Friends have always been somewhat elusive for me. As far back as I remember, I usually befriended one person of a group, belonging to the group in a sort of hanging-on way, if you know what I mean. Not really a member of the “inside circle” but welcome enough to participate in group activities. Part of this was my innate shyness and the fact that I lived out in the country and didn’t always have access to the get together.
First married, my husband and I didn’t have a large social circle and didn’t feel any lack. Then came the “family” years, where all your acquaintances came from your children’s activities and, with working full-time jobs, we didn’t have time to make anything other than work friends. (There was no one advocating “date nights” back then!) Sure, we had “couples” friends that we vacationed with, but that was about it.
The kids went on to their own pursuits and I finally felt free from the guilt I always had about working. Work took up more and more time and down time was usually spent with a group of girlfriends from work. Once I moved and no longer worked, they, for the most part, faded away. I worried about how I was going to meet people without a job, but was content puttering at home with all the projects I had put off until I had time. Fortunately, we moved into a house next door to a very friendly couple. Through them, we joined a small group of people and that served as our primary source of friends.
Years passed , the husbands petered out and some of us women began travelling together. These women are the base of my friendships today. We know each other well, support each other when necessary and have a good time together.
I picked up a book called MWF Seeking BFF My Year Long Search for a New Best Friend, by Rachel Bertsche primarily because it had a catchy name. But I’ve been wanting to enlarge my small social circle, feeling the need to be connected with more people. My current friends are very dear, but they are all up to 15 years older than me (not that they ACT it!). We may move in the future and I need to know how to make new friends wherever we end up. Social circles can and do get smaller, whether by falling-outs, death or moving. I just needed some help in figuring out what to do.
The book was a great help. Although her story is quite different from mine – she’s got a large circle of friends, both near and far, but wanted to find someone in her current city with whom she felt comfortable making last-minute plans – I learned a LOT. And, while her method – 52 “girl-dates” in one year – did not appeal to me, there is actually a science behind making friends and doing certain things increases your chances of turning a stranger into a friend.
And so friendship becomes another area in which I will attempt an improvement. Next time, I’ll summarize the important points that I got out of the book and tell you about my plans and attempts to make new friends.