When I became a mom, I didn’t want to be away from my child and when I was, I experienced serious mom guilt. All of my old friendships began to dwindle away and any new friendships that I made didn’t last long.
As I became more confident as a mom, my desire to have friendships grew. I wanted to have girls’ nights, to call a friend when I was sad or frustrated or had a great idea, to have other people to laugh with, and to learn about people’s experiences.
So, I decided to do something that was really hard: I put myself out there and tried to make a new friend. I’ve spent the past few years making new friendships and rekindling old ones, and it has been amazing. In case you are anything like me, I want to give you some advice…some steps to make new friends and maintain your current friendships.
1. Find a Community of Like-Minded Women
Whether that’s here at Lansing Mom, at your child’s school or daycare, at a book club you find online, volunteering for a cause you care about, at your church, at a networking event for small businesses—just find somewhere to meet other women who may have common interests with you.
2. Say “Hi!”
Find someone who you think you would like to be friends with and start by saying “Hi.” It sounds simple, but putting yourself out there is not always easy. Introduce yourself or even give a compliment—anything to kick off a conversation.
Note: If you are awkward like me, embrace it! I often joke with people about my awkwardness (thanks Issa Rae for making it “cool” to be awkward). It’s a great icebreaker and typically makes people laugh.
3. Get to Know Them
Ask your potential friend (or even existing friend!) questions about who they are, where they’ve come from, how they see the world, what they like and dislike. Naturally, you should learn things like their favorite meal or where they like to do yoga, but I’m really talking about the things that make them cry or laugh or dream. This is an important step to find common ground and build bridges in areas that you may differ. Knowing these things about each other will support your friendship through hard times you might face together.
4. Check-In and Spend Quality Time Together
This may be difficult to do right now because of COVID-19, but time “together” needs to be a priority. Schedule a socially distanced girls’ night. FaceTime your friend while cooking dinner. Go for a bike ride together. When that mom guilt sneaks in, plan to hang out with your friend and your kids together! I mean…are playdates really just for the kids?
5. Be Real
Don’t be afraid to apologize when you are wrong. Discuss your weaknesses and work on improving in those areas. Be honest with your friend! For me, I struggle with texting back (especially quickly). By telling my new friends that, they know what to expect and not to take it personally. You don’t have to be perfect, but it says a lot about how much you value your friendships when you are clearly working on being a better friend. Also, be honest about when your feelings are hurt or you don’t like how something is handled. It isn’t healthy for your friendship to hold that in and it can build resentment.
6. Be Supportive
Celebrate their accomplishments, give them encouragement when needed, send them the tips for dealing with anxiety that you found on Instagram, pick them up off the floor. Whatever you can do to show that you love them—do it! Step in when you are needed. At the end of the day, this is what friendship is about. Certainly, the memories from that fun trip to Grand Rapids are amazing, but it’s the moments when your friend actually needs your support, and you’re there to offer it, that matter the most.
Elaine Welteroth wrote in her book More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say), “When women affirm women, it unlocks our power. It gives us permission to shine brighter.” This quote really struck me, and I can’t agree more. This is literally how I feel when I am building healthy and meaningful friendships. Having friends has inspired me, it’s created memories, it’s made me feel so supported. If you find friends like I have, I hope you have the same great experiences!