Finding your circle of real friends is shrinking?
A little while ago I wrote a story about the new friends that have come into my life in the last few years and I've had a really interesting response to it, the most unexpected (but probably logical) has been the question of 'how to make new friends in the first place?'.
In my replies to these emails I haven't had a simple answer and the question has had me thinking about my own experience.
There hasn't been one single action that has resulted in me being able to make new friends with people I find authentic, caring, intelligent and fun. It has really been about an attitude shift and doing some things differently.
And I think that has come from maturity, feeling more secure and comfortable within myself and living long enough to experience this.
I also got to see the best of people when my sister was ill and then passed away. Of course, as a family we experienced those who couldn't handle what was happening and left our lives but that was always a bit of a relief; why keep people who are only fair weather friends when there are so many authentic friends who stick by you?
I came through that period of life with a lot of faith in people, I learnt that there is a lot more good in the world than bad and this has only been reinforced over the years.
So what was the attitude shift I went through? It was one of giving time and space to people who look like they might make for an interesting new friend. It was about trusting in myself and the universe that good would come from it.
Looking back now I can see I was also thinking that nothing else can hurt as much as what we had been through in the family. OK, I might be disappointed by some individuals if things didn't work out but that's just part of life.
When I started being open to forming new friendships I started seeing the other person for themselves, rather than me projecting my thoughts and ideas onto them. There have been times when I've been fascinated by the ways and thinking of a new friend, even after we have been friends for nearly 10 years. I think it is to do with picking some people who are so very different to me in many ways yet having enough in common that conversation is easy.
While attitude is key so is taking action and being in places where you can meet new people.
6 Places Where I Made New Friends
Here are six places I've met new people who have become good friends:
- At a local market I got talking with a lady who is also a maker like myself and we realised our PO Boxes are at the same location so we set a time to have a pot of tea while getting our post.
- Over the phone when I was organising the financing of my car. We talked for a few years like this until we made a time for lunch and we haven't stopped talking and laughing.
- At a craft fair where I fell in love with her paintings and got talking with her over a couple of years and then bumped in to at another market and we had dinner at the end of the day.
- Going to my local pottery studio to make my porcelain jewellery out of the general conversation with everyone else in the space a friendship grew with one of the younger potters. I now work out of his studio and we share business and creative interests.
- Attending a business skills presentation and then writing a story about the keynote presenter. I shared the story with her and over a few months we talked more and more.
- Running seminars and workshops myself at my pop up small business centre I formed a handful of good business friendships with people who were so generous as to present for me.
These are all activities that I was doing myself. We all have different things that we are interested in and spend time doing. Mine just reflect what I do.
What I have found to work for me is giving things time. Let the friendship evolve and be open to making room for it. Getting to know someone in a relationship was once explained to me to be like an onion, as you slowly peel back the layers, one by lone you learn more about the inner life of another, hopefully without the tears!
10 Ways to Meet New Friends
Need some ideas where you can meet like minded people? Try these 10 ideas:
- Meet ups - these are fun, topic of interest specific so you'll meet people with some shared interests to make the initial conversations easy.
- Evening college classes - I use to do these before I had two businesses and found them really good for meeting new people and growing at the same time.
- Amateur theatre - I did this to get over an ex boyfriend and ended up becoming great friends with my director and was bridesmaid at her wedding and God mother to her oldest.
- Craft groups - they are so many different groups from quilting to work working to scrap booking and everything in between. You're regularly working together for a couple hours and conversations just flow.
- Landcare groups - being out doing something consistently good for the environment with other locals and having a good old chat while being active.
- Sporting teams - great for those who love group sports the social life connected to a team is a powerful reason for getting involved.
- Volunteering - always an obvious one as it's community based and with kind hearted people. It's social and doing good.
- Bush walking groups - have an adventure, be social and healthy.
- Art classes - letting your creative spirit come out and shine, time to work together with other generous hearted and creative people and feeling good.
- Package holidays - getting out and seeing the world by plane or boat, time to talk while exploring parts of your own country or one beyond the waves.
Making new friends can be one of the easiest things in life and yet one of the most daunting. My advice is to give yourself the space and opportunity to let it happen.
For me, letting friendships develop slowly and organically while also being active has worked well. It can be a bit of a balancing act at times and you can find that different people have different contact frequencies - some like daily or weekly contact while others feel that catching up monthly is best.
Get out there, involved and willing to have a good natter with someone else. You have two ears and one mouth, use them in that proportion with an open mind and heart and you'll be delighted with the results.
If you're working with goals in your life maybe consider having the goal of being involved, present and open to new people rather than making x number of friends. Remember, it's the quality of friendship rather than the quantity of friends that matters.