How do you make friends as a grown up?
Do you ever stop to think about how you first became friends with someone?
The kids you knew from childhood are pretty easy – you probably had to sit next to them on the carpet. Or their surname was before or after yours in the alphabet. You walked the same way to or from school. You played in the same weekend sports team. Or you were just at that age where it was perfectly acceptable to say to someone ‘will you be my friend?’.
And your work friends are probably even simpler. When you spend eight hours a day in the company of someone, it’s pretty hard to entirely dislike them – not impossible, mind – but they do have to be a massive douche bag for you to be able to spend so much time around someone and STILL want to poke them in the eyeballs with something sharp.
I’m talking about friends that you make outside of school and work – friends that you do stuff with. Through choice. These are what me and my best friend group affectionately call ‘WTF you have OTHER friends?’.
I ask this because I’ve just come back from a bit of a whirlwind two weeks – hence the stone cold silence on the posting front.
We spent three days in Washington DC over Thanksgiving with – you guessed it – friends. And actually we were incredibly creative and called it Friendsgiving.
Our friends who live in DC are our American very BFFs, and I remember exactly how we met them as it was only in June this year. Mr M and I were in Barcelona for the grand total of 32 hours. We started chatting to these guys at our hotel bar and proceeded to spend 15 of those 32 hours getting pretty plastered with them. When we moved to NJ, they came into NYC for a work trip and so we met them in the city and proceeded to spend another 12 hours getting plastered with them. Which clearly lays the foundations of a blimming fantastic friendship as they invited us to spend Friendsgiving with them and we now couldn’t imagine not knowing them.
To caveat the above, my husband and I hate making friends – we’re incredibly anti-social and would rather set fire to ourselves then have to be nice to people we don’t know. Apparently, so do our DC friends. So how come we clicked?
*Cue eye-rolling/gagging/shaking of heads*
I massively believe in soulmates.
This is one of those beliefs that truly makes me happy when I think about it. I am head over heels in love with the idea that in this big old world of people, somewhere there is someone (or two, or three, or fifty) that you are destined to meet and become friends with. And that no matter where you are, where you live, how old you are, what your family make up is; you will meet this someone (or two, or three, or fifty). And that you may even have met them in passing, and not known that someday this person will know every last thing about you.
In my oldest best friend group (five of us – like the Spice Girls) we have been friends as a group for about 20 years. We’ve been best friends since the day we were born.
Since the day after.
We became best friends some time after being born.
It quite simply astounds me that I have known someone, other than my mum, for 20 years – most likely because I still consider myself to be somewhere in the 21 years old region. Joke. I wish. Anyway. We all met through school – obviously – and became friends in that way you do just because you have the same taste in music, you’re equally crap at sports, you all hate the same person – you get my gist. A solid basis for a 20 year friendship.
My other two best friends are newer and I met both through boyfriends. And what I love most about this is that when you first meet one of the ‘girlfriends’, you instantly check them out, but you don’t really sit there and think ‘I’m going to be your very best friend’. Well. Maybe if you’re a crazy chick you do. But, you know, crazy chicks are fun.
The reason I bring my best friends up is because straight after Friendsgiving, I flew back England-way for the first time since become an alien.
We did that cliche thing of seeing each other, squealing, hugging, saying ‘how have you beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen?’, and five minutes later saying ‘it’s like you’ve never been away’.
And this is why I love them so much – because, as naff as it sounds, these are the people in your life who aren’t your family (except they are) and it can be 10 minutes or 10 years between seeing each other yet nothing changes.
Which takes me back to the first line of this post – how do you make friends as a grown up?
Let me add to that. How do you make friends as a grown up…. when you move 3,000 miles away and don’t know a soul?
Before I moved here, I gave myself a good talking to. I decided that I was going to be ‘not me’. I was going to be nice and friendly and sociable. I would go to the children’s groups, and make small talk with the people in the gym. I wouldn’t even go to the gym – I would do the classes so that I could make gym-class friends.
It took me about a week to accept that I’m a miserable sod who doesn’t really like people. I’m shit at small talk, and there is possibly nothing in this world less sincere than my voice when it says ‘we should do coffee sometime’.
I started to think I had a problem – why don’t I want to make friends? I think other people started to think I had a problem, too. I got asked things like ‘but aren’t you lonely?’, ‘what do you do with your time, though?’, ‘who do you hang out with?’, ‘don’t you miss having friends?’
Well, the last two weeks have helped me answer that without coming to the conclusion that I’m a social mess.
I haven’t mentioned two people yet. Mr M and BC. I know some people think it’s incredibly sad to consider your child your friend. But you can eff off, because I do. And I think it’s generally accepted that the person that you choose to spend the rest of your life with is a bestie. When we lived in the UK we rarely spent much time together as a unit – it was usually two of the three of us, in any combo you like. Here, where we barely know anyone, we actually get to spend time together. We do things all three of us. We like each other a lot more than we did (and that was a lot). And it’s the best thing ever,
And I don’t ‘miss having friends’ because the girls are still there – albeit a little further away and five hours ahead in time zones. But they’re exactly as they’ve always been. So I don’t really feel like I need to find any more friends – I’m incredibly blessed with the ones I have.
I figure, if I make any more, that’s a bonus. Bonus friends. Briends.
Incidentally, this is also a reason why I don’t have too many – because anyone that merges two words into one is probably a bit of a twat, and therefore only fellow twats would tolerate this… This is probably a good time to tell my best friends how much I love them – you beautiful twats.
*Best friends forever. If destroyed still true.