WT 049: How Do I Build Friends as an Adult?

by Karen Stubbs | Birds on a Wire

Everyone wants to be known and loved, and friendships are one way to have that kind of relationship. But building friendships as an adult can often be more difficult than it seems. In today’s episode, Karen takes on some of those challenges, from creating new friendships to maintaining old ones. These practical tips can help you find ways to expand the number and deepen the quality of your relationships.
Join a group of women looking to make connections as moms! Mark your calendar for the Soar conference, October 27th – 28th in Alpharetta, GA. Join the Soar mailing list to stay up-to-date on when tickets go on sale and receive a free audio download of Karen’s mainstage talk from Soar 2016.
Question 1: Hi Karen, I know that you moved a couple of times as a new mom for Greg’s job. I am a military wife as well and move often. Each time we move, it takes me a while to find and build meaningful friendships as a busy mom. What were some of the ways you got to know the other moms in your area?

Karen’s Answer:

Moving is hard and developing friends can be even harder. Some places you move to you feel an instant connection and other places it just takes time to find your people. I think you just have to push yourself to get involved, even though that can be very uncomfortable. Let’s face it: none of us want to be rejected, and it can feel like rejection sometimes with women.

I experienced this even when I didn’t move, but would change schools or ball teams or whatever. I hate feeling like everyone knows everyone and I’m the only one left out. So high school-ish but so real all at the same time. What I’ve tried to do is ask questions to the person I’m trying to get to know, such as, “How many children do you have? What are their ages? Do you work? What do you do? How long have you been at this school? What do you love about it? Any tips for this newcomer?” I’ve learned over the years that people love to talk about themselves. Once I ask the questions, I listen and try to find common ground that I can build on.

It’s also helpful to realize not everyone is your people. That’s okay! You can always learn and grow where you are planted. I encourage you to join a mom’s group or start your own. Also check out Maybe Lysa Turkherst’s new book: Uninvited.

Branch out and be bold. What do you have to lose? Pray that God will send you a friend. I’ve prayed throughout my whole life for God to send me one like-minded friend. Sometimes those friends come in the strangest ways. God sent one of my best friends through work – she was my secretary. Another best friend came in a young newly married girl, who was my leader at a local Bible study. Both these women were from very different backgrounds than me; one was 10 years older and the other was probably 15 years younger, but I love them both dearly to this day! Hey Jackie and Tricia!!!

Question 2:  Karen, thank you so much for the podcast each week. I was wondering if you have any advice on how to maintain relationships with my pre-baby friends? They love me and they love my kids, and I love them, but I have not been a great friend since getting busy with my kids. Any advice you have would be great.

Karen’s Answer:

If they love you they will understand. Remember this is just a season. But, my suggestion is to get a sitter, and go have a girls night out at least once a quarter to stay in their lives. Or invite them over to your house to hang out. Let them “see” your world a little bit!

Back in the day when I had little ones and I felt that tug of friends slipping away, I would pick up the phone just to say “hi”, or I’d drop them a card in the mail letting them know I was still alive and hadn’t dropped off the face of the earth. Little things like that go a long way.

Reach out to this friend via text, snap chat, email, snail mail, phone this week!!! Get a date on the calendar of when you are going to meet up.

Question 3: Karen, what are some ways you got moms to open up in those early Birds on a Wire groups? I am a leader of a small group of women at church and while everyone is friendly, we collectively struggle to go deep. I know that not being vulnerable keeps us from a deeper level of friendship… that I so desperately need, which is why I volunteered to lead the group in the first place. Did you have any ice breakers? Games? Would love any advice.

Karen’s Answer

Great question!!! I love it! Honestly, I found that if I was transparent – not just giving the church answer, but being real – the ladies in the group followed. By being real, don’t be negative, that is not good for anyone. I tried not to bash Greg all night, or complain, but to say, I’m struggling with Greg’s travel, does anyone have any tips? Or this has been a lonely week for me, what do you when you are lonely?

Being real can be scary, especially if you are the leader, but go for it. For instance, one night Taylor had a bookshelf that crashed 30 min before the ladies walked in the door. Taylor is my collector, and had collected Coke bottles/cans from all over the world that Greg would bring back to him. You guessed it, the bookshelf was holding all those Coke products and when it crashed, Coke spewed everywhere! It was a royal mess. I cleaned it up the best I could, but when the moms got to my house, everyone had to walk by his room in the basement, I said, “This has been my day, what has your day looked like before getting here?”

Practice being transparent with your group. For an additional resource, check out Wire Talk Live episode 22: How Do I Stop Comparing Myself to Other Moms.

Question 4: Karen, the other moms in my son’s kindergarten class are cliquey. I know it sounds like a cliché, but it’s true. I don’t necessarily care about being in their group, but I do feel like not being friends with them keeps my son from getting invited to birthday parties or playdates. How should I approach them to start a friendship? Or should I even try at all?

Karen’s Answer:

Hmm, should you try at all? I guess that depends on you, IF you want to try. I’ve been where you are, and I’ve examined the group and thought to myself it’s not worth the effort, and other times, I’ve decided to jump in. The good news is you have a boy, and a lot of the times boys don’t seem to notice or care that they weren’t invited. I know that is so strange, but that is the way Taylor was. I tried not to project my hurt feelings for him, onto him.

Like I said, sometimes I made an effort and other times I didn’t. Sometimes I made an effort and I was not getting in, no matter what! For those groups, I was just like, who cares? I’ve been through high school and don’t really want to go back. But, it does stink!

Develop thick skin, this is just kindergarten, you are going to need it in the long run! I’m not being silly either, I’m serious. It’s hard developing thick skin, but you will be a better mom when you do.

Resources Mentioned in this Episode:

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