Dear Lauren at Better In Real Life,
My husband and I recently got married and are settling down in a new to me area – a large east coast city. He’s been living here longer than I have and has a group of friends who are smart, good, nice people – he met most of them through work. I’ve been living here for about a year and a half but have yet to make any friends of my own.
Since I am an introvert with a capital “I”, I wasn’t really expecting to become super popular soon, or any time really. But man, I have been really giving it a try this past year without results. I’ve signed up for meetup groups online, taken new classes, tried exploring all the free fun museums and other things, but haven’t really made any friends.
My husband’s friends are lovely, nice, smart people and we do hang out with them occasionally. Some are a few years older than me (to the point where it sort of makes a difference) and most of them have kids. I honestly like hanging out with these families but it seems like their time is super limited because of the kiddos so we end up getting together with them once every 2-3 months. As far as work, my coworkers are much older than me. Plus I’ve never been great at the work friends thing – I rather keep those two separate.
I have met a couple of nice people once or twice at random activities, but then it feels a little awkward setting up follow up activities. The whole thing feels like I’m dating again, but now for friends. Do you have any suggestions? Is it always this hard to make friends as an adult?
Thanks for the advice!
Not Single but Still Ready to Mingle
Oh dear, Not Single, this is a HARD one.
According to a Pew Research study, Millennials (those between 18 and 33) have a bit of a trust issue.
Millennials have emerged into adulthood with low levels of social trust. In response to a long-standing social science survey question, “Generally speaking, would you say that most people can be trusted or that you can’t be too careful in dealing with people,” just 19% of Millennials say most people can be trusted, compared with 31% of Gen Xers, 37% of Silents and 40% of Boomers.
It’s harder then ever to crack the code of someone’s inner friend circle. It’s hard to find people who share similar interests who are also interested in finding friends. How many times have any of us gone to a class or an event and everyone there is very purposefully there only for themselves and then they high tale it out of there? This happens to me all of the time.
I applaud you for taking classes and getting out there. That is a huge huge huge first step. And good job trying to continue to make plans with your husband’s couple friends with kids. That is hard. People with kids are impossible to make plans with. I feel like my social schedule is planned 3 months in advance. Even if they are not your forever people, they will probably fill a nice little social void every now and again. But I get you on being a little old and not being in the same lifestyle space as you. That is hard.
I wouldn’t be put off by the feeling that creating new friends is like dating, because it IS like dating. There is the initial meeting and then you get contact info, and maybe you make plans to go to a mutual interest event/activity, and then you see if there is a follow up. Adult relationships take work. There is no longer a school yard to be thrown into or a forever rotating class schedule. And we are all insanely busy with a thousand different things pulling at us. But in a way that cuts out the bullshit. The people who really want to try and make time for you, will. Everyone else is not worth it anyway.
I have gone through an ebb and flow of friends. There were years when I was TOO social. I felt like, WOAH I am popular! And then years after that I was in a friend drought. No one to play with. And it sucks, it can be lonely.
Until! I started doing stuff for ME, taking advantage of a world without social obligations, going on long walks, spending time with my hobbies, leisurely watching movies on the weekends in my pajamas!
…but it sounds like maybe you are over the me time. And maybe you just want some G-D friends!
First, don’t stop trying to date and reach out to the people you want to spend time with. People want to be around people who want to be around them! And more than that, most of the time people are just super busy and would way rather be hanging out with you but their lives SUCK them in and they forget to call or ask.
Second, join a book club. If you are an introvert, go find other introverts. In this environment you can scope out the people who seem to think a lot like you think, and then you can POUNCE on them. Not really. But it does pose a perfect set up to start a conversation and get the ball rolling. They are there to talk books and meet people. So are you. PERFECT!
Third, Is your husband on friend-finding missions with you? This could be a great opportunity to make new, non-kid-having couple friends! AND you could do some cute adventure-ing together while you’re at it. Kamel and I did rock climbing a few years ago. And we made some fun friends in the class. The 4 of us bonded over how insanely hard it was and how much we sucked at it. It was great!
Ultimately, stick with it. Friends will come along, it takes time. Social ebb and flow demands patience.
And if anyone else has any words of wisdom or stories about how they’ve successfully made adult friends, please speak up. This is a tough one.