How to REALLY make friends

If Mish and I had met at a speed-dating event rather than at university, there’s approximately zero chance that we would have ended up together:

“Hi! I’m Mish – I enjoy going for daily six-mile walks, reading about urban planning and traffic systems, and correcting people on their grammar.”

“I’m Rob – I can’t get enough of the Ancient Romans, investments and labradoodles.”

A veeeery long two minutes pass.

Luckily, as we had the chance to discover over a much longer period of time, it’s our shared outlook on life that’s important rather than our interests. And as it turns out, it’s exactly the same with friendships too.

When we lived in one place, we made our friends – as most people do – through a combination of shared interests (like sports and music) and proximity (like work and other friends’ dinner parties). Some of those friendships were fantastic and are still strong today, but many others fell away as soon as the initial factor that brought us together was gone.

Now that we travel, we seem to hit it off with a far higher proportion of the people we meet – and even after months apart, we cross paths and pick up exactly where we left off. Even though some of our best friends are mad about Dr Who, surfing and historical fiction – and we have no clue about any of these things – our shared outlook on life is what counts.

The added bonus is that we’re constantly having our eyes opened to new lifestyles, backgrounds and ways of looking at the world. In this last week alone we’ve spoken to a preacher’s son from the US who’s living with his Japanese wife in Malaysia, a Canadian tax attorney who escaped to Spain, and a South African programmer-turned-personal trainer.

London is a very diverse place and we could have met people from all these backgrounds in our home city… but because of interests and proximity, we just ended up hanging out with an endless stream of marketing people from the Home Counties.

Becoming a digital nomad is an easy shortcut to meeting people with the same outlook on life – but short of that, it’s still worth trying to break away from the kind of people you normally meet and seeking out those you have something deeper in common with.