Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Finding Family Friends

I recently read a blog where the writer was bemoaning her lack of a social life since she moved to a new town. We've thought about moving before, and I realized it would be really hard to make friends, especially with other families, if we moved.

When we moved - as a young married couple - to Oklahoma, we had a hard time making new friends that we both liked. Eventually, I made friends at work with other people our age - one of whom was a married couple - and we hung out with my co-workers and their SOs. But it was tough going for about two years there.

Sometimes, too, I think we could use more family friends in our current town.

So, I thought I'd take a stab at brainstorming how to make new friends. Obviously, there's the old standbys, such as church, but not everybody goes to church or likes the people they find there. So...

1. Meetup.com. You can meet up with people who share your interests. I know in my area, stay at home moms and others have used Meetup to form play groups.

2. Organizing a group party for your child's X group - meaning, if your child plays soccer, organize a get-to-know-each-other party for the group. You can also do this for ballet classes, preschools, school classes, and so on.

3. Figure out where people that you liked in your old community hung out and try these locations in your new community.

This was something I did wrong in Oklahoma. I liked poetry, so we went to coffee shops and hung out. The thing is, while I enjoy a poetry reading, it turns out I don't enjoy the majority who frequent poetry readings. That's not to say I couldn't find someone I like, but it's not, apparently, my target friend demographic.

I should have thought about where I'd hang out with my friends from home and then visited similar places in Oklahoma.

For instance, I still keep in touch with my college friends, many of whom are now college professors. To meet my friends now, I would need to go where they hang out. I don't teach college, but I could go to work at a university, take a few classes, join the gym where they take their kids to swim, or move near the university. Or, I might find out where college professors tend to send their children to school or which preschool is known for attracting this crowd and enroll my child there. Most likely, you could find this out by doing a few keyword searches or asking around.

I also tend to like journalist, though they're often a bit...err...self-destructive for family life.

4. Forget about it. Instead of worrying about finding new friends, hit the road on the weekends and spend as much time as you can exploring the regional sites. This is actually how we spent a lot of our time in Oklahoma, and it was actually very rewarding. As a result, I don't feel like I ever need to go back. I'm pretty sure I saw everything I wanted to see while we were there. (Though, I do want to go back and see the bombing memorial.)

The hard part, of course, isn't meeting people, but moving on to the next step where you can do things together. I have a friend who excels at this. I'm not 100 percent sure what she does, but mostly I've noticed she invites people over for dinner, invite people she's just met over for parties, even birthday parties, or on family outings.

She also never turns down an invitation - even, I've noticed, if that person had to invite them, such as when there's a professional relationship that requires it. Many of us would excuse ourselves, feeling we really don't know the person well enough or telling ourselves it's a social formality, not a real invitation. Not her.

In short, she ignores a lot of the boundaries that, for most of us, separate people we've just met from friends and family. It's not the safest advice, but it works for her. She makes all kinds of friends wherever she goes.

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Anonymous JHS said...

Goes to show that we all have to make our own way in the world, doesn't it?

Thanks for contributing this post to this week’s Carnival of Family Life, hosted at Modern Sage — Practical Living Blog. The Carnival will be live tomorrow, so please stop by and peruse all of the wonderful
articles submitted this week!

10:47 PM  
Anonymous HowToMe said...

We've moved A LOT! I agree that getting to know people at church, etc.. and inviting them for dinner, cards, etc. is an awesome way to make friends. I loved your ideas of thinking of places people we enjoyed before would hang out. Good one! I'll have to think on that.

One of the fastest ways I found friends was to get a job :) After kids, I decided to stay at home... that left, meet as many neighbors as possible :)

For families with kids, libraries often have "story time" once a week. If you happen to be in an area with more than one library, there will probably be a different story day per library.

Last (then I'll cut it out), I really appreciated a segment of Mr. Fred Roger's biography. He was comforting a lady who had moved. He said just like transplanted trees often require a 3 year period to really be nurtured in their new soil, people often need time and patience to adjust to their new surroundings. Now if we can just stay put for the 3 years, that'd be great! ;-)

Thank you for this nice post.
Kind Regards.

(seen in Carnival of Family Life)

1:30 PM  
Anonymous babs m said...

Taking classes too, gives you a chance to meet folk-- if the Art Museum has ceramics classes, or maybe take a couples' ballroom dance class, something that you'll enjoy yourself anyway, but may be able to make friends who enjoy doing the same things you do.

8:08 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

It is so hard to make friends as an adult...you can't just walk up to someone like you did when you were a kindergartener and say, "Wanna be my friend?" or else you would be looked at like a freak! I've lived in the same area for quite some time now, and I only recently made a friend--the mother of my son's friend. So I guess that is an avenue to pursue--see if you can get along with the parents of your kids' friends...

7:06 PM  

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