meetups. Most Meetups you’ll find on the app are within your vicinity for that very reason. Maybe try spending some of the time you’d spend on Instagram, on Meetup instead.
Nearify may solve the number one problem that not having enough friends causes; doing shit alone. There will always be an event, or a movie, or a weird new bar that you have trouble finding people to go with. Most of us aren’t confident or extroverted enough to go on our own so we just don’t go. Nearify helps you find friends around the very events your other friends don’t want to attend. You input the types of activities you’re interested in and the app will create lists of things in your vicinity to do based on your interests. You can then use the app to organize groups of friends around the event (even if your friends don’t have Nearify). Not only does this app help you meet new people, but it will help you force your friends to do shit.
The name of this app certainly leads us in the right direction. Friender’s interface resembles a dating app like Tinder, but it is very clear that its focus is friends. Like Tinder, Friender matches you with people in your general vicinity. Unlike Tinder, the profiles you see aren't random. When you build your profile, you take a survey in which you add your favorite activities. All your suggested matches will have at least one favorite activity in common with you. Whether you’re looking for a workout buddy or a purely platonic pal to paint the town with, Friender might be the way you meet your future best friend, or just some guy you have one fun night with.
Some of the best ways to meet new folks as an adult have always been through specific interests. It gives you a guaranteed talking point when meeting new people and can introduce you to a whole community with that same interest. These apps can help speed up that process and bypass the initial hump of nerves.
You have a dog and he’s a really good listener, but is he someone who talks back and discusses the last episode of The Crown with you? Set up play dates for you and your pup through Pawdates, a social networking app for pet owners. The app allows you to swipe through potential dogs and their owners similar to a dating app. Once you match, you can communicate with an owner to set up a…well, a Pawdate. With Pawdates you can refine your search very specifically to location, breed, age, gender, likes, dislikes, and more. This way, the next time you take Moe, or Carruthers, or Glinda the Good Witch out for a walk, you don’t have to go it alone.
Gyms have long been a breeding ground for new friendships. Surprising, as they might also be the most intimidating places on Earth. If you enjoy working out but loath putting yourself out there then Atleto may be the assist you need. Atleto is all about helping you find people based on your location, skill level, workout frequency, and favorite sports and activities. You can host an event or see other events being hosted near you, and choose to join on the app. Your event doesn’t literally have to be an “event.” If you just want one running buddy then you can be specific when creating an event that you only need one other person. You can also create or join permanent groups that meet regularly. Better start thinking of names for your new ultimate Frisbee team.
Sometimes we need a new friend for a different reason than just wanting more friends. Maybe you just lost a parent or got divorced? You struggle with your mental health or live with a chronic condition? Sometimes we need a different kind of person to talk to about these things. You could always get a therapist but they're expensive and aren’t available to hang out with you whenever, or be with you at a difficult event. The Dinner Party is a great resource if looking for a friend to fill that void. Once you sign up, you can either find a virtual table to join or be paired up with a buddy. If you choose the former you will be presented with various tables (zoom dinner parties basically) each with a description of the host. If the host has gone through a similar traumatic experience to you (losing a child, struggling with addiction, etc.) you might be inclined to join their table. If you choose the latter, Dinner Party will match you with a buddy who has similar experience and you can host a table just the two of you. The goal here is to find more than a support group, but to make meaningful and supportive friendships.
If you feel you come off better in person or are just a straight up Luddite, there are still ways one can meet new people without having to chat on an app first.
The co-working phenomenon is nothing new. In fact, you’ve probably considered the idea of joining a co-working space in the past. While it is certainly the most expensive option in this article, it also comes with the most perks. Not only do you get a place to work outside of your home (without worrying how much coffee you need to buy), co-working spaces often come with free coffee, food, reliable Wi-Fi, and guaranteed access to certain events. Also, most relevant to us, a huge array of professionals similar to yourself.
A co-working space recreates the office environment but better. There are people who you’ll see every day who you can become close with, but also a constant rotation of new people to meet. Also, because you aren’t literally working with the people at a co-working space there won’t be any of the awkwardness that can come with making friends out of a coworker. We’re recommending We Work here because it’s the most widespread, but there are countless co-working options these days. Do some research to find the one you like.
In fairness, these are apps. You are technically using an app to meet people, but none of the actual connection starts on the app itself. It isn’t until you’re crashing on some French guy’s couch or an Australian swim instructor is sleeping in your guest room that any connection starts at all. This is why AirBnb and Couchsurfing are some of the best ways to meet new people. You’re diving in at the deep end. Opening up a room or guest house will open the door to potential friends from across the globe (and make you some nice passive income). When you’re the one traveling, choosing to stay in an AirBnb or choosing to couch surf will lead to the same opportunities. Plus, your host will have some great insider info on the best places to eat, drink, and sight see. If you really do hit it off, you could tell people that you have a friend in New Zealand.
Some of the strongest friendships are formed through experience. Not just going out to eat or seeing a movie, but unique and sometimes difficult experience. Going through that with someone, whether it be a long challenging road trip or a hard day volunteering, has a strong likelihood to form strong bonds. For the latter experience, Point is a convenient way in. Point wants to make volunteering as easy as ordering an Uber. You sign up on the app and it will connect you with non-profit events you can volunteer at in your area. You can search for specific types of volunteering (environmental vs. medical for example) and plan to volunteer together with other friends you make on the app. Point will even help you track the impact you make through volunteering so you and your new friend can brag to other people about how giving you both are.
Stop complaining about how hard it is to make friends as an adult and start joining some of these communities.