Making Friends in a Small Town

Meeting New People When You Live in a Rural Area

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You have to go about making friends differently in a small town. Morguefile

Meeting new people when you move to a small town is a different experience than getting acclimated in a larger city. Smaller towns may have fewer social groups and opportunities, making it more difficult to find a place where you can mingle and meet others. It’s also more difficult to feel welcomed into existing groups, especially when people have known each other for years.

Making friends in a small town requires patience and a different strategy for finding activities to join.

Skip Online Sources and Look for Activities in the Community Newspaper or at the Library

Depending on where you live, sources like Meetup and other online sites that can introduce you to friends might not be helpful. In some smaller towns there aren’t Meetup groups like there are in the larger metropolitan areas.

Skip the Internet in this case and go for face-to-face contact instead. Contact the library, town center, or chamber of commerce in your town to see if there are groups like book clubs, sports groups, or civic organizations looking for people to join. If you tell the folks working at these venues that you’re new in town, they’ll be happy to connect you with opportunities that are only known through word of mouth.

Another place to check for events is the community newspaper or bulletin. Nearly every community puts out at least a monthly newsletter that talks about the events, clubs, and activities going on in the area.

These are golden opportunities to meet people slowly but surely, where you can focus on the activity and get to know others over time and become friends.

Go Slowly and Be Patient

Don’t get discouraged if people aren’t as outwardly friendly and inviting right away as you’d have hoped. Sometimes it takes a while in a small town to feel completely welcomed into an existing group, especially if everyone there has known each other for years and you’re the newbie who doesn’t get the inside jokes and references.

Depending on where you live, your neighbors might want to get to know you slowly, so invites to groups or even dinner may be slow in coming. Make conversation with them and always be polite and friendly. Eventually you’ll feel comfortable and welcomed.

It Might Feel Cliquey But Don’t Judge

In a small town, people have probably known each other for years (some for their whole life) and this can feel very much like you walked into the biggest clique of your life. It’s really easy in this instance to start judging people because they’re not instantly welcoming you, but don’t. You never know the real story behind friends or other relationships until you get to know them. What you think is true when you first meet someone might not be true at all when you understand the big picture.

For instance, the person who seems unfriendly and doesn’t go out of their way might be the very one you bond with later on as you spend more time getting to know the group. The one who was super-friendly right from the start might be the one who gossips about you later on. You never know, so save judgment until you’re sure.

Embrace Small Talk

In a small town, small talk is more than just a way to pass the time. It’s a way to connect and find out what’s happening in everyone’s life.

You might find that the usual subjects which are great for small talk (things like nostalgia or positive news items) have been replaced by items that are important to the community, like the latest church picnic or mayoral candidates.

Get involved with the issues so you can follow the conversations. You’re a part of the community now so you need to be up on the news items that affect the town.

Learn to Feel Comfortable by Yourself

You don’t need to feel lonely just because you’re alone for part of the time right now. Being by yourself can offer plenty of benefits to friendship down the road, so embrace them. When you give out the vibe that you’re comfortable with who you are, others will naturally be attracted to you. You’ll actually make more friends this way that if you came off desperate.

Become a Regular Somewhere

If your town has a bookstore (even a small independent or used book store), a coffee shop, or diner you can spend some time at, frequent them and allow folks to get to know you this way. They’ll feel more comfortable talking to someone they see a lot and you’ll be more at ease being a regular in these places. This is the ideal situation for making conversation and for finding out what’s going on around town.

Use Online Friends and Long-Distance Pals to Boost Your Confidence

Nothing can replace face-to-face connection with friends, but until you’ve made new friends in your small town, use your online pals to give you confidence. When you’re out and about trying to meet new people, you can feel like you’re getting more rejection than making connections. But the truth is, it takes time. What feels like a rejection might be the first step in forming a friendship down the road.

Until then, go online to Facebook or Instagram so you can feel like yourself again. Be silly. Tell the jokes that people get. Remind yourself that you’re a great person to be friends with. And don’t forget about your long-distance pals. Call up a friend after a hard day of trying to make connections and share your frustrations and funny moments. This will help keep your confidence up as you make your way meeting others.