On the young and the lonely.

Dear Coquette,

How would you suggest dealing with loneliness?

After graduation, I moved away from my family and where I grew up in Oklahoma to New Haven, Connecticut for work. My job is an amazing opportunity, the likes of which was not available to me back home. Work requires me to put in a lot of hours, which of course, does not leave much free time for socializing.

It has been about a year and a half since I moved, and I don’t have any friends here. I have taken a few classes at the local community art school and I regularly attend Pilates classes in an effort to meet people.

I am afraid that I am not a very open person; it is difficult for me to approach someone. I would like to overcome this. Even though I am friendly with people, I am not sure how to move beyond that to really make a friend.

Art and Pilates classes are fine, but they’re also introspective and singular pursuits. They don’t really offer anything more than cursory social interaction, and it’s pretty easy to end up lonely in a room full of people with a similar interest.

What you need is a team  either a team sport or a team-based volunteer group  an activity that builds interpersonal relationships. Most importantly, you want something where you and the gang all go out for drinks afterward.

Come on, you’re only a year and a half out of college, and you live in a college town. There’s all kinds of fun, social stuff you can do. Instead of art classes, join the Junior League of Greater New Haven and do some volunteering. If you work at Yale, you can participate in grad-pro intramural sports instead of Pilates.

The key here is that the activities you choose should naturally lend themselves to extended social interaction. It’s not about meeting people. It’s about finding settings that are interactive, casual and routine where you can spend the kind of time with people that it takes to get to know them.

Also, you shouldn’t overthink this. Making new friends isn’t something you need to have in the forefront of your mind once you’re a part of a group. Friendships happen spontaneously, and building them isn’t something you can plan. You can only plan to put yourself in situations where it’s likely to happen.


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