Want to Make Friends After 40? Try these tips.

Want to make friends after 40?  Hey.  Want to be my friend?  Sure.  And you go off…hand in hand into the sunset to play with pieces of bark, climb the jungle gym, or skip rope.  I just made a new friend like this yesterday.  Actually, that’s not true.  I wish it was.

As you enter what seems like a new era in your life, making friends should be this easy, right?  Not so.  I feel like I am personally stuck in some limbo place where I don’t know what to do.  My girls are both, ahhh, both going to be in high school now.  However, some of my friends have younger kids.  They seem to have more time to meet new people because they are in that “I still have to drive everywhere, and go to play dates, etc” phase.

I also have friends who don’t have children, or have kids who have been out of the house a long time.  I want to let you in on a little secret.  This in-between limbo place is hard.  I feel like other people have it together in this area, and I look around and wonder if I just don’t “people” well.  I probably don’t to be honest because I don’t fit in with the norm…and I like it that way to a certain extent.  Working alone doesn’t give me time to socialize face to face.

The difference now, is that people who are in their 40’s actually remember a time when we used to get together.  A time when we had dinner parties, house warmings, Christmas open houses, or just come by for a beverage nights.  So what can someone do to make new friends and rekindle this lost art of socializing?

How to make friends after 40:

  1. You have to be open to the possibility.  Meaning, it might take you out of your comfort zone and you might actually have to say “Hey.  That looks like fun.  Can I come too?”  <<< Now I know this seems like you are inviting yourself, but you are reaching out to see what the response is.  New friendships don’t just happen and maybe there seems to be the same ole’ crew doing things, and they aren’t aware that you might like to come to.  You can hint at it, but I actually suggest just outright saying that you’d be interested in x, y, or z event as well.  See what happens from there.  I bet they didn’t think you’d be interested.
  2. Announce it on your status.  Sadly, most people will read your status before they call, text or ask you what’s up, right?  So say “Hey.  I am thinking about getting a paint night together on x date.  Comment if you’re in.”  Boom.  You have a night out planned.
  3. Make a private list in your journal of what you like to do and what types of people you actually want to attract.  I don’t cross-stitch.  I just threw that out there because I am not going to find new friends at a sewing circle.  I do yoga, hike, walk in the woods (almost the same thing, but not quite), drink wine, be a hermit, go to the mountains, read books, garden, write, journal, listen to 80’s music, pet dogs, be a geek, like to eat food that’s gluten-free, and occasionally paint bad paintings at expensive paint nights.  I could go on, but you get my drift.  I would like to attract people who kind of like the same things as me or at least have a few things in common with me.  The hermit part is actually important because I need friends who ask me to do things, yet understand if I say no because insert hermity excuse.  << it doesn’t mean I don’t want to see people, it just means not then.
  4. Join online groups of like-minded people.  After you have your list, check out places like Meetup.com and/or local FB groups.  Also, you can always volunteer at a local museum or hospital.  What if there’s nothing on the list that you like?  Start your own if you want.  Announce in those NextDoor app places that you are having a book club on x night to read Harry Potter again for the 100th time and anyone who wants to discuss the new things you found after this 100th reading can come over.  Wear your house colors though.

Some people say that it’s a matter of lifestyle and what’s important to you.  That if you want to make friends, you really will find a way, not an excuse.  I agree with that to be honest.  I know that I use excuses to back out of things (I’m in a nest today.  I’m writing.  It’s cold.), but lately I looked up and felt panic.  Holy Crap.  My kids are almost in college.  I need to make more of an effort.  And I do believe there’s time for us all to make more of an effort no matter your age.  So let go of the “My house is a mess” excuse, and start planning an event.  I’ll bring the wine or gluten-free snacks.  If you tell me I can wear my pajamas over that’s a plus.

Interested in uniting separately in your own homes to work together with my like-minded journal therapy group?  Read more here >>> HHH Club <<<

Comfortable in your skin…

I am surrounded by good friends.  Some of my friends, we don’t see eye to eye on everything.  I know that might come as a surprise to you.  I’m sure you agree with everything your spouse says, your family says, and your friends.  Alas, I don’t.  I have taken some big risks in my lifetime to take up for people who could not necessarily take up for themselves.  I would not change a thing.

