“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!