Yes, the rumors are true; it’s hella difficult to make adult female friends.
I know, I know.
As a grown adult, this sounds crazy considering we have been taught how to socialize and make friends literally since kindergarten. We were all forced in a room and told to choose a desk and say hello to whoever was sitting next to us. From there, we were told to invite friends over for snacks and playtime and sleepovers. If we didn’t move across the country at some point or the other, we continued these friendships through dance classes, drivers licenses, dingy dorms, and maybe even through our first jobs.
But while Hollywood likes to highlight these idyllic friendships over and over again with montages of cheesy music – in real life – this is actually pretty rare.
While a good number of us are still tight with our high school buds, plenty of us didn’t form the bonds we anticipated. And even if we did, life still has a way of pulling people apart.
I personally didn’t have enough time.
I got four years with my high school friends while they had all been friends since the second grade. And while I had a blast in high school and definitely enjoyed myself – I could never compete.
In fact, this has been the theme of my life. Moving states a couples of times didn’t cement the childhood friendships a lot of people talk about. I have to admit, it still stings every time I see my old crews (multiple) on Facebook still attached at the hip a decade-plus later. While I was off trying to create a new group of friends to hang out with somewhere else, they were continuing to nurture their longstanding bond.
And thus, the pattern continued. In hindsight, I think I got so used to packing up after four years or so that I got restless after being somewhere for too long. I’ve ping-ponged back and forth between Texas cities every few years and then not too long ago decided to sling shot myself off to the coast. Let me tell you – these moves are not conducive to consistent relationships.
I know not everyone has this issue with moving around, but that still doesn’t exclude them from this problem. I’ve found that those who DID get enough time in one place to make buds for life didn’t anticipate the upkeep it took to nurture them past graduation. Distance can be a slow poison for friendships. Over time, if not kept in check, it will erode the bond away until hardly anything is left.
Which leaves us here. Stuck, isolated, and lonely, wondering how the hell we ended up at age 26 without a group of friends.
I get emails almost every day about this. So I can fully promise you that you aren’t alone. I’m dealing with it, and pretty much every other girl within the Blush community has, too. It’s a massive problem that I’ve shied away from writing about because quite frankly, I didn’t think I was an expert in this space. This has been a huge struggle for me (and still is). But you know what? Someone has to talk about it. We have to be open and honest about the fact that making female friendships as adults is really f*&#^@$ hard. And that doesn’t mean you’re a loser.
Nowadays, it means you’re normal.
So let’s talk about some tips on how to make adult female friends. Here’s what’s worked for me and my clients so far:
1. KEEP UP WITH A FEW OLD FRIENDS
I know, this seems counterintuitive. The whole point of this blog is to make NEW friends, not keep up with OLD friends. Thanks for nothing, Kali.
Yes, yes I knowwwww. But hear me out.
Keeping a few solid connections with older friends is going to give you more confidence to reach out to new friends.
If you are completely isolated in a vacuum, you’re going to forget how great of a friend you are to others, and take yourself out of race before you’ve even entered the gate.
You need these happy memories and words of affirmation to keep you afloat. Old friends can provide that.
If you’ve read my book, I talk a lot about “Finding Your Caroline” and what all of that entails. I firmly believe in the importance of having that one anchored friend who is your ride or die. But as you know, mine happens to live in San Antonio, about 2,000 miles away from me. So I have no choice but to find new friends if I want weekend plans from time to time. But Caroline has been a crazy strong source of confidence so I can reach out and attract great local friends. It’s been invaluable to say the least!
The focus here is to emphasize to yourself that you have a lot to offer to other people. You are worthy of making new friends. So please remind yourself that you are NOT alone, you’re just far away. Friends scatter across the country all the time and that’s part of life. But hang onto one or two of them to keep your friendship confidence at a healthy level.
2. ASK OTHERS FOR HELP
Personally, I have found this to be one of the best ways to create new female friendships. Instead of doing my own awkward, icky, vulnerable, uncomfortable dirty work – I pass it off to others.
Yep. The epitome of laziness (and efficiency!).
If you do not ask people to help set you up with other awesome women, it makes it a hell of a lot harder to find them.
And what better way than to ask people you already trust?
When I moved to Los Angeles, I seriously almost only knew guys. Story of my life. I’ve always had an affinity for male friendships.
Anywho, while the male gender can offer some much-needed companionship, I have to admit that I’m not fully a “guys’ girl.” There are just some things we need a girlfriend for, and no matter how sweet a guy is, they ain’t going to cut it.
So there I was, brand new to one of the largest cities in the world, and found myself in the comfort of boys, boys, boys. So I turned to almost all of them at some point or another and said, “Don’t you know any girls I could be friends with?”
And lo and behold, they did.
I met my bff Ali (Yes, Ali and Kali – #meanttobe) because she dates (and is now engaged to) a mutual friend from college, who also happens to be kewl.
I met my friend Sammy because as a co-founder of a fitness app, she did a work out thing at my boyfriend’s place of work. So he set us up because she’s kewl.
I met my friend Nikki because she also works at my boyfriend’s work. He met her, decided she was too kewl for him, and gave her to me. Thanks!
I met my friends Teal + Blaine because my soon to be cousin knew Blaine in Texas and decided we should be bffs. I took them both because I’m greedy and they’re kewl.
