I wish friendship was as simple as putting out a sign, and waiting for loyal, kind people with shared values to arrive. The friendships of life ebb and flow, but most people that I talk with feel it is more challenging to create friendships in adulthood. I don’t want to pretend it’s easy or that I have the secret way to connect.
I do know, the more I try to engage, the more I am able to make connections. Over time, the repeated connections build history, trust and dependability. The best way I know to make a friend is to reach out to someone. After all, if you’re in search of friendship, chances are another person is, too.
Are you connected to any group? A school? church? volunteer organization? Even a gym or neighborhood association? These are great places to gather with people who share a similar goal. Mom-life connects us, as we share the daily interactions at schools, stores or activities. Start with the loose connections that exist naturally.
Make the first move.
Invite someone to the farmers’ market or to run (walk) a race. I became closer to an acquaintance who asked me to pick up a marketplace purchase so she didn’t have to go alone. Join a social media group that actually meets in real life. I have made sweet connections in the Knoxville Gardeners Facebook Group or Hiking in the Smoky Mountains group.
Turn one positive experience into another by following up when you meet someone or first get together. Take notice of birthdays or important events in the life of your acquaintances. When you can, circle back and connect over such a detail. Communicate through your actions that you are interested and caring. This is one of the ways that friendships build.
Like all relationships, friendship requires trust, caring and repeated connections for it to grow.
Be natural as you let the budding introduction expand into friendship. If you make the effort and see that it isn’t returned or reciprocated, then move on. Don’t keep spending time and energy where someone simply isn’t available. It may be that they are too busy or processing circumstances about which you know nothing. It’s most likely not about you.
Keep up with some of your old friends.
Invest in the ones that have lasted through seasons of life. The happy memories and encouragement will keep you bolstered if and when you move or find yourself isolated by other concerns. Friends scatter all over the world in our transient culture, but hang onto those who really bring joy to your soul. It will remind you of why it’s worth it to keep reaching out to connect.
Occasionally, leave your partner at home.
Sometimes the security of our spouse keeps us from engaging with others in the room. Take the risk to show up alone or try something that interests just you. Be brave and be willing to try something new.