Hi, my name is Chelsea

7.3.16


There's no secret that having a strong group of female friends is THE best. You don't even need to see each other every day - or even every week. Just knowing you have a network of girlfriends who've got your back no matter what; who you can call up just to have a whinge, and; who will indulge in half a tub (OK, who am I kidding... a whole tub) of ice cream with you over a Friends/Sex & The City/Dawson's Creek (don't judge) marathon is enough.

Adult female friendships are very different to the ones we had as kids - or even adolescents or twenty-somethings. Remember when your social network was seemingly endless and you had no problem fronting up to a group of girls you hardly knew and introducing yourself? Take one look at the Facebook page of a millenial and you'll probably notice their friend count is in the high hundreds or even thousands (one girl I know has almost 1400 "friends"). 

As you get older though, you realise it's about quality, not quantity. An article on Huffington Post cites a 2013 review of more than 270 studies found that people's personal networks and friendship bases generally grow until young adulthood, then decline steadily with age. 

But what if, like me, in your late 30s you suddenly up sticks and have to start all over again? OK, so maybe not ALL over again - I mean my friends and still my friends but instead of seeing them in the office a couple of times a week or catching up on the odd Friday evening or for a weekend BBQ, I'm keeping up with their lives through a series of phone calls and Facebook updates. 

Squad goals: Amy Poehler and Tina Fey

When I moved, I have to admit, making new friends was not high on the priority list. I thought starting work in a new office would take care of that side of things and, didn't think too much more about it. But, as lovely as the girls in the office are, it's so hard to break into a new group of friends as an adult. And, for that matter, I wasn't sure I wanted to. I have friends, I thought. Why do I need to make new ones? 

As it turns out, office life wasn't for me so it looks like I'm going to have to look elsewhere. One of my childhood friends moved to Brisbane some years ago but she lives on the other side of the city and has three kids so hooking up for a quick coffee at a time that suits both of us isn't really that easy. We've met up and have plans to do so again but in the meantime, what's a girl to do when she just needs a girly catch-up?

A lot of advice on the internet suggests joining a club, class or group to meet other like-minded people but the fact is while joining a group or club is great for meeting people, it doesn't necessarily equal making friends.

"On the surface it looks like an easy problem: Get out, join a club, or in today’s world, join an internet meet up group," writes Dr Mary Grogan on Mindfood.com. "Most of us that have done these things with high hopes of long lasting friendships can quickly dispel the idea that friendships happen spontaneously."

So where does that leave me? Friendship expert and author Shasta Nelson has these three tips for me for making new friends.

Be open

"Let yourself be surprised by staying open and hopeful about women you’re used to dismissing as not your type," she says. "My rule of thumb is to delay deciding whether someone is BFF material and just move the friendship as far as one can, as long as there are no big red flags (i.e. stealing from you)."

Initiate

"Initiating means to be the catalyst to making the time together happen: striking up conversation, suggesting time together, and following up with specific ideas and dates," says Shasta. "Yes, it can feel awkward. Yes, it’s hard if you’re shy. But honestly, there is no way to build friendships without spending time together so someone has to make that happen. You’re the one who sees the need so it’s your job to do what you need to do to start the friendships you ultimately want to enjoy."

Repeat

"Falling for the myth that “if she likes me then she’ll initiate next time” will kill the potential of many relationships," she says. "Instead, believe, 'If she likes me then she’ll say yes and try to get together when I invite her'."

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