Sense a pattern here?
None of these friendships were created because I went to a networking event alone and “put myself out there.” None of them were created because I hung out at a coffee shop alone just hoping someone would talk to me. Nope. Instead they were all curated for me because I got over my pride and asked people for friends. And it worked.
These girls are gems. And I know that not only because I have excellent taste (lol) but because they were already vetted by people I trust. The best luck you are going to have making friendships as an adult is through MUTUAL FRIENDS. It’s your key to everything. Yes, it’s a little awkward at first, and you have to swallow your pride by admitting you’re somewhat lonely, but once you can get past that hurdle, Ali/Sammy/Blaine/Nikki/Teal are going to come to your rescue.
3. REACH OUT TO LOOSE CONNECTIONS (EVEN IF IT’S AWKWARD)
If you think about the reason people become friends in the first place, it’s usually because of a mutual establishment. They went to the same school. They worked at the same place. They were in the same club. They lived in the same neighborhood. There’s usually some sort of connection that holds two people together, because it gives them a commonality to discuss.
So, whenever you are feeling really down, lonely, or stuck – think about the different establishments you’ve been a part of. More than likely, there’s an alum group for your university wherever you are. Maybe you joined clubs in high school or college and there’s a similar one in your area. And, one REALLY nice thing about moving around a lot, is that you’ve probably been a member of lots of establishments over your lifetime. So do some research and see if there’s anyone living by you who was also part of them as well.
These don’t have to be super close friends. In fact, sometimes this might feel like a huge stretch. But it’s worked really well for me, and I think it’s worth a shot.
For example, before I had even moved to Los Angeles, Andrew very strongly encouraged me to reach out to literally ANYBODY I semi-knew who was currently living there. Even people I hadn’t spoken to in years. I found that proposition to be very uncomfortable, but decided he was right so I did it anyway. I Facebook messaged – not even texted (didn’t have their numbers, yo) – at least a handful of people to see if they would be in town the weekend we were visiting to scope out our future home.
Not going to lie, the response rate was not stellar. Still waiting on a few to get back to me three years later, actually. But regardless, it doesn’t even matter.
Because one girl did respond.
And not only did she respond, but she met us for dinner that very weekend AND we are still close friends to this day. Allegra (isn’t that name bomb?) has been a constant source of support, knowledge, laughs, and companionship ever since I arrived here. And we probably wouldn’t be that close if I hadn’t reached out, because we weren’t ever close to begin with! She was a year younger than me in our sorority and we probably only exchanged a few words to each other every semester while we were both in school! But we had that establishment in common, which meant we had people in common and a culture in common. We understand a snapshot of each others’ lives very well, and it gave us a platform to work off of. Now we don’t really even talk about our sorority or college life. We’ve evolved past it. But we definitely needed it in the beginning to strengthen our friendship sea legs.
So whenever you can, think about the loose connections you may have running around the town. While Allegra was not a crazy stretch for me (she’s like, the nicest person ever), some really might be out of your comfort zone. That’s ok. Just don’t feel ashamed for even considering it (isn’t there anyone else???). That’s where the gems are. If you’re *really* feeling uneasy, loop in a mutual friend to coordinate a re-introduction. Just whatever you do, don’t ignore those connections. They really could end up being lifesavers 🙂
4. OK, GO TO THOSE EVENTS
So as you can see, I’m not a huge fan of networking or socializing with strangers. It’s definitely the introvert in me, and it might even be my age. I’m not sure. But I can’t deny that attending some of these meet-ups or events have some strong upside to them and definitely could be worth it. So keep these things in mind…
A) Make sure the general theme of the event is one that you are actually interested in. Find the commonality. For example, if you’re a big Dallas Cowboys fan, do some research and find out which restaurants or bars show all of the games. Watching the game outside of your apartment and with a bunch of other Cowboys fans will inevitably lead to a few fun conversations, and maybe even a lasting friendship. Going to just a general “new to the city” or “women who work” network doesn’t hold a lot of promise for finding things in common other than your zip code. Focus on the theme of the event and you will most likely have a higher success rate.
B) Bring a friend if you can. I know the point is to find new friends, so more than likely you don’t have a solid human reserve to tap into, but try your hardest to make something happen. Showing up alone can be so intimidating and it might suck the fun out of it. Now, if you’re totally fine with going alone, then that’s incredible and you don’t need to waste time grasping straws. But if you are freaked out by the idea of showing up by yourself, make someone go with you so you can at least have a home base while you try to mingle with potential new besties.
C) It’s all in the followup. If you meet someone cool at the event, exchange numbers right then and there. Shoot a “Hi it’s Kali by my friend!” text (my actual signature move) and follow up the next day to get something on the calendar. Momentum is KEY to establishing friendships and you don’t want one or both of you to drop the ball. You may feel desperate or clingy, but a momentary feeling of desperation is better than a month of loneliness! Suck it up and close the deal!
And last but not least, please remember you are not in this alone.
Chances are the other girls attending the networking event or meeting you for happy hour this evening are also gladly accepting new applications for friends, and they might be as lonely as you are. We are all craving connection, and there simply can’t be too much of it. So remind yourself again that you have plenty to offer, and go have some fun.