Top 5 Circumstances That Could Launch a Friend Search

Back when I started thinking and writing about making friends, I thought I was in the specific situation that might cause someone to need new pals. Namely, moving to a new city.

One of the interesting things I’ve learned over the past couple of years is that so many women (and also, perhaps, men) have found themselves in my shoes—on the lookout for potential BFFs to supplement (not replace!) their lifelong besties. And these women didn’t always end up here because of a  move.

As it turns out, and I probably shouldn’t be so surprised by this, there are a number of situations one might find herself in that would spur a friend search. Here are a few:

1) You move. Like I said, that’s how I got here. This is typical: You’re in a city you’ve mastered—you know all the cleanest public toilets, you have ladies to meet for omelets on Sunday mornings, and you’ve developed relationships with the dry cleaning lady and the mailman—and suddenly you have to move. For a job, for a romance, whatever. Soon enough you’re in a new city, not super socially connected, and launching an onslaught of friend dates.

2) Your friends are getting married, having kids, and moving to the suburbs. (Or vice versa.) I hear this one a lot. Women will tell me they’ve never moved in their lives, but suddenly their pals have filed out to the ‘burbs to raise families and are making less time for girl talk over drinks. The flip side is also true—women often tell me they’ve moved to the suburbs and suddenly need a crew of mom friends.

3) You’re the last single girl. This isn’t totally different than #2, but in The Case of the Last Single Girl, it’s not that friends are having kids. It’s just that friends are coupling off, and your party-on-a-Saturday-night wingwoman would suddenly rather stay in and catch up on SVU.

4) You’re divorced. I’d never thought of this until last night, when a reader told me she recently split from her husband and lost a whole set of friends during the breakup. “It feels like another custody case,” she says.

5) You’re retired. Suddenly you have all this new free time and no BFF to fill it with.

So there you have it, the top 5 reasons women launch a BFF search. (And when I say “top 5,” let’s be totally clear that I have no scientific backing for this.) Have you found yourself in one of those situations? And what big catalyst for BFF-searching did I miss? Comment below!

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17 responses to “Top 5 Circumstances That Could Launch a Friend Search

  1. Laurie Lee

    My situation is the opposite of #4. Almost all
    of my friends are now divorced. These 50 plus or minus 5 year old women are out partying and don’t want to come over Sat nigjt to watch a movie with me and dh. We now
    live such different lifestyles there isn’t a lot of
    common conversation ground either if we meet for lunch or a Starbucks. We all have jobs and kids but my life is very much oriented around things like planning meals and my kid’s schedules, while their social lives are now their priority.

  2. Rose

    I really object to #2. Yes, its a reason people look for new friends, but it shouldn’t have to be. I was surprised reading your book that you became friends with a mom, because there is definitely a vibe on your blog that women must be exiled when the get married and starting having kids.

    After marrying and moving in with my husband, I have MORE time for friends than ever, because I see him every night anyways. I find my single friends with boyfriends are the ones more likely to drop off the face of the earth. Every married women I’ve talked to say their single friends suddenly stopped calling them. And so they never got invited anywhere and then it was blamed on them “being newlyweds”.

    And when I have kids, my friends better not go hunting for a new friend to replace me. Because then they were only “fair weather friends”. I’m looking for friends with the maturity to last through changes in life.

    • I think #2 really depends on the willingness of both parties to work on finding time for their friendship. I have friends who are moms and are amazing at finding time for us to get together – despite both of our full-time jobs, and the 45 minute drive keeping us apart – and others that just don’t think it’s a priority right now. As the non-mom friend, I offer to hang out with my friends and their kids or to come over to their house for a low-key night in (or welcome their kids at my house), just so they don’t have to worry about finding a sitter or feel bad leaving their kids alone at night after working all day.

      I’ve also been in the position of being a little jealous of my friend’s newfound happiness – be it an engagement, marriage, new home, baby, etc, and have just backed off for some time. It happens, but doesn’t have to totally end your friendship.

    • Thanks Rose. You make really good points. I would certainly agree that one shouldn’t be replacing their married friends (otherwise I’d be replaced myself!). When I started out writing about my search, though, that was one thing I kept hearing from women “all my best friends have moved away to raise families and now I need more local people.”

      And that’s very interesting what you say about the vibe of the blog — I’ll definitely address that. As someone who wants to have kids herself, I certainly don’t want to be exiled!! I’ve just been interested to hear from others how friendships change with kids (i don’t really know from experience since most of my friends don’t have kids themselves.)

      Your point about having more time now that you live with your husband is such a good one. Makes so much sense. There’s definititely a blog post in this — thank you!

      • Ana

        I agree a bit with Rose that their is an attitude about “moms” that is pretty pervasive among the childless—including some people I thought were “friends”. I don’t think you encourage or cultivate it Rachel, but it does come through sometimes (or maybe it is my own sensitivity reading into something that isn’t there?). As if their is this “mom” persona stereotype—a woman that suddenly loses interest in everything except “poopy diapers” and preschools and who has all these “mom-friends” that she meets at Mommy-and-Me or prenatal yoga (FYI those things generally happen during the workday). Truthfully, though my life has turned upside down after having my kids, I am still ME and still enjoy the same things I did before. I do not have this sudden new group of “mom friends”—I want to keep the friends I already had! I just don’t always have the time or support to do some of my pre-kid activities; and after working full-time, I find it hard to leave my young kids with any frequency. I might have to or WANT to bring the baby along to brunch, or be home by 7:30 to put the toddler to bed. But I may still want to go to happy hour once in a while, go shopping on a weekend, or get a sitter and go out to dinner. Its annoying to be written off completely just because I’ve given birth!

