Everyday Grace

thoughts and inspiration on emotional health by colleen p. arnold

How Grownups Make Friends

I’ve been really lucky with friends. Although I consider myself shy and rather introverted, I’ve collected friends from each job I’ve had and each school I went to. I’ve also made at least a few friends with each school my children have attended. I wish I had more time to connect in person with my friends, and too much of the connecting is done via social networking like Facebook, but it’s comforting to know that the mutual friendship is still there.

But one of the problems my clients bring up most often is, how do you make friendships as adults? As children, we’re thrown into a class with anywhere from 20-40 other kids our age, and sometimes we find like-minded kids to hang out with, and sometimes we find ourselves hanging out with whoever will hang out with us. There’s not a lot of choice in the matter, but this is the ground where we learn how to make and keep friendships.

As adults, we often have workplaces where we might meet some people we could see ourselves spending time with outside of work, but often, the people you spend the entire day with are not the people you want to see on the weekend, too. When we have kids, we end up waiting during dance class or soccer, with the same people each week, so it’s easy to strike up a conversation. It’s even easier if your kids get along and want playdates. But, sometimes we don’t click with the other parents or they don’t have the time or space for new friends.

So how do you make friends? A popular blogger and writer (her “Woman’s Comfort Book” is required reading for any woman who’s not sure how to take care of themselves), Jennifer Loudon, recently posed this question to her circle, and came up with some great ideas: Find Your Tribe.

I also posed this question to some of my friends, and they also came up with similar ideas:

  • I moved to a small town in NH alone, and I just went to the small shops and diners, read their newsletter to find activities, went to the nature preservation society and volunteered to help clear the trails. The library. Stuff like that.
  • Church. Moms group. Kid’s activities. Take a class at the community college.
  • Through message boards/common interests
  • Volunteering, joining team sports leagues/gym (and then talking to people and inviting them to activities), joining a church. Taking classes at the local college or through parks and recreation (photography, karate, salsa dancing, cooking classes, art classes etc)
  • Also, meetup.com is an excellent resource in any area.
  • Talk to your neighbors, and it might not happen on the first try, so don’t give up.

So, basically, you go where you like to go, and you look around for other people who like to go to those places, too.

But once you get there, how do you start the conversation? How do you actually form a friendship? Stay tuned….that’s next week’s topic.

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3 thoughts on “How Grownups Make Friends

  1. Very nice post about an important topic. So many clts I see say they are lonely., Many, unfortunately, as just not able to get past their social anxiety and put themselves out there, in these public ways. It is an on-going conversation. And now there really are many ways to connect. Meet-ups are just awesome! I love the restaurant/presentation idea!

  2. Colleen,

    Thanks for this post. I’ll be sharing it with several clients. I think that, often, if someone has been lonely or isolated for a while, trying to find friends can feel like an overwhelming challenge. I appreciate the list you offered, since many of those activities are low-threat. 🙂

    Warmly,
    Ann

  3. Hi Colleen,
    Thanks for addressing this because it is such a common challenge for people. As you note, there are so many relatively simple ways to get out with other people. For some this takes a lot of courage, but it sounds as though you can do a good job of supporting them on the way.
    Best,
    Carolyn

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