By Laura Heck, LMFT, Certified Gottman Therapist
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Q: I used to have a larger group of friends but cross-country moves, marriages, babies, and jobs have driven the group apart. Sometimes I miss having a larger group but I really love my two close friends. Do I need to make more of an effort to make more?
A: Your story mirrors my life very closely. After a move away from family and friends with a 6-month-old baby, I made my singular focus to assimilate into my surroundings and begin rebuilding my social network.
As a therapist, I am acutely aware of the silent epidemic affecting adult Americans: loneliness. Nearly half of Americans view themselves as lonely, according to a new Cigna study. Why not be proactive in securing a broader social network?
As an adult, making friends can be awkward and harder than you think. It actually feels a lot like dating. I found myself sticking around after a spin class to chat with other women and casually suggesting that we go check out a yoga class together or cyberstalking a mom I met at the playground.
I’m not ashamed of my efforts because it turns out that the mom at the park and the women at spin class were in desperate need for some friend time, too. The depth and quality of your friendships in a larger group will not compare to your two really close friends and that is okay.
Sometimes you just need a crew of people you can go camping or host a monthly book club with. My trick to friendship dating is to ask a trusted friend to introduce you to two people they think would be a good fit with your personality and interests and then take that person out for coffee or lunch. If you like that person, ask them for two more introductions.
Another tip is to check out www.meetup.com, a website for individuals looking for group activities in any genre of activity you can think of from painting, photography, scuba diving, cooking, and learning a new language.
I don’t want to minimize the two really close friends that you do have. Those friendships are a gift and I want to encourage you to continue deepening and nurturing those friendships. We could all be so lucky to have two people in our lives who we can call on when in need.