      • Rose

        Hi Rachel,

        Just wanted to say thanks for the personal response during such a busy time for you. You’re definitely a dedicated blogger!

        I definitely understand that changes in life circumstances has a tendency to affect friendships. But I don’t think it has to end friendships, as often as it happens.

        I just hate the single vs married attitude so many people hold. Like Anne pointed out above, both parties need to keep committing to the relationship. I think its great that she offers to come over when her friends have kids, because she understands their circumstances have changed.

        And yes, I have so much free time now for friends since we moved in together. I definitely think I was a worse friend when I was trying to balance a non-live-in boyfriend, so its odd that my friends are distancing themselves now that I’m married and oh so available. And I still love to go out dancing my girlfriends. 🙂

      • Rose

        Forgot to say – I hope you do the blog post! I’d feel so honored to inspire an post… haha!

  3. Jenni

    Another reason – you are a working mom. Mommy and Me classes are great places for stay-at-home moms to connect, but it is much harder to meet people when you are a working mom.

  4. carla

    Over the past year and a half I became a foster parent to a teenager, and I met and married my husband. The jolt to some of my friendships both of these realities have created has been hard. I’ve been trying to view the diminished friendships without blame or hurt feelings (and that’s not always easy). But I can’t deny that I’m pursuing more relationships with married women and women with children, in part because my friendships with my single women have kind of dropped off.

    I’m reading the book and am loving it Rachel! It’s inspiring me to take the first step with potential friends!

  5. I agree with Jenni on being a full time working mom. Most of those places or groups to join to meet other moms are almost always during working hours. I did not have scores of friends before I had my boy, but found to be excluded more from plans of childless friends, who I am not sure think that either I have no time or no longer want to go out with adults only for a good meal and chat.

  6. Camby

    Jerks! That’s my reason for finding new friends. I do not want to be around people who want to make snide comments to me all the time. My husband and I are very close. We have done everything together for eighteen years. I went through a very tough time last year. My husband had a sort of mid-life crisis, and I had a tough time dealing with his “change”. We are thirty-six and have been together for eighteen years. It’s hard when the person that you have been with for half of your life does a 180 – very hard. I did not hide my feelings to anybody about it, so that I could get through it (deal with it) and my “friends” (JERKS!) saw that as a weakness and took advantage of it. They took every opportunity to be an ass to me. The guys and the girls. I have known these people longer than my husband.

    I lost friends building our marriage, mainly because I stopped maintaining the friendship. Not because of my marriage – they would say otherwise. We are the only couple that got married because we wanted to (not because we had to) and we do not have children – by choice. I think most people are jealous of our relationship and find ways to digg at us. Plus our home is super neat and clean and people have a problem with that. We built our home and invited some of our “friends” over after we moved in. They knew that we would not be wearing shoes in our home (beige carpet) and showed up with grocery bags on their feet. Yeah, it was kinda funny, but hearing them make snide comments as they were coming up the drive – not so funny. We quit inviting them over. Sadly, all of our “friends” are assholes and I do not want anything to do with them anymore.

    I finished your book last week and I am going to go out there and find some new friends this year! I can do it! I am going to a country line dancing class tonight with a co-worker of my husband’s. I’m sure that I will look out of place with my converse sneakers on and do not know when line dancing will be of an asset to me, but I’m getting out there!

  7. You have had a job that keeps you on the road so often that you have not been making new BFFs and you find yourself feeling lonely and blue – this is another reason to start the search!

  8. Let’s see: I divorced. I’m single. I moved. Friends married. Oh, and I’m sort of retired. And it’s snowing. See what I wrote about Rachel’s book:

  9. Katie

    I’d like to add working in a male-dominated workplace. I’m an air traffic controller. I’d say that about 80% of my co-workers, perhaps more, are men. Work seems to be a great place to find new friends, but it’s even more difficult when there aren’t a lot of women!

  10. Melissa

    I would add the opposite of #1 to the list: your friends move away “for a job, for a romance, whatever”. I’m towards the end of reading your book (don’t want it to end!) and decided to order it because two of my closest friends moved out of state for a job/change of scenery/adventure. I’m still in good touch with both friends and had been hearing them struggle with the same issues of starting/finding new friendships in a new place; but I’ve also felt the effects of their departures myself: my steady laze-around/walking/brunch pal isn’t around anymore, nor is my favorite be-myself-around/red-wine-drinking pal. I didn’t lose them to the family/marriage/kids-in-the-suburbs (there are plenty of those as well), but there is still an impact. Sure, I am lucky to have plenty of other local friends, after having been in the same place for fourteen-plus years…but there’s still a space left behind by the BFFs who left the state. So I’m left wondering, “do I try to get my current local friends to fill in those niches? Find and cultivate new ones?” Your book and this blog bring up a lot of fascinating talking points…I don’t always agree with you but I’m glad you’ve created an opportunity for conversation and reflection.

    Also, I don’t think I have ever posted a comment on a blog until now. I have read plenty of blogs and have had “real-life” conversations about them, but the whole “exclusively online” community has not historically been something I’ve joined. I will still probably have a conversation about this blog “in real life”, but here comes my entrance into the scary world of blog commenting! Yes, I am aware that it is 2012.

  11. This is actually my first post for MWF Seeking…. So hi!

    I was in a kind-of-similar situation to #4 recently. I recently broken up with my boyfriend and the months preceding were really dramatic, close friends were involved and even though they had my back, I felt the need to find new friends; people who didn’t know my situation. And let me clarify, I didn’t ditch my old friends but I felt they needed a break from troubled relationship career. (I’m sure they would agree.)

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