How do You Make Friends as an Adult?

Once when I was maybe 23, after I was married and finished with school, I was working at a photography studio in the mall. It was a slow day, and three women came in and started asking all kinds of questions about prices, and products, etc. The conversation was friendly, and we started chatting about other things besides photography.

They were so nice!

I mean, they were telling me how pretty my eyes were and that they liked my outfit, and that I had a nice voice…blah, blah, blah…kind of sounds like they were trying to make a move on me, but at the time, it just seemed like they were friendly and that they were digging this conversation we were having.

Eventually, one of them said that they had to leave because she was meeting her husband in Park City to buy a fur coat. Then, one of the other girls said that she was going with her, but she was going to shop for original art to hang in her new home.

One of them asked me if I was off work soon, and would I like to come with them.

I remember being surprised, but flattered. I told them that no, I wasn’t but even if I was off work soon, that I didn’t shop for things like fur and original paintings…you know, because the mall photography studio didn’t pay as well as one might think.

After I got home from work that night, I was excitedly telling my husband about these super-nice girls I met at work and how we chatted for the longest time.

I told him that I had an epiphany.

That this is how adults make friends with people they meet. (unlike meeting someone at school, or church, or a co-worker) I told him that I guess it takes a certain amount of boldness, and that if you feel a connection with someone, you just can’t be afraid to talk to them or even invite them somewhere.

I felt like a whole new world was unfolding in front of me.

My new friends said they were going to be at the mall in the coming day or two and we’d hook up then.

When I saw them again, they invited me to lunch. We went to a restaurant and as we were sitting and talking, I asked them about their trip to Park City. They told me all about their purchases. Fur coat, a huge painting for the new entry-way, and one of them bought pearls.

I asked them what they do for work. Obviously curious about where they were getting this money to burn. It seemed unusual for such young people to have the things they had. That’s when they dropped the bomb. Amway. They were into freaking Amway.

This entire time they were setting me up. I felt like such a sucker.

Correction… I was a sucker.

I was eating it all up. I felt like I was in a movie, you know, when you suddenly hear echoing voices in your head repeating all of the things that were said over the past few days, until finally you put all the pieces together and it hits you right between the eyes.

This was all an act.

I stayed through lunch and listened to their pitch, feeling like someone punched me in the stomach. I have never felt so foolish. Anyway, there’s that.

This is a topic of interest though, isn’t it? How do we find and make friends as adults? Is this hard for you? Sometimes we meet people that we feel like we might click with, but it can feel intimidating to reach out. Or, maybe you know someone casually and you’d like to take the relationship up a notch. How is this done? Do you just ask?

I heard a little boy talking to my youngest son at the playground once. He walked straight up to him and said, “Hey, what’s your name?” my son told him and the kid then said, “Wanna be friends?” A nod from my boy was all it took and they were off playing together for the entire afternoon. I thought, Well there you go. That’s how it’s done.

I submit that the desire to have friendships and the fear of rejection are never really outgrown. We just pretend to outgrow them. Imagine though, what your response would be if someone expressed a desire to know you better. How would you feel if you learned someone liked you enough to want to spend more time with you? You’re flattered, right? These are good things! I have ventured outside my comfort zone an invited potential friends to lunch, or to some activity we both had an interest in and I’ve not yet been laughed at. In fact, quite the opposite. I’ve been met with eagerness and enthusiasm. Women need other women in their lives. We all need friends. And here’s the deal. Someone has to make the first move. Is there a person you have been wanting to know better? Why not take that first step? Don’t be shy. Make it your brave move for the week.

Are you feeling like your pool of potential pals (alliteration!) is lacking? Put yourself in the position to meet other people. Volunteer somewhere. Take a walk around your neighborhood and strike up a conversation with someone new. Take your dog to a dog park. Sign up for a class. Anything to put yourself in a place where you might meet someone new. And once you’re there, be brave.

I dare you.

“The only way to have a friend, is to be one.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Originally published at findmeaning.net on March 27, 2015.