I talked about making new friends last week but what I really was trying to say is this. When you say goodbye to your long-term friends and you know you are saying goodbye forever, your need to make new friends increases.
Wherever you are living now, you probably have a steady, reliable, backdrop of friends that you have known for 5, 10, 20 or even 30 years, if you’re an old codger like me. Part of you says “why make new ones?”
All of a sudden when you come out here, all that changes. Now, you need to make new friends.
How to make new friends.
A few months ago I gave you all some tips about cooking on a barbecue. Today I am giving tips on how to make new friends. Anyone who knew me in England will think this is some kind of joke. “Bob, cooking? Bob on the art of socializing? What’s he going to be talking about next week? Treating your body as a shrine!”
Yes, it would sound crazy to those who knew me. But all I am doing is adapting to my new circumstances. If you come out here to live, you will too. It’s easy.
The Rules of Making New Friends
- #1 The first rule of making new friends is never say no to any invite.
- #2 The second rule of making new friends is NEVER SAY NO to any invite.
I would like to thank the makers of the film “Fight Club” for the inspiration behind those rules.
It goes without saying that you do need to stay safe and not put yourself into any dangerous situations during this process. For example, if a man in a car were to pull up alongside a woman on her own and ask “Would you like to come back to my place to see my etchings?” – then that probably isn’t the kind of invite you would want to say yes to. Not even if he were also offering chocolate cake and wine. You may, instead, like to let out a very audible scream.
With that small warning out of the way, let’s move on.
For us, it really hasn’t been difficult to make new friends. The people out here are very communal, well they certainly are where I live. Here’s how we made our first bunch of friends.
It must have been about day three when I went down to the local hardware store to buy some stuff. My little girl came along with me for the ride. As I was paying for my goods, one of the other assistants working in the shop came over to me and said “Are you from Essex?”
In the conversation that followed, she explained that she came here from Essex too, she had a little boy about the same age as my daughter and then she gave me her phone number and invited my wife to phone her so they could meet each other.
It was an invite and the rules are clear. So my wife telephoned and they became friends and then later I became friends with her husband. Easy.
It must have been about day six when a local carpenter had come round to help me fit some new doors. “We’ve got a daughter the same age as your daughter” he said. “If you give me your phone number, I’ll get my wife to ring your wife and they can go out.”
It was an invite and the rules are clear. We gave him our phone number and his wife rang my wife and now they are very good friends. I became very good friends with her husband.
Friend number one with the little boy said to my wife “there’s a playgroup for children our kids age, do you fancy coming?”
It was an invite and the rules are clear. My wife went to the playgroup and met lots of friends. I later became friends with some of the husbands.
It’s just too easy. After just four months we had enough friends to fill our house with adults and children for our daughter’s fourth birthday.
What if you get an invite from somebody that you don’t really click with? Can you say no to that? Sorry, the rules are very clear! You may not click with them, but it’s very likely they will introduce you to other people that you will click with. If you just stick to the rules for the first 12 months, you will make friends.
Of course, you don’t have to wait for invites. There are loads of communal activities to choose from that you can just go to without an invite. And when you get there, somebody will invite you to something. You know what you have to do.
Back in England, I used to go to the pub regularly with five other blokes. Since living here, it has taken me around 15 months to find five mates who all live close enough to get to the local sports club. As soon as I had those five mates, I suggested we meet one Friday for a beer and we have been doing that regularly ever since.
There! Got my social life back.
A lot of English people live out here and I would guess that just over half of our friends are from the UK. I think there is a reason for this. Everyone who has moved over here has the same need to make new friends. They too have left their friends and family behind. People are always looking to make new connections.
And I’ll tell you what, it’s a whole lot of fun doing it.
For a full chronological list and brief description of all the posts in this series about how I moved to Australia, please visit my page How to Move to Australia.