Are you lacking meaningful friendships? Do you miss having friends you can confide in? Or ones you can let your hair down with and just have a good laugh?
Maybe you’ve moved somewhere new and are starting all over again with making new local friends?
Did great friendships feel easier to come by when you were younger?
Back then, those crucial ingredients for making close friends were all in place: proximity, repeated, unplanned interactions, and a setting that encourages you to let your guard down and show your true self. This is why so many people meet their lifelong friends at university. (There’s nothing like a keg party to bring people close together!)
Once you get married and have kids it’s easy to get caught up in family life and let old friendships take a back seat. In many cases jobs take us away and replant us in new places where the process of making local friends means starting over from scratch.
Meaningful friendships are vitally important. Experts say that friendship has an even greater effect on health than a spouse or family member. Having strong social bonds is probably the most meaningful contributor to happiness and those with who have supportive friends are more likely to lose weight, get a new job or pursue their goals.
Friendship expert Shasta Nelson thinks too many of us are making excuses, waiting for our new BFF to just turn up. And when that doesn’t happen, we silently suffer. In her book, ‘Friendships Don’t Just Happen: Creating a Meaningful Circle of Girlfriends’, she says:
‘If there’s a first step to making friends, it is being open to possibilities beyond what we can see with our limited judgments. It’s recognising that we’re making judgments about someone without yet loving them, forgetting that it’s love in the end that makes all the difference. If we want to meet friendly people, we have to be one first.
We should see the new acquaintance sitting across from us as someone more than the person we’re interviewing from a specific checklist of what we think we’re looking for in a friend. We don’t yet love her because we don’t yet know her. The obstacles we percieve may prove to be only imagined. The differences we think divide us may become the bonds that bind us together. We just don’t know yet.
I invite you to cast your net wider, not narrower. Don’t doubt someone’s potential just because you don’t instantly see it.’
It’s not just a matter of waiting long enough until you discover the right person. You need to get proactive.
1. Set a goal to make new friends.
Write down your goal including why you want it. Create a positive visualisation of reaching your goal. Picture yourself laughing with a fun group of friends or sitting down with a special one over a coffee or glass of wine. Maybe you’re looking for someone to team up with to create a Project Me Power Pal mastermind group?
Getting clear about your goal is always the first step.
2. Put yourself out there.
Make a list of the places you frequent: cafe, local shops or parks, gym, children’s school, playgroups. Make an effort to build some rapport with those you regularly see at these locations. Be the first one to strike up a conversation. Be open minded! Too often we write people off prematurely – or we assume they wouldn’t be interested in us.
If you’re used to hiding out or sticking to the same routine, shake things up. Join a new class, hang out somewhere different. You aren’t going to meet new people sitting on your sofa.
3. Take a course on Friendship.
Shasta Nelson is running her 3-week virtual program: The Friendships You’ve Always Wanted: Learning a Better Way to Meet-Up, Build-Up, and Break-Up with Your Friends.
It includes a workbook to guide you through it, helping you to evaluate your own friendships, set friendship goals, and ‘collect your take-aways’. It also includes access to her private Facebook group.
4. Go On-Line!
Did you know there are some great websites that’ll help match you up with compatible friends in your area?
In the UK www.mumaime.com matches your profile with that of other mums based on what’s important to you. So if you’re a single mum looking to meet other single mums or you have a child with a disability looking for other mums of children with a disability, they can help. You’ll have more of a chance of meeting a mum with similar interests and circumstances straight away. And the cool thing is – it’s totally FREE! If you’re in the UK sign up now – you’ve got nothing to lose.
In the USA and Canada www.girlfriendcircles.com offer four ways to connect you with friends:
1. Connecting Circles – get matched in a small group
2. Classified Circles – specify the friends you want to meet
3. Choose My Circles – search members to connect as friends
4. Calendar circles – attend a local event or activity
You can be a free guest member, or pay $5-7 a month for full membership. Hop over and explore the website.
At the very least, get your hands on the book ‘Friendships Don’t Just Happen: Creating a Meaningful Circle of Girlfriends’. I promise it’ll give you a fresh perspective on making friends and inspire you to change your thinking. Before I’d finished reading it I’d already made three new friends by simply opening my mind! It also helped me to understand that there are five types of friendship and we need a variety of friends to feel friendship fulfilled.
The book also tackles the tough issues of falling out or growing apart from a friend and has some amazing advice for how to handle friendships in crisis.
Friendships definitely contribute to our overall wellbeing and happiness. The time we invest in making new friends and strengthening existing friendships is well worth it.
What do you think – has it been easier or harder to make quality friendships as an adult? Have you made more friends after having children, or do you find it trickier than ever? In the comments below, share how the Friendship area of your life is going.
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Mixing practicality with self-awareness, Kelly helps mothers get on top of their endless to-do’s, set goals and improve their lives one small step at a time.
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