4 March, 2019

Olivia June is the founder of Hey! VINA, a make friends app that introduces women to like-minded people. Described as “the Tinder for girlfriends”, it’s set to transform our friendship habits

Olivia June, founder of the friendship app Hey! VINA

Olivia June, founder of the friendship app Hey! VINA

 

Nobody wants to walk into a party or to a bar with a sign on their head that says “Help me – I need a new friend!”

But in adulthood, many of us are balancing full-time jobs, time with partners and family, finding the time to exercise and so on.

And since many of us are under the impression that making new friends should be “easy,” people can feel embarrassed or shamed when it’s not.

The thing is, we’ve all been victim of the myth of easy friendship.

We’ve all faced many moments in our lives where we’ve wanted to make a new friend and simply didn’t have the time, tools, or confidence to make it happen.

Finding friends in a new city

When I moved to San Francisco, I was working-sleeping-working on repeat. I realised that I didn’t have a good group of girlfriends to call up for brunch, a walk at the beach, or a good shoulder to cry on.

I first co-founded Ladies Who Vino, a networking group for women who met over a glass of wine. Within the first few months, we were flooded with responses, and I knew we were onto something.

Read more: The unexpected secret to making new friends

Around that time, Tinder was popular in the dating scene and I started using the app to find women I could potentially be friends with.

It turns out, I wasn’t the only one; women I messaged told me that they did the same thing.

I set out to launch the very first friend-finding app for women, and Hey! VINA was born.

It eliminates any of those awkward vibes by making friendship more upfront. Every single person on there is there for the same thing – to meet new friends.

The power of female friends

Female friendship has huge value and impact. It’s not just important, it’s everything.

Life can be pretty lonely, and you need friends around you who truly understand you and know you – the messy, complicated, awesome you – and not what they might see on the highlight reel of your life (aka, Instagram).

A great friendship typically comes without fear of judgement. It’s our safe zone to not have to worry about what a romantic partner or the outside world thinks.

Read more: Words of wisdom from fearless female pioneers

Women are wired to listen to and validate each other. I’ve found that on particularly challenging days, it’s my girlfriends who can pull me out my funk.

I’ve been through long relationships that didn’t work out, and a failed marriage. While our romantic partners change throughout our lives, our best friends stay with us through it all.

What to do if you’re struggling to make friends

Remember that there are plenty of people on the hunt for a new companion – you are not alone. So many people in the world have been in your shoes before, wishing they had connections that they don’t currently.

No matter what, your friends, “your people,” are out there. Don’t let fear hold you back. And don’t take what others have done in the past as representation for what others will do in the future.

Finding these strong, meaningful friendships IS possible in the digital age. You just have to get out there and do it.

Making new friends – quick tips

The film Thelma and Louise, about female friendship

Go on your gut

In my experience, I have felt instant chemistry with my good girlfriends. If you follow your intuition, you really can feel the vibe of your people.

But also give it time

That being said, it’s a good idea to give it some time if a relationship doesn’t “click” right away. The other person might have been feeling shy, or perhaps you weren’t in the right place. Give it a second chance to see what happens, maybe in a different setting.

Be yourself

When you let your guard down and connect with someone on a deeper, more personal level, that’s when the real friendship magic begins.

Make room for IRL bonding 

Sending emojis and memes back and forth all day is great, but you know what’s greater? That feeling you get when you hug your friend in a deep, long embrace, or actually hearing your friend’s laughter. After you make friends online, move beyond.

Read more: Making friends in your 30s and 40s

Choose different friends for different needs

Our lives constantly change. Your current friends’ lives won’t always be in lockstep with your own. So, it’s good to grow your networks – even if you feel you have “enough” friends.

Be open-minded

Many of our success stories at Hey! Vina start with users explaining why they thought they might not click with a person. But then they hit it off, and the rest is history. If you never try, you’ll never know.

Don’t take rejection personally

It’s hard to swallow when someone is a no-show or just stops responding to you. My best advice is just to carry on, and remember that it’s never about you.

Keep at it

We should be conscientiously and constantly making an effort to meet new people. The best way to expand your horizons is to get to know new friends and learn about their lives.

How the VINA friendship app works

  • When you sign up for VINA, you take a variety of personality quizzes that we use to match you with vinas who are similar to you
  • You can swipe in a particular community (like New In Town, Jetsetters or Runners, for instance) or you can swipe in the general pool of vinas who are in your set distance range, to make new friends in your area
  • Once you make a match in the app, my Olivia bot sends you an introduction with a message to kick off the conversation and encourage a meetup
  • Our Plans feature is where members post about upcoming events – yoga in the park, a movie date, happy hour at a local bar etc. – and vinas who live nearby can RSVP to the event. It’s an easy no-pressure way to meet other vinas in your area
  • We don’t focus on age because I’ve heard from so many members who have bonded with a vina older than them and found a mentor, or a “big sister” type to help them with life’s challenges. VINA member ages range from as young as 16 to women in their 90s

    Wondering how to make friends as an adult? Let adventure be your guide

Smash your comfort zone in Jordan

Jordan Flash Pack

Join a small squad of like-minded travellers – and soon-to-be group of friends – as you canyon through the Wadi Mujib, and hike a secret back door route to the ancient city of Petra.

Make it happen

Party til dawn in colourful Cuba

Make buddies for life as you cruise through old-town Havana in a 1950s convertible, learn the art of salsa dancing and bed down on a remote and beautiful Caribbean beach.

Cuba, you beauty

Find people like you in the Philippines

Philippines solo group

Discover some of the world’s dreamiest beaches on this whirlwind getaway to the sunny Philippines. Along with your newfound travel pals, island-hop between the coves of the Bacuit Archipelago, and glamp beneath the stars on a secret beach (with a private chef on-hand, naturally).

Happy times ahead

Images: Shutterstock, Flash Pack, Moviestillssbd

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