Using Apps to Find Friends After Quarantine

Dominique Williamson, 23, never had trouble making friends. “I have never been in a position where I didn’t have any girlfriends, to hang out with at least,” she said.

But Ms. Williamson, who is a vegan chef and sells cookbooks, moved to Atlanta from New York City just before the pandemic. When things were still open, she would dine alone and introduce herself to anyone else sitting alone at the bar.

But once Covid-19 hit, that option dried up. The few friends she had from growing up in Atlanta all moved away for jobs, graduate school or because of the pandemic. “I am a creative. I work from home, how do I make friends?” she said.

For most of last year, no one was doing anything fun. But now that cities are reopening and vaccines are widespread, she wanted to reclaim a social life. So three weeks ago she Googled “Making friends in Atlanta.”

So she got to work, swiping away on Bumble BFF. Her matches had to be female, single and looking like they were having a blast in all their photos.

Ms. Stein found the process to be more liberating than dating. She didn’t care what their jobs were, where they lived or if they were hot. The “friend” dates did not carry the same expectations. “Even if you go on a date, and you don’t like him, but he never texts you, your ego takes a hit,” she said. “With a girl it’s like we are having a bite to eat, it’s fine if I never talk to her again.”

Members’ clubs that at one time might have been considered standoffish are now helping socially eager members connect. Soho House recently added a feature on its app called House Connect that matches up members based on mutual interests, professional pursuits and answers to questions like “What Keeps me busy.”

Other people are finding friends in less structured ways.

Molly Britt, 38, a content creator for Chevron, lives outside of Seattle. She moved there just before the pandemic with her husband, but they are now separated. With few friends, she felt alone. “The pandemic hit, and I was like, ‘What am I going to do here?’” she said. “I am as extroverted as they come.”

Then a new friend showed up on her actual doorstep.

Michelle McKinney, 46, left her job during the pandemic, and was delivering groceries for Safeway on the side. She rang Ms. Britt’s door, and the two started chatting. Soon it turned into talks about their children and their lives… and how they both wanted to meet new friends.

“She stood on my doorstep for like 30 minutes,” Ms. Britt said. “At some point she was like, ‘I guess I better get back to delivering groceries, but before I go, can I please get your number.’ We immediately started sending each other GIFs that were like, ‘Did we just become best friends?’”

Now that they are both vaccinated, the friendship has moved indoors. “Last week she showed up at my house with pizza and sangria,” Ms. Britt said. “We could not shut up talking to each other. I’m never letting her go as a friend.”

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