Tag Archives: making friends as an adult

Finding my tribe

I thought it was like riding a bike. Or shotgunning a beer. That it was a skill, once mastered, couldn’t be forgotten. But then, at the age of 36 and a mom of two young children, I realized I had forgotten how to make friends.

I mean, I have friends. Of course I have friends. Lots of them. In fact, according to Facebook, I have over 1,400 friends. So, yeah, I’m doing just fine, thankyouverymuch.

Except, thanks to our semi-nomadic life, these friends live in Ohio. And Texas. And Colorado. And Oregon. And dozens of other places.

I also managed to snag a few wonderful local friends right here in Boston before I got pregnant for the first time and turned into a permanent swamp witch. Except they are younger, or older, and childless, or their kids are grown. And also I keep forgetting to contact these wonderful local friends to hang out in real life because all my time and brain power is now spent cutting up fruit my kids are BEGGING for, and then cleaning the mess from all that cut-up fruit that they did NOT eat but felt needed to be spread all throughout the house.

I’m also on friendly terms with our downstairs neighbors. Whenever we see each other. Which is roughly twice a year.

It’s not like I can’t talk to people. I’m not what you would describe as shy. I can strike up an awkward conversation with the best of them. And on really good hair days, I can even score a hot mom’s digits.

But after that I’m pretty much useless. What’s the next step? Text them? I guess. But underneath their name I usually put something like “Chick from playground” or “Blonde Lorelai Gilmore” because I never actually listen when I ask someone their name. And if by some miracle I do remember their name, I forget how to write a text like a normal human.

“Hello. Maybe sometime henceforth we could, whenever is convenient for you, of course, together our offspring get for a coffee. Or a beer. Or nine beers. Not that I’m an alcoholic or anything. LOL. OK. Well. You have neat eyebrows. *random gif of Chris Pratt from Jurassic Park.*”

It also doesn’t help that I am awful at first impressions. Just awful. The reasons for which I’ve narrowed to the following three things.

One, I have a major case of Resting Bitch Face. Some people look wistful when they daydream. I look like I want to murder you and your entire family and then will strangle your pet in front of your lifeless corpses. Two, whenever I do smile, I smile weird because I hate my teeth, which really only adds to the illusion that I’m probably a secret serial killer. And three, when I’m nervous (like, say, when I’m meeting new people for the first time) I always think of the perfect thing to say roughly three minutes after I should have said it (which you would think would stop me from saying it, but no, no it doesn’t).

So now, without the crutch of school or a regular 9-to-5 job where people are forced into close proximity to me on a regular basis (and thus are eventually able to see through all these quirks to my much more endearing quirks) I found myself struggling to make friends with other parents.  

For a long time I told myself I didn’t need friends. It’s 2018, man. We, as a society, are beyond friends. That’s why memes and Netflix and mermaid blankets and boxed wine with straws were invented.

Coping mechanism, you know?

But you do. You really do need friends. At every age. And every stage.  

I’d see these groups of parent-friends talking and laughing at places like the library and the park. Just go up and talk to them, I’d tell myself. You’re a grown-up. This isn’t like third grade. They won’t make fun of you because you’re wearing the wrong color scrunchie. But then my oldest would start yelling “MOMOMOMOM!” and I’d realize my youngest was running straight toward traffic and the moment passed and we’d head home. Friendless.

Secretly though, I was always hoping one of these groups would take pity on me and adopt me. It was a fantasy I often had while staring off into space (and looking like I wanted to murder you). That they would see me sitting there by myself and just swoop in and take me under their collective wing and say “let’s go get a beer, or nine, and by the way, you have neat eyebrows.”

You can imagine my surprise, then, when one did.

It was a chilly spring afternoon. A group of them descended on the playground. I’d seen most of them around the neighborhood from time to time. Made small talk with some of them over the years. Which is how this encounter started. But then, just like that, they let me in. Within 20 minutes, they had added me to their Facebook Messenger group. Within 45, I’d been invited to their weekend barbecue.

And that’s all it took. I had found my tribe.

And it’s made all the difference.

My kids now have neighborhood kids to hang out with. My husband has other husbands to stand over cooking meat and say meat cooking things about. And I…well, I can finally smile my real smile, forgetting how much I hate my smile for awhile.

