Recently, my husband and I were described as a “fun couple” with a lot of friend potential. Not sure if we think of ourselves that way, but we didn’t argue with them. When we moved to the city, one of our hopes was to spark our social life with new friends. I mean, there are a lot of people living right next to us, so surely there must be someone that would like to at least spend a Saturday sipping coffee. Taking just a moment to be slightly vain, here’s what I think makes us good friend material:
- We both have a quirky sense of humor.
- We both care about the people around us.
- We both like to hang out with fun people and we like to go do social activities together.
- We live in the city and we know a lot of places (so we make a good meetup couple).
With that starting list, you’d think we’d have social outings planned all the time.
How many have we done since the start of the New Year? One.
And that, my friends (no irony intended), is how it is. We’re not exactly shut-ins or friendless. We both have people we still stay in touch with, even if some of them are only on Facebook anymore. I have a dear friend from childhood that I still talk to (well, “talk” being a bit of a stretch since we don’t actually use the phone but email – note to self, get back to the one-on-one!). She, however, lives so far away that it isn’t quite the same as having someone you can go to the movies with on a Sunday afternoon.
So, what’s a couple got to do to get friends when they don’t 1) attend a religious gathering, or 2) have any children?
Enter Rachel Bertsche: friendmaker extraordinaire and her latest memoir entitled MWF seeking BFF.
I picked up the book after seeing it on the bestseller list lately and thought it might be fun. I wasn’t feeling particularly friendless at the time, nor was I looking for a self-help book to help bolster my friend base. What I found after reading the book, however, was a realization that I hadn’t been doing enough to bring more friends into our lives and keeping the old ones.
Bertsche goes through a year of friend dating with at least one woman a week. These dates range from the success stories (she really finds a slew of interesting and fun people) to duds (every painful encounter is described in detail). She tries out a variety of friending techniques from legit (friends of friends) to questionable (rent a friend). In all, though, I learned that to have friends, you have to get out there and get them.
This leads me to what actually makes us “bad” or at least “less desirable” friending material:
- We’re incredible homebodies. What makes a wonderful day off for us? Spending time together at home. Romantic and cute, yes, but not exactly friend building.
- We’re also very much stuck together at the hip. While Bertsche can go off and have solo friend dates all week long without the inclusion of her hubby, that wouldn’t really fly with us. Sure, I might have friend dates with a good friend of mine at a Panera from time to time sans hubby, but we are usually a duo and those outings are rare. If I go out, I want him there and vice versa.
This obviously poses a problem since it means that just dropping what one of us is doing and zipping out the door without the other for a friend date is out of the question.
Plus, we don’t have children. Most couples our age have at least one if not two. Some of my friends that I used to talk to more when they didn’t have children have become less and less a part of the picture because their child-filled lives now takes dominance. I don’t blame them at all. If we had children, we wouldn’t be able to stop talking parent stuff either, and we’d want to talk with someone that could commensurate or offer tips.
The entire situation can be a bit disheartening sometimes. We’ve been in the city for at least 2 years and we still don’t have any city friends. Talking about not having any friends is also difficult – everyone is supposed to have a lot and by all accounts (if Facebook convos are anything to go by) they all have so many that to bring it up makes you look pitiful and needy (this is why I like Bertsche’s book – she talks candidly about the entire friendship process and touches on a lot of the doubts and worries I’ve had myself).
I could go on and blame a lot of my upbringing and past history on our current situation, but I don’t think that’d get us any friends either.
So, I’ve taken the proactive approach (thank you, Bertsche!) and did some searching. I started with interests and googled groups that might fit.
- Book clubs – This one is tricky. Most book clubs seem to be offered on the weekdays and during the times hubby and I go to work. I couldn’t find any in the initial search, but I plan to keep looking. We both like to read, albeit different books, and I’m sure there’s a club out there that would fit us.
- Doctor Who – Our relationship started through Doctor Who, so what better club to join than one that matches our interests so perfectly! I was lucky with this one. There is a Doctor Who club in our city, but it’s been dormant for a while. Their group page has members listed, but no one seems to be able to get meetings scheduled. Fortunately, they have a meetup planned for Sunday (we’re still trying to confirm this) and we’re planning to go. It’s the first one in a long time, so there should be more “newbies” than just us. Who knows, it might prove to be our friendship trove.
- British Expats – I have to admit that this was more my idea than hubby’s. He isn’t exactly pining away for the motherland like some expats do (although he’s craving proper fish and chips like crazy) so he was neither here nor there with this group. I thought that it gave us some common ground and there might be someone there that we’ll kick it off with – so why not? They’re meeting up at a restaurant we’ve never been to, so at least we’ll get an interesting night out even if we don’t click with anyone.
We’ve tried the local bird club, but they didn’t seem like people we could “hang out” with and chat to about other things beside our mutual birds. While it’d be nice to have bird friends, too, everyone seemed already grouped together in “friend groups” and most were in our parents’ age group so we didn’t think we’d have much luck. Plus, not many seemed to actually care that we had shown up to the meeting, so I don’t think they missed us.
Typical March Social Calendar: 0 events.
2012 March Social Calendar: 2 events.
It’s a small step, but going out and doing something about it is more productive than lamenting at home. We might not find our best friends at these meetings, but at least we would have gone out and enjoyed ourselves. 🙂
Thank you, Berstche.