Making friends as an adult is a funny thing. It’s like dating, but slower to develop and more awkward! Maybe you bump into this person a few times here or there, you’re always at the same kid’s activities or in the same meetings. Eventually you make a friendly comment, maybe you find something you have in common and after a painfully long time, one of you makes the suggestion to do something else. Meet for coffee? Walk the dogs? The kids?
As a kid, it’s a lot easier. You steal someone’s juice box, chase each other around the school yard and you’re friends forever. Well, maybe not forever, kid’s friends may change over the school years but it remains fairly simple. As you get into your teens you might be more picky. Maybe it’s someone you knew before but hadn’t clicked with yet, maybe it’s a team mate now that you’re into competitive sports or maybe you got a job and you click with one of your fellow workmates. If you’re lucky one or two of those friendships will last a lifetime.
When you’re older and your situation changes, it gets a lot harder. Now you’ve got kids in the mix - do they get along? Or you meet a fabulous new friend - will your spouses get along? Maybe you meet someone your age but your life situations are totally different so it just ends up being too difficult. I usually end up being the only one not working, or with kids totally different ages than those of the people I meet. Living here, I’m not a ‘local’ and that adds a whole other barrier - a post for another day.
So, now in my mid thirties with kids of all age ranges it’s a very bizarre phenomenon. You are interested in being a friend with someone so you start making casual comments, try to find some common ground and not come off too strong. At a play group “You come here often?”, at the gym “I’ve seen you here before - those are some heavy weights you’re lifting!! Can I have your number?” “Wanna go for coffee?” If you friend them on Facebook, how soon is it acceptable to follow them on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram before they freak out? There’s a seriously thin line between acceptable and totally creepy!
My husband goes for a mountain bike ride and meets the same guy biking for a second time. "Let’s go for a ride sometime! Give me your digits!" How soon do you call? How many times is acceptable?
We met an awesome couple in our early married years and the first few times we hung out we joked about it being just like dating. Do they like us as much as we like them? How soon can we call after hanging out? We don’t want to be clingy, so we act nonchalant. "A picnic? Sure, no biggy!" When your insides are going “They’re so cool!! I can’t wait!” It’s a lucky situation when all the people involved (and eventually kids) get along!
I joked once that there should be an online ‘dating’ service for families looking for other families to befriend:
“Family of 6 (5-38) seeking other family for hikes, BBQs and playdates. Likes music, travel and mountain sports”
Crazy? Maybe. Genius? I think so...
I think it’s rare at our age to find someone you truly click with. All of a sudden you have so many other factors. You’ve learned more about yourself, you care more about certain things, maybe kids are a factor. You’re also so busy and it’s hard to forge good friendships when weeks can go between visits, simply because of scheduling.
Sometimes people come and go in your life for certain reasons. I’ve had good friends that I’ve been close with through a common goal, but then have fallen out of touch. Others who have been there forever, just not necessarily at every moment.
My parents recently had a picnic with friends who I don’t remember ever NOT being in our life. Whether they were close, or distant they just always were and it's like not a day goes by between visits.
I can’t help but wonder who I will be picnicking with in 20 or 30 years. Is it someone I’ve known for years? Is it someone I haven’t met yet? So many people in my life I care about and don't want to lose!