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Friday, July 15, 2011

How to Make Friends When You Are a Grown-Up

One of the hardest things to do when you are an adult is to make new friends. This can be especially hard when you move to a new city or are in a new stage of life (marriage, new job, new baby, etc.). There are certain times in your life that make it easy to make friends.

Dear friends from Pittsburgh who came to visit us in Nashville
  • Elementary school: You both like purple and have the same stickers on your notebooks. Easy-peasy.
  • High school: Usually your friends from extracurricular activities or those you sit with in the cafeteria.
  • College: the girls from your freshman dorm (we ate in groups of fifteen and traveled in packs) or other clubs. 
  • Med school/residency: I have my small group of friends from each who basically coached me through biochem and ate greasy takeout food with in call rooms as well as ran codes and grieved the death of patients with. It was like boot camp and it's a bond unlike any other. 
Then all of a sudden in my late 20's I was thrust into the world of newlywed/parenthood/home ownership at a time when all of my friends had moved from the area and we were in the suburbs all by ourselves. It could have been a very lonely time, but I was proactive. I realized that at a time when it can be easy to isolate myself, I needed to do the exact opposite.

It was scary and it could have completely backfired, but here is what I did.
  • I put myself out there. I had made some friends while wedding planning on the Knot (which feels like a hundred years ago now) who I had fallen out of touch with after I got married an pregnant. When the Kid was a few months old, I reconnected with that same group of women. I set up a couple of playdates with one mom and we just never hit it off. However, I heard about another group who were getting together and basically invited myself to their playdate. Those women are some of my best friends to this day. 

  • I got online. In this day and age where so many couples meet and get married through sites like Match.com and eHarmony.com, there is absolutely no shame in finding people who are like minded online. I made wonderful friends in Pittsburgh via a monthly book club that I initially found out about online. It was a great way to have an excuse to eat yummy food and drink wine and "discuss books". One of my best girlfriends here in Nashville is someone who I went to church with who I "blog-stalked" and thought we would hit it off and introduced myself. We're tight now.
  • I got involved. I found a lot of friends through getting involved in church. And not just showing up, but actually getting involved and volunteering with kids, co-hosting parties. If church isn't your thing or yours doesn't have people with similar interests, try young professionals groups, a kickball league, wine tasting events, Meetup.com, whatever!
  • I scouted for a "bromance" as well. If you are in a relationship, it helps if your potential BFF has a significant other who will get along with your honey. Our best "couple friends" are ones where the husband was also a little bit of a nerd (sorry, babe!) like MrDrama. That way, the guys can be left to their own nerdy devices like discussing financial markets or soccer or engineering.
  • Don't be afraid of rejection. Part of being an adult is realizing that not everyone will love you. You may put yourself out there to be friends with someone and things just won't jive. Keep calm and carry on. Unless you are a weirdo, in which case, you have no hope. Sorry, dude.
 What about you? Have you found any ways to meet new friends as an adult?

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