When my twins turned 2, I realized I was experiencing burn out. Like my parents, my children consumed everything. I cooked only what they ate, all of our outings were based around their naps and instead of going to the movies or tapas restaurants, we would go to the zoo or park. It was wonderful to have kids, but I was forgetting to take care of myself. I really needed a girls night. I wanted to talk about something or someone other than Dora.
I spent the last two years indoors investing in my kids, which is awesome, but I realized I didn’t have any friends. When I started having kids all of my friends were still in party mode. At 2 am, I was stumbling through the dark trying to find a binky and they were out hitting another club. So I decided to try to make some new friends in my same life stage. It felt daunting. I hadn’t had to make new friends since college.
I signed up for a local moms playgroup online. Fifteen other moms were scheduled to meet at a local park. Being a happy go lucky, easy-to-talk-to person, I have never had a hard time connecting with people but, being out of practice for a while, I spent 5 minutes in the car giving myself a pep talk. It was overwhelming — walking into a group of grown women I didn’t know, trying to grasp for conversation starters. When I finally got the courage to go to the playground and talk to the moms standing around, none of them were with the playgroup. I asked every adult in the park, and no one was with the group. It turns out that the leader cancelled at the last minute and I never got the message. It was an awful experience and I never found the courage to go back.
If you are a 4-year-old, it’s easy to make new friends. You see a kid on the playground, ask them their favorite color, then hold hands the rest of the day and cry when they leave you. Too bad it isn’t that same when you’re an adult. Making friends as an adult is hard. It’s like dating all over again. It is awkward.
I didn’t go back to that playgroup, but now I have learned how to make new friends as an adult. Plus, all of my friends who were still in party mode are now in baby mode and it has wonderfully come full circle for me.
Here are some tips from the girl who has tried a lot of ways of making new friends (as an adult):
- Get out of your house. Take classes, go to story time, volunteer, join book clubs, start a running club, join a gym. Action creates action. Get involved in things that interest you and you will instantly share something in common with the people around you.
- Be friendly. Smile. Act like a friend and you will attract friends. If you act like a psycho, no one will want to hang out with you.
- Ask questions and listen. Ask people questions about themselves. “I” is the most common word used in conversation because everyone wants a chance to talk about themselves. Listen and remember details about people.
- Exchange contact information. If you connect with someone, ask for their email. Use their name. Everyone’s favorite word is their own name.
- Invite people to hang out with you. If you connect with someone, ask them to get coffee or meet at the park for a play date with the kids. You don’t always to have people over your house. The task of cleaning to impress a stranger can feel overwhelming. Meet on middle ground.
- Stay positive. No one wants to be best friends with Negative Nancy. Talking about your ex, your debt, your botched nose job should be avoided.
- The Golden Rule: Treat people how you want to be treated. If you want friends, be a friend. Be kind and people will be attracted to you.
Making new friends can be easy. Be kind and take risks. There is a world of people looking for a friend like you.
Check out the class schedules at Cotton Babies. There are events (most are free) all week long in store, which is a great way for you to meet other parents and find new friends in your community!