Making Friends.

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I had picked up this book from the library and was looking forward to getting into it:


It's a part-research-based, part-anecdotal tale of one woman's search for friends in a new city.  It's fascinating.  The author puts herself out there and tries meeting new people in as many ways as possible- friends of friends, a want ad, friend finding services, you name it.  I'm not quite done with it but her research states that people with good friends on all different levels (BFF, casual friend, acquaintance, etc.) are generally happier and healthier.

Personally, I have a hard time making friends.  I do not do well with people I don't know: I am verbally clumsy and very awkward and say stupid things.  I embarrass easily so when I start speaking my face turns red.  I am not good at idle conversation, so if we run out of things to talk about, I am most likely not going to be the one that comes up with a new topic.  It's horrible.  It's not that I don't want to be social and meet new people and have a large group of friends; I like being social- I'm just not good at it.

As of right now I can think of one oldest and dearest friend, two friends from high school that we still get together with occasionally, and some more recent mommy-friends that I've met through Gus (though I don't even know if I can count them as friends yet) on my short list.  And it is a very short list, as you can see.  I didn't have a huge group of friends in high school, I mostly commuted in college, which makes those dormitory bonds non-existent, and I don't go out of my way to interact with new people.  Add in kids and a house, and we don't exactly have time to go out of our way to try and make friends.  And it's hard to find people to be friends with.  You can't just walk up to someone in the store and ask them to get coffee.  Plus, as the author of the book points out, if you're trying to make friends and are too eager you look stalker-like, but if you don't put yourself out there, it's not like people are just going to come and find you either.

So it gets me thinking.  How many people do you have that you consider friends?  Are they new or old ones?  How do you meet new friends?  Are you someone who puts themselves out there easily or are you more clumsy and awkward and shy like me?

One think I have realized, however, is that it can be easier to make friends online.  My normally bumbling ways are eased by the ability to respond after I've been given a chance to process and think about what the person's said.  My face doesn't turn red because no one's looking at me.  If the conversation dies, it's ok because both people can get up and go do other things without awkward silence.  It pretty much erases the face-to-face issues.  The problem with this type of interaction, though, is it doesn't give you the face time you apparently need to get that healthier, happier quota.  The closer to real-life interaction, the better.  I sometimes wonder if it would be fun to Skype with people I've met online, or would it be better to keep the status quo?  When do you take online friendship to another level?  Is it safe?  How do you ask without looking like a stalker?  It's like chatting with an acquaintance and then asking if they want to get coffee, but you're not sure if you're at the coffee-friend level yet.  How confusing can you get??

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this because I really find it to be such an interesting topic- maybe because I am not plentiful in friends and would like more.  I don't feel particularly lonely, but sometimes it would be nice to have someone to hang out with without having to make a whole huge plan.  Anyone else feel the same?

13 comments

  1. I feel like with kids now I have gotten really lazy. Getting together with people is way harder then just hangin with Luci. Plus, when you go around hugging perfect strangers people tend to shy away from you. I wonder why?? I do have a small group of girls that I see once a month or so but would love to be social more then once a month! I do see the ladies at The Barn when I'm working on my shop which is the vast majority of my social life. I love those ladies but outside of work we really don't see each other. Plus I am the youngest by far! Oh we'll. I guess we can work on finding friends when our kids get older.

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  2. My friend situation sounds very similar to yours. One BFF from high school and one close friend I met through work several years ago. I do have many acquaintances that if we go out I can talk all night with, but none of them I would call my friends or hang out with on a one-on-one level.
    And I commuted and did online classes for college, so I have zero friends from my college years.
    I have more online friends than I do local friends, but I'm okay with that :)

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  3. I met a lot of close friends from college but none of them were because I lived in a dorm. In fact I don't think I'm friends with anyone from my dorms now. Most of my friends I've met through my major(physics are a small group of peeps)and then I met my best friend through a summer job we had at school. I'm not friends with anyone from high school but I do have one friend from middle school that I talk to on a regular basis.

    As an adult I find it's a lot harder to make friends. A lot of my 'adult' friends have come from working and I have noticed that you have to maintain the friendship too compared to when you were younger. I have to make an effort to text or email someone now. The only time I stop making an effort is when I notice that they don't ever message me back or they hardly message me if I forget to after a few days.

    I have no problems skyping with people but I don't have a microphone so it's just me chatting with the person looking at me. AWKWARD. What I do a lot with family is I'll call them and then go on video chat which is like I'm talking to them face to face. That works too.

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  4. What a great post! I'm very similar. In college, instead of making new friends, I just worked on stronger relationships with the three people I knew from high school. One became my husband and the other two girls are two of my three best girlfriends. I have 3 girlfriends that I can call when something happens. That's it. I'm not very good at making new friends either. I tend to over-think things and embarrass myself during the conversation. I agree that online relationships are much easier. I have definitely made some online friends through blogging and the idea of talking in person or skyping makes my palms sweat. But I think for some people, including myself, being good friends (let alone best friends) takes a lot of time when the person is someone you have never met before, especially if they're online!

