How “Friendship Speed” Events Can Banish Loneliness and Help You Find Your Mature Tribe


Sara Hope says that when she went to an event to make new friends, she was nervous and totally out of her comfort zone.

“It’s like your first day at school and you’re like, ‘Who am I going to meet? Are they going to be nice? Am I going to be the odd one out?’” Said the 52-year-old man.

Ms Hope is one of dozens of women who attended a friend request event on the Sunshine Coast.

Think speed dating, but you find a friend, not a potential partner.

The events are organized in three age groups: 18 to 27, 28 to 44 and over 45s.

The women sit in pairs and spend five to ten minutes talking to each other. At the end of this time, they indicate in private on a sheet if they wish to meet again.

Ms Hope, director of commercial finance, said the nerves quickly calmed down.

“We’re all afraid of the unknown, afraid of rejection or being different. But we’re not… we all want friends,” says Hope.(ABC Sunshine Coast: Kylie Bartholomew)

“Some people say, ‘It’s great, we’re going to catch up for a coffee,’ but when you go you find that people really want to make up for a coffee afterwards.”

Ms Hope’s children had already left home by the time she moved to the Sunshine Coast a year ago, so meeting people through school links was no longer an option, and she said the changes of work patterns due to the pandemic also made socialization difficult.

“I have found it not so easy to find friends, especially when working from home – and so many people work from home these days that they end up in exactly the same boat.” , she said.

Founder motivated by his own loneliness

Create My Tribe’s business project manager Emmy Key developed Friend Request events after realizing how lonely she felt.

It was inspired by the success of a similar concept in the United States.

“I work from home remotely, school dropouts are extremely quick, I don’t really talk to other mothers and I don’t have a social life after moving here recently from Darwin,” she said.

woman sitting in front of laptop, smiling
Ms Key is hosting events in Brisbane next month and could expand to include men’s groups and regional areas.(ABC Sunshine Coast: Kylie Bartholomew)

Ms Key said the events drew a range of women, including those working from home, new residents and women who have lived on the coast their entire lives but have struggled to make friends.

She said the pandemic and social media were also additional barriers to organic friendship formation.

“When we are at the park you have to be 2 meters with a mask on. A lot of people are now used to being online and even talking with their existing friends online,” she said.

Written questions sit on a table
Conversation starters are placed on the table to help ease the nerves.(Provided: Emmy Key)

“I’m looking to get back to where we were at in terms of making those in-person connections.”

Events have been taking place on the Sunshine Coast for the past few months and will expand to Brisbane in November and December.

Ms Key said there had also been interest in events being held in other regional areas, as well as holding events that facilitate friendship between men.

“Women who attended the Friend Request event mentioned that they had a partner, sibling or male friend who would be interested,” she said.

Ms. Key is delighted with the success of the events held so far and says her own circle of friendship is growing as a result.

Will anyone love me?

Ms Key said the biggest fear for most of the women who attended was not having a “match” at an event, but she never knew it would happen.

“Actually a lady contacted me she was so worried [about not having a match] that she almost didn’t attend, ”Ms. Key said.

“What was interesting was that she actually had the most matches of anyone present that night – everyone had ticked yes to want to meet her again.”

Lady standing in a bar holding a big bell, smiling
When Mrs. Key rings, the bell rings, it’s time to move on.(Provided: Stefan Daniljchenko)

Sunshine Coast mother and writer Kylie Asmus, who attended the same friend request event as Ms Hope, said he was eager to find out if she had “paired” with any of the other attendees.

“I left this event and felt so sad because I was like, ‘Oh my God, what if I don’t like?’ … It’s the risk you take and it’s a risk worth taking, ”said the 46-year-old.

She said it was a relief to learn two days later that all the other women wanted to be friends with her.

Woman standing in a park, smiling
Although she initially feels vulnerable, Ms Asmus says, “What’s worse, being alone or being scared? You have to go for it.”(ABC Sunshine Coast: Kylie Bartholomew)

Find your tribe – locally

Women say they have friends who live elsewhere but are drawn to the idea of ​​finding friends in their neighborhood.

“A lot of my friends don’t live here, so it’s the kind of loneliness you feel when you just want to talk to someone or have coffee with them,” Ms. Asmus said.

Ms. Hope agreed.

“We all have friends, it’s just that so many times these days they’re interstate… and you have to be able to sit with a girlfriend and just chat,” she said.

Prue Millear, professor of psychology at the University of the Sunshine Coast, said it’s important to have friends nearby.

“It’s the physical closeness, the fact that you can call up and say, ‘Oh, it’s such a glorious day. Let’s go to Mooloolaba for coffee or take a walk along the beach,'” Dr. Millear.

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Dr Prue Millear explains why we need friends for Kylie Bartholomew.
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Dr Millear said having at least one good friend was key to tackling loneliness but as we got older it often required deliberate effort as there were fewer opportunities for “meeting new people organically.” “.

This deliberate effort has paid off for some women on the Sunshine Coast who have developed friendships after attending friend request events.

Finally, they found their “own tribe”.

They’ve come a long way since their initial introductions, when they looked like awkward teens panicked about not fitting in with a palpable fear of rejection.

“Knowing that I can call one of them and say, ‘Hey, what are you doing today? What are you doing tomorrow?… It exceeded my expectations.’

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