On Making New Girlfriends

“I like your dress.” “Want to come over and play?” “We should switch lunches!”

If only these friend pick-up lines worked now. I mean, I’d love to switch you lunches. I’m sure the hummus and pita you’re eating is exponentially more delicious than the quickly-thrown-together-while-Henry-is-napping turkey sandwich I’m currently eating. But I bet if I was to randomly ask you that, you’d probably be a little freaked out.

So, why is it so hard to meet friends as adults? For one, I think it’s because we all have an extra lot of “friend baggage”, a whole heap of stuff we’re carrying around with us from previous friendships. And the older we get, the more we have. All of our friend baggage affects us in various ways, but especially comes into light when meeting new people. Perhaps you’ve been burned in the past and are hesitant about opening up to a new friend, or maybe you feel getting to know someone is too exhausting because the last new person you met left you feeling drained and annoyed. This baggage changes the way we move forward when meeting a potential new friend.

Like any relationship, romantic or otherwise, girl friendships take work. Setting aside your baggage and opening yourself up is tough. I’m so lucky to have quite a few fabulous, long-term ladies in my life, but I think most of you would agree that it can be hard to put yourself out there when meeting new people. I thought long and hard about it though, and put together a few little pointers that have helped me.

1. Be your true, authentic self. This one seems like it would be obvious, but when you meet new people sometimes we can fall into the trap of a) wanting to impress, or b) wanting to agree. Just be you! If you aren’t 100% yourself when building a relationship it absolutely will not last. Your real self has to eventually come out, and when you all of a sudden can’t stop talking about how much you love Law & Order she might get super freaked out when you originally told her you were all about CSI. Oops!

2. Put yourself out there. So you like working out? Take some new classes. Step aerobics, spinning, maybe even a swim class. I met a great gal pal at the gym and we still meet regularly to exercise together. Like attracts like, and if you’re in a place that makes you happy, you’re bound to meet others with similar passions. Consider joining a club, attending a class, or even starting your own group. I recently saw a book club’s sign in our local coffee shop advertising “a new way to meet hip, literary chicks.” OMG. Sign me up.

3. Speak up. It can be hard to strike up conversation with a stranger, but put it this way: if you went into the situation without having this person as a friend, the worst that can happen is that you’ll leave without them too. You can’t lose. So why not make some small talk (it may turn into a great conversation!), throw your potential friend a genuine compliment and see what happens. Perhaps you noticed a Troop Beverly Hills DVD sticking out of her bag, maybe you saw her thumbing through some Anne Sexton poetry, or you somehow recognized your favorite Aesop Rock song coming out of her headphones. By all means, say something!  Don’t let your possible new BFF pass you by.

4. Say yes. By nature I’m actually kind of a no person. I like my time. I like spending my time how I want and the last thing I want to do is spend my precious day in a “maybe” situation. “Maybe” I’ll have fun. Or ugh, “maybe” I won’t. Saying yes causes a whole lot of maybes to be released into your world, but sometimes that’s a good thing… because maybe, just maybe, you’ll meet a radical new friend.

5. Don’t be afraid of making “online” friends. Okay, with this statement comes a whole lot of caveats. Just like when you were a kid and your Mom warned you not to take candy from strangers or hop into a van with the promise of a puppy inside, you need to be safe online too. Don’t give out personal info, meet anyone offline on your own, you get my drift. But for those who have a good head on their shoulders, today’s online world is a great place to meet like-minded individuals right in your area. I’ve met some of my most favorite people through blogging, Twitter, and even Instagram, as crazy as that sounds.  Now, most of these girls were already mutual friends of my “real-life” friends, but even so, our relationships were totally strengthened through talking everyday via our social networks. In fact a few months ago a whole bunch of us met up in Las Vegas for an amazing weekend. While out together people would ask us how we all met and when we’d say “the internet!” with huge smiles on our faces some of the reactions we got were priceless. It may have a funny stigma attached to it, but I guarantee you that if you’re open to meeting people this way your new best friend might just be waiting for you…on the other side of the computer screen! Just make sure she’s not really a 45-year old man living in a basement. Or a van. Offering you candy.

Happy new friendship-ing!

  • http://www.facebook.com/carolineammurphy Carrie Murphy

    great advice, dani. i’m struggling with this very issue right now and i think “saying yes” is going to keep me from becoming a total hermit this winter. thanks!

    • http://www.facebook.com/PennyLaneEmerson Penny Lane Emerson

      Besides meetup dot com, there’s also google groups and sometimes platonic friendship postings on craigslsit–just meet in a public place first to be sure they are really a girl.

      I met a few of my BEST girlfriends after joining an online group several years ago. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/nikki.lagreca Nicole LaGreca

    This is so timely! I think so many women, once they are in between the post-college and pre-mom worlds find it hard to meet like-minded individuals. I know I’m one of them! I love the idea of starting a “hip” book club.


  • http://www.facebook.com/caishnah Caishnah Nevans

    Great advice but fear that the small town I’ve moved to is destinctly lacking in likeminded potential girlfriends and with a toddler my ability to widen my net is somewhat limited. I’ve hunted and searched but fear they may be hiding from me. Come out, come out, wherever you are!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jammiemountz Jammie Mountz

    I love meeting new friends. I went out the other night and came home with two numbers – from GIRLS – who thought I was genuinely cool and wanted to hang out. I was so excited!! 2 real potential friendship numbers is better than a million I’ll-never-call-you-but-I-wanted-to-be-polite-because-you-bought-me-a-drink numbers!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=729854936 Kate Payne

    It is really hard for me to meet new girlfriends. Luckily the couple that I have are amazing but a lot of them aren’t always there. So I will definitely go with this advice and try to find some more because you can never have too many TRUE friends.

