Single in the City is a reoccurring column on Philly Happening that will appear on Wednesdays. It chronicles a single thirty-something, new to the Philadelphia, searching for friendship, love, and her place in this vibrant city.
– 4 Ways to Establish New Networks in the City-
A few weeks ago, I wrote a column about the comparisons between dating and meeting friends in your 30s. Both take effort, patience, emotional investment, and is usually more challenging than it was in your 20s. Since that column, I’ve talked with more people who have expressed the difficulties of finding—and maintaining — a friend group in their 30s. The struggle is real. Therefore, the topic of how to establish friend networks is one worth revisiting.
The previous column on this topic (click here) highlighted three ways to meet new friends: 1.) Join a group, club, or class, such as a free workout group, 2.) Start your own group, such as a book club, 3.) Go out on “friend dates,” with friends referred to you by other friends. Here are some additional suggestions for ways to meet new friends that have worked for me over the last few months:
1.) Group dinners. Recently, a friend of mine, who used to live in Philly, but has since moved to NYC, came back into town for a visit. She organized a large reunion friend-dinner of 10 of her former co-workers, and myself, which was a fantastic way for me to meet 10 new people. My friend has since gone back to NYC and I’ve stayed connected with several of her friends.
A terrific place in the city to go for a delicious, yet cheap and satisfying meal, is Dim Sum Garden in Chinatown at 1020 Race Street (http://www.dimsumgardenphilly.com/). Known for its classic rice and noodle meals, scallion pancakes, and dumplings, Dim Sum Garden is perfect for a group dinner. And don’t forget the wine. It’s BYOB!
2.) Organize a happy hour. Invite a couple of friends and have each of them invite one or two people that you don’t know. The best way to meet friends is through other friends. It can sometimes be hard to find a good happy hour date that works for everyone, so if worse comes to worse, plan far in advance. Start a group text or a Facebook invite with a specific time, date, and location to ensure that it happens. That might seem like too much planning, but believe me, sometimes it’s necessary.
A great happy hour spot is Prohibition Tap Room, 501 N. 13th Street (http://prohibitiontaproom.com/). Prohibition Tap Room is a casual gastropub, featuring craft beer & comfort food inside a dimly-lit, jukebox-equipped space.
3.) Join an alumni network. Maybe not every university has a presence here in Philly, but some prominent Big-10 schools, such as Penn State, Ohio State, and Michigan State, do. Smaller schools may have a presence, you just have to do a quick Google search and find out. Or maybe start your own alumni meet-up on meetup.com.
I got involved in the Penn State alumni network about a year ago, and even though I don’t always have time to attend all the events, it’s still been great to be connected with others who share something in common. The Penn State alumni group, for example, has a regular schedule of social and charity events to attend throughout the year, which always gives members something fun to do, and provides ways to meet new people.
Some good venues around the city where Penn Staters have convened for game watches, trivia nights, and networking happy hours are:
- Field House, 1150 Filbert Street (http://www.fieldhousephilly.com/)
- Smokin’ Betty’s, 116 S. 11th Street (http://www.smokinbettys.com/)
- Red Owl Tavern, 433 Chestnut Street (http://www.redowltavern.com/)
4.) Volunteer. There’s nothing better than meeting new people while doing good for others. I met some of my best friends back in college on a mission trip to West Virginia. While I haven’t done any mission trips lately, I have met some awesome people in Philadelphia doing smaller volunteer projects, such as holiday gift-wrapping for charity at Barnes & Noble, 1805 Walnut Street, and sorting and packing holiday food boxes for families in need at Philabudance, 3616 South Galloway Street (https://www.philabundance.org/).
Check to see if your workplace is associated with any charities that you can volunteer for, or do a quick Google search to find a cause in the city that interests you.
While this list of suggestions has worked for me, maybe there’s something completely different that will work for you. My advice is don’t be afraid to try different things. Ultimately, whether you meet your next best friend or not, you will be having new experiences that will enrich your life.
There is a theory that the best time to find a partner is when you are first established and happy in your own life. Your partner should be a complement to your already- great-life, not someone who is filling a void.
If you make yourself the happiest and best that you can be, everything else will eventually fall into place.