Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Let me start by saying it ain’t easy…

My friends are very important to me and I really do try to be a good friend. I fall short more than I would like, I know!

Adult friendships can be hard. We have preschool until college. Then, we enter the “real world” and things get trickier.

I keep in touch with several friends from high school and college. I only live about an hour away from my hometown and an hour away from my college, so geography makes that easier.

These are my two best college friends, but there are lots of other college friends that I don’t see enough! I am grateful for social media to keep up with those friends I don’t see regularly.

I am not from the city where I currently live. Most of my first friends here were from Tom who lived here first.

When my kids were born, I didn’t do much other than try to survive. I didn’t have much of a social life for quite a while!

Then, I started meeting people because of my kids. We had some playdates and I made some new friends. I joined a club for Moms of Multiples – twins and triplets – ha! My favorite mom from that group moved away.

I remember trying to befriend some moms in different places during those early mom years and feeling that they already had their friend groups established. I felt kinda sad and rejected.

Here are some of the best places to meet friends as an adult:

-neighborhood

-church

-work

-kids’ schools

-kids’ athletic team parents or other activities’ parents

-a sports league for yourself like tennis

-a class to learn an art form – cake decorating, knitting, etc.

-exercise class

Work friends are great and you bond quickly because you are in the trenches together. I feel like the pandemic made us closer. Here are my work besties Elizabeth and Erica. Elizabeth left our school this year to work in another field, but we are commited to still getting together.

I think it enriches your life to have friends of different ages. Elizabeth is a whopping 20 years younger than me and Erica is 10 years younger.

It’s great when you make a friend and your husbands also click. I know this is a hard thing for my divorced friends when they stop being part of a couple. Make it clear to your friends that you are fine being a third wheel, fifth wheel, seventh wheel, which you won’t be anyway because usually the men group together and the women group together like they are at a Mennonite church or something – no offense to any Mennonites reading this.

Also, if you are on the other side of the coin, be the one to ask your divorced friends along. And, pick up their tab if you can so they don’t feel weird at the end of the meal. A couple of years ago, I went without Tom to something with a bunch of couples and it would have been no big deal for one of them to put me on their tab as my bill was very small. They didn’t, but I would have if it was on the other shoe. #iguessimstillbitter

My husband is way less social than I am. He basically gets all the interaction he needs at work lunches each day and with us – his family. But, he usually goes along with my plans. I am so glad he was already friends with my college roommate’s hub. In fact, that’s how we met. Heather said she wanted me to meet her new bae’s friends.

My best guy friend from high school – Hi Dan!- adores Tom and I also adore Dan’s wife. And, by the way, I am the reason they met!

I consider my sisters my best friends and I wish we lived closer.

I have a wonderful sister-in-law that I also consider a friend.

I acquired my friend Beth at my second school. I taught at one school for four years, then moved to another for two and there was Beth. She taught science and I taught Spanish but we had chemistry. Please don’t hate me. We did crazy things like run some races together. We once did a half marathon and now we sit on rooftops and drink bourbon.

Even though we only taught at the same school for two years, we have remained friends and our husbands also are friends.

I collected a wonderful friend in Victoria at my third and current school but she left for greener pastures five years ago. That’s ok – I’m not mad at her anymore. Just kidding! She is very intentional about making plans and we see each other quite a bit.

Victoria is Greek and I loved to eavesdrop on her Greek phone conversations during our planning period. She was about to pop with her first baby when I told her I was pregnant with twins. We did a lot of life together as next door teacher neighbors. Victoria’s husband used to teach with me, too, but he went to dental school and he and Tom are also friends.

Jessica is the stepmom of one of my kids’ friends. We think that she and her husband Scott are such positive people and we enjoy hanging out with them. We went to the concert Saturday night together!

I deeply value and am blessed by these friendships and more that I didn’t mention.

Actually, I kind of went off on a tangent and I could have said much more.

I try to be open to making new friends because I really do enjoy meeting new people!

My biggest advice would be to put yourself out there and invite someone to do something. Maintain or re-kindle old friendships if you can. If it is a season of life where you are really busy, send a text saying you hope they are well and you hope to see them when things calm down. Write down important dates in your calendar and text them on those days. Write down when their first kid is moving to college and text them the next day to tell them you are thinking of them. These things go a long way. I know that I am always super touched when someone remembers something like this in my life.

Don’t hold grudges. I am a person with a really good memory, which isn’t always a good thing. You know the quote by Audrey Hepburn about having a thick skin and a short memory? I am your classic candidate to be a grudge holder because I am pretty sensitive and I remember every transgression. Let whatever go if you can. It’s hurting you more than it’s hurting the person who probably doesn’t know. I have found this easier to do as I have gotten older.

