When you move, you take some emotional baggage with you...


Dear Irene,

I recently moved to San Francisco after graduating college. I have a tough job, but thought that the city would provide for a worthy night life. It has been four months and I haven't made friends with anyone I would like to go out with.

I volunteer, and I reached out to both coworkers and roommates (I have 7). The people I volunteer with are very geeky; the same goes for my coworkers in the tech industry. It seems as if my roommates prefer to keep their private lives private.

The few friends I have left from college are all men. I often get the feeling that they would prefer to be dating me so I try to spend as much time away from them as possible.

I am lonely and thinking about moving to Austin, Texas. Maybe a new city will revive me or maybe I will always be the same person. I am unimpressed with the friends I seem to make with ease. I am too nervous and overly aware to make real connections with people I would like to be friends with.

Signed, Lexi


Dear Lexi,

Graduating college and moving to a new city on your own is a big adjustment. Given that you're working days and only have limited discretionary time for making friends on evening and weekends, it sounds like four months is too short a time to give yourself to adjust to a new job and new housing situation, and to make new friends. 

A few thoughts:

  • One thing that strikes me is your labeling people as "geeky" - both at your volunteer location and at work. Perhaps, you need to give yourself more time to get to know them as individuals. They may be different than they appear to be by appearances or dress.
  • It also may be that your own interests are a bit limited. Is there anything that you like doing, e.g. a hobby or sport, which could put you in contact with people with similar interests?
  • A living situation with seven people can be somewhat anonymous but don't give up. There may be someone there with whom you feel closer to over time. 

Lastly, and most importantly I think, you mention you are overly nervous when you are around other people. This might lead to you remaining on the periphery rather than connecting with people. 

Since you recently moved, moving again probably isn't a sensible solution to your friendship problem (Although you may have other reasons for contemplating a move). My guess would be that you would simply be taking your problem to another city. 

I'm not sure how big a role anxiety is playing in your inability to connect with friends or how persistent this problem has been, but it might be worthwhile to talk about it to a counselor or mental health professional if you think it is interfering with your social life. Otherwise, give yourself more time.

Hope this helps.

My best, Irene

Some prior posts on The Friendship Blog about moving and friendship:

About the Author

Irene S. Levine, Ph.D.

Irene S. Levine, Ph.D., is a psychologist and professor of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine. Her latest book is Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup With Your Best Friend.

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