I’m a stay at home mom that just moved to the area and I don’t know anyone. I consider myself an introvert and as a result I’m having trouble meeting people. You seem outgoing, do you think you can give me some advice on how to create a network of friends in my new area?
Sally in Lonelyville, Md
Believe it or not, I was once in the same boat as you. Several years ago, I also moved to a new town and didn’t know a single soul. Sure, I had friends back home but with almost 6 miles between us, they said the distance made it too difficult for us to stay in touch. I had to strap on some self confidence and make new, local friends.
I turned to the best-selling self-help book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. I don’t recommend it. The first rule was to “Become genuinely interested in other people.” I don’t know about you Sally, but I don’t have that kind of time or patience to cultivate empathy for other people.
So after returning the book to my dad, I set out to do my own research on human interaction and friendship. Through a combination of observations, interviews, and Maya Angelou poems, I came up with hundreds of tips for making friends- sadly, I can only remember 4.
Sally, if you follow my tips, I promise you’ll meet plenty of new people in your area. It’s only been 8 years and I’m already up to 5 friends!
Tip #1 Get Over Your Introversion
Is introversion a word? I don’t know, but my point is this…you need to relax and appear friendly or people will think you’re a snob. Remember the old saying, no one wants to roast marshmallows with a friend who has a stick up their ass, even if their own stick is broken.
So how do you come out of your shell? You ease yourself out of it.
Begin by waving at your neighbors’ dogs. That’s right. Whether you’re walking or driving through your neighborhood, I want you wave to all the dogs sitting in their yards. Once you get comfortable with that, start making small talk with them. Ask them about the weather, their favorite treats, their bowel movements (dogs like that), basically anything that gets you chit-chatting. It’s great practice and will do wonders for your social skills.
Eventually, you’ll be comfortable enough to wave and talk to your neighbors (even the ones that drool) and your neighbors will come to see you as a friendly, eccentric* person.
*my therapist says eccentric = exciting!
Tip #2 Join a Gym
A gym is a great place to meet other stay at home moms! And it’s pretty easy to strike up a friendship here. Simply go into a yoga class and lay your mat next to another mom’s mat (note: It’s important that your mats are touching), take a huge gulp of your coffee, lean into her face and slowly breathe the words “Helloooo!” She’ll immediately smell the coffee on your breath and know that you like coffee. You have just increased your odds that she’ll ask you to join her for a latte after class. Go you!
Tip #3 Be Prepared
Always carry a huge purse and keep it filled with anything another mother might need. Whether you’re at a park with your kid or at the mall trying on Spanx, listen for comments like, “I could really use a drink”, “Does anyone have a tampon”, and “I’m starving”* Having what someone else needs can be a huge icebreaker and they might feel obligated to thank you by being your friend (don’t feel shy about pointing that out).
* I like to keep classy snacks like creme brûlée in my purse, not Cheetos- you want quality friends.
Tip#4 Join a Book Club
Go to your local book store and inquire about book clubs in your area. Join all of them.
It’s important that, before each meeting, you read the book cover to cover. And if you really want to impress, you’ll come with a dissertation that debates the author’s purpose in relation to society. For example, I just did one titled “Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons: Post-feminism in a moderately constructed utopia”.
Sally, people like and respect smart people who aren’t afraid to show it. Oh, and make sure to print enough copies for everyone.
There you have it. If you can’t make friends with the wealth of information I’ve provided then your best bet is to buy a parrot and a chimpanzee. The parrot is for gossip and friendly conversation and the chimpanzee will happily drink wine with you (but give him grape juice and tell him it’s wine; chimpanzees are angry drunks).
Good luck to you,