Life Advice



She told TikTok she was lonely in LA. What happened next changed her life

Claire O’Callahan, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Dating Advice

LOS ANGELES — In the sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles, home to nearly 4 million people, making friends is no easy feat. Especially if you're an adult. Research shows that people over 21 are more likely to face extra hurdles in forming friendships. The building blocks — time, proximity and scheduled opportunities to socialize — are harder to come by when juggling all the responsibilities that come with building a life.

But on a Saturday afternoon in late March, more than 200 adults are packed into the back patio of a Culver City yoga studio in an attempt to beat the odds.

Inside the studio, an open bar serves drinks. Outside, the air is filled with the smoky aroma of sizzling carne asada. A DJ is playing a remix of TLC's "No Scrubs." Some people chat in threes and fours, balancing paper plates of tacos and cocktails. Others gather around a giant Jenga tower, which is balanced precipitously on a picnic table.

It's everyone's first time meeting, but they've learned each other's names with the help of the name tags stuck to their shirts. Someone pulls a critical block loose and people snatch their drinks out of the way as the Jenga tower tumbles. A few wander off, but most stay to pick up the pieces and rebuild. A new game starts.

This is just one of many icebreakers at the one-year "friendiversary" of Los Angeles Friends, a growing cohort of native Angelenos and recent transplants searching for deeper connections in L.A.

A yearning for connection


Emmely Avila, 27, created the group last year in an effort to make friends. She had recently returned to the city with the hope of curing the loneliness she'd felt living in Atlanta, where the only people she knew were her boyfriend and his pals. But she found the feeling harder to shake than she expected.

"I came home thinking things would pick up where they left off, but that wasn't the case," Avila said.

In the six years since she had left for college, many of her childhood friends had moved away. She'd grown distant from those who remained and working remotely made it difficult to meet people. Once again, Avila found herself in need of community.

At first, Avila tried the friend-making app Bumble for Friends. But her conversations never made it off her phone. One day in early February 2023, she took to TikTok to express her frustration.


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