Advice Column

Ask Leslie: Should You Make Friends In A Temporary Situation?

March 4, 2018 (Last Updated: March 9, 2018)
Sometimes life puts us in temporary situations. Millions of people take on internships and rotation program jobs that will only put them in one location for a short amount of time. Should you put in the effort to make new friends that you're likely to leave behind? |

Leslie –

I accepted a job for when I graduate where I will be working four 6-month rotations in different locations. I know that you’ve talked about working in a similar type of program before, so I wanted to seek out what to do in that type of situation. For my 1st rotation I’ll be moving across the country to a tiny, tiny town where I won’t know a single person in the entire region.

Do I even bother to make friends in such a temporary situation? I already don’t care for this place and I haven’t even moved yet! The average age of the population is twice my age and I already know I’ll share nothing in common with anyone. What do you do in this type of situation?

– Melanie


Hi Melanie!

My experience was similar, except I was supposed to do three 8-month rotations.

I moved 500 miles away into a tiny town where I didn’t relate to anyone AT ALL. I was only expecting to be there for 8 months and move somewhere a little more relevant afterwards. This is what typically happened for most people before me, so it was a fair assumption (and an idea that I was sold to by the company).

I’m used to picking myself up and moving to another place and living there temporarily. In 2016 I moved 5 times!

I’ll be completely honest with you. There is no black and white answer to this question. I grew up in Houston and quickly learned that not every place is as vibrant of a city. I don’t think most people realize how hard it is to be yourself when you move somewhere irrelevant where you have nothing in common with anyone.

The best way to answer this for yourself is to inquire about your experiences in previous temporary situations.

For example, summer internships. I’ve done enough of those to realize that people really can just be temporary, which is completely okay! If I don’t get the job or if I don’t want the job, my chances of seeing my coworkers again are pretty much zero.

In most instances, I’ll add my favorite people on social media and check up with them every now and then. I know people have managed to meet their best friends in temporary situations, but that hasn’t been my experience.

Just keep in mind that making new friends all while navigating a new town and trying to work a full-time job is exhausting. Trying to do all of that in a few short months? Even more difficult.

Are you an introvert? Extrovert? How much energy do you have after a long day of work or school? Are you okay with being alone? Those are the types of questions you need to ask yourself.

Before I did some serious introspection, I put in so much time and energy into temporary people. I’m an introvert, so I really was going against my nature by doing the absolute most for people who would only be in my life for a matter of months.

Related post: Why Being An Introvert Rules

Going back to my last experience, all things considered, I decided that I wasn’t going to make a huge effort to make friends during those 8 months. I was still open to making friends, I just wanted to focus more on my job and my interests instead. By the time that I got off of work or the weekend rolled around I was too exhausted to do a lot of things.

I also had my friends from college to talk to and my boyfriend, albeit every meaningful relationship I had at that point was long distance. I spent my long weekends travelling to visit the important people in my life.

But here’s where my answer stops being so black and white.

Back then, I thought that this would all be completely manageable because I actually thought that I would be in this place for 8 months tops. It turns out that I wasn’t going to be rotated out to another location after my 8 months… and I was expected to stay for another 8.

So, my temporary situation was turning out to not be so temporary.

Had I known that I would be somewhere for >1 year from the beginning, it would be a different story, but I have no regrets. I really learned how to love being by myself during this time. My apartment was cute, cozy and my escape. I saved money by not going out and I saved myself a ton of time and energy by doing exactly what I wanted to do on my own terms.

I never met anyone that entire time that I truly wanted to be friends with. The vast majority of the people that I met were over the age of 40, had kids my age that moved away as far as possible, and were married, so no brunch and sleepover dates for me. There were no hot spots and it was way too freaking cold. #YouKnowYou’reInASmallTownIf one of the top 5 restaurants on Trip Advisor is a fast food chain.

I just didn’t fit in at all. Sure, I could have looked a little harder, but that defeats the purpose of knowing I was going to be there temporarily.

Unless you meet the cool people in your small town right away, I’d say that this is typical for most people. You’re going to be doing A LOT of traveling and planning a lot of vacations outside of town to catch up with friends and family in person. You better plan in advance or plan strategically because it’s not cheap AND your company probably doesn’t want you missing a lot of days anyway.

I’m not going to lie and say that everyone can handle a lifestyle like this. If you need people in your life, but you know it’ll be harder to relate to most people, you can do a few things:

1. One way to force yourself to make friends (and save a little money) is to find a roommate.

Ask your future manager if there’s a networking group for new graduates that will be moving to the area. It might be a stretch if your town is that small, or you’re graduating in the winter.

