Once your days of en masse drunken nights out are behind you, and Friday nights are more of a sit-down than a rave-up, it does become trickier to meet new people. There’s more staying-in than going-out in your thirties, and social get-togethers are increasingly round the dinner table rather than on the dance-floor, particularly when children start to poke their newborn heads into the world. So, despite the fact that there are still the same number of potential friends out there, they tend to lie enticingly out-of-reach behind closed doors, rather than jostling shoulders with you in the queue for the bar.
However, I seem to have stumbled upon a way round this social conundrum – call it a friendship version of match.com for cheap-skates. My inadvertent strategy, which has worked well for the last two times that I’ve moved house, is the process of house-hunting or, more specifically, houseshare-hunting.
Through websites such as easyroommate.com and spareroom.com I’ve found myself arranging to go round to various people’s houses, knocking on the door and often finding a potential new friend inside, whether I end up moving in or not. As an example of this, when I moved to Winchester, one of the closest friends that I made down there turned out to be a girl whose spare room I viewed, even though I was subsequently rejected as a housemate (they needed more testosterone in their otherwise all-female house and I was sadly unable to oblige, despite pretty good tree-climbing and footie skills).
Similarly, my recent bout of house-hunting in the Warwick area has led to the following social scenarios occurring with three different home-owners:
- An invitation to go out on a tandem bike ride next weekend (awesome);
- A new friendly face at work (I had an appointment to view the house of a lady who, it turns out, sits a few desks away fom me in the same office); and
- An arrangement to trade some yoga teaching for some much-needed sports massage from someone who is trying to get his new business up and running and needs to expand his portfolio of clients.
I didn’t end up moving in with any of these people, but their friendliness and the resultant expansion of my social circle made me realise the huge number of potential friends waiting behind all the front doors of the world.
What with loneliness being epidemic and community events not as commonplace as they once were, we need to find more ways to open doors and engage with those who lurk behind, without necessarily feigning homelessness. Some friends of mine used to host an ‘open house’ on Friday evenings, whereby anyone was welcome to pop in for a cuppa, a beer, some nibbles and a chat, for as little or as long as they liked. I’m not sure this would work in my current digs, as I think I already puzzle my new housemates (“What? You’re teaching yoga and then going out to watch bats? Right…”), but hopefully one day I’ll own my own place – at which point you are all welcome to come round!