February 2020 was an exciting month. I moved my family to Austin, Texas—a state I had never even stepped foot in.
I couldn’t wait to make new friends and start a new life. Then, Coronavirus came and the quarantine happened.
After settling into our new stay-at-home routine, I concluded: It’s going to be a while before I make any friends.
The Entire World is Shook
Everybody is affected by this pandemic and each person is dealing with their unique combination of changes—wearing masks, working from home, social distancing, canceling trips, etc.
The impact is significant and our social lives have diminished.
We don’t talk to strangers. We don’t meet new people. We don’t hang out with most of our friends. And loved ones stopped flying to see us.
It’s bad. Single people are lonelier than ever while tension is building in families. Couples who don’t live together see their relationships taking a hit.
COVID-19 is taking its toll—not just from the disease itself but from the effect on our social lives.
Humans Need Other Humans
We’re social animals. There’s a reason love and belonging rank third on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
We need friendship.
We need a healthy family life.
We need sexual intimacy.
We need to feel respected by others.
Without these things, we perish. We become unhappy, we feel lonely, and frustration kicks in. It’s not a pretty picture.
Does this mean we’re doomed until the quarantine is over? Absolutely not. But you’ll need to do things differently.
The Game has Changed
Once the lockdown occurred, most people gave up on meeting people. Instead of adapting, they quit.
I understand their logic—they want to be safe. But it’s flawed. You can safely meet new people, socialize, and spend time with your friends if you find the right activities.
For example, my wife and I have met strangers, made multiple friends, and spent time with these people in the last few months. And we take fairly strict safety measures compared to most.
You need to shift your mindset and, more importantly, you need to be proactive—just like any social life requires.
Here’s what you can do to boost your social life to pre-quarantine levels. Or better yet, make it even better.
How to Socialize During Quarantine
Talking to people in-person is vital to a good social life. Zoom meetings and phone calls are good, and I’ll touch on this soon, but you need face-to-face interaction too.
That’s why you need to pick the right activities. Packed bars and big events may be out, but there are still plenty of good options.
The following activities are great for meeting or hanging out with people, especially during these strange times. And don’t worry, you can keep a safe distance while you talk.
If you live in a neighborhood, great. Walk by yourself, walk your dog, walk with your family, whatever. Getting outside gives you a chance to meet neighbors.
Even though we didn’t know a single soul when we moved, my wife and I now know a handful of families in our neighborhood, mostly from walking.
Building friendships requires repeated interaction.
If you consistently walk at the same time as others, you’ll seem them often and get a chance to know them.
By spots, I mean parks, swimming holes, community pools, or other areas that have a primary gathering area.
My wife and I frequently go to rivers, swimming holes, creeks, and trails. We recently met a couple while checking out a swimming hole called Campbell’s Hole. We didn’t exchange numbers or anything, but we had a blast talking to them and learned a lot about the area.
These areas are great for socializing because people are just hanging out. They aren’t on a hike, going from A to B. They aren’t doing chores. They’re just chillin’.
You don’t need to pester people, but if someone is nearby, look over your shoulder, say hi, and ask how they’re doing. You can quickly tell if they’re not interested in talking, in which case you just get back to whatever you’re doing.
Many restaurants have large outdoor seating areas that make it easy to keep your distance from others. Invite a few close friends who have safe quarantine habits.
Even if you want to keep your distance from your friends, that’s possible if you find a place with enough room. We went out to eat at Salt Lick BBQ with our neighbors the other weekend and it was a great time.
Take a Secluded Trip
If you live in a big city or the above options don’t work well for you, you can choose the friends you’re most comfortable interacting with to go on a trip.
It could be a small trip to get out of the city for a few hours. Or it could be for multiple nights.
You can use this opportunity to do any of the activities mentioned above, where you can then meet and socialize with others.
I Used to Struggle Socially
If it sounds like I’m bragging, I’m not. I’m only showing you my successes to let you know what’s possible and to give you real examples.
For much of my life, I struggled socially. Bad enough that, after solving this problem in my life, I created a website to help others improve their social skills.
One of the major turning points for me was fixing my mindset. And the other was becoming proactive.
So I want to give you a few more pointers to help you make the most of these situations.
Rejection Isn’t Bad
Get over your fear of being turned down. I say hi to people all the time who don’t say hi back. I wave to people who don’t wave back. It’s not a big deal.
You know why? Because plenty of people DO say hi back. Plenty of people DO wave back.
Wayne Gretzky said it well:
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
Meeting people is a numbers game. The more people you try to talk to, the more successful conversations you’ll have. Remember that and stop caring about the ones who turn you down.
Do your research and find a place to go. Then actually do it.
Stop sitting inside watching TV. Take a break from work and take a walk.
No one is going to force you to socialize with others. You have to force yourself to do it.
To make it easier, turn outings into a ritual. Walk your dog every morning or get outdoors every Saturday. Find ways to make this a regular part of your life.
Make Friends on Social Media
There are plenty of like-minded people online if you can find them. You won’t have a face-to-face interaction any time soon, but you can still socialize.
Get to know them. Talk about things that interest you both.
If this sounds weird, I get it. I felt this way for a long time. But then I realized that the internet isn’t just for computer wizards. People are talking about various niches on numerous platforms.
You have enthusiasts who build vans to travel and live in. You have entrepreneurs, marketers, and copywriters connecting on Twitter. You have stylists on Instagram.
Whether you’re into fashion, food, tech, or business, there are others like you on the web.
Call Your Friends
Just because you can’t see your friends in-person doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk to them.
Text them. Give them a call. Or better yet, organize a Zoom happy hour with a group of people.
Now is the time to inject new life into your old relationships. Don’t let them fizzle away. Make them feel important by letting them know you care.
Keep Getting Better
As humans, we’ll never be perfect. But we can always get better.
I really wanted to make new friends when I moved to Texas in February. I made it a goal.
At first, it didn’t seem to be going well. Then quarantine happened and just made it worse.
Fortunately, I was able to adapt. And I’m hoping you can too. Actually, I know you can.
Get out there, talk to new people, and see what happens. Stay safe and sane during these wild times. But don’t let Coronavirus completely derail your social life.
Originally published at https://robriker.com on July 17, 2020.