New Year, New Friends: Making the First Move
I walked my daughters into school on their first day back after Winter break. When Dalia entered her classroom, three other girls came running up to her and the four of them embraced in a group hug. It was one of the sweetest things I’d ever seen. I looked over at Marissa waiting in the hallway and she eagerly asked, “Can we go see Sara (her BFF) now?”
One of our most basic needs as humans is to feel a sense of belonging. And from an early age, friendships are a vital part of our social development and emotional well-being. Research even shows that having friends is beneficial to our health, happiness, and longevity. But as we grow older, it can be harder to find, make, and keep friends.
As moms, we can get so caught up in our responsibilities at home and at work that we neglect our need for connection with people other than our kids and spouses. You might think to yourself, “Who’s got time for friends? I’m busy enough trying to be a mother, wife, daughter, sister, employee…..”
In working with many moms, I’ve realized there’s a shameful secret that many of us keep: we’re lonely.
We often feel isolated and alone, and we long for a Sex and the City kind of camaraderie. But we don’t know where to find friends or how to make them. We mistakenly believe that true friendships should occur naturally and easily, and that we need a lot of them to feel fulfilled. In reality, though, making friends takes time and effort; and a few intimate friendships can be more valuable than a lot of casual buddies.
When my marriage fell apart, I realized exactly how important it is to have good friends. Some of my existing friendships deepened, and I also got to know a few acquaintances better. My relationships with these women have been a blessing. From crying over coffee to laughing in my living room – I know there are women I can count on to listen to me vent, look after my girls when I have a doctor's appointment, go to a concert with me, or give me an objective opinion.
Some of my closest friends now are people I didn’t even know five years ago. It’s natural for friendships to come and go, change, evolve, and fizzle out. Friends move away, get divorced, get promoted, etc. It’s good to stay open to meeting new people in all stages of life and to nurture the relationships you already treasure.
Where to find friends
Friends are everywhere. In a 2012 episode of the TODAY Show, women revealed the craziest places they had met friends: a bathroom, a subway, an accessory party, and on vacation. You just need to keep your eyes and ears open for friendship opportunities.
Making the First Move
Forming friendships can sort of feel like dating in the beginning. The more time you spend together and the more you reveal to one another, the stronger your bond can become.
If you wait for someone else to reach out to you, you could be waiting a while. So, make the first move. I bet she’s wishing you would.
To start the ball rolling, you can say something as simple as, “Hey! Do you want to grab a cup of coffee after drop-off on Monday?” or “I think we could be friends. Wanna hang out?”
If you know someone’s birthday is coming up, or she just got a new job – invite her to celebrate. If you know someone going through a stressful time in her life, offer to watch her kids, cook dinner, or lend an ear. Call someone you’ve lost touch with and tell her you’d like to catch up over lunch.
I know it can feel scary, vulnerable, and weird. I’ve been there. Some relationships work out and some don’t. Some people are better gym buddies than people you’d call in an emergency. That’s ok because we need different types of friends in our lives.
In the comments below, tell me: Do you have any close girlfriends? How did you meet? Would you like to make a new friend? What’s one thing you can do this week to go about finding and connecting with her? Commit to it — I'll be cheering you on!
Wanna work with me 1:1? Check out my private coaching services and start off the new year feeling great about your parenting.
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