The Cold Penguin

expanding the box

How to make friends (and why it’s hard to do so)

on September 4, 2013

I’ve definitely been thinking about the areas of my life I want to improve and actual steps I could take on how to improve them (besides the good fairy coming down and granting my wishes.)  It’s a bit of a detailed process, so right now I’ll share for you my overview of my main desire right now.  And along the way I’ll share with you more thoughts and steps I hopefully will take to reach my goals.

Goal number 1 was to better my support system, otherwise known as make new friends.  Anyone who is a bit more introvert than extrovert knows this is a difficult and incredibly daunting task.  How?  Where?  Who?  So may questions enter my mind when I think of making new friends.

And there are so many reasons why it’s hard to make friends, especially at my age, early 30s.

  • I don’t have kids.  It seems like everyone my age has at least two toddlers or elementary school kids surrounding them at all times.  And as a Mom, they are looking for other Moms for friends.  I get that.  I can not understand the hassle of getting kids ready in the morning, doing endless loads of laundry or the whining of not wanting to eat what was made for dinner.  That’s not my life.  So being the “childless” 30+ year old makes it difficult to find and make connections with others.
  • I don’t drink alcohol.  I have nothing against alcohol and do not judge those who drink at all, but it’s just not something I enjoy.  And being the one with a glass of water at the sports or wine bar is the equivalent of having “downer” stamped on your forehead.  And it seems like those adults around my age without kids love to hang out at bars of any type.
  • I’m horrible at small talk.  Everyone who knows me will verify this fact.  I can’t talk about the news, weather or traffic with anyone.  If someone starts those conversations with me, I end up saying “oh yeah, I know.” or “yeah I think I heard about that.” and there’s the end of the conversation.  If I try to keep it going, it becomes awkward and my image is blown.
  • I don’t have a job currently.  When you are doing your normal getting to know you chit chat, main topics are family and work.  You don’t have kids, ok, so next topic is your career.  I’m in almost a career-crisis mode where I’m not exactly sure what I want to do and not working much, so once you tell someone your “in between jobs right now” the conversation drops.  Plus it’s just something I hate talking about so I tend to shut down.  And instead of coming up with a new topic (I’m horrible at coming up with things to talk about!!), I just fizzle the conversation into nothing.

So obviously I need help with the talking thing.  You can’t have friends without talking.  But who to talk to if you don’t have friends?

I thought of one thing. I do have acquaintances.  What about strengthening one of those relationships into a more dependable and close friendship?  So that’s my plan.  To strengthen one of my existing “friends” into a real friendship.  How?

  • Reach out to a person and invite them to spend time together – something relatable to the person.  Do they like coffee? would they want to take a walk?  Get a date on the calendar for a time to catch up with an acquaintance.
  • Attend the friend “date” and be in a good mood.  Even perhaps have thought of questions or comments to make during the visit as to keep the conversation going.  Be honest, be myself, and be timely.
  • After the visit, reach out to the person to say what a great time I had and then follow up with a suggestion to get together again.  OR if there was no connection, follow up with a great to see you again, keep it touch and then try again on another person.

Now, I need to make some new friends as well.  So how to do that?

  1. Start talking to people.  I’m very bad at initiating conversations with people I don’t know.  So I need to start practicing this skill.  Things like saying “Hi, how are you?” to people I pass on my walks with the dog, see at stores, etc.  And speaking to people I see at the gym.  Come up with a list of questions I can ask people – what classes do you take?  Or something along those lines, that can get a small conversation going.  It doesn’t have to come all at once, just get the lines of communication open.
  2. Join a group in the community and actively participate.  This is a hard step for me, but a necessary one.  It needs to be something I’m interested in for it to really work.  I’m not into wine tasting, but I do love reading, fitness and giving back to the community.  Find groups and attend meetings for the activities that intrigue me.  Then talk to people when I attend meetings and perhaps get an email address or phone number if I feel a connection with a certain person so we can get together outside the group.
  3. Don’t take rejection personally.  I have opted out of going to coffee or parties with people I think are fabulous for various reasons.  So if someone isn’t interested in getting together, don’t take it personally.  Just assume they have a busy crazy life, and find someone who has the time and desire to spend time with you.  That is the only way this project will succeed.  Forget about the mean girls.

So that is my plan.  I’ve already put some steps into actions and I’ve looked into some community volunteer groups, book clubs and fitness groups.  Now to attend and talk (the scary part).

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2 responses to “How to make friends (and why it’s hard to do so)

  1. […] before, so I won’t go into another diatribe about that.  If you want to read, check out my blog post here.  In short, being 34, married without kids, and the quiet reserved type is difficult because even […]

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