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Goldilocks where are you? Looking for Ms. ‘‘Just Right’’: Why does making friends past 30 seem so hard?

Posted by on August 30, 2013

Miranda Carrie Samantha & Charlotte in the Sex & The City Movie 2Back in the playground, in school and at university it just seemed so much easier. It helped we were all just thrown together in the same situations and somehow some of the friendships seemed to stick. Over the years some of these folks have faded into the memories of Good Times Past but some have endured the test of time to be firm well established friends (warm and familiar like an old loved sweater). A side effect of people being more mobile and transient these days is that most of us move about all over the place for jobs and opportunities, for new experiences and for love, so it’s rare to end up living in the same town where we grew up or where we went to college. As we move around and begin to settle our list of long distance friendships seems to grow and with it the relationships to maintain.

Although social media and email make it easier to keep in touch without the need for as many phone calls, it also means we’re less picky about who we stay ‘connected’ to and the natural shedding of past pals therefore takes a bit longer. With so many people to try and keep up with the more time it takes, and the less time there is to make new meaningful relationships closer to home. When you finally land in a place you want to settle it’s natural to want to make new local friends. Getting some new regular haunts, meeting acquaintances and (eventually) firm friends are all part of settling in and the cement around the foundations of the life that we build.

But how do you make friends in a new area after the age of 30, outside of work, and when you don’t have kids yet? It seems I’m not alone in pondering this conundrum. Rachel Bertshe has a whole blog and book dedicated to the elusive hunt for female friends – MWF Seeking BFF (Married White Female Seeks Best Friend Forever).

Blossom and Six from the 90s TV show BlossomIn my pre and early teens my favourite TV show was Blossom (1990 to 1995). For anyone that doesn’t remember Fridays at 6pm on C4 (you were seriously missing out), it starred Mayim Bialek (now a neuro-science nerd in Big Bang Theory) as sassy teenager Blossom, amidst her lovable but dysfunctional family and her best friend Six (“because that’s how many beers it took” Six explained her unusual name). Oh how I used to long for a best friend like Six. Someone who I could talk to about boys, share shoes with and invent stupid dances with (at 12 going on 16 there were ZERO boys to speak of, no decent shoes in my closet and any dancing was definitely limited to my bedroom, but still Blossom and Six made being fashionable teenagers look AWESOME).

On and off over the years I have had best friends like this, at school, at university… but, is it wrong to say at 33 I still want one now?! Someone you can shoot the breeze with, laugh your tits off with or just be quiet with and not have to fill the air waves for the sake of it. Someone who understands and encourages you, with shared passions and dreams, loves you at your best and can deal with you at your worst and laugh you out of a bad mood. Hmm, kind of sounds like what we look for, or hope to find, in a partner doesn’t it? And boy that takes time, effort and kissing A LOT of frogs. Finding that BFF sounds like it’s going to be HARD.

Ok, so let’s re-shift expectations. Finding Ms. ‘Just Right’ and then cultivating a relationship that turns into Blossom-esque BFFdom might take some time. But, in the meantime how do we find some potential Ms. ‘Might Be Just Rights?

Unless we chance upon a clone of ourselves (oh they would be so cool and witty wouldn’t they?), whoever we meet and become friends with is going to have a whole different set of interests and opinions to us, although hopefully share some too. Putting yourself into a situation where some of these interests might be more likely to overlap might increase the chances of meeting a good match and finding your Goldilocks.

So, where do you look for your Samantha, Carrie, Charlotte or Miranda:

1.       Well there’s the gym and exercise classes. If you love keeping fit then this is definitely where you will find some likeminded people. If, like me, you need a little more coaxing (from trying to squeeze your wobbly arse into your skinny jeans) to get you down the leisure centre, you’re not a natural yoga bunny and you balance your virtuous gym visit with a well-deserved bottle of Pinot, then you may find fitness fascists a tad boring. But it’s a start.

2.       Neighbours. If you live in a nice neighbourhood with fellow professionals or people in a similar demographic to you, chances are you have some friendly neighbours and here is a handy (very local) pool in which you could find a potential new friend.

3.       Clubs and groups. If you’ve got any hobbies you could find people with similar interests, or if you like a good book (or a good rant) you could join a book group?

4.       Get involved in the local community. Are there any community events going on where you could get involved or lend some of your skills or expertise to help out?

