I haven’t always been extroverted. I actually was very shy as a little girl, and it wasn’t until I moved to Greenville, NC that I felt like I really came out of my shell. That may make it sound like I was hiding before the move, which I wasn’t, but I think the push of independence and being totally alone in a brand new state was what I needed to really figure myself out.
While I’ll occasionally chat with old friends from high school, I really don’t have much contact with anyone from that time of my life. Moving across the country is one of the reasons why, and I’m also a pretty different person from who I was in high school.
So since about age 19, I was in charge of finding new friends on my own.
A lot of my friends as an adult have been found through my church. Between our small group or other mutual connections, that has consistently been where I’ve found some incredibly special and deep friendships.
Beyond that, I’ve met wonderful people through the gym I used to go to, through my kids’ preschool and elementary school, and even where I live! We moved away from a great group of people that we would spend time with while playing outside with our kids multiple times a week. The closeness of just being able to step outside made it easy to build relationships with our neighbors.
As a mom, the easiest no-brainer way to get to know another mom is to set up a park playdate with our kids. It gives the kids something do to so I can actually chat with the mom a bit, and it’s also a nice, neutral place to meet.
Whether it’s a mutual friend or a mom I met through one of my kids’ activities, park playdates are usually where I set up the first hang out.
My extroverted nature really reared its head when I had two babies. Luke and David are only 14 months apart in age, so I needed to find close friends that understood that I was kind of on house arrest due to frequent and rarely overlapping naps! So, I shared a post in my neighborhood’s Facebook group introducing myself and mentioned that I’d love to see if there was anyone who wanted to walk regularly in the morning with me and the kids. I picked a time and location to meet and set it up on a repeat schedule.
Tuesday mornings we would all meet at a small common area in the neighborhood and walk with our strollers and sometimes a few dogs. It was great! My strategy of setting it up as a regular meeting also gave anyone who was nervous about coming at first a week to build up the courage to meet a bunch of strangers from the neighborhood for a walk!
If I didn’t have children and was trying to meet some new friends, I’d explore the activities I’m already doing to see if there is someone there that I meshed with. If it’s someone from your gym, see if he or she wants to do an outdoor walk or another physical activity in a different place. It builds on the common interest that you already have (fitness) but also gives you something new to do together that may foster an opportunity for more conversation.
Another place to meet people is through volunteer opportunities, book clubs, local classes (like a cooking class!), and other organizations where you start off with a common thread. I think that is one of the things that make adult friendships easier, in fact, because you typically are building off of, at the very least, a mutual interest. Friends from school are likely people you just happen to be near at that time. But don’t get me wrong, that can mean great relationships too!
3 Things I Do with a New Friend
One. jot down a few notes about the person so you can remember a few important details (kid’s names, ages, school OR some of their hobbies or things they love) for when you see them again.
Two. share a few different options for setting up the next hang out or playdate (if kids are involved). I have a few friends that I’d happily do a playdate with and also happily go on a walk without kids–and it’s nice to spend time with them in both of those settings!
Three. be willing to host if necessary! In my experience, it’s as simple as asking “do you want to come over and have a drink on the porch?” and people will show up! Your home doesn’t need to be immaculate, you simply need to provide a place and time to bring people together.
There are also a few things I always try to remember with adult friendships:
Set realistic expectations and be willing to give. Be flexible, be forgiving, help out when you can, call them randomly to check-in. Ideally, this goes both ways. There are times when I see my friends often, and there are times when I go weeks or months between seeing some of them. Setting realistic expectations is one of the best ways to foster healthy friendships!