How to Make Friends with Your Neighbors

Why is it that making friends as an adult can be both the hardest and most awkward social situation of all time? In your school days you could just latch onto the kid next to you, play a game or two and be instant friends forever. You can’t do that as adult, see someone at a coffee shop drinking your same order talk to them and just immediately become buds. Nope, adulthood is the stage in life where trying to make friends is a fine line between creepy and appealing with a bunch of social media mixed in. Luckily, unless you live in the middle of nowhere, chances are you’ve got a decent friend pool right next door. That’s right – look to your neighbors. However, if you’ve never met them, how can you go about making that first introduction?

IMAGE SOURCE: RPM EAST VALLEY

According to a survey from  Nextdoor.com, 61% of Americans would like to know more of their neighbors. Aren’t we a nosy bunch? Honestly, a sense of community and knowing those around you is important! Irene S. Levine, a psychologist and friendship expert, who wasn’t involved in the study, says that, “Getting to know your neighbors can be very beneficial both for emotional and logistic reasons. It’s nice to feel part of a community and to not feel like a stranger in your own neighborhood, and there also may be times when you need to call on a neighbor for help.”

Okay – it’s great for your health, but how do you do it?

Dish out some compliments, but don’t be fake about it. Maybe your neighbor has a puppy, or a killer handbag – consider those all conversation starters! “Friendships often start by finding what two people have in common,” says Levine. “Complimenting not only makes that person feel good, but you’re showing an interest in some choice that they’ve made.” Now for the creeper warning, don’t smother them and try to avoid anything that makes it sound like you’re actively watching them like, “I saw you come out of your building…” in fact how about just never say that in general.

Try showing off those pearly whites! “People forget how important it is to smile and make eye contact,” says Levine. Take your eyes off your smart phone and try looking around, it makes you infinitely more approachable and open to a chat.

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Join a group, club or a meetup. Got kids? You’re basically a sure-in. Playgrounds are full of other parents looking for local playgroups. No baby to speak of, don’t worry! There is something out there for everyone,  running clubs, book clubs, or dinner clubs, all are a great way to meet people you already have something in common with. Not sure where to start, peruse Meetup.com for some great options in your area!

The easiest of all to get to know neighbors is to say hello to the new folks as they move in. “When somebody new moves onto the block, it’s an easy opportunity to welcome them,” says Levine. Stopping by to introduce yourself with some treats goes a long way.

IMAGE COURSE: ATLANTA HOME MAGAZINE