2. If you REALLY don’t want to put in a lot of effort into meeting new people you could try Bumble BFF.

Bumble is a dating app, but they made a subset of the app where they use their algorithm to help you find friends! It’s genius, if you ask me. You can even see if there’s an online forum for your town, like on Reddit, and ask there. Again, it might be a shot in the dark if you live in a small town, but it’s worth a try.

3. Lastly, you could just go out and try to find friends initially.

Your fate isn’t absolutely sealed when you move to a small town. You may thrive in temporary situations a lot better than someone else.

Rotation programs are hard. You definitely need some sort of support system to get through it. As long as you have some sort of friend group, whether it’s from school, another job, online, family, etc., you’ll never actually be alone.

If you don’t want to go out of your way to make friends in a temporary situation, that’s completely okay! You must use that time to occupy yourself, though. Pick up a new hobby that you’ve always wanted to try. Get fit! Get a pet (or two)!

Related post: How I Gave My Life Purpose By Adopting 2 Cats

If I didn’t have this time to be alone, I would have never started my blog. I would have not learned so much about myself either.

If you need a friend that completely gets where you’re coming from, don’t hesitate to email me!

Submit a question through the Ask Leslie tab or email me directly at [email protected].

Good luck to you, Melanie, and anyone else who is going through this dilemma! Hopefully your future rotations put you in a fun location or closer to your loved ones.

I hope that this helped.


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  • Reply
    March 14, 2018 at 8:53 PM

    This is interesting food for thought!

  • Reply
    March 12, 2018 at 1:23 AM

    Seriously such great advice! This is something I struggle with (and am currently struggling with). It’s hard to know when it’s worth it to put in the effort with some people. I love how you talk about learning how to be by yourself and that temporary friendships are totally okay! Thanks for the great advice!

    • Reply
      Leslie Johnson
      March 14, 2018 at 4:59 PM

      Thank you! I feel like this is such a huge issue that NO ONE talks about. It’s mentally exhausting to try to force a friendship that just wasn’t meant to work. I’m glad that you can relate!

  • Reply
    Angel Strunk | Next Level Blogging
    March 8, 2018 at 12:16 PM

    Hi Leslie!
    I’m such a people person, I can’t imagine not getting to know new people, even in temporary situations. I’ve met the most amazing people travelling, that have become dear friends and part of my network.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      Leslie Johnson
      March 8, 2018 at 12:58 PM

      Hi Angel! Thanks for the comment. I think it’s a completely different story when you have the freedom to travel and meet new people vs. being forced to be in a new area for work. I loved making friends when I studied abroad, despite it only being for 2 months. I need to learn a few pointers on how to maintain my network!

  • Reply
    March 7, 2018 at 3:28 PM

    Honestly, it can’t hurt to try! Even aquaintices have benefits. My sister did a lot of internships and now she has people to meet up with no matter where she goes. And don’t let age keep you from meeting people. When I was an americorps a lot of people were much older or younger than me but because our situation was similar we had a lot to talk about.

    • Reply
      Leslie Johnson
      March 8, 2018 at 12:56 PM

      Thanks for your input! I don’t know if it’s just my generation, but I’ve noticed that we’re able to go from best friends to strangers VERY quickly. Maybe we’re just used to everyone being an acquaintance due to social media.

  • Reply
    Julie Anna
    March 5, 2018 at 5:32 PM

    That’s such a great point about long-distance friends – I love my long-distance friends to death (in fact, some of them are my best friends), but that does mean I have to travel a bit to see them. To me, they’re worth all the travel and I don’t mind, but it definitely depends on the person and their lifestyle if they want to (or can) do that.

    I had no idea that some dating sites had a platform for friends, too! I think I’ll try Bumble BFF. I’ve always wanted to try Meetup but I feel a little intimidated going into something alone. I should try that first!

    • Reply
      Leslie Johnson
      March 7, 2018 at 11:47 AM

      Yeah, I’m so surprised that there are so many different “friend” apps out there! I find that so much more difficult than meeting someone to date.

  • Reply
    DeZell Mathews
    March 5, 2018 at 2:53 PM

    Good advice! I can’t stress how important it is to network and make friends with people. You never know the outcome.

    • Reply
      Leslie Johnson
      March 7, 2018 at 11:46 AM

      Thank you! Though, you shouldn’t stress about networking with anyone and everyone! That’s why some people in life are temporary.

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