Speed friending — a new way to make friends in Halifax

14 strangers have 5 minutes to see if they’re friend material

A question that built childhood memories for many has become one of the hardest questions for adults: do you want to be friends?

Last week, Winston Guitar participated in his first speed friending event at Dooly’s in Bedford after moving from Niagara Falls, Ont., in 2018.

With five minutes a round, Guitar and 13 others paired together over a game of foosball, air hockey, darts or pool. At the end of each round a new set of partners would team up until everyone had the chance to meet.

Guitar says he enjoys meeting new people through speed friending because it’s a way to connect without the pressures of having to drink.

“You’re all scared, you’re all a little nervous, but at the end of it you know you can be that confident,” says Guitar, 27.

Jean-eva Dickie, the founder of Speed Friending Halifax, says making new friends isn’t easy. Dickie believes you have to be outgoing on a regular basis by seeking interactions and understanding that friendships are not created overnight.

“The transitions from saying, ‘How are you today?’ to getting into a full conversation, enough to find friendship chemistry takes a lot of practice,” says Dickie.

Dickie has hosted six friending events throughout Halifax since February. Last week, 14 strangers paid $30 each to participate.

Speed friending participants get to know each other before playing games.   Travis Devonport

While she hosts both dating and speed friending events, Dickie says those who sign up for speed friending are told not to chase romance.

Ashley Ross, a regular participant, has found speed friending helpful when it comes to finding like-minded people.

“It’s not the ready-made meal. When you are a student it’s everybody your own age, you already have something in common, you’re either from the same place or going to the same place. As an adult you’re just floating alone in the sea, so you have to swim to find your fellow fishes,” says Ross.

Dickie says establishing a healthy friendship starts with micro-interactions, such as saying hello to a barista or striking up a conversation with an unfamiliar co-worker.

While Dickie hosts one-on-one events, Sean McMullen, founder of the Halifax Social Network, is doing something different.

With a team of five organizers, the Halifax Social Network hosts monthly events that are free of charge for those looking to connect with people from different communities throughout Nova Scotia.  The events are held at different locations, including coffee shops.

Each event is hosted by a volunteer guest speaker who shares stories about the successes and failures they’ve experienced throughout their lives.

McMullen says it all started with a group of friends wanting to get to know what people were up to in Halifax. “We met at the Gahan House in January 2018, and at the end of it people had such a good time, they were like, ‘man can we do another one of these?’”

Sean McMullen (far right) poses with participants of Halifax Social Network’s recent meet-up on Oct 28.   Sean Mcmullen

McMullen says their approach is similar to how socializing used to be before cellphones.

“It’s just a bunch of people we don’t know, and we try to talk about that at every event. Stepping out and meeting someone can change your lives in many ways. I’ve become friends with so many people through these events that it’s changed the way I look at things,” says McMullen.

As events aimed at socializing continue to grow throughout Halifax, Guitar hopes more people take the opportunity to get out of their comfort zone and make new connections.

“There’s always going to be someone out there to meet, whether it be friends or partners. You just have to be patient, have fun and enjoy the ride. Life’s a beautiful thing,” says Guitar.

Travis Devonport

Travis Devonport

Travis is a freelance journalist and event photographer based out of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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