  • http://www.facebook.com/neeliarose Aileen Barker

    Ugh. I SO need this encouragement, as much as I want to deny it. We moved to a small town about a year ago which populated by mostly elderly people and the only people I know are my dad and husband. HA. I’m currently not working outside the home so making friends is hard. I literally thought of getting a random job just to start meeting people. I actually got my library card yesterday, so maybe I’ll bump into some cool people there.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jenniferannbirge Jennifer Bible

      This is exactly why I have been having a hard time too!

  • http://www.facebook.com/thaothao Thao Tran

    Thanks for this! I always think I have a harder time meeting people because I’m also overweight. Pretty, skinny girls don’t want to to be friends with a heffer, right? I just need to get myself to the gym and get healthier. Hopefully by doing that I can meet some cool friends along the way!

    • http://www.facebook.com/PennyLaneEmerson Penny Lane Emerson

      If a “pretty skinny girl” doesn’t want to be friends with you because you’re overweight, then they don’t sound like they’d be a good friend in the first place. Friends should be like more-fun-less-bitchy sisters, so looks shouldn’t play into it if they’d be a *true* friend!

  • http://www.facebook.com/PennyLaneEmerson Penny Lane Emerson

    Great article! Friendship baggage is true, and so is the fact that there are less natural ways to meet friends–like being stuck in school all day with peeps or having your parents who are friends already visit each other.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=727000771 April Williams

    This article provided the encouragement I need. I moved from AZ to CA a year and a half ago and still have yet to meet a single person. Unfortunately, until I’m comfortable, I’m incredibly shy. Now, 6 months pregnant, I’m very lonely but I am thinking about finding some “mommy” groups to at least give myself some chance at meeting some girlfriends.

  • http://www.facebook.com/desiree.gaines Desiree Gaines Jacobs

    As I’m writing this, my friend and former roommate Penny commented above, small world! Hi Penny!

    To start, I really appreciate this post. One of my new year’s resolutions is- more time with girl friends because they are the best! Making girl friends can be sooo tricky! I love my girl friends more than anything and value the time I spend with them exponentially. I tend to compare trying to make a new friend to dating because sometimes you’re nervous for that first solo hang out time and of course- what do you wear? But it’s the best when it pays off and you have a new gal pal. The one friendship nuance I’m still perplexed by and could write a whole article about because there is so much to say, is about girl GROUPS of friends. That’s where the true weirdness dynamics tend to come in, and I probably feels that way because I love 1 on 1 time more when you can really connect with someone.

    But hi, awesome, like minded lady, potential lady friends- happy hump day to you!


  • http://www.facebook.com/lisrmiller Elisabeth Miller

    I love this post! It can be so hard as an adult to find new friends, ESPECIALLY when you’ve been burned in the past.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kristen.penwell Kristen Penwell

    I always say that trying to make new girl-friends is like flirting: “I love your shoes/workout routine/the book you’re reading!”

    I’ve had a tough time finding fun girls since being a married college transfer, these are great tips!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1534455623 Jessica Barrera

    great post! i live in a small town in NorCal and am surrounded by old folks! we have lived here for over a year and still my only friend is my 3year old daughter and my hubby…i need a friend!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505130814 Jenikah Joy

    Its hard to meet people unless you work at someplace large, or have a lot of extra circular activities. Both of which I do not…. I work a 70 hour work week and between a bf, sleeping and sometimes eating, how the heck am I supposed to meet people much less make time to spend with them! Yikes. Also, what about girls who’s personalities get a long so much better with men!!! I’m not by nature a girly girl or an outgoing person. *sigh. But perhaps there’s hope for me yet…

  • http://www.facebook.com/thatgirl1223 Tiffany Dodge Martinkus

    This is fantastic!
    I just started going to the gym as part of my whole “healthier lifestyle” and joined a yoga class in the hopes of meeting new girlfriends. I sometimes feel alone and that I don’t have a female to talk to about girly things, hopefully this works out for me. Thank you for sharing!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=194300480 Chrissy Bruzek

    I just bought this book called “MWF Seeking BFF” about a recent transplant to Chicago looking to make some female friends. She went on a bunch of girl dates to try and make friends and the book is all about her experiences. I can’t wait to read it!


  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=82101095 Alexandra Graves

    This is exactly what I needed today! I made plans with a potential “online” friend the other day- and was just thinking about cancelling because I wasn’t sure if we’d have much in common (we’re both having babies during the same time, but other than that!). It takes a little kick in the butt sometimes to get out of your comfort zone!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=152501101 Emily Johnson

    This is a great article! I was just talking to someone the other day about the ups and downs of trying to make new friends. I had someone tell me maybe I should act like I dont care.. play it cool. I told them the only problem with that is that I’m NOT COOL. Hahah.. I smile at everyone and I’m quirky and am just not one for being “cool” but that I’m a great friend so hopefully that will be enough :) And you know what I think it will be!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=223307425 Lorna Speed

    I’m really glad I saw this today, I have been thinking lately I need a new female friend (cant bring myself to say girlfriend, as I’m British and it sounds weird to me!) as I live in a rural area and my friends have all moved away. I kinda doubt I’m gonna meet someone like minded but I’m gonna try anyways and hope it works

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=580677626 Gina Gonzalez Schanel

    Thank you — such great timing! I just moved. I”m definitely older but still like new friends: )

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