Sunday, November 19, 2017

How to Make Friends as an Adult, Part 4: The Tale of Four Friends

All this time, I've proclaimed the wonders of the Friendship Funnel and how great the method has worked for meeting people and making new friends. Today's where the rubber meets the road. Let me tell you about four different friendships in my life and what it really looks like to put these relationship tools into practice.

3 Decades and Counting

Technically I met my best friend at age three, so this counts more as a childhood friendship. However, in adulthood we went to colleges 800+ miles apart, started our first professional jobs in the same city, and then split up once more a couple of years after getting married. And most likely, I'll never live in the same state as her again.

So why is she still my BFF to this day? I can't remember who started it, but in college we decided to become accountability partners in our walks with Christ. Ever since then, we've maintained a weekly call, hangout, or video chat to ask how the other is doing and pray for one another. The funny thing is that we rarely text or call each other between our scheduled meetings, but she absolutely is that steady rock I know I can count on, no matter how many years pass or miles increase between us. And that indeed is a rare, once-on-a-lifetime friendship that I'll probably never be able to recreate.

belly shot of a pregnant married woman in a long-sleeve red dress
Yes, I totally ask my BFF to stand up for the webcam so I can see how her belly is coming along. Just a part of having a long-distance relationship!

Mismatched Expectations

During our "married without kids" season, we naturally hung out with a lot of other couples in the same life stage. One of the women really sought me out for one-on-one hangouts, and we quickly connected over tea and cats. Unfortunately, she wanted our relationship to go much deeper at a faster rate than I was comfortable with. A good heart-to-heart every once in a while is normal, but when every meeting becomes a soul-bearing session where you have to play the counselor... it becomes very draining. Healthy friendships are a two-way street where both people give and take, and I felt like I was unable to give her the emotional support she needed. And I didn't require as much emotional support as she was willing to offer. A mismatch in friendship needs, if you will.

Eventually Mr. Gamer and I moved states, and I gradually let the distance, both physically and relationally, grow between us. At one point, the woman did ask me why I didn't want to keep in touch with her as much anymore, and I told her truthfully that I wanted to focus on making friends in my new hometown. In hindsight, I wish I had the courage to tell her the whole story, so she could learn and grow from our relationship.

Don't Discount the Quiet Ones

After moving, we eventually found a church to attend with a Bible study for married couples with young kids. I felt an immediate connection with one of the women there, but she seemed rather... quiet and shy. Like, to the point where I had no idea if she thought I might be a potential friend too. We did this dance for several months, kinda clicking but then never really spending time together outside of church.

I think our friendship would have forever failed to launch if she hadn't randomly asked me to teach her 7-year-old daughter how to knit. We would get together once a week (see what I mean about consistent one-on-one meetings?), and I would instruct both her and her kiddo. Eventually her daughter got tired of the craft, and then it seemed like our friendship would fizzle out now that our excuse to hangout regularly had disappeared. Luckily, my friend told me about her bucket list to run a 5K race, and I jumped at the chance to train with her. So we moved from being crafting buddies to workout partners, which is a much better match. We both need motivation to keep in shape, so our get-togethers every two or three weeks usually involve taking a long walk and chatting about life, family, and Jesus.

A Work in Progress

My final story involves a current work-in-progress relationship. I've been on the hunt for playdate buddies for my kindergarten-age son, and I found a classmate whose mom is easy to talk to. We set up a low-key first playdate at an indoor playground and it went swimmingly, especially with our youngest children being around the same age. I approached the mom for a second playdate a few weeks later, and it was also a success. I found out she likes to crochet, so maybe after Thanksgiving is over, I'll see if she'd be interested in hanging out sans kids for a craft night over a pot of tea. Just taking it slowly with low expectations, so we'll see what comes of it!

black teacup and teapot, backlit by strings of lights
All my friends must love tea! (Just kidding, but it's a bonus. ^_~)

Well, I hope you enjoyed this series on making friends in adulthood. I'm by no means an expert and am still learning how to be a better friend to others, but I've found these basic techniques for developing new relationships to be tried and true. Best of luck with your current and future friendships, and send me a comment if I can be of any help!

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