I recently wanted to go see a chick flick, and my husband said he would absolutely not go with me. It was then I realized I have very few close friends. I know hundreds of people – at least that’s what my Facebook page says – but I could only think of a few girlfriends to call up and invite to go with me.
When did I lose all my friends? After high school, we went our separate ways to conquer the world. While I still keep in touch with many of these friends, we live all over the country. I have friends I made at work, but many have moved to different jobs in other cities. Now, I am a freelance writer working at home, so my work friends have become my husband and kids.
I made new friends when my kids started school and now our kids have grown up and taken over our lives. I went to dinner with two high school friends over two months ago. That’s the last girls’ night I remember.
Here are several strategies you can use to expand your circle of friends and create a more active social life:
Nurture current relationships
It’s so easy to get caught up in work, your kids’ activities and the demands of having a family. Make an effort to maintain your current relationships by keeping in touch and organizing at least one activity together a month. You may be waiting for friends to connect with you. Take the initiative and reach out to them!
Reconnect with old friends
The same approach goes for old friends. You may have that one friend who is a ball of energy and always makes you laugh. Another friend may love to go shopping or hit the antique malls. I actually have a friend I used to call when I wanted to go to the movies. We joked that we would still watch movies together when we were 80 years old. I need to call her before I am 80!
Change your day
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut. We do the same routine every day, and it’s easier to just continue doing it rather than switch things up. I will admit it – I can be plain lazy. It takes so much less thought to simply sit on the couch and watch TV in the evenings than to go do something. Be open to random opportunities to change up your day and hang out with friends.
Think about your interests
It may help you connect with new friends if you have something in common. What are your interests? What do you like to do? I enjoy quilting, scrapbooking, and playing volleyball and softball. I used to belong to a quilting club but quit going when it interfered with my kids’ sports schedules. I am about 5 years behind in my scrapbooking, and I’m sure I could find friends who meet regularly. I could join a local adult sports league. You can also take classes in dance, art, fitness or even join a book club.
When you’re busy and feeling overwhelmed with day-to-day activities, you may end up ignoring invitations. Try to change this habit. Even if the event isn’t something you would normally attend, it can open you up to a new set of people. You might be able to reconnect with old friends, get to know acquaintances better or meet new friends. Plus, if you keep turning people down, they will eventually stop inviting you.
Silence our inner voice
As we get older, we tend to sabotage our attempts to make friends. We may be afraid of being rejected or that others won’t like us. We all have traits that make us unique and interesting. And everyone has their own flaws and fears. Being able to look past someone else’s shortcomings – and have them do the same for you – is often what makes great, long-lasting relationships. So, let your freak flag fly a little bit, and see who waves a flag back at you.
Volunteering is a great way to meet others who have similar interests as you. If there is something you feel particularly passionate about, it will be good for your soul and help you make new friends. For instance, you may want to support cancer research, help the homeless or provide tutoring. Giving back is good for those you help, serves your community and can be rewarding for you as well.
Good friendships take time. Be yourself, keep your head up and embrace new chances to meet people or have fun with old friends. The best friendships develop over time and take energy and commitment. So, call up a friend and do something fun!