By Laura Warren
Even with the many headaches involved, I have always loved moving to new places. Since I was a child, I’ve been filled with a tingling sense of anticipation, the hope of new possibilities, new experiences. I’ve moved about 12 times since I was five and spent around 3 years living the gypsy life, doing freelance work in Europe and sleeping in a new bed every few weeks. Most of my moves occurred as a single person under 30, and it was easy to spend time with work associates and other singles. Friendship wasn’t a problem. I seldom felt isolated.
Then I married at 31, began graduate school while working a full-time job, and 3 years later had my first child. Suddenly, there was no time to make friends and even my established friendships suffered. After finishing school, we moved 1100 miles to North Carolina to be near family, and within months, I was pregnant with my second child, sick day and night, and doing my best to be a good mother to an 18 month old. We had an unbelievably tough time making friends with anyone, and the friends I already had were so consumed with their children’s busy schedules that we couldn’t seem to get together more than once a month. Alone with the pressures of early parenthood, we were lonely and depressed.
We’ve now been in NC for 2+ years, and while we are continuing to work at finding deep and abiding friendships with others, we’ve learned a few things in the process:
- In all likelihood, if you have moved to a new place and are finding it difficult to meet acquaintances who reciprocate your interest, it’s not personal. Resist the urge to believe that there must be something wrong with you. Generally speaking, people are very, very busy, particularly if they work and have children.
- Make the effort to know your neighbors. In our neighborhood, we have an 86 year old gentleman who walks two miles every day in increments. My son delights him, and gradually we’ve begun to join him on his walks, visit with him on his front porch and share meals when the opportunity arises. Don’t discount someone because they are older. Older people often have more free time and more appreciation for the company of others. Our neighbor, a retired writer and teacher, was a naval officer stationed at Pearl Harbor , so he has some wonderful stories to tell.
- Food for thought: have you considered taking a cooking class? A social dance class (ballroom, shag, lindy hop)? I’m a foodie who loves to cook but is fairly ignorant in the kitchen. I just discovered a cooking school nearby which is run by a celebrity chef and offers an impressive variety of classes, wine tasting, international dinners. Good food, good wine, good conversation, laughter…. Find something you can sink yourself into and share with others.
- Choose a couple of your dear and now long-distance friends and call them regularly, send emails, silly packages, letters, or postcards. I am a Christian who met with a prayer partner each week. After I moved, we continued to meet and pray weekly by phone, and it was an enormous encouragement to me. Continue to invest in your important friendships—they’ll encourage you and strengthen you as you work to establish new ones.
- If you attend a church and are either a stay-at-home parent or have an unconventional work schedule, check into weekly Such studies bring you together weekly or bi-weekly with others and enable you to get to know them gradually, in a relaxed fashion. offered at churches in your community.
- Invite acquaintances over for muffins and coffee, a playdate, hotdogs on the grill. Open your home to others and see what happens.
Look for opportunities to be a good friend, listener, and help to someone else. Be patient! Be encouraged! Friendships will come.