The values you learned as a child are part of who you are today.  I have learned from my research into social emotional behavior, that by the time you are a teenager, you have either developed these skills or you have not.  Here is what one website says:  Social-emotional development provides the foundation for how we feel about ourselves and how we experience others. This foundation begins the day we are born and continues to develop throughout our lifespan. The greatest influence on a child’s social-emotional development is the quality of the relationships that he develops with his primary caregivers.  Positive and nurturing early experiences and relationships have a significant impact on a child’s social-emotional development. They also influence how the young child’s brain develops.

Many people who are now adults, did not grow up this way.  They grew up in broken homes and were often verbally abused.  They are not comfortable in their own skin because they do not have the coping mechanisms needed to process the challenges that life brings.  Often they feel threatened by others and have a hard time thinking that anyone is going to help them just to be nice.  These were the types of parents I worked with for many years.

They have pushed their troubled childhood way down inside their souls, and it eats at them.  They are angry and sometimes have turned to the same skills they learned growing up, which is verbal abuse.  They look for hidden messages because that’s how they learned.  One mother I worked with several years ago had a very difficult time getting out of this cycle.  She had little money left in her pocket one night after a conference at school, so I gave her bus money.  I looked her in the eye and said, pay me back when you can.  I did that because I knew she would not want to “owe” me anything.  It wasn’t for me that I said that.  I knew she was mad she needed help.

Her little boy, “M”, was in my class.  He came to school the next day and said something I did not allow in my class.  I allowed a lot of things to pass by my ears as I understood the background of the neighborhood, but this one I did not.  He used the “N” word.  The first time I heard him, I let it go, because he was halfway across the room and perhaps I misheard.  The second time he said it, I caught him loud and clear right next to me, so he couldn’t deny it.  I would not have cared if he had uttered an expletive, but that, I would not allow.  All the children in my class were the same color, but it didn’t matter to me.  All of the children did not need to use that word.  I wrote a little note to M’s mom kindly explaining that word was not to be used in my class.  It was derogatory, and I was building the children up, not tearing them down.

The next day, sure enough, in marches this mad momma.  She has M by the collar of his shirt and he is looking down at his little feet.  She makes him look at me and says tell her what you said.  He won’t make eye contact.  He mumbles a word.  I ask him what and crouch down to hear him as I always make eye contact.  He looks at me and in that moment, I knew he hated what he was about to say because it was a lie.  He opens his mouth and said “Snicker.  I said Snicker.”  Oh, hmm, okay then.  I looked the mom directly in the eye.  I let her know it is good he didn’t say the other word, because I want all children to think highly of themselves.  She marches into the office and next thing I know, M is having his last day in my class.

He still came to see me.  The whole rest of the year.  At Christmas, he brought me this tattered bear from his own home.  His mother came in later.  She said quite simply, he loves you and misses you.  I’m sorry for what happened.  I hugged her.  The truth is, I always knew she was sorry.  I knew she was hurt by things out of her control, but I was an easy target at that moment.  I would forgive.  Forgiveness comes easy when you can see the pain in the other person.  Working in that school, surrounded by pain, I learned to be thankful for everything I had.  It also became one of the reasons I didn’t really like Christmas presents.  But that story is for another day.


Fake Friday…

Fake FridayI do not do “fake” well.  In fact, I don’t do it at all if it can be helped.  I had to make an exception the other day.  I was out with my girls at a popular frozen yogurt spot around here.  I prefer not to go there as it is crowded and trendy.  I like mom and pop joints where you are helping the owner start their business…we have one of those right up the street, but I had a gift card.  We are trying to decide on the choice of yogurt when I hear a voice like Mrs. Doubtfire say “Oh my!  You girls are nearly as tall as I am.”  I turn and register my surprise and try to contain my face from showing my feelings all at the same time.  She is going for nice.  Be nice.  Be nice.  Be nice.  All that took 3 seconds possibly, but in my head it was like Matrix time.

She chatters away asking me where I work and what’s going on with my life, blabbity, blah, blah.  We finish getting our yogurt as my girls add 3,000 toppings, she goes behind the counter to re-fresh the supplies.  I feel some relief as there is now a barrier between us and she can’t fake-hug me again.  As we leave, she says quite cheerily “Come back and see us again girls, stop by any time!”  I nod my head and mumble something unintelligible like “thanks”.

