The only constant is change. Life guarantees transitions. Often these transitions mean changes in your social group. There are times of in between with friendships, ones of substance and those more superficial, times when you have established close friendships and other times when you feel surrounded by acquaintances. It can feel like you don't have friends when your loved ones aren't in close proximity or when just making contact is difficult with family life.
I have moved a lot in Ontario and abroad, and each time I have had to cultivate new friendships and work through the awkward courting stage with new friends. Sometimes you just gel inexplicably and naturally with new people. You finish each other's sandwiches—anyone else got Frozen on a loop in their house? These connections often occur when you aren't necessarily needing it. It's like they always say for romantic relationships—you meet someone when you aren't looking!
Recently, a culmination of events have put some changes in my social situation. I live in a place where people are constantly moving, so, not surprisingly, I have had two sets of dear friends move far away in the last six months. The other change is in our family—we have had a baby. My children are five years apart, meaning even for friendships with the parents, I am in some new situations and I am back to baby groups after a significant hiatus. Many of the moms in attendance have smaller gaps between children, so their toddlers have initiated the introduction two years ago and now their new babies also keep them connected. The moms of my daughter's peers have mostly moved on from play group and school hour activities. As I am meeting new moms, I feel like I am having first dates to see if we click. Is it a match? Do we have enough in common if not speaking about our children? Will there be a second date?
Is is just like dating to meet new friends? And when you meet a potential, are you then nervously waiting to see if it will progress?
Perhaps you have to cover the bases. Maybe they are:
First base: seeking each other out at events, becoming Facebook friends, exchanging numbers.
Second base: making play dates.
Third base: doing something without the kids, likely in a group.
Home run: hanging out just the two of you sans kids, not feeling awkward and totally being yourself.
Let's be honest, this isn't University or the twenty-something years when being social was much of the focus. As a parent, it is difficult to find the energy to make new connections. Frankly, some invites for drinks out I receive with some ambivalence. I know I will enjoy it if I go, but it is hard when energy feels low or time seems in short supply and, sadly, most things are scheduled for after my bedtime these days.
Maybe you have relocated (the average Canadian will own 4.5 to 5.5 homes in their lifetime), had a baby, changed jobs, switched your child's school, gone through a separation or divorce where friends seemingly divided themselves into sides, etc. The reasons that have you starting afresh could be endless. I have had clients that have struggled to find their groove in new or different communities and groups. My advice is to hang in there—it will pass. I advise them to keep putting themselves out there, invest in making new connections, withstand the struggles brought with newness, and embrace the new possibilities. I wouldn't trade the many friends I am blessed with around the world, frankly, for the world, and if I hadn't been forced to make changes, I wouldn't have them. Risk, endure, invest, and great friends willing to round the bases will appear.
How have you made new friends in new situations?