Q: Last week you answered a question from a mother concerned about her daughter’s lack of friends. Well, I am actually writing because I wanted to know if you had any suggestions of how an adult woman could make more friends. I have a wonderful husband, six healthy children, and a good job. But, somehow when my children were younger, I lost touch with all of my good friends from growing up. I have plenty of women who I chat with, but only one or two friends who I really trust. Is it possible to make true friends later in life too?
A: Wow! You definitely have a lot on your plate – a household to run, six children, and a job. Even with this hustle and bustle, without close friends, you can still feel lonely. There are a lot of benefits to having close friends. Research shows that those with close friends live longer, are happier, and feel less stressed.
When still in school, it’s easier to make friends because you are forced into social situations. As an adult, making friends can be harder – especially because your life is busy. That being said, there are steps you can take toward making true friends even later in life.
Do what you love. If you love to read, walk, or knit, continue to do those activities. Except, instead of doing those by yourself, get other people involved. Organize a book club, find a walking partner, or join a knitting group. Any of those activities (and many others!) are great forums for discussion. If you keep doing what you love and involving others, chances are that you will meet someone who shares your passion.
Don’t be afraid of rejection. When trying to make new friends as an adult, you might feel that other people are not interested in getting to know you. It’s never comfortable to put yourself out there and have someone reject you. But, constantly remind yourself that you are a person of worth – you have a loving family and a full life. While being vulnerable is never fun, it is the only way that you will ever open yourself up to new friendships.
Put in what you want to get out. Once you find people that you are interested in being friends with, try reaching out a few times. By reaching out (a phone call, invitation to Shabbos lunch, or a request to run an errand together), you are letting the other person know that you are interested in her friendship. Pretty soon, she will be inviting you to her house.
Revive old friendships. Look through your address book for friends that you have lost touch with over the years. Is there anyone with whom you’d love to be in touch again? Call them up and invite them over with their children for a playdate. You might pick up right where you left off – and if you don’t – then all you lost was an afternoon.
You may have noticed that making new friends is often scary – you expose yourself to rejection when you try to befriend others. On the flip side, the rewards are plentiful: a longer, happier, and less stressed life. In the long run, I think it’s safe to say that it’s worth it!