7 Foolproof Ways To Make Friends If You’re New To Columbus

Originally published 4/4/17. Updated 2/26/19.

Let’s be honest, making human friends is hard, especially when you’re new to a city.

And sure, for the first couple months Netflix and your cat is all the company you’ll need, but after a while the dread of existential loneliness will slowly but surely make its way into your life like the furniture your parents are trying to get rid of (one day that coffee table is just going to show up, trust me).

That’s why we’ve put together this handy list of how to make friends in Columbus when you’re new to town. We’re sure, that if you follow these simple suggestions, you’ll be socializing like a semi-functional adult in no time at all.

Go To Sporting Events (Ridicule Enemy Team)

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Nothing endears you in the hearts of native Columbus kids more than open acts of animosity towards other sports teams, particularly Michigan. To make friends this way just follow these three simple steps:

  • Go to a live sporting event or bar. If it’s a live event make sure it’s something it’d be okay to yell during (not sure what the local competitive chess circuit is looking like but make sure that one’s not on your list). A bar would be much easier because you might luck out and have multiple home sports teams playing at once. This is great for when you have no idea what you’re talking about. If you make a comment and someone looks at you funny, tell ‘em you were talking about the other game. In times of great desperation, remember these simple words; “Michigan sucks, amirite?”
  • Start yelling something offensive. You might want to practice a few choice insults beforehand, the last thing you want is to freeze up mid-slander or say something lame. I recommend a training montage of decent length (between 3 to 5 meta minutes which is roughly one week in real time).
  • Enjoy your newfound friendships. If at this point you have made no friends and are instead being stared at like a crazy person, excuse yourself to the restroom and hide there for an hour or so until the impending sense of dread and crippling anxiety subsides.

Join Special Interest Clubs on Facebook

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The great thing about joining a special interest club on Facebook or other social sites is that you won’t be the weirdest person there. These groups are chock full of socially awkward people with very particular interests who are in desperate need of meeting people. It helps if you’re actually into something weird, like anime or bird watching, you’ll definitely be expected to know what you’re talking about. Once you’ve infiltrated one of these organizations the rest is easy. There’s no need to play it cool, just approach the nearest human, open your mouth, and start blabbering about whatever it is the groups about. It helps if everything isn’t one long run on sentence but it doesn’t matter too much, soon you’ll be bonding with all the other weirdos over all the other weird stuff that you guys are weirdly into.
*writer’s note- just to be clear, I’m definitely not super weird and have never been to any sort of cosplay club and am not, in any way, speaking from experience.

Neighborhood Festivals

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Community festivals can be awesome ways of meeting people. Whether it’s Comfest or simply a Gallery Hop, there’s sure to be a bunch of strangers crowded together. These sorts of things usually have arts and crafts for you to peruse, making perfect conversation topics to open up to strangers about. Don’t know what you’re talking about? That’s okay, neither does anyone else, and trust me, that doesn’t stop anyone from forming an opinion and talking about it. If someone says something about an art piece that you don’t understand then fire back with this one; “ah, yes, but compared to his first work, do you find it more or less altruistic?” If that doesn’t make sense to you then that’s okay, it shouldn’t. You will sound super fancy and knowledgeable though. Check out Gallery Hop or 400 West Rich for your shot at sounding super smart around some fancy art junk.

Local Open Mics

Whether it’s for comedy or music, people will always be fascinated by watching each other fail, that’s why open mics are full of so many humans. And if you scrape together the courage to actually perform, you’ll notice that you and your fellow masochists will have forged a bond, united together against the terror of an audience of judging strangers. So get up there, and give it your best. And if you feel yourself failing, no worries. Don’t forget that hiding in the restroom and riding out that wave of existential dread is always an option. Check out Shrunken Head or Kafe Kerouac for your first open mics.

Happy hour. Happy hour always, happy hour forever.

One of the best ways to get out there and meet people is getting slightly buzzed in the afternoon. Not only are happy hours affordable, they’re also an opportunity to network with social lubricant, which makes the idea of putting up with other humans slightly more appealing. You can accomplish this in 3 simple steps.

  • Order a drink. It can be anything really, from a Pabst Blue Ribbon to a midday margarita. It just can’t be water, remember, that defeats the purpose.
  • Order the pub nachos. This is essential. It doesn’t matter which bar you got to, they almost all have some sort of pub nachos during happy hour. Do they not have any pub nachos? Don’t panic. Go back outside and look at the sign. Does it say bar? Are you sure you’re not at a bookstore? If you are, don’t be too hard on yourself, these things happen.
  • Talk. You can say just about anything because it’s happy hour and nobody cares about anything.
    Check out Bodega for pretty awesome happy hour deals and some pretty interesting people watching.

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Ride the COTA

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Public transportation is a super underrated way of meeting new and fascinating people. Sure, it will more than likely never be on time and you’ll smell some startling things, but that’s part of the fun. Once acclimated to the smell you’ll be able to meet a variety of different people. Pick and choose who you talk to carefully, you might find yourself in a 45-minute conversation about hand-me-down Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy dolls or you might just land in a discussion of the finer points of chem-trails and fluoride drinking water. People watching is best when riding the number 10 between the hours of 5 to 9 o’clock as you are more likely to run across a blend of after-workers, students, and straight up crazy cat ladies.

Talk to your Coworkers

Unless you decided to move to Columbus after inheriting millions from your great aunt Georgina, you more than likely have a place of employment which means you also have co-workers. Co-workers are a valuable resource when it comes to meeting other humans. Not only do they know the lay of the land, but they more than likely also know other co-workers. The fact of the matter is you’re going to have to interact with them anyway, it might as well be a pleasant experience. Here are a few suggestions to get you socializing with your fellow workmates.

  • Stand by the water cooler. It’s a well-known fact that people who work gather around water coolers. Does your job not have a water cooler? Bring one in yourself. If you really want to be ahead of the curve, put the water cooler next to your desk, it won’t be weird at all. That’s using the old noggin.
  • Bring in donuts. This is the most legit and best way of making friends at your job. The key is making sure that your co-workers know it was you that brought it in. Try making a sign with your name or using a picture with your face on it. Shameless self-promotion is the name of the game here. Not only will they be grateful, you’ll also be instilling a sense of obligated kindness. Co-worker Steve ate your donut, therefore co-worker Steve owes you a lifetime of smiles and kindness. Co-worker Steve is now your unwitting pawn. That’s right Co-worker Steve, enjoy that donut, devour its frosted guiltiness.
  • Go to lunch with your new coworkers. Did they forget to invite you out? No worries, just sort of show up. Distract the table with something shiny and, while they’re gazing longingly at that Pog Slammer from the mid-90s, squeeze in between a couple co-workers like you’ve been there all along. Don’t worry, no one noticed you. Order an appetizer, laugh at their jokes, make up slightly obnoxious nicknames for them. People will love it, trust me.

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