During my childhood years I struggled to make Heather A. and Heather B. “like me,” but I always had my ride-or-die crew. My best friends were decided in the 5th grade and we grew up together. Choosing largely different paths in life, we still keep in touch, but with 900 miles between us, we can’t exactly meet for drinks or our beloved Monopoly nights. Finding new pals has required me to reach out of my comfort zone. It’s not like I can just stand on the curb with a sign that says “I need friends.” Sometimes I think that method would be less nerve-racking than randomly approaching, ahem, “strangers.”
I’ve been testing these methods to acquire new friendships, and although trying, it’s been quite successful:
Use Your Kids: If you’re at a playground and your child is playing well with another kiddo, arrange a playdate. Even if you don’t have much in common with this parent, it’s nice to have the contact for your child and adult sidekick at the playground and other kid-involved events. If you’re not clicking with anyone on the playground, consider a mom group. For a list of local mom groups, visit our website FamilyandKidsGA.com and click “guides.”
Volunteer: Besides volunteer work being gratifying, it also brings an opportunity to be around like-minded individuals. Even if you don’t “click” outside of volunteering, you’ll get some socialization and help the community. You may just make a friend to volunteer with, and that’s perfectly OK.
Join a club: I feel like as an adult, “clubs” are totally under-rated. They exist! Whether it’s a meeting at Chattahoochee Valley Library for coloring and coffee or a local group of knitters, there’s a club for you. Finding it, however, may not be easy. Try Google or check the local library’s schedule of events. Many hobby shops or craft stores can also refer you in the right direction.
Pursue Similar Interests: I’ve made a really good friend through a fan group I joined online. Turns out, we have similar interests besides fangirling. Going on a friend date and knowing you already have something in common is a great start. Plus, if the conversation lags, you can easily circle back to the common ground. If you see someone every day at Starbucks, ask to join them for coffee. If you notice a co-worker has marathon stickers on their vehicle just like you, ask if they’d like to go running.
Utilize Social Media: You may be surprised to find out you are not alone; a lot of parents are in need of new friends. Simply put a post out in a local Facebook group asking for a play date at a local playground or play place and see where it leads. A benefit of searching for friends online is the low-pressure environment of a message bubble. A great place to start is our “Parenting Network of the Chattahoochee Valley” on Facebook.
Making new friends isn’t always easy. We all wish we could go back to 3rd grade when our matching Lisa Frank backpacks were enough reason to be BFFs forever and we skipped merrily off into the sunset. Having anxiety to approach someone new is completely normal. Remind yourself of the benefits of having a new friend by your side. Plus, if it doesn’t work out, you’re not obligated to continue on. Friendship dating is a real thing, you make yourself a little vulnerable, but nothing worth having comes easy in life.