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Why Can't I Make Any New Friends IRL?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I have a shameful secret to share. I have not made any new friends in more than four years. I am not talking about people with whom I am friendly and do stuff together on occasion. I have plenty of those. I am also not talking about my blogging buddies (Hi Alexia, Christa, Darcel, Kia, Kim #1 and #2, Krissy, Maureen, Nicole, Quiana!). See, I have tons of those and they are awesome girlfriends, but I only see them in the blogosphere.

I am talking about in real life, go grab lunch, talk on the phone about our problems, meet up at girls' night out, watch each others' kids in a pinch...FRIENDS. I don't have any of those and it is really starting to bug me. For the entire four years we lived in Dallas I didn't have a circle of female companions to hang out with, not like the group of ladies I called friends back in Atlanta. See what had happened was that I got pregnant almost immediately after we moved to Dallas in 2008.  I joined our neighborhood mommy group, but didn't like the clique-ishness. I tried other groups through MeetUp but didn't find a good fit and Mocha Moms activities were too far of a drive. So I just gave up and held out until we moved again.

credit: By John (originally posted to Flickr as Friends soundstage) [Public domain or CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Now I am in a new city and there are women everywhere ready for friending, but apparently I suck at it. I am quickly discovering that making friends with moms is like dating, you don't want to appear too eager. I tried making small talk with a nice mom at the park with a girl around Marlie's age. We exchanged hellos and I began the next sentence with, "we just moved here from Dallas." She suddenly made an excuse to leave. The woman literally leaped off the park bench, grabbed her daughter from the swing, and bolted like they were being chased by a zombie. I sat there alone on the bench and wondered if I had said something wrong. Then I realized she must have interpreted my introduction as a desperate cry for friendship. I feel like I am walking around town with a scarlet letter N for New Girl on my chest.

The last time I had to make friends, I was newly married and childless. It was so much easier back then because I didn't have to consider if we shared the same parenting values or whether our children would get along. I just don't know the rules for making friends with other moms. I know it's harder to socialize when you have little kids, so maybe I my expectations are too high. But I only need one or two fellow warrior moms. Women who want to swap parenting tips, babysitting, kid clothes and have potluck brunches. Is that too much to ask for? 


22 comments:

Suburban Style Challenge said...

I've had a hard time making friends before too... largely I think it stems from some trust issues and some bad experiences I had with previous friends (or, I suppose, "friends" would be more appropriate). Only recently have I made a bunch of new friends that I'm able to talk on the phone with and whatnot... though it's more like chatting on FB and texting nowadays LOL!

But I'm married without kids, and I think you're right... it's probably harder making friends when you have kids because you do have to consider all the stuff you mentioned.

Do you have your little on involved in any activities at all? My relatives who have kids have all met great people through things like dance class, baseball, and mom-and-me activities. Or what about joining a group that's not mom-centric, but instead focuses on something you like--like a book club for example? It could give you a little bit of time for yourself and you may meet women you get along with through there... and then thru them may meet more.

Hopefully it works out for you. I know what it's like to want to talk to someone so bad, but not have anyone to call :/

Lena & Alex said...

I think the older we get, the more picky we are about people. I had loads of friends when i was 20. Now? hmm... maybe few people. I am ok with it though, but know exactly what you are saying. Hugs

Help! Mama Remote... said...

OH MY GOSH!!!!!!!First of all the woman on the park bench. Maybe she's in a witness protection program. lol

But secondly, I FEEL THE SAME WAY!!!!!The only real life friends I have are those I knew from high school or met at church. However I haven't met a new friend since....i'm still thinking....since....

I have the hardest time connecting with people and when I do it doesn't last long. So, if I did meet somebody 15 years ago we're not connected now. I have had those situations too, where they're so us four and no more kind of ladies. I would love to have a girls night out, meet up at the park, swap babysitting for date nights, talk and laugh on the phone.

I do know that I'm very reserved. So reserved that my online friends are very few. However, I appreciate them so much because I learn and we get to share with each other.

Girl, what are we going to do?

Emily said...

You're not alone! I moved to our community when I was pregnant with my son. Many of the woman that live here have always lived here & have life long friends. It's very cliquey. I don't have the energy to put into it anymore.

I'm holding out for 2014 when my son starts Kindergarden - hopefully I'll meet some like-minded moms that aren't so rude/competitive/snotty/etc!

luvlymskrissy said...

Making friends SHOULD BE a natural and easy process. I find that I make friends real easy. I've met mom friends and non mom friends. My best advice would be to go to the the same places often and hang out. And then just be yourself. You're very friendly and personable and have a lovely spirit to it will happen organically.

And besides that, you're closer to ME now! lol

Jenna Wood said...

Wow- that's an awful reaction (park bench mother). I always enjoy talking to people, when they're friendly enough to strike up conversation. Otherwise I'm blunt enough to state I'm not interested in chatting at the time. I certainly empathize with you though, it seems much harder to make friends offline. People just seem more guarded, though they should be afraid of the people they can't see, online- not the people right in front of them!

Jeannette said...

The older you get the harder it is and the smaller the pool is. It seems like moms can only be friends with moms and non-moms can only be friends with non-moms. It's pretty sad that there are so many lines that keep us from connecting and human beings but that just seems to be the way it is. Know that you are not alone though - this mama struggles with it as well!

Kim @ What's That Smell? said...

I can count on one hand and have fingers left over the # of IRL friends I have that are local and do things with regularly.

I think I just don't have the energy LOL.

I'd be your IRL friend if I could!

