Making friends (when you’re a bit of a nomad)

It dawned on me in April that it’s been a decade since I left Brisbane to start my accidental life as a global wanderer. It has been awesome living in London, Sydney and New York but the one thing I’ve always had difficulties with has been making new friends in these new cities.

It’s probably me

I am one of those introvert extroverts – I am unbearably open, often providing way too much information about anything and everything, and love being around people. But only a very small group of people and I really suck when there’s a large number of people – exactly why I’m no good (and hate) networking events. I prefer a handful (or even less) meaningful friendships because that way I don’t feel like I am spreading myself too thin with my attention.

My belated realization of what a friendship is

When I moved to New York, I made some “friends” in really random places. I met one in the changing room at Equinox, one while I was in line at BookCon, and one from a mix-up at a charity auction event. It took me nearly a year to understand that just because I called them a “friend” that it wasn’t necessarily reciprocated (note: I don’t think I am *that* unbearable, I just meant that perhaps they saw me more as an acquaintance).

This realization happened about a year ago. I finally realized that not all people were looking and wanting to make new friends because they already had their posse. I was looking for people I could message and say “hi” or “are you free to hang out?” Perhaps it was like this when I lived in London and Sydney but it only really became super obvious to me last year when one of these “friends” I made stomped all over me and I felt a bit emotionally wrecked. I really do love companionship of people despite not wanting large groups of it, so what happened was quite a blow to me. While I was searching online about what friendships meant and how I could have avoided such a disaster, I came across a link or article or something for an app where I could make friends.

Bumble BFF

I have since deleted the Bumble BFF app (you’ll soon read why) but I remember it was easy to use. I loaded a brief profile of myself and got to see other profiles. I could then message or send a request to connect with people I thought I could be friends with. I could select the gender of the friend I was looking for and in this case, I was only looking to make girlfriends.

Sadly, I was still crap at finding friends using Bumble BFF. I connected with one woman and after we met briefly for the first time (I was out with Gambit and a friend), she messaged me afterwards and said that Gambit was “awkward as hell”. I’d known her for less than a week. And after I created an itinerary for her trip to London (just with some suggestions), she treated me like her own Personal Assistant, asking for changes to be made and re-sent to her by “x” time (knowing that I was also on vacation in Philadelphia). She also suggested that we should go out to bars and flirt with other guys (she was also married) because flirting was OK if we didn’t do anything else.

I stopped messaging her after about two weeks.

What is wrong with me?!?

I remember feeling so bummed out. I was starting to get super annoyed and almost angry when I realized these ‘friends’ were happy to just pop in and out of my life for ‘things’ (contacts, parties, food, my time) without offering as much as a ‘how are you?’ back. I know you must be thinking ‘at least you have Gambit’. Well, Gambit would leave me to go have beers with anyone at any given opportunity, and he isn’t really ‘girlfriend’ material.

Hey Vina!

I remember it was during the time Gambit was working overseas in June 2016 that I stumbled across an article in Time Out about ‘friendship apps’.  The article reviewed all the different apps on the market and rated them. Bumble BFF was on there and a few others but Hey Vina! received a great review so I downloaded the app, set up my profile, and I got to swipe left to skip a profile and right to connect. I liked the sound of Hey Vina! because it was a women’s friendship app and wasn’t connected to anything ‘dating’ related (Bumble BFF ran off a dating app, Bumble, but that means guys could use it to find friends, too).

Finally!

Finally it has happened to me right in front of my face, My feelings can’t describe it

Finally it has happened to me right in front of my face, And I just cannot hide it

To keep this short and snappy – I connected and messaged with countless women on Hey Vina! but only physically met five. I met them all around June and I will be celebrating one year friendship anniversaries with three (out of the five) this month!

Life lesson summary

I believe the friendships I made on Hey Vina! are still alive because we met on mutual grounds. We all downloaded the app and were open to making friendships. When we connected, it was as if we were both asking “Will you be my friend?” and not just one more interested than the other. I think doing it this way does increase the chance of having more successful friendships compared to meeting people randomly because you get to see a brief profile (to know what the person is like, their likes and dislikes), and most importantly – because they also want to meet you.

If you are kind of like me, someone who moves around a lot, or a local wanting to beef up you number of friends, I highly recommend using Hey Vina!

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