Now, let me explain why I do not care for her.  She was mean to kids.  Period.  MEAN.  TO.  KIDS.  She was fake-nice to parents and then would whisper the most horrible, awful, evil things like a serial killer would say.  You know, the kind who look like everyone should like them, but have some dungeon in their basement like Hannibal Lecter.  That’s her.  She looks like Mrs. Doubtfire, but thinks like Mrs. Lecter.  Creepy.  So creepy.

The bottom line folks is because I was trying to make a good impression on my children, I did something I don’t normally do.  Once we got in the car, I asked my girls if they remembered her.  One of them remembered.  She also knew she wasn’t a nice person inside.  All the make-up in the world couldn’t hide her true character.  Remember that.

I teach being true to yourself and I stand by that in everything I do.

“Some people think that the truth can be hidden with a little cover-up and decoration. But as time goes by, what is true is revealed, and what is fake fades away.”  ~Ismail Haniyeh

reveal the truth

Ain’t nobody got time for that…

I was talking to my friend in another time zone last night, holla, and we were discussing people who bring us down.  Basically it boils down to who has time for you, and who has decided you are not important in their life.  Either they don’t “say” anything to you on the book of face, they don’t respond to your messages, or for some inexplicable reason, they delete you without even saying why.  What did you ever do to them?  Probably nothing.  For real.  Maybe it was something said in passing and you didn’t even mean it that way or it was told third person by some other person or they read into your silly FB status that wasn’t even meant for them.  Humph, I’ll show them, I’ll cowardly delete them without ever asking is everything okay?  Ha.  Well, this is what I have to say to them:

Or maybe I feel like this:

Whew.  Antoine you met your match.  Well, let me just tell you something right now folks.  Can you count on one hand the times those people messaged you when you were sick?  Doubtful.  Can you recall a time out of the blue they checked on you?  Nope.  So, basically “Ain’t nobody got time for that” applies here.  Friendship is a two-way street as always.  People who care about you WILL and DO make time for you.  Others make excuses.  End of story.

“I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.”  ~Maya Angelou

You don’t have what they call “the social skills”…

It is time for me to go off on a rant.  Occasionally this happens and with my mood lately, well, you just don’t know what you’re going to get.  If you recognize yourself in this post, it is only because you too are guilty of doing these things.

The year is 1989 and I am talking on the phone to my best-friend…for hours.  We talk about events from the day, movies, clothes, and probably boys.  We are freshmen in high school.  Most of our conversations took place face-to-face or on the phone.  Yes, that was all we had.  I miss those days.  Now, back to current times.  Sigh.  How do I even begin this?  Well, let’s start off by saying I miss phone calls.  Over the last few years, I have been getting progressively less of the “real” calls and only telemarketers call now.  I don’t know why we have a house phone anymore…Alexander Graham Bell would be sorry to hear this.

I get e-vites, e-mails, event notifications, texts and the occasional messenger notification on FB.  Rarely do I have a friend say something to me personally anymore and I am getting a bit tired of it.  I am not talking about people who live out-of-town, I understand why we communicate through the computer.  It works great and there are no long-distance charges. However, if you are planning a huge event and don’t hear from me because you e-vited me and you are mad, get over it.  I almost feel like you didn’t really want me there in the first place.  Maybe you were click happy and didn’t want to leave anyone out.  There is nothing worse than being invited to something with 30 other people and having your phone blow up every time they have something to say in a message.  I work during the day and when my phone buzzes every 30 seconds, not only does it drain my battery, it interrupts my day.

I am a social pariah I guess.  I have taught my daughters telephone manners just like I was taught.  I won’t let them have a “smart” phone or any cell phone for that matter right now.  Yes, my oldest will be going into middle school next year.  Besides that, I don’t think those phones are that smart.  They are a convenience that has gotten out of hand.  They have made smart people do stupid things.  Woooo-hoo, look at my junk.  Snap. Post.  Next day, ummm, why is there a photo of my junk on here?  You know what I mean.  Instant status update while you are driving…into that tree over there.  Publishing your personal business at the time it is happening…be right back, I gotta pee.  Thanks for sharing.  Snapping 100 photos of yourself…all in one day.  Maybe it was time elapsed and we didn’t notice.

Some people you know, don’t have what they call the “social skills”.  See what I mean?

Maybe you know a few people like this.  Say what you mean and mean what you say.