Loneliness is a real epidemic. As adults we don’t like to talk about this. For too many of us it conjures up too many horrific childhood memories of bullies and not fitting in and birthday parties where you were terrified no one would show up.

But we should talk about it. And address it. Because not everyone is as lucky as I am and has a circle of friends that reaches in, deus ex machina, and saves you from your loneliness. And tells you, in big ways and small, that you are great, just the way you are. And will agree that yes, your kids are being total buttheads today.

Everyone deserves to have people in their life like that.

So, here’s to hoping you have found your tribe to help you get through the long days and short years of parenthood. And if you haven’t yet, hang in there. It will happen. And if it doesn’t, approach that lonely mom sitting all by herself and start the tribe yourself.

 

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Looking for like in all the wrong places

The one thing about moving to the city and being just another face of the faceless masses?

It can be hard to make new friends.

In the year or so that I’ve been in Boston, I’ve managed to snag a small group of good friends that I occassionally get to see when our (OK, their) schedules allow it (I’m a freelancer…my schedule is as wide open as Paris Hilton’s legs). However, these friends are all somehow or other related to my husband’s job, meaning the number of friends I’ve made on my own is…let’s see…carry the one…divide by pi…yup…zero.

Because you know what makes it really hard to make new friends? When you work from home, are no longer in your 20’s and happen to be married. Because you know what’s really creepy? Having a married 30-year-old freelance writer come up to you at a bar and ask if you want to be besties.

Of course, it doesn’t help that Boston isn’t necessarily known for being a city full of friendly, happy, shining faces (voted Meanest City in America, ya’ll!!!! Woot!). And it also doesn’t help that I’m not necessarily what you’d call a “joiner.” Unless your book club, sewing circle, writer’s collective, flash mob, steampunk convention or volunteer organization is meeting at the bar, I’m likely to just stay at home (and drink).

And it seems I’m not the only one struggling with this. A quick Google search (NOTE: make sure to type in ‘how to make friends as an adult’ NOT ‘how to make adult friends’ unless you want to be taken to a WHOLE different section of the Internet), brought up 30,900,000 results, at least 12 of which weren’t spam or thinly veiled porn.

Granted, the vast majority of articles on this subject belong to Mommy Bloggers, who are lamenting the fact they don’t know how to make friends anymore since their life has been reduced to wiping up the various fluids and semi-solids that spew forth from their offspring. Which didn’t help me much considering 1. I don’t have kids and 2. I think having kids would be a super easy way to make friends. You literally have an adorable 13-pound excuse to talk to someone else with an adorable 13-pound poop machine.

Because you know what else is really creepy? Having the childless 30-year-old woman come up to you at the playground and start trying to bond with you over how taking care of her neurotic dog is just like what she imagines taking care of a baby is like.

(Although in Buffy’s defense, he is wicked smart for a dog. Yes him is. Him such a smart, wittle puppeh).

The rest of the results were pretty much lame tips on how to make non-sexual adult friends, like join a gym, start a hobby, go to church and hang out at Starbucks, all of which are qualities I am not looking for in a friend.

So what’s a girl to do?

Well, although it hasn’t worked so far, I think I’m going to continue with my Lazy Friend-Making Plan (mainly because it doesn’t involve putting on real pants), which is two-fold:

1. Continue to stalk my virtual Boston-based Facebook and Twitter friends like @BarHavoc until they take pity on me and invite me somewhere.

2. Finally work up the courage to ask my hairstylist, Vildan, out on a friend date, since I’m pretty sure we’re soul mates. Although there’s a good chance that could blow up in my face due to the Hairstylist Theory.

(Quick summary of my Hairstylist Theory: They are trained like courtesans, skilled in the art of flattery and anticipating your every need, which is why we all want our hairstylist to become our best friend. Alas, for them, it’s just strictly business. They tell all their clients they have amazing cheekbones.)

And in the meantime, I’m going to take my dog to the park so he can terrorize little children as I chat up their moms.

“Isn’t he just the cutest! What’s that? Oh, no. They’ll be fine. He’s neutered. And he only humps the kids he really likes.”