Your friends will not be all things to you. You might not be able to talk politics with certain friends, but you still adore them and enjoy their company. Don’t write people off because of one thing they say.

A potential problem would be when friends are in different socioeconomic groups. Be honest and just say that you need to do something inexpensive when you go out. Nine times out of ten, the other person will say they need to watch their pennies, too.

Now, I am not saying to stay in a toxic friendship. If remaining friends with someone is doing you more harm than good, then I think it’s ok to simply say that you need to part ways for now. Boy, that is an awkward conversation.

If you find yourself in these giant friend groups, you may want to spend some one on one time with one of the gals; maybe ask one that you seem to click with to get a coffee or have lunch. It’s much easier to get to know someone when it’s a smaller group.

Social media can really make you feel bad. You may see photos of what looks like everyone hanging out with their friends and you just don’t have that. I guarantee the photo is not reality.

Did the pandemic change any of your friendships for the worse or the better?

What are the biggest challenges you face with adult friendships?

Are you satisfied with your friends or would you like to widen your circle?

Your friend,

Amy

P.S. – I dedicate this post to my friends in real life and my blog friends!

23 thoughts on “How to make Friends (and Keep Them) as an Adult

  1. Hi Amy,
    What a wonderful post. Food for thought, indeed!

    Are you familiar with the proverb that “friends are for a reason, a season or for life”? Friendships for life are the most satisfying in my opinion and friendships for a reason can feel somewhat transactional. Connecting properly is important imho.
    How does one go about finding friends in adulthood? I think children, dogs and hobbies with lots of opportunities for interaction are great conversation starters.

    I would agree with you that it is important to put oneself out there. I am very proactive in asking acquaintances out for coffee. Does everyone take me up on the offer? No, they don’t. They may be too busy, not interested, etc. Does this matter? Not at all. Firstly, it is fun to be proactive, inclusive and kind. Secondly, I see lots of parallels to conducting business: Not every lead results in a sale 🙂 “Rejections” – I don’t view them as such – don’t stop me from asking another person out for coffee, should the opportunity arise.

    How can one best stay in touch with friends? About every other month I go through my WhatsApp contacts and send a quick “friendly hello” to those I have not heard in some time.

    A question for you: Do you stay in touch with any of your former students that you felt a bond with? Why or why not?

    Stephanie 🙂

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    1. Thank you! Yes, I have heard that proverb! It is difficult sometimes, but I have found it to be true.
      I think it’s great that you do the asking. Some poeple never do the asking but I have learned not to take it personally.
      I think a simple text goes a long way if that is all you have time for.
      I keep in touch with hundreds of former students through social media and through their siblings that I now teach. I have taught four kids from one family! It is the most rewarding part of the job to see my ‘kids” spread their wings. I comment and send messages and they respond to my posts, too.

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  2. Oh Amy, what a great post. Thick skin and a short memory, yes please. And I practically spit out my coffee at your comment about your friend teaching Science, you teaching Spanish but you had Chemistry – ha!
    Friendships are tough. I have a very small circle of friends and working from home makes it even harder. I do believe some friends come in our lives for a season and others stay forever.
    xo,
    Kellyann

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    1. Right? I don’t have either of those, unfortunately. I’m so sorry for your loss of that important liquid we call coffee!
      I have a small circle, too, but it’s quality and not quantity. That is so true! I bet you are the best friend to have!

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  3. I know I’ve said this before, but you have SUCH a way with words. I was taking a drink of my coffee when you said she taught science, you taught Spanish, but you had chemistry and almost spewed it. I actually write a little about this topic myself tomorrow and wrote and scheduled my post last night. How funny! I don’t have the work friendships or the school friendships that you did (other than keeping in touch on social media, which I’m great at being a cheerleader there for them) just because that wasn’t a long phase in my life (I never finished college), but I do treasure the friends I have in life.

    I think it takes commitment and faithfulness and grace to keep friendships going…for instance, I always tell my friends that I am low drama and family is always more important than friends time, so when one of us has to cancel because of a family thing or conflict, it’s not a big deal (grace). I do have some close friends whom I would never see if we didn’t schedule our time in advance and stick to a plan. I would be a miserable human being if I didn’t have friends in life! I know people who don’t have friends, though and it’s so sad to me that they’re missing out on so much. I like to think of myself as a good friend to people, so I try to treat them like I want to be treated. I always text on birthdays and anniversaries and I try to remember to ask them questions about their families. I had someone say that to me recently- that I was the only friend who ever asked about her family and who could remember who was who. I think little things like that make a lasting impact.

