Re-Run: Making Friends As a Grown Woman from Annie Valentine
Sometimes breaking in new friendships can be about as comfortable as breaking in a new pair of stilettos–they look super cute but the first few trips to Walmart are killers.
Making friend with other women can be broken down in phases, and not all the girls you meet and like will move through every phase. Phase one is the introduction. Phase two is the one-on-one interaction. Phase three is the let-me-clean-your-bathroom-
I recently attended a family gathering for my husband’s office. We’re relatively new to the area, moved to Germany last August, and I haven’t had many opportunities to stretch my social wings with some of the other office wives.
Boy was the temperature chilly.
I’d like to assume that the ladies attending the party were all snobby and closed off, but if I really stand back and look at the situation what I see is this: Me, four kids, no husband, surrounded by lots of families who already know each other. I think I was so wrapped up in not making a scene that I didn’t make a scene.
When you wet your feet for the first time with a new group of women be prepared to plow through the First Glance Syndrome. This is the part where girls size you up and make a quick decision about whether or not they’re going to approach you. Politically speaking, we’re all grown up and above such a thing. Realistically speaking, it happens everywhere you go. It’s why first impressions matter.
At this particular party I managed to visit with one–just one–other mom. I saw her breeze through the door, five kids in tow and a smile on her face and I knew I wanted to meet her. So, I put myself in her vicinity, made a comment about her cute baby, and suddenly we were gabbing about life faster than you can say burp rag. Due to the situation we only had five minutes to talk before being pulled in opposite directions.
I had to make a decision. Put myself out there again (she obviously had a million friends in the room, why would she want one more?) or go home without having made a single new connection.
I need friends. I love friends. I hate staying home seven days a week doing laundry. Must. Have. Friends.
Before the night was over I tracked her down once more and we exchanged information. And you know what? She texted me for a play date.
I’d say that’s step one to making a new friend; when the social introduction leads to one-on-one interaction.
But lasting friendships rarely happen overnight, nor should they. The worst thing you can do to tank a new friend is overwhelm her and vice versa. Friendship should be savored and encouraged in a timely manner.
Two weeks later we had a play date at her house. I’ve got to say, this was one of those rare occasions where I truly found a kindred soul. Usually phase two takes a number of casual get-togethers, conversations where you de-onionize one another and discover what kind of girl you’re dealing with. Taking time with this phase is important, and the number one thing to remember is be honest. Don’t be perfect, don’t be Debbie Downer, but be honest about who you are. If you don’t like shopping and she does, don’t fake it because you want her to like you.
Of all the step one of phase two’s I’ve ever had, this had to be the most fun. My new friend has four kids plus a brand new baby and is in that survival of the sleep deprived stage of mothering. It didn’t take long before I was doing her dishes and helping her sift through one of the cupboards in her kitchen that’s giving her anxiety.
Because when it comes right down to it, the best way to get a friend is to be a friend. If you look and pray for friendships, the moments will present themselves and I don’t just mean moments where you help another, but moments when you let that person help you back. That is how good friendships are made, in the trenches of life and marriage and motherhood.
You’ve just got to be willing to open up, be honest, and let other people be part of your crazy.
Annie Valentine blogs over at what my sister-in-law and I have deemed one of our very favorite blogs out there: