Oct 22, 2009

An adult's guide to making friends... part 2 (Finding friends)

Now that I've established WHY we need friends, now let's talk about how to find some!

In order to be successful at this, you need to admit that you have a problem.  Say this out loud "My name is ________ and I'm lonely".  Before you just laugh this off, I want you to think about it.  So many of us are lonely, even though we are surrounded by people every day, even if you are married, or a teacher, or a parent or work in an office surrounded on all sides by cubicles positively FULL of people, or attend a church religiously and make small talk after services, you can still feel lonely.

Feeling lonely doesn't mean that the people in your life aren't enough, it just means that you need a few more.  Ten years ago, I moved to Modesto, CA, because I got married and started a new job.  Shortly after I moved, I began to feel a longing, a hunger for friendship, that lasted for quite a few months.  I had friends, people from my home town and a few new friendships in Modesto, but I didn't have friends who I could call up and go see a movie with or someone to go sit in a cafe and drink coffee and chat about whatever.  I was lonely, and felt more than just a little depressed.

I started praying for friends.  Sounds desperate doesn't it?  Every time I met a new woman who was in my "age range" I started wondering if she was "the one", the friend I needed to rescue me from my loneliness.  Don't misunderstand, my marriage was healthy (as healthy as any marriage in the first year can be), my job was satisfying, my circle of acquaintances was adequate.  I am no wall flower, and hardly ever felt myself standing to the side while people around me had conversations, I just felt lonely.  I was missing the intimacy of a close, caring friendship, and I wasn't the only one. As time went on, and I started having conversations with women (and some men) around me, I discovered that there are a lot of people who, just like me, wanted a friend.  So, I started actively trying to recruit some.

When we were children, and we sat by the same child or children every day at school, proximity alone often determined who we were friends with.  As a child, I can remember more than one occasion where another child simply approached me and asked if I would be their friend, so we were friends, as easy as that.  Wouldn't it be lovely if it were that simple as an adult?  You could just walk up to that woman you like at church, or the mom you always chat with at the park, or (for men) the guy you see running the same route as you every morning and just say "will you be my friend?" and have them say "I'd love to, let's go grab a margarita (or beer, or coffee)!"

It's not that easy, but it doesn't have to be rocket science either.  The most important aspect of making new friends is knowing where to look.  

Here are my top 3 places to find a friend. 
1. Think common ground, and I am not talking about a trendy coffee shop.  Where do you go that you already know you have something in common with the people around you?  If you are a parent, this is easy; the school before and after school, sporting events, PTA meetings, extracurricular classes your kids take (music, art, dance). If you aren't a parent, places like the gym (if you go regularly enough to recognize people), church, business networks (like Rotary), etc.
2. Think proximity, who is physically close to you?  Neighbors, cubicle-mates, the cool guy (or gal) who works just down the hall, the person who you always see when you are walking your dog, the people in your neighborhood grocery store or coffee shop who you always chat with.
3. Think volunteering or joining a club.  If you really want to make friends, you might just need to put yourself out there.  Volunteer for your local library or animal shelter, find a book club, take a continuing education course at your local Junior College, take a yoga or karate class, just find a group activity you like to do, and if nothing else, you are at least getting out of the house for an hour a week.

You need to start thinking about people who you might like to be friends with.  If you start to make excuses, stop yourself and just think about it.  If you are a believer, pray about it, pray about them.

I did finally make a friend, who turned out to be "the one" for quite a few years.  I met her at church, she seemed nice, I approached her and invited myself over to her house.  Soon we had a weekly "date" to hang out, and a sweet friendship bloomed. 

My next post will have to do with HOW to go from stranger or acquaintance to "friend".
Keep smiling!
Part 3
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4 comments:

  1. I am ready and willing to be your guinea pig :0)
    Thanks for saying what a lot of peeps(including me) are feeling!

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  2. I'm liking this topic so far! I did make a good friend at church a few years ago. Sadly, she moved away. I think that has made me shy away from reaching out again.

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  3. You know, I think EVERYONE feels this way most of their life. I have been really blessed to have met my one special Best Friend (other than my Hubby). Because our lives are at different stages, we don't get together as often as we'd like, but we are able to talk every day and when we get together it's the best "girl time"...we need those types of close heart felt girl friends in our lives...all of us do, no matter how many "acquaintance type friends" we have.

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  4. You had me at, "Hey, I like your shirt."

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