Can I be honest with you? I desperately want more friends. I want a group of friends with whom I can be my authentic self, with whom I can say what’s really on my mind, with whom I can share inside jokes. I have a few close friends, but life has geographically separated us and our friendships reside via group texts and yearly trips.
In high school and college, I was bubbled in with the same group of people day in and day out. It was easy to find common ground and build relationships. Looking back, I guess I took it for granted how easy it was to form friendships. I never realized that building a writing career and working primarily from home would isolate me so much that I’d be longing for those close connections again. The crossing guard at school drop-off, my local Starbucks barista, and our mailman have become the people I talk to the most outside of my home.
And I don’t think that they are looking to cultivate a lasting friendship with me.
Since becoming a mother, I’ve muddled my way through mommy-and-me classes, small talk on the playground, and have volunteered at many numerous educational activities for my children. I’ve joined book clubs and even the local women’s club that puts on glitzy events for charity. What disheartens me is when I see the other moms pair off with each other, making plans for coffee, and more intimately, evening drinks.
What am I doing wrong?
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I have RBF (resting bitch face). I could be minding my own business, happy as can be, and my husband will ask me, “What’s wrong?” Now, if my husband of 10 years thinks that I am constantly upset when in actuality I am just relaxing and thinking happy thoughts, could the tyranny of RBF be hindering my social life?
Perhaps. Or perhaps it’s the laborious work of actually making friends that has been thwarting my efforts.
According to a study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, on average it takes about 40-60 hours of time spent together in the first few weeks after meeting someone new to form a casual friendship and around 80-100 hours together to transition from a casual friend to friend. Furthermore, it takes about 200 or more hours of time spent together to transition from friends to good friends.
Are you looking for a BFF? Be prepared to log in more hours.
The author of this study, Jeffrey Hall, an Associate Professor of Communication Studies at The University of Kansas, also points out that, “Given significant constraints on free time, especially among working adults and parents, individuals must budget their time wisely to make time for friends.”
We must budget our time wisely? Forgive me, but I wake up at 5:30 every morning and am running at full speed (or more accurately, medium-ish to slow speed) until my head hits the pillow at 10pm. Between running a household, a career, two energetic children, a spirited puppy, and spending time with my husband, where am I supposed to find the time to allocate towards cultivating new friendships?
Always one for a good life hack, I was curious if there were any shortcuts to lead me into full-fledged friendships without putting in all of the legwork. Unfortunately, the answer is no. “We have to put that time in,” Hall tells The University of Kansas. “You can’t snap your fingers and make a friend.”
If I’m being honest with myself, I definitely don’t put in the time to follow up with plans or organize coffee dates. I’m the kind of gal who loves to be invited out to places, but when the time actually comes, I’d much rather wrap myself under my duvet binge-watching a show or reading a good book. And then I wonder why I don’t have that many friends!
As with anything in life, consistency is key.
I’m just as guilty as the next person who spews empty promises of coffee dates and get-togethers. I need to be consistent, follow up, and then actually make myself get out of the house and interact with people. That’s how friendships are made — by actually following through with plans.
Do you ever go to bed feeling motivated for the next day? Do you make a to-do list that seems possible, but when you wake up in the morning, you find yourself falling into old patterns? That’s me in a nutshell. And I’ve realized that my inability to stick to the plans I’ve made for my future self to take comfort in the instant gratifications of the present have been hindering my social life. If I want to make changes for the benefit of having stronger relationships in my future, then I need to adopt the same patterns I do with working out, writing daily, and eating healthy — discipline and consistency.
Now that you know a little about me, let’s cut to the chase: do you want to be friends?