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Making Friends in Digital Nomadic Life (Part 2 / 2)
How to turn your online friends into real-life friends
In any digital nomad Facebook group, people are constantly looking for new friends.
"Hi, I've been here for 2 weeks now. I need some friends! I want to explore, go on adventures, have some drinks, and build friendships. Anyone want to meet up?"
This post has two comments by two other group members:
“Wanna do something tonight?”
“Let´s do it, I look for new friends, too.”
Not saying anything about yourself or what you are looking for, you will get the same responses that say nothing. There is a low chance for meeting up with these people, and a lower chance of making a new friend.
Here’s another post:
"Hello! I’m Amanda! I’m 27 and Canadian but I recently moved to Mexico because my mom is Mexican. I will be here for 3 months Aug-Oct. So I’d love to meet some people and do fun activities like snorkeling or dance classes. Some activities I like doing are painting, snorkeling, doing my nails, and tanning at the beach for hours. I read lots! If there are any fellow book lovers out there I love talking all things books. I have a car so it’d be easy to explore other places around, too."
This post has 25 comments. Some of them are just welcoming the person to the new city or saying "I´m Canadian, too." But, a few comments definitely catch the attention of the girl.
“We have a book club Playa Books. You can join us.”
“I’m thinking about taking dance classes starting August! We could go together.”
“I have a group of friends that go to the beach every Sunday! We are a nice diverse group if you ever want to join, feel free to DM me!”
We want to make friends with people that have the same interests. If you are making the first step when looking for new friends, first you need to tell people about yourself. There is a higher chance for meeting up with these people and making a new friend.
Turn online friends into friendships
It can be super hard to make friends after being socially isolated, shifting to remote work, or moving to a new place. If you're struggling to make new friends, you're not alone. Facebook, WhatsApp and other online apps can help you find friends but how do you turn these online friends into friendships?
In the examples above, you see how different they are. One has no plan, and you don´t know very much about the person. As a result, the responses are the same…comments with no information or plan.
If you introduce yourself and include something specific about you or your plan, there is a higher chance of receiving positive responses; and a lower chance of meeting people who do not have similar interests as you.
So do you know how to turn your online friends into real-life friends? Do you know how to take the first step or how to react when someone approaches you in the online world?
Join online communities
First, be more active in online communities. You can search Facebook groups or WhatsApp/Viber groups.
Find these groups by searching keywords. It can be the name of the city where you live, the hobby you like, nationality (if you live abroad and want to connect with people from your home country), or gender-based groups if you want only female or mixed gender groups. You can look for a specific job or career (entrepreneurs/self-employed people, doctors, teachers, etc.). There are groups for families, single moms, and even, families with bilingual kids. There are so many and you can join as many groups as you want.
Going From Online to Real Life
When you plan to get together in person, there’s always a risk of rejection. We want to know that we’re likable, funny, and interesting. Still, someone needs to take the first step. As said before, introduce yourself well in the initial post.
Coffee or lunch is a good place to start but you can consider your mutual interests and go for a trip or go to the beach. If you both own pets, meet at a dog park.
If you don´t like the idea of meeting with just one person, then joining some group meetings can be good for you. It can be a yoga class, lunch/dinner, trip, or any other group activity.
As a woman, you may get from time-to-time messages from guys. One small advice would be to be open-minded and follow your intuition. If you receive inappropriate messages, then the chance of this person being a friend is very low. But not every message from a guy will be bad. Consider starting a conversation to see where it goes.
If meeting in person, then make safety a priority and meet in a public space. Although you think you know the person online, meeting face to face requires a different level of trust .
For me, the trust criteria are having a longer conversation before the meeting. Knowing more information will help you to decide if you want to meet up or not. I would especially want to know if we have met or if he knows me. Maybe we can be members of the same Facebook group at least. Also, other criteria would be to agree to a meeting location. You want to be the person who will suggest the location because you can choose a place that you know.
Nurture the friendship even after you meet in person. Staying in touch is important to building lasting friendships with your online friends. When your in-person meeting is over, continue to feed the relationship by staying in contact and supporting one another. The next day after the meeting you can send a nice, quick follow-up message.
Lastly, don´t wait too long to meet again.
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