Grind Guru: How to find friends with benefits

One is the loneliest number. Joshua Earle

One is the loneliest number. Photo: Joshua Earle

I just moved across the country for a job. I'm in a spot with great climbing, biking, and skiing, but the only people I know here are my metronoteventhatsexual co-workers. When you move to a new town, how do you find people to recreate with?

Activity partners (“friends with benefits”) can be hard to come by, especially for slightly high-consequence sports like climbing or kayaking, because you have to build a level of trust. But even if you're just looking for a shuttle buddy, lining up activi-dates can be awkward.

Rule number one: Be nice. Like, maybe too nice. Just on the edge of Labradoodle. At the trailhead, chat with people. At the gear shop, ask the girl at the counter where she likes to climb. People don't know you're looking unless you tell them.

Look into volunteering, or related activities, because those often give you a better chance to chat with people than when you're on the trail or in the water. Go to the local avalanche-center fundraiser. If you mountain bike, go to a trail-building day. Look into beach or river cleanups, or crag service days.

And then follow up. Call people back. Ask them on second friend dates. "Don't be a flake" is new friendship rule number one.

I'm a girl, my best climbing partner is a guy, and I get the feeling that his girlfriend is weirded out by our relationship. I'm not interested at all, and even if I were, I would never make a move on someone who was taken. How do I clear the air?

If you're getting vibed out, be really open about it. Ask him if she feels weird, and if she's communicated it to him. If she has, ask what you can do. And then, if it feels appropriate, mention it offhandedly to her.

If that feels too blunt, try to build a bit of a relationship with her, outside of him. It doesn't have to be much—maybe just some kind of inside joke. It's also possible she just feels left out, and a little threatened, because she doesn't climb. Reach out to her: See if she wants to come with you guys one day, or just with you.

What about those Internet things? Weird? Cool?

Has your mom been pushing you toward Events and Adventures? As with all things Internet related, it totally depends. I think half the people in the city go to the running Meetup near my house. It seems rad, but I've also heard horror stories of people getting stuck belaying quivering weirdoes for hours.

So yes, but proceed with caution. Gociety, which started in Colorado but is slowly spreading to both coasts, has been getting good reviews.

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