Friday, August 8, 2008

Making Friends

I have recently had a realization.

I don't know how to make friends.

I'm serious.

I'm good at making acquaintances - you know, folks you talk to at church, people you e-mail every so often, people you'd stop to talk to if you ran across them in Kroger. But real friends? The kind you can call any time and laugh with or cry with or go shoe-shopping with? Those are much harder to come by.

The best friends I've ever had (we're talking girl friends here) were my college roommates. We lived together for two years, before James and I got married, so we were bound to either love each other or hate each other. Those girls are still my friends; even though we're scattered across the globe, we've managed to get together twice in the last couple of years, and it's been awesome.

But I would really like to make some good friends here, since it seems this is where we're settling down. How do I go about making friends? I don't think I've ever really known how. We moved so much when I was growing up that I never really had friends. Boyfriends, sure, but no trusted girl friends.

I'm shy and quiet by nature. I feel like an awkward dunce in many social settings. When I'm thrown into a group of people, especially one in which friendships have already been long-established, I'm on the fringes, a fish out of water, a perpetual acquaintance.

Any ideas? How does a shy SAHM make real friends?


Diana said...

I think its very hard to make good friends once you are out of school. When my kids were young, that was a good way to make friends. Take your kid to gymnastics ( or what ever interest them, dance etc..) programs. Then try talking to someone sitting by themselves watching. Dog you have dogs? Take a dog class just for fun. You can make friends there too. Join a local pool. Kids are good a finding someone to play with. Then you meet the parents and you will find someone you have something in common with. Hope this helps. I hate to tell you this but the older you get, the harder it is to make friends. Just remember there are lots of people in the same boat as you and feel the same way in social atmospheres. Diana

Sandi said...

Jeni, I think that it takes several years to build friendships in a place unless you come across the rare person that you just instantly connect with. I don't know if, being more introverted, this would be something that you'd be comfortable with, but what if you just invited one person over for lunch? Or for a playdate? This is the way that I most connect with people and how I made my closest friends here, or if you're worried about it being awkward to make conversation with just one other person, invite two over (and the playdate thing can really work well) -- maybe even two who sorta know each other so that they can help carry the conversation. Look for people at church who are new and invite them over (like you did for us) -- they will appreciate being reached out to. Or, if you didn't want to have people over, suggest meeting at a park for the kids to play -- just for an hour or so.

I'd also suggest getting involved in a Women's Bible study at a nearby church, if they have childcare. That way, you get a chance to get out and meet some other ladies, and you might make some connections that way.
Often, when I meet someone that I feel like is also looking for friends (like at the library or a park) and we've struck up a conversation ("How old is your son/daughter? Have you guys lived in the area long? What do you or your husband do in town? Where are you from originally?), if we've really hit it off, I'll write down my name and phone number or ask for theirs and say, "We should have a playdate sometime!" I know this is all easier said and done, but they're ideas...

You're an awesome friend -- others out there deserve to have a friend like you!

LESTER said...

Jeni I'm glad you wrote this blog. I am a lot like you in this way; really shy at first meeting and getting to know people, but once I'm past that point we have a great time. I like one of the other comments about going to a ladies bible class. That is a perfect place to get to know other ladies you share at least one thing in common with you. Also you and James could find other couples to do things with. To me it is a little easier to first do things as couples cause at least I'll have Matt with me. Then after a while (sometimes a long while)maybe you will find a really good girlfriend too.

Beachy Mimi said...

Thanks for writing this post. You expressed many of the same feelings I have. As an "older" person without kids at home and no husband, I really find it hard to make friends. I'm not really a chit-chatter person and I'm kinda private and shy. I will really be interested in the comments and suggestions here. I like the idea of a Women's Bible Study. Most in my area are much younger or older so that's still an issue. Maybe we will get some good ideas!

Nicki said...

I agree with Diana-join a pet therapy group or take a dog class. Or pick something you like to do or have always wanted to try-painting, karate, whatever. You never know.

Nichole said...

I haven't made a single close friend since we moved away from Columbia. Sometimes it really weighs on me.

Eco said...

I'm actually an out-going person but I still find it hard to make and remain friends with people. I have the idealized "Laverne and Shirley" notion of friends and I've not been able to find that. And for some that may be a reality, but not for me -- never for me, not even in college.

For a long time, it was really easy for me to write people off for the slightest infraction on my unspoken rules of friendship. I would find one group of people I liked and the next semester/year/whatever term of time I would find a completely different group to hang out with. Now I realize that I just didn't like the way some people made me so vulnerable. I even went through a phase where friends (specifically girl friends) weren't necessary because they're all the same and I don't need anymore drama in my life. For most of my time in college and the few years in between school and getting married, the majority of my friends were guys.

Now, I have to actively try and work at maintaining friendships because I know they're valuable. I would suggest reading a book by John and Staci (sp?) Eldridge called "Captivating" -- it's about the Christian woman's heart and how valuable it is. It helped me realize that other women feel the same way as me when it comes to friendships, reminded me to take a look at how I've treated "friends" and that I should be willing to openly discuss my feelings with someone in good times and in bad, when it's easy and when it's not.

And I'm far from perfect in the friend category but my expectations of others and myself have changed. And actually my husband has helped me a lot in this because he's such a natural friend (I think a lot of guys are better at this than we girls are). He helps me maintain my emotions, let's me vent when I feel I've been slighted and reminds me that we all have bad days, even me. :-)

As for specific suggestions, I do think joining a ladies bible class or a MOPS group or some sort of activity is good. Just be willing to talk the lady you sit next to because it's way too easy to be quiet in a group.

Also, think about inviting some ladies or a couple over. The worst that can happen is you have dinner and they go home and you never do it again. It's happened hundreds of times to me but it's also how I've found my two closest friends.

Hope you find someone to connect with who lives nearby. It's hard to be a wife and a mom and a woman and not have someone to echo your thoughts and feelings and know when you need space and know when you just need a chocolate fix! Pray about it and I know God will provide what you need. :-)

Allie said...

I feel the same way! I have amazing friends from college who I talk to and e-mail all the time, but no one to go to the movies with or drag with me when I need a new dress or something. Like you said, lots of acquaintances, but few real friends in close proximity.