5.       Women’s Institute – there are around 6,600 WI clubs with some 210,000 members. It’s coming up to 100 years old but the outlook is fresh and modern with the aim being to provide women opportunities to learn new skills, take part in a variety of activities and to campaign on issues that matter to them and their communities. With a WI group in most areas and with it now attracting a wide variety of ages it’s got to be worth a try. Plus, it seems the meetings are one evening a month which should be easy enough to commit to for most people. I’m going to my first local meeting next week so watch this space…

The cast of Friends in that famous black & white poster over Manhatten

So when we put ourselves out there, a smile can turn into a hello, which can turn into some shared small talk that can turn into a conversation that can turn into number swapping… oh the etiquette minefield we enter here…

It’s like serial dating but without the clear guidelines. How forward should you be with swapping numbers or suggesting doing something together? After you’ve gone out for the first time, how do you know whether a ‘second date’ is on the cards? Which bits of yourself should you hide when being on your best behaviour? If you go for a drink how many glasses of wine is ok so that they don’t think you are a wino-holic?

WLTM likeminded female BFF with a wickedly GSOH.

Let the search commence!

This Blossom theme brings back some memories!

 

  • Stephanie

    Great post! I moved back to my home town recently partly because I was so lonely.

    I adored Blossom! I had forgotten about that show.

  • http://www.dawnofthedame.com/ The Dame

    Thanks Stephanie! I’m sure there a lot of us that feel my pain, and who can fail to LOVE Blossom?!
    Are you finding it easier now you are back in your home town?

  • Stephanie

    Much easier. I have family here and old school friends. I found it impossible in a town where I had no connections.

    And now I am stuck watching Blossom clips!

  • Orli, Just Breathe

    I was just talking to my husband about this issue the other night. We have moved so many places in the last 10 years that we have (almost) no friends left from our old lives, and none here in London. Between work, kids, marriage and moving, how can you make new friends? It is like dating, and it is tiring and tough and annoying, and full of uncertainties. It is a very hard question, and one I have no answer to.

    Oh and Blossom was my favourite show too!

    * Got here through the #MBPW

  • http://www.dawnofthedame.com/ The Dame

    It is SO time consuming, and this is the problem. When you are busy working, looking after your family and/ or trying to spend quality time with your partner, if you throw in some downtime and the odd bit of time for a few interests here and there – where is the time to commit to the search for new friends?
    It’s nice to have ‘couple’ friends who you can meet or have over for dinner, but then that’s double the trouble as both people in both couples need to like each other! Most of our ‘old long distance friends’ are couple friends (that we’ve kept hold of moving round over the 9 years we’ve been together) but to be honest it’s tiring trying to fit in the weekends to see them and I find it can detract from settling in locally. What would be nice is someone to have a cuppa tea with – more frequent less time intensive meet ups.
    Blossom was great! I’m pleased I’ve found some fellow Blossom fans!
    Do you find you meet people through your kids/ school etc?

  • http://www.dawnofthedame.com/ The Dame

    Good I’m pleased to hear that. For me all my friends and family are fairly spread out but I am lucky that me and my mum have ended up separately migrating to the same area and that we get on very well, so it feels like I’ve got some roots.
    I got a bit addicted to watching Blossom clips too the other day when I found the intro vid on here. I think I’d even go so far as to say I had forgotten just HOW good it was!

  • Sam

    This is SO true! I’m feeling a bit weird about the fact that you have
    sparked a nostalgia trip for me on the programme Blossom and I am nine
    years older than you!! When I was about your age I moved to a town where
    I knew no-one (with a boyfriend) and it was almost impossible to make
    friends or know where to begin! I was trying to sell Usborne Children’s
    books but I didn’t have any children so my attempts to infiltrate
    toddler groups just served to make me feel even more of an alien. Having
    moved to a different new town with a different boyfriend (now husband)
    and having kids I can confirm that having kids is a great (if drastic)
    way to meet new friends! Having said that I am still *super* jealous of
    one of the closest friends I’ve made this way and her (almost) exclusive
    relationship with her longstanding BFF (they both grew up in this area
    and went to school together and happen to have had a child at the same
    time). I also agree that its tricky to make ‘couple’ friends when you
    need the friend’s partner to warm to yours and vice versa. I can’t see
    that happening any time soon Lol!!
    BTW I found this post through the Britmums website MBPW – very forward thinking of you when you don’t have kids! X

  • http://www.dawnofthedame.com/ The Dame

    I’m glad I sparked a nostalgia trip for you! Maybe I was an early starter on Blossom then, she was my teen icon! Your friend’s relationship with her BFF does sound very enviable, I guess it’s like being sisters when you’ve known each other that long. Good timing on the kids too!
    I am really glad to hear that having kids is a good way to meet people, I’ve been hoping that will be the next good opportunity for me. Yes forward thinking being pre-kids and all, but I figured hopefully there would be some like minded women of a similar age who might be interested in my blog… plus I’m trying for a baby so who knows…! Thanks for your reply Sam :-)

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