    Thanks for sharing this today! It’s such a great topic.

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    1. You are so sweet to say that. I really enjoy writing, but I am not sure if I have really exercised my writing muscle in the years since high school.
      I think that is a great policy to take – family first and show others grace.
      I can imagine that you would be a wonderful friend to have. Remembering things is one of the best things you can do to maintain a friendship. The Happiness Project was a great book for me to read and it talking about the importance of just showing up. I have realized I don’t always need the perfect words, but to show up as a friend is important. I am also trying to say yes more now that I can.
      Thank you so much!

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    1. I really cannot remember how we exactly connected. Can you? You were downstairs near the library and I was upstairs. Maybe I saw you on the way to the bathroom. Ha! I will not forget that. In fact, I plan to take you up on that this fall and winter!

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  4. Wow! I love this post so much. You are so good about sharing your thoughts and providing advice with a touch of humor. Mennonites and chemistry 😂😂I LOL’d. You are right about seasons of life and also letting go of grudges. I would say I’m similar to you in that way and can be sensitive. It may sound crazy but moving in the 8th grade was so hard for me and I felt so left out at school…that has stuck with me. Sometimes I feel left out and keep reminding myself I’m a 42 year old woman 😂 I also try to instill in my own kids about including others …especially now that they are the age when I moved to a new middle school. Some of my best friends are my kids’ elementary friends moms and most of us live in the same neighborhood which helps. And, to be honest, I’ve met some of their new middle school friends parents and they are all lovely but right now it just feels like mom group circles are kind of closed to new people for some reason. (Maybe just because we are all so busy…people are just sticking with who they know?) Such a great post! So insightful.

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    1. Thank you! Oh, I bet that was a really, really hard year to move and I am sure it affected all relationships going forward and even now. I love that you have a close knit neigborhood – that is something I have never had as an adult, but I definitely did as a child. I had the best neighbors.
      Yes, it really feels like many mom groups are closed off. I’m also not into status and fake-ness and there have been some of those along the way.
      You seem happy and content with your circles and that is really what it’s all about!

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      1. And I’ve learned quality over quantity of course! I have a couple of close work friends, my mom friends circle, some great neighbor friends too. Trav’s family always says our neighborhood reminds them of how they grew up with lots of friends and families who are friends. It’s something I hope my kids look back on fondly.

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      2. Yes, I am constantly working on that. I am such a bargain hunter by nature. I love that. I wish we had had that for our kids, but we just didn’t. They did have the community of the elementary school in our backyard, though.

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  5. Amy, I really enjoyed this post. I don’t have any friends and I think the problem is that when I started working when I was 16 I had friends then but later on I got married and we moved away. Then I started working again and with kids and husband and working I feel like I did not have time. My jobs that I have had since then I had work friends that I went to lunch with but we never got together on the weekends, everyone was busy. The last friend that I had she has moved out of state with her husband and I don’t hear from her at all, so I am not sure that I can actually say she was a good friend even though I thought so. At 71 and a widow and being retired I don’t have friends and it seems the older you get the harder it is to make friends. Men and women seem so afraid anymore, this world for the past years has really caused a lot of issues. I hate it. I miss talking with people. Thank you for this post and enjoy every second that you have with your friends.

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    1. Oh, thank you. Yes, everything you said makes it so hard. Are there any groups you are involved in where you could reach out? I know the pandemic made it even harder for those who live alone. What a sad and isolating time. I know you have lots to offer, so keep getting out there if you are able. There also might be Facebook groups or other online ways to connect with people. Yes, people seem so afraid of strangers these days – I agree. But, you never know. I hope you will make a connection. I think it’s much more important to have quality rather than quantity.

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  6. I really feel like friendship gets harder the older you get. I have a small group of friends, but not really the big group you see “influencers” have – going on trips etc. I feel like my circle was bigger when the kids were little, but has shrunk as people move, get busy with work etc. Thanks for such a thought-provoking post today!

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    1. I think it does. I don’t have a large group like that, either and at most I only see two friends at a time. I am not hanging with my 12 besties! Ha! I am totally ok with that, too. I have also never had a big girls trip. That just wasn’t a thing when I was raising my kids. It’s become super popular now.

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  7. A very thoughtful and sweet post, thank you. I guess I’m like your husband: outside school and family I believe I have mostly “shallow” friends (is that how you say it?).
    (“We had chemistry” – HA HA!)

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