Ready to feel better instead of feeling a little bit like sh*t, all the time?
Most people would look at my life and think, “it’s just so easy for her to make friends.” I have a lot of friends, from all parts of my life and they are all wonderful women. But it’s not that making friends is easy for me, it’s that I prioritize it. I make the time, I put in the effort, I have a strategy.
So many of my clients and readers feel like they’re lacking in the friend department, and are constantly telling me that they want to have close girlfriends so badly, but it just feels so hard.
A few weeks ago I asked my followers on Instagram and Facebook what their biggest challenges were when it comes to making friends. I loved their individual responses and all of them felt so universal that I wanted to take the time to share my responses here.
I never think it’s a good idea to “break up” with friends. I mean, if they are just terrible people who make you miserable, go for it, but I see a lot of people ditch their old friends because “they don’t get you” anymore. When I started my business, I felt a distance between my friends from college and myself, not because anything changed, or they were bad friends, they just didn’t understand what I was going through, and I needed someone to talk to about it. When I had Marshall I needed to meet Moms who had babies at the same time who understood the agony of getting up every three hours to breastfeed at night. I couldn’t call my fellow, single entrepreneur to bitch about that every day. What’s been so great is that as I add women to my life who are in similar phases as me, I become closer to my older friends because I am not putting so much pressure on them to be my everything. When we were little, a lot of us had a best friend who we did everything with, they were our everything. But the nature of being a child is that we moved at roughly the same pace as the other kids our age. Adulthood is very different and I don’t think we can put the same expectations on our friends.
First think about what phase of life you’re in, and what types of people you want to meet. If you want to meet other women in corporate, I wouldn’t go looking for friends at a 2pm yoga class. If you want to meet other stay at home Moms, you’ll want to chat people up at the playground. If you’re an entrepreneur, likely chatting up the girl next to you in a cafe on her laptop is a good game plan.
Start with a question, “I like your yoga pants, where’d you get them?” “You baby is adorable, how old is he?” “That sandwich looks amazing! What is it? I’m totally getting that.”
Chances are they will ask you a question back. Then you throw in (boldy). “We should totally get coffee sometime! What’s your number?” or “I’ll be back here tomorrow at 3pm, want to meet up?”
I’ve met great women at yoga, cafes, whole foods (I know, amazing), breastfeeding class, restaurants, lectures, retreats, on facebook… seriously random places. You just have to keep your eyes open and be very friendly.
Then make your meet up within the week, then again the next week, then (this is the important part) get them together with other people. Go on a group walk, or have lunch together. Community builds lasting and deep friendships.
I think this fear has a lot to do with what I talk about in the beginning about making one friend your everything. Friends are not romantic partners. The reason why we (usually) have one romantic partner is because it’s a lot of work! But we are designed to have more than one friend. This isn’t always the case, but whenever I hear a story about someone being betrayed or burned by their friend is because one of them was treating the other like a partner, and one of them was treating the other like a friend.
A very brave woman posted on Instagram that she has cancer and is afraid that people will feel like being her friend is “too much” I think it’s important to have an energy of “This is my story, but I am strong, I am independent and I am not needy.” I have a lot of friends who go through challenges, and they never expect me to fix them. Sometimes I feel pressure to have all the answers for them, but I’m working on pulling back. I know that if I want to support and take care of a friend, it comes from love and a deep desire for me to nurture them. It makes me feel good to take care of them. I have had a really hard time asking for help in the past because I don’t want to feel like I’m “too much” but now I see that helping me brings my friends joy. I also know that if someone can’t swoop in when I’m having a hard day, it doesn’t mean they’re a bad friend, they just have to take care of themselves right now.
Everyone feels like this. I feel like this all the time. It’s leftover playground trauma. Sometimes you will look stupid, sometimes you won’t. It’s no big deal. Life is no longer a popularity contest, it’s just a game of “are we compatible? do we like each other?” Maybe if you seem awkward, the other person will think, “yes! someone who is as quirky as me!” and you have an instant comfort with each other. Most women want to make new friends and most women aren’t brave enough to do it. I guarantee that if you make the first move, she will be eternally grateful.
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