It has been said that, “True Friendship is like the asphalt of life. It fills in the potholes and makes the journey smooth.” – Richard G. Scott
Friends really do help us through life and are a source of so much love and value to us. So why is it such a problem for adults to find, make, and keep new friendships? As adults and especially as adult women it’s a topic that comes up often. We’re so busy and engaged in a variety of things that it becomes a challenge to get out there and make new friends. Yet the tough part is that we need those connections. We need to feel heard, seen, and loved.
Making new friends IS a problem for a lot of women so I’d like to give you something new to think about that might just change the way you go about friend hunting. Two SUREFIRE Tips to making and KEEPING new friends:
Step ONE: stop waiting and go first. When you see someone new and your instinct is to smile and then wait for them to do something, stop. You go for it. Walk over, say hi, introduce yourself.
Why do we do that? Why do we wait for them to smile at us, to talk to us, to reach out and make the first move. For some it’s a tiny fear inside us where we worry about what they’ll think of us, what they think about our appearance, what we sound like, what they think about our parenting styles as our kids are running wildly in circles around us. Then that worry overtakes any courage we had to reach out and so we don’t react out.
We sit alone at the park or at sports practice not talking to others and when we leave, we leave without meeting that new person who could have been your best friend.
I have a friend that once visited a new church ward. In the sisters meeting (Relief Society) she scanned the room looking for a place to sit or a friendly face to welcome her. She found a seat off to the side and sat down next to this woman that seemed friendly enough. She smiled politely at her then waited for her to respond, to introduce her, to do something. After all SHE was the guest. When this woman didn’t respond my friend sat there reeling with thoughts like, “I’m a guest. Why isn’t she reaching out and welcoming me? How rude not even to say hello! Doesn’t she know I’m visiting?!”
When the meeting finally started they wanted to welcome and introduce the visitors. She sat up straight waiting for them to look her way and when they did she started to stand up only to realize that the woman sitting next to her popped up as well. Then it hit her, no wonder why she didn’t welcome her! SHE’S a visitor too! She was probably waiting for HER to say hello to her and most likely having the same thoughts in HER head!
Point of this example is, WHY ARE WE WAITING for someone else to welcome us, to say hello to us, to invite us, etc. Instead of letting your brain fill your mind with all the chatter about what if they don’t like me type of thoughts why not try on these thoughts? What if they DO like me? What if they think I’m amazing? What if we click and we become besties?
Don’t let that fear and scarcity mindset intervene and stop you from seeing others as potential friends.
The second thing I want to give you is this: DON’T TREAT THE PLAYDATE AS A JOB INTERVIEW
This is really fascinating. When we finally do take that initiative and go to that play date or girls night or whatever it is we tend to do this thing where inside without realizing it we’re judging them about what they do or what they say. We make internal notes about them about the things we like and don’t like. Sometimes we even preemptively decide if this is going to be a buddy buddy friendship or just an every now and then friendship more for the kids than for you.
I did this once. I didn’t even realize I was doing it either. My coach at the time pointed it out to me and I was so intrigued by this action and thought process that I was engaging in. At the time my kids were involved in sports and practices and such so I got to go to all those with them and watch and wait and try to mingle with the other mom’s doing the same. There were these two mom’s that seemed like they would make good friends so after saying hello and chatting we set up a playdate for our kids to get together and have a potluck at one of their homes.
The day of the potluck the kids were running free and laughing and being kids while us mom’s sat around the table watching them and chatting amongst ourselves. I started out with high hopes of making new friends and then as the conversations continued I realized that one of the mom’s and I did not click. Things weren’t contentious by any means but our personalities clashed. I felt like she talked about herself so much and everything that we’d say to contribute to the conversation she was the authority figure on. There was really no way to have a give and take conversation and it was frustrating to me. I started creating this “list” inside my head of the things she did that made her and “unsuitable” friend for me. I was NOT doing this consciously of course!
The list was something like this: She only talks about herself. She doesn’t let anyone else talk! Her kids CRY A LOT and she coddles them! She says she likes some of the things I like but then contradicts herself minutes later. She “knows everything” or claims to…etc…etc…you get the idea.
I had all these reasons why it wasn’t a good match and why we couldn’t be friends. When it was brought to my attention that I was doing this and making this “list” inside my head it was really eye opening for me. I had created this internal “manual” that for others to be my friends they must do ________ and _________and __________. If they don’t then we can’t be friends. I wasn’t allowing her to just be her because I was inside interviewing her of sorts and she had no idea she was on an interview at all.
Do you do this too? We want so badly to make connections and we’re hunting and hoping to find others that share our likes and ideals. We hope that we have things in common but too often we write off a person and a potential friendship because they “failed” the initial friendship interview. The interview that you don’t realize you’re giving them and they don’t realize they’re taking part in either!
So remember this, next time you’re with a new friend: STOP TREATING IT AS AN INTERVIEW and just LET THEM BE THEM and enjoy the variety of people in the world. I bet that person has a lot to offer you. BTW…I did stop treating that person like I was interviewing her. I did learn to let her be her. We did become friends and I really enjoy her energy. I’m so glad I dropped my crazy expectations and my “manual” for her.
I love this quote:
“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
― Anaïs Nin
I love the idea that with each new friend we create a new world together, new experiences, new inside jokes, new bonds. When I drop the manual and internally wishing they’d act how I WANT them to act then this world can be explored, forged, and created.
How many new worlds, experiences, bonds can you create by just letting the other person BE THEMSELVES?
Okay, recap, in order to make new friends try these TWO things:
1.) Stop waiting and GO FIRST
2.) Don’t treat them as if they’re on an INTERVIEW
If you do these two things you’ll be amazed at how things can change for you. You will most certainly attract new friends, good friends, even potential besties! They’ll LOVE you because you’re not expecting anything from them – they’ll feel loved because you just let them be them.
My bestest friends do this and I cherish them for it. They let me be me with all my quirks and crazies. I don’t have to fuss and fret if my house is less than pristine. I don’t have to be polished and perfect. I get to be me however I am that day and I’m so grateful for that gift they offer me. Likewise, I offer them the SAME quality of friendship. I just love them and all their quirks and I don’t even notice or care how many dishes they have in their sinks. It’s really not a problem or a criteria for what makes a good friend.
So get out there. SMILE, say Hi FIRST and when you get to talking DROP THE MANUAL. They’re NOT on an interview!
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