“”But I don’t want to go among mad people,” said Alice. “Oh, you can’t help that,” said the cat. “We’re all mad here.””  ~Lewis Carroll

The fugitive…

Sadly, I am not referring to the movie or the TV series made in 1963.  I am referring to my own child, but let me back up and tell you from the beginning.  Monday is not generally a day that I love anyway unless it happens to be a snow day or a day off from work.  Today was difficult because of the time change and the fact that it was beautiful outside, and I wanted to be somewhere else.  All that aside, the last thing you want to hear when you go to pick up your children is “Can I talk to you a minute?”.  I really want to run screaming from the room saying you’ll have to catch me first; however, I restrain myself and paste my fake smile on as I answer “sureee”.

The sentence that came next was not one I want repeated ever again.  It was worse than being cussed out.  The after-care lady said my child was being mean to another student and she used the dreaded word “bully”.  I was furious and embarrassed as she told me another mom approached her and said my child was being mean to her child.  Okay.  Let’s take a deep breath.  I have been dealing with more than my fair share of third grade drama, so let’s look at the whole picture.  I asked her what happened exactly.  She really couldn’t say due to privacy issues.  Okay then.  Can you tell me how exactly my child was being mean?  No, the other mom just said she was.  WTH?  Calm thoughts.  Do I know this mom?  Aha.  The look in her eye.  I know this mom.  I finally figure out on my own, who the child is.  It is NOT someone from her class, but they are in the same before/after program.  Don’t worry readers, that other lady is still gone.

I pull my daughter over and we discuss what happened.  Someone was following her all around and would not leave her alone, so she asked them to stop.  It happened again and she told them she would not be their friend if they didn’t leave her alone.  Hmmm.  And THIS is why a mom used the word “bully”???  I mean, really??  I am caught between being mad at my child and being mad at the parent and after-care worker.  Maybe there is more to this story.  So I take the high road, and say I will speak to her about this and we will fix it.

I am so mad in the car I can’t even look at her.  I don’t even bother to ask her to explain again.  I call her father and say all sorts of things about how we didn’t raise a child to be this way and what happened to our sweet girl who put everyone first, and all manner of things I’m sure ummm, some other parents say.  The word restriction pops out of my mouth and perhaps the word spanking (which does not happen here), and things that will magically fix this.  She is in the back seat listening and yes, I knew that.  I was playing the ole’ scare tactics.

She goes quietly to her room without being told.  I gather the mail and a magazine has just arrived courtesy of my wonderful aunt.  I flip through it and something catches my eye.  How to handle name calling and the blame game.  I read them and calm down.  I ask both my girls to come to the table and tell me what happened.  It still doesn’t sound bad enough to use the word “bully”.  She just went through this and knows what it feels like.  Could she be using her feelings and projecting?  Nahhh.  That’s not her.  A bully is someone who habitually badgers or intimidates smaller or weaker people.  Leave me alone or I won’t be your friend.  Yes, that is mean.  I am not sure what third grader hasn’t said that before, but maybe there are a few who don’t use that phrase.  Does that mean every child who says that is a bully?  No.  We really do need to teach social emotional skills in children; however, we do NOT need to label everyone and everything.  Sometimes a kid is just a kid and they need to work things out on their own.  So I explained the choices she makes and the words she uses will have a lasting effect on her friendships.  I go up to her room again to check on her later and she is crying.  I feel like the worst mom in the world.  Even more so when I knock over a bag of clothes…with a flashlight and wallet inside.  Sigh.  Baby, please tell me what this is?  This isn’t packed for a trip to grandma’s is it?  Nope.

The runaway bag.  Poor thing.  I didn’t realize I was that terrible.  I feel so horrible.  I gather her up and tell her how much I love her and her little voice comes out of the covers and says “I didn’t think you did when you were talking to daddy.”  Poop.  You got me there.  Well, sweetie, mommy was very upset at what happened and I never once said I didn’t love you.  Sure I told daddy you might be on restrictions until someone tells me something good you have done at school, but that didn’t mean I don’t love you.  I will always love you no matter what.  All I have to say is please, pleaseeeeee don’t let me hear anything else about this again for the rest of the year.  I can’t take anymore drama.  And that my friends is how I avoided a tiny fugitive on the run from being accused of a crime that was far more serious than it really appeared at first.

If your kids are giving you a headache, follow the directions on the aspirin bottle, especially the part that says, “keep away from children.”
~Susan Savannah