This means taking the time to have conversations about how much friendship you're looking for – whether you're just a running buddy or a best friend – while also allowing the relationship to evolve. Talking about the Covid-19-related precautions you each take can also make face-to-face meetings more enjoyable.
"I tend to communicate too much, especially now," said Amanda Zeilinger. In July, Ms. Zeilinger, 23, moved from Northfield to Minnesota to St. Paul to start a new job in a mosaic workshop in the Twin Cities. She had expected it might be more difficult to make friends in a new city, but it wasn't: she recently formed a capsule with two coworkers so they could cultivate their friendship outside of work. "I think people are so hungry for human connection that we're so much more open," she said.
Go on a date – or two or three.
"One of the defining characteristics of our friends is that they are exclusive," said Dr. Franco. That is, you shared memories and experiences. So after you've met at work, school, or a club, plan a virtual one-on-one tea time or a socially distant stroll. "Repotting" friendships or moving friendships from one environment to another – a term used by digital strategist Ryan Hubbard – can also help them gain momentum.
Developing a new friendship is not unlike starting a romantic relationship, and first meetings with a new friend can feel like a first date, said Jordan Bennett, 31, a communications professional who lives in New York. "You have the same nerve."
Several close friends of Mr. Bennett's left New York last summer. This, combined with his natural tendency to be "very, very social," led him to exchange messages with a new friend via Bumble BFF. They first met in September, and while it was platonic, Mr Bennett said, neither was he sure how this potential boyfriend might react if he found out he was gay. "They don't know if someone is an ally or how comfortable they are," he said. The topic emerged organically and resulted in a pleasant conversation about relationships. Since then, they have ventured into bars and the gym and followed the Vice-Presidential debate together.
After a successful initial meeting, plan to continue meeting regularly. Several experts agreed that consistency strengthens bonds. "Ritual is really important when it comes to connection, especially friendship," said Adam Smiley Poswolsky, author of the upcoming book, Friendship in the Age of Solitude. Linking friendship with a common goal – a regular yoga practice; Keeping up with a TV show – can help strengthen the relationship and your new habit.
"Being intentional, being available, being reliable and being excited are all things that work in your favor," said Ms. Sow.