When we're very young, a best friend can be someone you met two hours ago in the sandbox. As we get older, we tend to get more discerning about the company we keep, and opportunities to meet new people become more complex and less frequent.
This change is thrown into sharp relief when you move to a new state or distant city as an adult and leave behind tight-knit friendships. How do you find kindred souls in a new location?
Parents of small children often find it easier to build a new network of friends because playgrounds, Little League games and Scouts trips are natural places for adults to make acquaintances who can blossom into friends. For the rest of us, rebuilding a cadre of friends might need a little more strategizing.
And there are so many reasons to move these days, that it'd be a shame to let fear of being friendless stop you.
First of all, as soon as you learn you may move, ask your family and friends if they know someone -- anyone -- who already lives in what will soon be your new home. Disregard their age, marital status, politics, favorite TV program or anything else that might not suit your taste. You want to ask this person to give you the lay of the land, recommend neighborhoods to live in and those to avoid, local events you should attend and things you should avoid, and, ideally, will offer to introduce you to others, jumpstarting the reconstruction of your social life.
Reach out to your new "friend guide" a day or two after you arrive in the new city. Ask to meet for coffee on a date convenient to them, be sure to arrive early and -- don't forget -- pick up the check.
You might get lucky and effortlessly fall into a new social circle. "Adults have this myth that other adults already have all the friends they want," says the psychologist Irene S. Levine, who wrote the book "Best Friends Forever" and blogs at thefriendshipblog.com.
But if not, turn to the world of apps. Some are specifically aimed at kindling friendships. Peanut is a social networking app that says it's "where mamas meet"; some users describe it as a platonic "Tinder for Moms." Bumble, a dating app, this summer will roll out Bumble BFF, an app for arranging dates with your new best friend forever.
Meetup.com is a well-known site that offers users countless options to meet new people, from hiking to book groups to meditation. And if you don't find an activity you're interested in, you can start your own group.
Business networking apps such as Shapr and LinkedIn are being asked to work overtime to help their users locate potential friends. The apps harvest their users' age, location, title and industry and run that information through an algorithm to find professionals with matching interests and similar professional goals.