Your Help Needed: How Do I Make Friends and Learn to Be a Good Friend as an Adult?

So what happens if because of a series of lifestyle and geographical changes, you find yourself in your late 30s desperately in need of the magical ability to make new friends? Or any friends?

So what happens if because of a series of lifestyle and geographical changes, you find yourself in your late 30’s and desperately in need of the magical ability to make new friends? Or any friends?

I need to know. How do you make friends when you are kind of dropped from Mars into a new Earthly city and you are putting tremendous pressure on your best friend/husband and he just doesn’t want to go to five thrift stores then up to Wisconsin for lunch at the Kewpee Lunch Restaurant you are mildly obsessed with and have the kewpie-mermaid (“mer-kewps”) tattoos to prove it?

Maybe I’m being too vague. I need friends. Ladies and gentleman who live in my area and have similar interests to me.

In the last four years, I stopped drinking (etcetera), relocated to a new city, changed careers and got married. And while I was possibly a fun person to get lit and do drugs with, it turns out I don’t know much about making friends or being a friend outside of that.

My husband has been my friendship guinea pig. He’d tell you I can be a real bitch. Actually he probably wouldn’t tell you that because he is polite and well socialized.

In which ways am I a bitch/challenge to befriend? I’m old, but appear young (ish), somehow alienating both peers and the youth of America, I’m married but no children and reluctant to socialize with other couples, I’m really super overscheduled and my idea of flexible is having 20 minutes to meet you at the coffee shop below my office during the week, I’m bad at returning phone calls, I’m hesitant to commit to plans, unless there’s a band or karaoke I’m useless at a bar, I have jobs that are difficult to describe and apparently hard to relate to, I have no time for movies/music/art I’m not super interested in, and I will come up with a dozen reasons (did anyone count?) why I’m unfriendable rather than take a chance that someone won’t think I’m the coolest person they’ve ever hung out with and they can’t live without me in their smallest most intimate world.

So how did I make friends in the past?

1. I met my kindergarten best friend the day before school started at our pediatrician’s office waiting for physicals.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that variety of lightning will not strike twice. If I can’t keep a coffee date, I’m not picking up chicks at the gyno.

2. In junior high, I became the lookout for an extremely loose, slightly older girl in my apartment building. My mother squashed the friendship after finding pornographic letters from my pal that I knew (suspected) to be totally awesome exaggerations of her exploits. Man, I wish I had those letters.

I’m not sure there is a healthy way to court this type of buddy as an adult, although Emily and I border on the long-distance version already.

3. Later in junior high, I met a real soul-mate type BFF who was introduced to me because our mutual boundary-less love for John Taylor of Duran Duran. We could also recite from memory every word from “16 Candles” (“Ginny, Mike, Sarah, Sam, time to get up!”) and knew all the funniest SCTV and SNL bits by heart.

These are the kind of friends I’d like to find in adult-life, people like me except better or worse depending on what mood I’m in. I guess that’s the hard part.

4. High School was easy. I was a real joiner; president of multiple clubs and cast in every play, inclined to get wasted and make out with everyone and his brother. Like in the same night, brothers. I’m tempted to name them. Don’t get me wrong, I hated high school and graduated a semester early to avoid dropping out after all my older friends graduated.

There are some clues here about making friends: take a class, join a club, kissing bandit…but I do have a limited schedule and a closed marriage contract (for now).

5. Beyond high school, my friends were boys, bars, bands, booze, friends of friends, co-workers, cocaine, pot, mushrooms, sex, money and insanity for 15years until I got sober.

Very blurry and brought me to where I am now: in need of healthy, fun platonic familiars and confidantes. Preferably local.

I practiced making friends this past weekend. It went pretty well. I brought baked treats, I decorated eggs, I conversed, told jokes that I only worried offended people twice, opened up about myself, gave my number to a woman who is naturally moving across the country in less than two weeks. It wasn’t so scary. But how do I make/let it happen again?

My shrink is also walking me through this. Half great/half humiliating. She has been pointing out who my friends are for me (“She’s your colleague, she comes to your house, that’s what a friend is”) and suggesting friends to pursue from the acquaintance pool. Not where I thought I’d be at 39. Well, that’s a contrived thing to say because I never thought about being 39.

Your feedback is kind of frantically requested. How do you make friends as an adult? Where do you meet people and how do you nurture these friendships? What works for you or what do you suggest for me? Making friends without booze or school feels like dating, and lord knows I always skipped that for sex and impulsive cohabitation.

Awaiting your responses,

All Bosoms No Buddies

Follow Rachel on Twitter @RachelMcPadden