This probably shouldn’t be titled specifically for those of at midlife because I know a lot of younger women struggle with this too. When we are in school it’s easy to make friends with the person sitting next to us in class and later the girl who shares our dorm room if we’re lucky and share not only proximity but some other common interest.
As life changes and our situations do too we make friends at work or become besties with the parents of our kids’ friends. There is something about becoming close with those we tend to see all the time, but sometimes in our lives there are little breaks in those old methods. Maybe your new work environment doesn’t lend itself to close relationships that spill outside of the confines of your physical building. Or maybe your kids aren’t quite old enough to make real friends just yet, or on the opposite end of the spectrum your kids have grown up and truly have a life outside of yours. In the case of kids growing up it’s possible that those family friendships have survived and continue to thrive, but if they haven’t or if you find yourself in that in-between space then meeting new people can be a challenge.
The other day while looking for new driving glasses a woman came up and asked me what I thought of the glasses she was trying on. She was so warm and genuine and we clicked right away. Trying on glasses can be daunting. It’s a huge commitment and I often have a hard time deciding too (although I consider myself pretty decisive). I’ve been know to FaceTime my daughters and defer to their choices even when the pair I really love doesn’t get the votes. It sounds silly but it is actually a very vulnerable state to be in. I mean the glasses will be a part of your face. That’s huge right? And there are so many choices that even decisive people start to sweat. It’s nice to have someone to help you out with your decision, but on this particular day I stood alone. That is, until I had a new friend. We laughed and tried on frames and shared lots of background information about ourselves. I even talked about the blog with her which is something I rarely do (much to my husband’s chagrin) but she shared and so did I and just from that little interaction I knew I wanted to be her real friend and not just in LensCrafters. I felt so pumped up after our interaction that I didn’t end up FaceTiming anyone. I trusted my instincts and picked new frames! It was definitely a win win. Thanks new friend!
So here are a few tips if you’re looking to make new friends too:
- Shoot your shot-I probably wouldn’t have met my new friend if she hadn’t come up to me and asked my opinion on the frames. She actually shared with me that she rarely talks to new people. That was shocking because she was great at it! I often talk to anyone I happen to be in close proximity with but I usually let them talk to me. I’m a pretty good listener and I find others much more fascinating, but that’s not how friendships are born. You have to be willing to share a little of you too. I took a chance with her and she took a chance with me. We exchanged numbers and I followed up. I have several girlfriends that I meet for lunch and brunch but I knew I wanted to add her too. So I texted her and suggested a lunch date soon. Whether you have 1 friend or 100 if you want one more you have to be willing to shoot your shot. What’s the worst thing that could happen? If your instincts were off you just move on but if you’re right you might just make a new friend for life. Don’t be afraid to approach people or make the first follow up move.
- Join something-joining a group or a club is a great way to meet new people. Often the focus isn’t really on building friendships it’s more about whatever the group is focused on- learning a new skill, public service or planning an event. The relationships will happen a little more organically so you need to give that more time. You might not have 30 straight minutes to gab with a new friend like I did in LensCrafters and those in your closest proximity might not be the ones you connect with right away, but you will be able to feel out more people over a longer period of time which increases your odds of finding a relationship that sticks. A lot of times people who join a group don’t make an immediate connection right away or even worse have a not great interaction with one or two people and they give up on the whole group. This is a don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater kind of thing. You wouldn’t go on one bad date and decide to be a nun. Give it time and stay open.
- Move your virtual friends to real life-this one is often harder for us to embrace because we are often so focused on the unreal or negative parts of social media but I will tell you that real-life friendships grow and blossom online all the time and then grow legs and walk around in real life just like our other friendships. If you’re a thumb scroller or a quick double tapper take the time to engage a little more. I have all kinds of conversations online and when I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some of those women in person it has felt like meeting an old friend. My advice here would be to go slow. Get to know a little about your virtual friend before suggesting an in person meet up too. I’ve heard of people using friendship apps and most of the time they don’t seem pleased with their choices because they move too quickly. You end up sitting across from a stranger trying to think of things to say because…. well the truth is you really just liked their profile. Take your time and get to know the person behind the profile a little better before diving in. When I think of my friends who have had the most success with online dating it has been those who really spent a lot of time getting to know each other online before taking their “relationship” to the streets. Take your time here, but know that real life friendship happy endings are possible too!
Those would be my tips for making friends at midlife (or whatever stage you’re in). I would love to hear your thoughts.
Until Next Post,
xo Tonya Parker