By Eleanor Fried
“We met late in life.” That’s what my best friend, Grace, would say to people who asked about our friendship and how we met. We met in the winter of 1993 and had both recently celebrated a milestone birthday. Also, we had both come out of devastating personal situations and turned to live music and dancing as diversions. We became very close very quickly because she shared my irreverent sense of humor, was so common sense smart and always wanted to learn. I could just shoot her a look and she knew exactly what I was thinking, like a sister. Grace died of liver cancer in 2005. And after that, I became very close (and still am) with one of our mutual friends. I guess we were both trying to fill the hole that her passing left and built a bond that has lasted.
Recently, I was venting to a co-worker about another long-time friend. I cancelled meeting her at an event and even though she was going with her husband and others, this was a problem for her. She sent me a sarcastic text which I shared with my co-worker who said, “I bet if you met her now, you two wouldn’t be friends. “ Her remark got me thinking about friendships and especially the friends we make as we get older.
Why – and how – do we make new friends as adults? Do we search them out for a specific reason; for instance, someone to bike ride or go to the movies or the theater with, or, do we make new friends because our situation has changed (we are no longer a couple and it becomes uncomfortable for other couples to remain our friend)? Do we search out new friends because our children are grown and living their own lives, or that our interests and hobbies change? Or does it just happen? I think the answer is all of the above.
A few months ago I ran into a friend of a friend at a show. We both realized we liked some of the same musicians and bands and she, unlike me, will drive to Annapolis and D.C or wherever to see them. At this point in our lives, we are both willing to explore new venues. So my relatively new friend and I talk weekly and go out several times a month. And an extra perk for me is that she drives!
I have also forged a friendship with a couple who live in my neighborhood. We saw each other several times in a local restaurant, started a conversation and realized we all enjoy the free outside movies in the summer and the free concerts in the park. They are gourmet cooks, so they bring the food and I bring the wine and we get together for these events. These are just a few examples of how I met new friends recently.
Before you can make a new friend, you have to be open to allowing new people into your life and you have to be willing to take some risks by putting yourself out there. If you find yourself in a situation where you have interests you want to explore and places you want to go and don’t know anyone who shares these interests, what should you do? Initially, you may have to take a deep breath and go to your destination by yourself. After all, this is what you are interested in right? When you get to your event be sure to smile and don’t be afraid to start up a conversation with someone. You can give a compliment (I like your earrings), ask a question (have you been here, taken this class before?) or just make a statement (I love the pizza here). When you do meet a potential new friend, exchange emails and/or phone numbers. Don’t be shy about reaching out first. Ask the person to join you for an event and if you are turned down twice, move on. You never know what is going on in other folks’ lives. Get out there and follow up on what interests you. You may meet a new friend who one day you’ll call “an old friend.”
By Eleanor Fried, Team Manager, Service Coordination
JCS provides a broad range of services that meet the diverse, multi-dimensional needs of individuals and families throughout Central Maryland. We offer guidance and support when you are seeking solutions for emotional well-being, aging and caregiving, parenting, job seeking, employers and businesses, achieving financial stability, living with special needs, and preventing risky behaviors. To learn more, please visit our home page or call 410-466-9200.