Alternate Title: “Adulting: Making Friends When You’re Over 30 and a SAHM Who Enjoys Being by Herself in the House With Her Child And Dog.”
I arrived at the library for song-and-story time last week and saw a mom that I’d seen a few times before. She looked up and said hello, so I sat near her again as I typically do. We broke the rules and were chatting during song time, and I learned she had just moved to Colorado a few months ago. She told me a few of the things she does to keep herself busy, I mentioned a few things that I do, and then I mentioned that I’d “made a few friends” that I spend time with on occasion.
Her eyes lit up.
“How did you make friends?!”
It seems like such a simple question with such a simple answer. “We like each other so we hang out?” I thought. I wasn’t really sure what to say.
But it’s something I’ve been thinking about over the last few years, especially since I’ve been in two different states and a handful of jobs, and made a lot of friends along the way. During that time I’ve gotten married, entered my 30s, become a mom, and transitioned from in-office work to at-home work. All of those things make a difference in someone’s ability to find and make new friends.
Back in Chicago it’s simple. I have a ton of friends because those are the people I’ve grown up with. I went to school with them, played sports with them, matured with them, and have made memories with them. There wasn’t much effort that you had to put in when you were in school and you were definitely going to see them 5 out of 7 days in a week. And by the point you knew what was happening, you were invited over for dinner and then you went to college with them and now you’re Facebook friends and joke about things like the Mariah Carey song you listened to over and over again. Easy peasy. Friends for life.
Now, when there’s real life involved, effort is required. You need to first run into them a few times. Feel it out – do they like you as much as you like them? Do you give them your number/email? Wait for them to give you theirs? What do you say? How long do you wait to call? Who calls who for a first hangout? How long do you wait to hang out again?
It’s like you’re dating.
And, though I enjoyed dating for the most part, I’m married now. So, dating again sounds like a humongous chore. I don’t have the energy to do it with friends. But, since I’m no longer in an office and have guaranteed adult interaction on a daily basis, it’s something I need to do.
After I’d left the library I thought about it more, because somehow I have a knack for making friends. I was with two of my best friends last year and one remarked to the other how “Danielle is friends with everyone. If she met you at a bus stop 3 years ago you’d still be friends.” I found this amusing. They found this scary. They’re not the type to do this sort of thing, whereas it comes naturally to me.
What I came up with is this: I’m an only child. I am completely content being by myself for stretches of time. But, I do need to be around other people frequently, so I have friends. Most of my friends (95% I’d say) do not live in this state, so that makes it difficult to spend time with anyone. Therefore, I have to make new ones. I utilize a skill my mother gave me when I was 4: Go up to them and ask if they want to play. It worked for me and my friend Carrie (she’s a rockstar blogger, by the way), and we’ve been friends since 1986.
There’s something to it.
I have a new mom friend in my neighborhood. How did I meet her? I had seen her walking in the neighborhood, and one day I saw her on a walk. We exchanged pleasantries from across the street, but I knew I wanted to meet her so I walked over to her and asked if I could introduce myself. We exchanged emails and we now see each other about once a week.
I met this new friend at the library. How did I meet her? I sat next to her, remembered her name, and said hello each time I saw her. I offered to send her a sewing pattern I found and we exchanged emails.
I met a mom friend at swimming. She gave me her number. I texted. I invited her to a few things. She responded a few times and we never met up. Things like that happen. I don’t hold it against her. In fact, I may invite her to hang out again even though it hasn’t worked out yet.
Not difficult, people.
Here are some tips:
- Be bold – Introduce yourself!
- Remember names.
- Call. Or text. Or email. Just make contact.
- Actually show up if you plan something.
- Don’t take it personally if it doesn’t turn into the world’s greatest friendship. At least you tried!
Any other tips for making friends as an adult?