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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Family

Mama Bear Moxie: Learning to make friends as an adult

Kristina Phelan
Kristina Phelan
By Kristina Phelan For The Spokesman-Review

Making friends can be hard. With the inclusion of social media, we “friend” others online without really ever being introduced to them. We show them our life, veiled by photo filters, but couldn’t state their name if we ever saw them in person. Having a true friend in today’s world can be tough.

There have been times as a newcomer to an area where I had to purposely set out to meet other adults. I would try to strike up a nonchalant conversation with the other nice looking mom while watching my son play at the park. I would look for any way to break the ice and introduce myself. I quickly learned that there is a very thin line between being nice and being overbearing. The thoughts of don’t be too pushy and you look too desperate would constantly run in the back of my mind.

After moving a lot in my life, I have found that making adult friends can be quite the art.

As a transplant myself, I have tried my best to welcome other new arrivals to our area. So when my son came home one day from school and told me about a new kid in class I quickly got excited. I asked if he had any siblings and their ages. After getting the thorough scoop from my second grader, I invited the mom and her three sons over for a playdate without ever even meeting her. I remember second guessing myself before she came as I realized that this meeting could be horrible if I didn’t have anything in common with this other mom. Once she came and we broke the ice, I started to realize that we (thankfully) did have a lot in common. As I was talking to my husband later on that night I told him, “I think I met my new best friend!”

But then I realized that she may not think the same. I didn’t want to be that weird person who looked like I was trying too hard to build a friendship. I remember having to wait a few days before I texted her again in an effort to not look too desperate. Making new adult friends is a lot like dating. I didn’t want to let on that I needed a friend. I didn’t want to seem like I was lonely. I wanted to coordinate my efforts in an attempt to cultivate a great friendship. And I hoped she felt the same way about me.

Fast forward a few years and we are the best of friends. We know each other well and share stories, dreams, laughter and failures. We support each other in marriage, parenting and our lives as women. I realize and recognize the importance of this friendship. I can easily admit that these types of friendships don’t happen all of the time.

The Midwest, where I currently live, is broken up into many little towns that are all about 20 miles apart. There are larger cities sprinkled throughout, but the heart of the Midwest lies within the people of these tiny towns. It is common to see an obituary that states that the person was born in the same town of 800 people that they died in decades later. The term “born and bred” is a staple here as families tend to stick around the same area for generations.

Being a new person in this culture can be difficult. Well, being new to any area can be difficult, but it seems to have an added contingency here. I have heard many adult women state that they don’t need any new friends because they already have friends from their childhood. It is the kind of statement that stops a newcomer in their tracks. Can you have too many friends or know too many people? I can’t help but think that these women are missing out on a possible best friend because they were too tired to initiate a conversation with someone new. It can make those of us who aren’t townies feel very obscure and unwanted.

Making adult friends can be hard, frustrating, and can sometimes end in failure. Most of the new people that you meet will be an acquaintance or a friend but then there will be a few that will become a best friend. Don’t let the fear of failure keep you from trying. You never know where a good friend will show up.

Kristina Phelan is a former Spokane-area resident now living in Illinois who writes about family and faith. Contact her at kristina@mamabearmoxie. com or visit her website at www.mamabearmoxie.com.

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