Tuesday, September 20, 2011

On making friends

I belong to a very nice moms' group. I've met some great friends through activities with the group. Every mom I have met through the group has been very nice.

I preface with this information because I am always baffled by the occasional post on the message boards asking how to get to know other moms. Invariably, every couple of months, a new member will post that they are shy, that they don't know anyone, and that they feel uncomfortable going to a meetup because they don't know anyone. Sometimes they add that they are worried the group, which currently has 146 members, will be too cliquey and won't be welcoming to new members. And I shake my head.

This is what I would like to say to all those moms, and actually to anyone who is a new member of a group:

Most of us were shy when we started. I went to my first meetup in someone's house not knowing any of the other people who would be there. I met one of my best friends at that very first meetup. Did I have butterflies? Yep. Were my hands shaking as I rang the doorbell? You bet. Did I walk in that door and get to know the other moms and kids there? Absolutely.

The worst thing you can do is let fear keep you from making new friends.

As an adult, we all should have learned a long time ago that making friends takes a little work. You can't just expect someone to magically appear and bond. You have to reach out a little too. Will you click with every new person you meet? No. But you won't meet those great new people if you don't take the first step.

Put on your big girl panties (or whatever a suitable non-female-specific phrase would be) and do it. No one will bite. No one will laugh. If you mention that you are nervous because this is your first time there, you will probably hear stories of others' first times.

Not sure what to say? Want to stay in a corner hoping someone will come rescue you? Sometimes even with the best intentions, especially in public places, someone else may not realize you are waiting for an introduction. You might have to start a conversation yourself. Not sure what to say? Well, if we're in a group together, we must have something in common. That's a good place to start. Here's an example (with a fictional mom I'll call Jenny):

"Hi. My name is Meagan. Those two boys over there are mine."
"It's nice to meet you, Meagan. My name is Jenny. Mine are the girl in red (pointing) and the boy with the cape."
"He sure looks like he's having fun. How old are they?"
"Carrie is 4 and John is 2. How old are yours? Are they twins?"
"No, they are actually 3 and 4 1/2. But they are the same size. Everyone asks if they are twins."

See, the start of a conversation. It can continue on it's own from there or you can find another person to meet.

In my experience, there are a lot of moms in the group that I enjoy talking with. There are a few that I have become very good friends with and we get together for playdates outside the group. There are some I haven't met and some that I haven't talked much with. There are some that have infants that I don't have as much in common with but that doesn't mean I don't want to meet them or talk to them.

Maybe it's because we aren't in school where we have to sit in a room with the same 20 or 30 kids every day, but sometimes it seems like we've forgotten how to make friends and that we don't have to be friends with everyone. Maybe we need a little help. And so I will close by linking to this video from "The Big Bang Theory" where Sheldon discovers the Friendship Algorithm.


2 comments:

  1. Good point, Meagan. We're all so...closed off these days. This will help people. Go you.

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