Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…
Dear GWBW — How do you make friends in your 40’s? I am finding that sometimes old friends aren’t the best friends anymore (interests change, people move, get broken down by life, get absorbed in something else). I haven’t been great at continually adding to my network. How can I do this at my age and as a busy mom (I have mom friends, but I’d like my own too). — Midway Girlfriend
Dear Midway Girlfriend,
I totally getcha, Midway Girlfriend! Friendships are important to our happiness and health. If we’re lucky enough to see another cycle/stage of life, finding and making new friends can be a new challenge for some of us. Determine what sort of girlfriend you are. The best thing about making an effort to expand your social circle at this point in your life is that you have already tried a lot of relationships that didn’t work for you. Check! So no need to waste reaching out and hanging out with people you, eh, just sort of care about. That sounds quite clinical but as I can’t see how I’m wrong on this point, follow me…
I believe there is nothing more complex and nuanced than being a woman, but here I’m going to distill us down to the 2 Basic Girlfriend Types.
Group Huggers: Markers – These sisterly women enjoy the sorority of bonding and activities and the stress in effort in order to be social, of planning. And at bottom, the most identifying character of this species is the desire to belong to groups (often by interest type). Temperament – Some Group Huggers say they are comfortable alone, but really, most of them enjoy the feeling of belonging to something, and prefer the company of others — even if on the cellie while performing other functions (e.g., grocery shopping, driving, waiting for their order at Starbuck’s). There are so many opportunities for this Girlfriend Type to gather with likeminded girlfriends, and our society sanctions such gal pal bonding through its movie messages and propagation of Girl’s Night Out, girls days, etc. Ideas – Find new girlfriends if you are a Group Hugger by simply finding the group(s) that appeal to your interests, hobbies, and lifestyle. Try the gym, learn to knit, start a reading group or money/investment club, yoga or other physical activity, and if you are a competitive GH, try joining a team sport/league.
Solo Sammies: Markers – These often single-minded go-getters, or shy and interior women enjoy sisterhood best when sharing and exchanging ideas and activities that support this (e.g., coffee, cocktails), and the less planning the better and goes a long way with this Type towards feeling more legitimate and sincere (although impromptu get togethers often fall through, too). The SS very often is in a rush and if only to get to a home base to read or other activity…alone. What many SS focus on can be considered goal-oriented, i.e., children or work projects of improvements. Temperament – This BG Type’s bottom line characteristic is their sliding scale and avoidance of too much intimacy, aka to them as “clinginess.” The flip side of this coin is that it makes making the effort to bond more challenging. Ideas – Find and develop new girlfriends in many of the same ways/places as I suggest for the GH, but focus on the one-on-one chats, relationship building for more social satisfaction. Try this trick from my 5th grade days: choose and commit to a joint project with a new (or deepening) friend, and make sure it has elements that are to be passed back and forth to completion. Whether cooking, writing, or a community improvement project, you can satisfy your efficiency need to kill two birds with one stone.
Above all, as in “learning” anything new, practice makes perfect.
Dear Midway Girlfriend,
Making friends in your 40’s is about getting back out in the world—but in a way that really suits you NOW.
I just started making new friends after 3 years of self-imposed hibernation. After my last romantic failure, which was quickly followed by full friendship critical arrest (why do people take sides when they really have no clue what’s going on in someone else’s relationship?), I decided that PERHAPS, I needed to sort myself out before I jumped into more dysfunctional relationships. Good thing too!
Here’s what I learned:
1. I no longer want or expect to meet best friends in a bar or nightclub scene. In fact, the lack of discussion in these environments means the only time to go is with folks you REALLY want to hang with. There will be no long lasting relationships formed from meetings here, most likely. Not the place to go looking for friends or relationships.
2. Follow my interests. I really dig archery. Always have. Now, I’m beginning to meet other people who are into archery and you know what—we have something in common. We enjoy talking o each other and telling stories about places to shoot, clubs and worst shots on target ever taken. I genuinely enjoy and get excited when I get to hang with these people…and you know what, I think the feeling is mutual.
3. Do not expect to make deep, bonded, I’ll tell you everything friendships without some serious track record of time. Why? We’re in our 40’s. We don’t trust these folks who just walk into our lives saying, “I wanna be your friend.” We need time to develop a friendship. In other words, be open and available but too much information too soon can break a good friendship before it’s built a solid foundation. Go slow. No need for desperation.
4. Join groups and clubs that are doing fun activities that will get you out of the house. Whether it’s through meetup.com or evenetsandadventures, whatever, get out of the house and out of your rut and see what life has to offer. Maybe there’s a cruise on the Bay or a hiking trip. Doesn’t matter. If the activity sounds fun to you, go check it out. It opens up the possibilities of the world (and friendships) for you. Not to mention, harkens back to #2.
I wish you luck. Personally, I’m in the same boat. But I am nurturing some lovely new relationships and helping the healthy older relationships to grow. You have a lot to offer a friendship and the world has a lot to offer you.
Decide to take a bite out of life.
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