How to make friends as a grown up
Do you remember when you could call up your bff in high school and talk and cry and laugh on the phone with her for hours? Do you remember how you guys knew each other so well, you could tell what the other was thinking with just one look?
As we grow up and get a little bit older, it’s funny (ok, scary) just how fast things change. Friends move away, and people and priorities change. If you’re married, you may consider your spouse to be your best friend, which is so great! I consider my husband to be my bff too, but as lots of us know, conversations with your husband aren’t always the same as they would be with your girl friends. And we can miss that!
If life has recently gone through a lot of changes for you, you may be left wondering, “Where are all my friends at? How can I make new ones??”
Well, with you in mind, I’ve written up this list of how people like us can make real, face-to-face friends with whom we can feel connected and known.
Stop wondering why no one reaches out to you
This is the first thing that ANYONE who wants to make friends and build community will need to stop doing. One of the biggest hindrances to anyone making friends is just waiting for others to befriend them. I mean, sometimes you will happen upon a gem who just decides that you are going to be her friend. Those people are wonderful and I love them. I think the world needs more of them! Sometimes our circumstances can certainly work against us when it comes to the scary world of making friends, but too often, the reason we don’t make friends easily is because we are not intentional with the people around us or we are simply waiting to be befriended. Be one of those gems who chooses someone she gets along with, and be her friend! This leads me to my next point…
Also read: How to be an Intovert AND Great with People!
If you want a friend, be a friend
What do you want from a friend? Would it be nice if you had someone who would listen to you complain and get excited about the exciting things in your life? Someone who can relate to you and the stage of life you’re in, who you can tell your mommy guilt to and still feel accepted? Or someone who will watch the kids for you in an emergency? If you’re wanting all of those wonderful things, you need to be ready and willing (and looking to) give those things yourself! One of the fastest ways a person can make a friend is to be surprisingly generous and friendly to others. Just think of how you would feel if you got an extra amount of help from an acquaintance. You would think, “Hey, that was really kind of them. They’re actually a great person.” Long story short, if you’re wanting others to invest in your life, take a chance and invest in them first. This leads me to my next point…
Be extremely kind
My mom-in-law has the quote “Be kinder than necessary” hanging in their living room and I LOVE it! Let’s talk about being extremely kind actually looks like.
Being kind is NOT “sweet talk.” I used to work in an office of older southern women, bless their hearts. When a customer would come into the building, these women would compliment them, give them the best darn customer service, and make sure they left the office with a smile on their face. But as soon as the door would shut behind the customer, the trash talking would start. Complaining about the customer’s clothes, purchase choices, gossiping about the conversation they just had. It was awful!
All this to say, being kind to another person needs to be way more than just words. This needs to be carried out in your actions and how you speak to others about them. I was extremely hesitant to get close to these women because I had no idea what they truly thought of me! Did they speak about me the same way they spoke about others as soon I left the room?
If you want to make friends, make sure you are truly there for them. If you don’t genuinely like a person, choose other people who you do get along well with to be your friends. I’m a huge advocate for loving everybody, but not everyone needs to be your BFF Jill.
Let’s get to the more practical stuff. Where can you find the people to be nice to, anyway??
Find a mom’s or MOPS group
If you’re a young-ish mom, MOPS (Mothers Of Preschoolers) are a great way to get to know women in the same stage of life as you!! There are also other moms gatherings out these specifically designed for working moms, stay at home moms, etc.
Find common activities
Now, if you do find a person you’d like to get to know better, do it over a mutually enjoyed activity. Coffee dates can be awkward and pressure-full if you’re not a great talker (like me). Instead, finding something to do together can be a great way to connect, talk about your likes and interests, and a superb way to find a regular time and place to hang out. Once, I joined a bunch of acquaintances for a pottery painting sesh! Just having our hands busy made conversation flow naturally (plus having more than just 2 people helped create buffers when I wasn’t sure what to talk about).
I’ve also gotten to know other women through gym classes like Body Pump, Zumba, etc. Not only are these great things to do when you want to get to know an acquaintance better, but they’re a great way to meet people who like the same things you do!
Sometimes, you don’t need to meet NEW people
Now sometimes potential friends may be closer than we think. Making a new friend might simply mean seeing who you already kind of know and get along with, and then initiating the next step. Are there people in your workplace that you don’t hate? Invite them to join you on your lunch walk. Or go do that pottery thing I mentioned above. Ask them what they like and try something new! I mean, you already see these people all the time anyway, becoming friends with them might be a really natural next step which would take the anxiety of meeting new people out of the equation.
Be open and relate!
What does this not mean? This does not mean, be a chatty Cathy and tell your new potential friend all the details they wish they didn’t know about your life. What does it mean? Actively listen (shush it, ask questions, make eye contact, nod) and then relate to them! Get excited about what others are excited about. Be excited to share new things in your life with them too. And by all means, share about your life, struggles, victories, etc. But make sure that you truly value what your potential friend has to say. Look for them and ask how they’re doing, follow up on something they told you last week. Remember details.
Once you’ve shown them that you truly care, don’t be afraid to be open. People love authenticity and imperfect people. Don’t freak people out, but be open about your flaws. Tell your pal how you’re a sucker for Hawaiian pizza (or whatever you’re a sucker for). People love relating to other imperfect people!
Whether you’re a part of a church or not, volunteering is a fantastic way to get to know others who have caring hearts. These people already have good-friend potential.
If you are a part of a church, getting involved and helping out is not only something you should do, but a wonderful way to get to know the people you’re sitting next to every Sunday morning. My husband and I had a hard time making friends our first year of marriage because we stayed in our college town but many of our friends moved on. Getting involved and serving at our church in joining a community group has been and an awesome and fast way for us to build relationships. My husband, who is even quieter than I am, has been able to make friends with other guys who he respects and looks up to. I’ve been able to make friends with other women in my stage of life who I can relate deeply II, share my struggles with, and celebrate life with.
I saved this for last because I honestly view it as a last resort. Because real, face-to-face relationships is what will truly help us feel connected and known in this big world. That being said, Facebook groups are a great place to ask questions, give answers, and make virtual friends. If you’re looking for a Christian marriage Facebook group, I’ve created my own Sweet Wives’ Community on Facebook. We have daily threads including prayer, marriage advice, date ideas, discussions, and more. All the women are extremely sweet, supportive, and helpful! If you’d like to join, click here!
You don’t need to be friends with everybody. As much as I believe in being kind to everyone, not everyone needs to be your confidant. When looking for new friendships, look for someone who will challenge you, hold you to standards, and tell you when you mess up. Don’t just settle for the person who will make you feel good about yourself and tell you that you did the right thing, even if you didn’t. But also, don’t find a friend just for what they can give you. In order to have a healthy, thriving friendship, you need to be the person I just described for them also.
Try these tips and see if you can’t add a few names to the “Favorites” list on your cell phone!
Have you ever face the challenge of making new friends from scratch? What are some things you did to break the ice? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
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