Making Friends

Kelsey Breseman
5 min readJul 10, 2024


"Oh, hang on, they're about to score," I pause my conversation with the French girl next to me.

We're in the garden area of a pub watching the England versus Switzerland match in the Euros. The wifi is slow in the garden, so we have about one minute between hearing people celebrate inside and actually seeing the play on the outside screen.

It's perfect. None of us are all that invested in the match, but we don't want to miss the big moments, either. One minute later, England scores on the outside screen. The inebriated table in the corner starts singing. We cheer with everybody else, laugh, and get back to our conversation.

This is a group of strangers I met a few hours ago, at a lunch hosted by Girl Gone International. It's basically a Facebook group, a chapter per city, where women and nonbinary people can meet to make new friends.

This one was a picnic on Hampstead Heath, except it ended up at a restaurant because of the unseasonable July rains. The woman from Colombia asked if anyone wanted to carry on afterwards to watch the game, so now I'm here with her, the French woman, a woman from Italy, and a friend the Colombian woman invited. As it happens, we all speak Spanish, so we've been chatting in both languages just for fun.

There are a number of these groups, mostly on Facebook and Instagram. There's The Girls That Walk, that go for weekly walks in Battersea Park. There's the London Girls Book Club, a more heavily sponsored group that also does yoga, paint and sip, and pub nights.

The massive and on-the-nose London Lonely Girls Club is a Facebook group where most posts start with some variation of "this is intimidating, but I'm going to put myself out there..." and go on with a multiparagraph bio that wouldn't be out of place on a dating site. Most posts there get 20+ comments from other Lonely Girls along the lines of "I like your vibe, I sent you a DM, let's hang out."

London is a passing through place. Some of the women I've met have been here since before Brexit, and they say they have to find new friends every three to five years— so they come back out to these groups.

It actually works. I have no idea what the men do, but the womxn's groups are hopping. I posted a picture of a pasta maker with the message "DM if you want to come over and make pasta together" in Girl Gone International, and it got more than 50 likes, with five or so people DM'ing to meet up.

Even my Lonely Girls post back in the first trimester woes of April, "would love if there's anybody around daytimes who wants to make plans to go walk in the park and then cut them short because of nausea😅" was effective. I ended up meeting a recent arrival from New York just dipping her toes into solo international travel. She's off city-hopping Europe now, but for a few weeks, she was my go-to person to text for an afternoon walk; she lived nearby and needed somebody to hang out with just as much as I did.

Now that I'm back and feeling human again, I can meet people more naturally, by going out and doing things. There's a cemetery-turned-park nearby where big trees have taken over and grown through the gravestones, resulting in a surprisingly lovely wild corner of East London. They take volunteers every week: so far I've done litter pick, pruned the wild plum trees, and pulled nettles and hogweed.

While soaking in the smell of trees and the satisfaction of being useful to a forest, I've met a cryptography researcher who lives in the same complex as me, a young woman who is into foraging and has just moved to the area with her partner, and a psychology professor who recently lived in Tasmania but is now expecting his first baby in the next ten days.

He introduced me to his wife; we got smoothies together last night, and we're going to prenatal yoga later today. They're helping me navigate pregnancy in the National Health System: apparently, if I report pregnancy as a "symptom," my GP will have to get back to me within 48 hours, which should result in a referral to a midwife to guide me through the process.

I'm aggressive in my efforts to make community. I get energy from social interaction, and need excuses to leave the apartment. Through years of speaking at tech conferences, I learned the indispensable skill of feeling comfortable breaking into conversations with strangers. And I'm conscious that the second trimester is a limited window; by the time my mobility drops again, I will need to know people well enough to invite them over, maybe ask them for help.

As my mother suggested, pregnancy helps with the social scene. Now that it's not tying me to the couch, it's an easy thing to have in common with anyone who's been pregnant, or a wild story to tell with people not on that path.

I've been added to WhatsApp and Facebook groups for parents and for mums in my postcode area and in my apartment complex, to Adventure Mums, to Mums Who Climb. It's not exactly friendship, but it's a place to start. A lot of these groups have events that anyone can come to.

The air is heavy with the fragrance of roses as I pass the edge of Regent's park.

"Congratulations," smiles a bellhop at one of the fancy lodgings, nodding at the "Baby on Board" pin I'm still wearing from riding the Tube.

It's raining, but the rain makes me feel at home as it slowly drenches my hair. I'm not the only one. A woman sitting umbrella-less on a bench shares a smile. A cluster of women in hijabs join me under a Japanese pine to shelter for a moment of downpour in the garden.

I'm alone today, but it isn't lonely. It's summer, my body works, and pregnancy does finally feel like a kind of glow.

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