How to Make Friends When You’re All Grown Up
I remember sitting in a sand box when I was four years old, playing with another little girl, when suddenly without warning she dumped an entire bucket of sand onto my head. I cried as she stomped off without another word. At the time, I thought to myself, But I thought we were friends… In retrospect, I think to myself, Bitch.
That incident aside, making friends as a child is easy. You like to play with Barbies, too?! Let’s be friends. In my case, it was a willingness to listen to a tape of Olivia Newton John’s “Let’s Get Physical” over and over, while playing with Barbies, that led to friendship.
You go to school, you play sports, belong to a club, etc., and new friends basically fall into your lap. When you grow up, you get a job, and if you don’t work with total assholes, you make new friends. These friendships–from childhood to adulthood–sustain you throughout life. I’m lucky to have great friends, including a handful of very close friends who, although scattered across the country pursuing their careers, will always be there.
But now that I’ve picked up and moved to a different state and am not working, I find myself forming an unhealthy attachment to my cat and striking up inappropriately lengthy conversations with the grocery clerks. How in the world do you make new friends when you’re all grown up?
I visited Meetup.com (one of many sites of this type) to see what they have to offer. Meetup.com is a collection of groups that range from sporty (e.g., mountain biking) to religious (e.g., die-hard Catholics & loving it) to age-based (e.g., dirty 30s) and all sorts of combinations of those things. Depending on the size of the city you live in, there can be several hundreds of Meetup groups to choose from. In Albuquerque, there are about 150 groups and many of them can be classified as New Age. I am many things, but New Age isn’t one of them. So I scanned through the categories, then further whittled down the choices by scoping out the members and past events to get a sense of if the group was a good fit for me.
I’ve now joined five groups and have attended three events. I’ve met friendly people with whom I have much in common, and now my husband and I (he needs to meet new people, too) have two dinner invitations. Will the people I meet through these groups ever become as good of friends as my very closest? I doubt it. But that’s okay. I’m not looking for platonic soulmates; I’m looking for people to socialize with and break up the tedium of my domesticated life. If this sounds like something that might interest you, my advice is to not hesitate. Just close your eyes, take a deep breath, and smile! You’re making new friends.