New and Lonely
I just moved to this area and I am finding it hard to make friends (I am a mom of 2 kids). Everyone already seems to have their groups and I don’t know how to get something new started. Any pointers?
Signed: New and Lonely
Dear New and Lonely,
Welcome to our community! Making new adult friends can be quite challenging for many of us! Research tells us that after the age of 25, adult friendships naturally start to dwindle. Moving to a new community is one of the reasons this happens. But it’s also because our roles change – we become “little Johnny’s mom” more than our own individual person. And it’s because our level of responsibility increases. We end up giving priority to our kids’ needs, the house, our partner, work and everything in between which requires so much of our time and attention. It’s exhausting. We might not have a lot of energy or opportunity leftover for our own new experiences. But I am so glad to hear you are trying to find ways to develop your own social circle. You need that – and you deserve it!
Being connected to good adult friendships tends to have a very positive impact on our lives. These friendships have been shown to boost our immune system (allowing us to be physically healthier) and they let us live longer; they lower our stress hormones and lessen the brain fog we might experience; they help us manage anxiety, stress, anger and depression and allow us to emotionally regulate better; and they boost the degree of happiness and satisfaction we experience in life.
There are a couple of key elements needed in order to be able to grow new friendships in the adult years. Most importantly, you need to know yourself – your own interests, needs, wants, beliefs and values. As we age, the quality of our friendships matters more and we want to invest our effort into connecting with people we will enjoy being around. This starts with knowing who you are, first.
Find your balance – make sure you have time to spend nurturing the friendships as they start to develop. Be willing to try new things – say yes to invitations and be open to new experiences where you are likely to meet new people. Focus on your passions and not on the “type” of people you want to meet – it comes easier and lasts longer when it’s genuine to who you really are. And be picky – don’t spend time trying to force a connection when it’s not really feeling right. It’s okay to keep people at a more casual, “acquaintancy” level in your life too.
So where does a person find these new potential friends? The world is your oyster, quite honestly – you might be surprised at how many ways there are to meet new people. Start by making the people you already know aware of the fact that you are open to growing your social network. Your family, friends or coworkers are great sources of invitations to events and outings.
Look around your neighbourhood – have you met the people living on your street yet? Start a Splurge Group – invite 2 people you know, and have them each invite two others, and so on – for events that happen monthly. Or perhaps joining a gym or a community sports league is more your style. Check out other types of hobby/interest groups in your community – book clubs, paint nights, yoga centres, walking groups, poker bunches, etc. Use online platforms to join a community of like-minded people – or to create new in-person groups if none exist for the passions you have.
Take an interest course at a local college/university (bonus points for ones that run longer than just one evening). Connect to a place of worship that feels right for you. Volunteer somewhere close to home. Start up a conversation with someone the next time you are in line at the grocery store. Or be the purveyor of kindness and fun yourself by instigating short-term activities like porch wine exchanges, the 12 days of Christmas secret gift giving, community read a book/share a book exchange, etc.
It’s normal for the process of making new friends to take more work in the adult years than it did when you were young. And the pathway requires a bit of time as you get to know if each connection is one you want to grow into more deeply. So, play a little. Have fun and explore. And before you know it, you will feel like you belong again.
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