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  5. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who thinks about this! After moving from my close-knit community in Charlottesville VA, I mistakingly assumed that it would be easy to make new friends. As it turns out, we had a pretty unique group of people that made meeting new people and hanging out casually super easy. I've also noticed that as I get older, most people have families with small children, which makes it more difficult for them to socialize, and because I don't have any children, we don't always have things to talk about. But all the single girls are into party-party-party, and that isn't my thing, either. I wish it were perfectly acceptable to walk up to someone and say "Let's be friends", and to be honest, sometimes I do just that! The people who are put off by my eager introduction probably wouldn't get along with me in the long run, anyway. ;)

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  6. I was just talking with Ayla about this the other day. Most of our friends have moved away over the years. We do still have a couple of very old, good friends here in DC. But making new friends seems like a lot of work. Most people are so busy with work or families or whatever and coordinating schedules is hard.

    When I was younger, making friends was actually pretty easy for me despite the fact that I'm shy and an introvert. But the older I get the more challenging it is. And also, it's a lot of work just to hang out with people in the city. Aside from schedules, logistically parking is hard, restaurants and bars are crowded and expensive, etc.

    But I'm with you, the idea of walking into a party or some place where I don't know a lot of people and having to make small talk gives me the same feeling of impending doom as when I have a scheduled dentist appt.

    I think a lot of times online friendships are easier because you already know that you have things in common from reading blogs and chatting on twitter. You can bypass all the bs, for lack of a better word, and just be friends. :)

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  7. I'm in the same boat. Despite my introvert tendencies, it was always pretty easy for me to make friends when I was younger--probably because if all else failed, you always had school to talk about. It's interesting, now that I'm doing college a second time around, it's extremely different. I'm enrolled at a community college and people from all walks of life take classes there. I'm actually among the youngest in my major and I'm 27. I've made some acquaintances, but no real, lasting friendships.

    My closest friends are my BFF from childhood, and three people I met in college (the first time). Aside from meeting two bloggy friends in real life last summer and seeing them occasionally now, I totally have not made any new friends since about 2008. Thank god for the internet, or I'd probably never talk to anybody new. :-)

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  8. I feel like I could've written this post. Especially that whole 3rd paragraph (starts with "Personally, I have a hard time making friends.") . I actually just ordered this book last week, and am waiting for it to arrive. I've had such a hard time meeting/making new friends since leaving school. Especially lady friends. I work from home, so there's no work group. I'm not in school, so there's no class groups - and I moved several states away from where I went to college, so those buddies are distant now. I'm not religious at all, so I don't have a church group. It's tough! I've tried a bunch of Meetup groups and craiglist platonic ads and that kind of thing, with limited success. I'm actually thrilled about a local blogger event I went to just this past weekend precisely because it was a bunch of lady bloggers and I think there's serious potential for friendship there.

    All that to say... you are not alone, I know how you feel and it's tough. But at least there's unlimited online friends, right? :)

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  9. Most of my friends (not a very long list as well) are from high school. Sometimes I wish I had a big group of friends. But maybe it's more about the quality of the friendships you have, than the amount of friends. I don't meet a lot of new people, and I am having trouble talking to people I don't know. It's a bit of a relief that I am not the only one. Thanks for sharing.

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  10. I could have written this! I have a small circle of close friends whom I've know for ages. My best friend lived next door to me in the dorms and became my roommate.

    I hate the fact that I turn red so easily. Unfortunately I passed this trait on to my daughter. One teacher had the nerve to mention it as she was presenting in class! She, too, has a small circle of close friends. My son, on the other hand, makes friends easily and has a large circle of friends.

    So you are not alone!

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  11. I just got back from a music class with Jacob and I was the only mom who didn't have someone to talk to. Seriously, it felt like a junior high cafeteria. Aside from that, I'm lucky that both my husband and I are from Chicago and most of our respective friends from growing up/high school/college/law school are still around. My circle of close girlfriends has now grown to include their husbands and some of their other friends who they met in college.

    I agree that making connections online has been wonderful and I'm so glad to have connected with you and others who share my interests.

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  12. Great honest post! Making friends is harder to do when we get older, I agree with you. We get so busy, priorities shift and time shrinks. Don't worry about the quantity of friends, but rather the quality of the ones you do have. And if you're not happy with that, then keep putting yourself out there : ) I hear of a lot of people finding new friends by taking classes or joining clubs. They don't have to be pricey classes and it's easy to start a friendship with common interests already established. There's also http://www.meetup.com/

    Have fun and don't be nervous! We're all your friends here!

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  13. I'm right there with you. We don't have very many friends. We see our college friends once a year because most of them moved to Boston or New York after college. They are all still doing things together and we started to get out of the loop. However, one couple that was in our circle of friends, just moved to Baltimore so that may change. Other than that, we have two other couples that we hang out with a lot-- people we met through our jobs. I don't have any girlfriends I can go shopping with or go out for coffee with. That's a bummer most of the time, but then usually I drag Andrew along and all is well. :)

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