12:49pm Sunday 08 December 2019

Moving? Making friends key to turning new house into a home


Glenn Sparks

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“Americans generally fail to count the relational cost of a geographic relocation,” says Glenn Sparks, professor of communication. “People moving may feel like they don’t have time because they are trying to anchor their new lives, but those relocating this summer should think carefully about this aspect of their life as soon as they can. There are many ways to keep in touch with the friends left behind, but texting and social media don’t capture real conversation. And conversation is the tapestry that keeps us healthy because it truly keeps us connected to other people.”

Tips for reaching out after moving:

* Mute phone and notifications: Leave the phone inside to charge while outside introducing yourself to neighbors.

* Take advantage of the weather and spend more time outside – the front yard, park or community festival – to meet people.

* Go offline: Limit the time spent on Facebook and other sites connecting with old friends. Instead, look for local community groups. 

* Learn from children: Children make friends easier than adults, and there are opportunities to meet other parents at children-centered activities.

“It takes effort to establish these new face-to-face relationships, but they are crucial for daily well-being,” says Sparks, who is co-author of “Refrigerator Rights: Our Crucial Need for Close Connection.”

Sparks, and the book’s co-author, Will Miller, say that because people are moving farther and more regularly, there is a greater void in face-to-face relationships.

“We are losing conversation, because the value of conversation is being dropped with electronic technology,” Sparks says. “Face-to-face conversation is the grist of building relationships.”

In 2009 the American Community Survey reported that more than 15 percent of the population had moved. The survey also reported that young adults ages 18-29 were the most mobile group of the U.S. population. 

Sparks says those who see new people moving into their neighborhoods or buildings are not excluded from this message.

“People already settled have home court advantage, so take the time to greet new neighbors,” Sparks says. “Just make a point to spend a few minutes each night outside instead of rushing into an air conditioned house to check email or Facebook.”

Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu

Source: Glenn Sparks, gsparks@purdue.edu

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