Katy Rose said...

I think the lack of friends IRL has a little something to do with our time spent on the internet. It's like we forget how to interact normally or just hold a simple conversation and be polite. I can't believe that woman bolted on you!
To be honest, I'm moving to a new city at the end of the summer. It will be the 4th city in 8 years I've lived in, so I totally feel your pain. Making friends and connecting is so difficult. I like to celebrate the small victories and I figure even one genuine IRL friendship is better than many superficial ones. I try to stay focused on that.
Good luck. You'll find those friends and in the meantime you have all of us online cheering you on. - Katy

Harlem Lovebirds said...

The NYT just did a good article explaining this dynamic. You might like it although it doesn't offer any tips for making friends, but helped me understand this phenomenon: http://tinyurl.com/d9sg5j7

I've found great connections in my meet-up groups and through church. I hope you're able to find something that works for you in Cali!

LOVE MELISSA:) said...

Trust me. You are not alone. It is so hard making friends when you are married with kids. A lot of times, you end up being friends with your kids friends along the way. I can very much relate to this post. Have you tried a mommy group?

LOVE MELISSA:) said...

Trust me. You are not alone. It is so hard making friends when you are married with kids. A lot of times, you end up being friends with your kids friends along the way. I can very much relate to this post. Have you tried a mommy group?

Heavenly Savings said...

I understand greatly! Since moving to a new town 4 years ago I have not made any friends here. It is not that I don't try but to be honest I don't know where to go other then Church which is nice but each of us have family's and stuff going on. It is sad but that is just the way it is....

CinnyBBS said...

Awww....it's always hard making friends but you know as I grow older, I find that I stick to the "real" close friends that I have more and you kind of lose those that you just hung out with before. Not sure why... Good luck!
Whirlwind of Surprises

Mrs. Pancakes said...

Sorry to hear that...I was thinking that I needed to make some mommy friends too...not sure how to start the conversation. I would have thought meet ups were good...I'm sure you will find a group in the neighborhood soon!

Maureen Sklaroff said...

It's hard to make friends once you have kids. Even if you meet someone with a daughter that is Marlie's age, you still have to think of Desmond, who will be getting into thing soon. We have friends who have a daughter the same age as Little Miss, but they also have toddler twin boys, so that can't come over to our unbabyproofed house. Then as you mention there is the parenting style. It really does matter. The best place for me to meet other moms has been support groups. Yet, one of my new closest friends I met at the park in the rain. She is very extroverted, or else we wouldn't have connected. I guess she saw that we had to have something in common to be at the park in that type of weather! Meanwhile, my best friend's kids are almost grown and she is entering the workforce again and I worry that our friendship won't survive that... We'll drift apart. We both try really hard to keep our relationship alive, but we're both so busy. People in San Fransisco also are not as friendly/outgoing as people in Dallas, much less as people in Atlanta. Seattlites have a reputation for being standoffish, kind of like the British. It takes ten years before people will really consider you a friend.

Kristina (The Greening Of Westford) said...

I am right there with you! My kids are older (10, 8 and 8) and I still feel like I don't have any real friends in town. Sure there are plenty of women I know, chat with at school or run into around town, but rarely does my phone ring (or email ding) with a "hey, want to grab coffee?" Or even, do you and the kids want to come over. I see Moms I know posting photos of their kids and other families in town doing this or that together and I think "why aren't we invited?"

I now feel like it's starting to rub off on my kids. And I do not like that. In my case, I think I just need to take the plunge and invite other women out for coffee, over for the afternoon with their kids and hopefully they will reciprocate. I don't know, it is tougher when you are trying to make friends for yourself AND your children.

Good luck! If you figure anything out, please let us know!

BTW, LOVE the colors of your blog!!!!

bloggingwhilenursing said...

You are really not alone. I can count on one hand how many IRL friends I have that I do stuff with. Most of the time, it's texting instead of being on the phone (we're all too busy for that).

I would like to make more, but it's extremely hard. I still try, but you're right--you cannot come off as desperate.

The Redhead Riter said...

LOL No wonder we clicked from the beginning! I didn't know there was any such a thing as IRL friends! LOL ;o)~

Shai Smith said...

I had a really hard time making friends when I was a new mom because I was only 19. It didn't matter that I was married (before I got pregnant, even) - the girls my age were too busy having fun, and the moms were all much older. Now that I'm 27, I've somehow gathered lots of friends of all ages! I think I really just put on a smile and started helping people - I volunteered, alot, to get out of my house from time to time...and voila! I met lots and lots of people. Most of us do not share the same parenting values or world views, but I am very much an open-minded, everyone-is-equal type person so I just make it obvious that I respect their differing opinions and they, in turn, respect mine. ♥

Kim said...

On both my mat leaves I felt this way. Most of my old friends (pre kids)don't have children. And it seemed to me that everyone with kids already had a group of people they hang out with. Keep on trying my friend, you will find a friend or two you really click with. We'd be having coffee right this minute if we lived in the same town:)

Alexia said...

How did I miss this post when you wrote it?! Damn Mommy brain! I know just what you mean, cause we would be beasties IRL!

I struggled with this phenomenon for the past three years. At first I had ONE friend (who's daughter is C's BFF). And we are still very close cause we needed each other. I know you didn't have a good experience with Meetup in Texas but maybe try Oakland. The pool of folks may be better.

What about Le Leche League meetings? Or natural parenting groups? That's where I have finally found my tribe. It feels so good to have lots of ladies and kids to spend time with. Though honestly, my first is still my bestest :)

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