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Making New Friends

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Well I already started the thread "Older Students" which turned out to be a hot thread... never expected that. 

 

Here I am now about the subject of making new friends.  I am talking about close, life-long friends.

 

I am 39 years old, and I have moved around a bit for a while, until I settled here in Northern California 5 years ago.  I still have yet to connect with someone to create that wonderful friendship that I feel I have missed for so many years.  While I am married to a wonderful man, I still long for that best-girlfriend... 

Does that sound too weird?

 

I had a very close friend for many years... and after I moved out of state, it became apparent to me, that the friendship wasn't as close as I thought.  I attempted many times to connect, but over time she stopped putting the effort into it.  It hurt a lot, almost like a breakup I suppose.  

 

I am finding it fairly hard to make new friends where I live, and lasting ones at that.  As soon as I meet a person, they slowly disappear.  I know some of them have been due to differences in interests or beliefs and I am okay with that.  I wouldn't want someone to fake their interests to keep a friendship.  

 

I try to tell myself that I am very unique and not many women share the same interests or similar personalities with me.  Should I just leave it to that and accept that I will be mostly friendless into my older ages?

 

 

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I agree. I have found this to be difficult as well. I have loved my co-workers, but I was the young one who joined an established social studies department, and I've been the baby for awhile. The other two women in my department I have really loved, but one retired this year and the other will reture in two years. I love them, but our relationship teeters back and forth between being maternal and friendly. Both have older children, and one has grandchildren, so sometimes it's been difficult to relate for me.

If I get into a doctoral program, I'll be surrounded by those mostly younger than me, who are trying ro find a significant other (I am married). I'll be closer in age to my advisor(s) potentially. I'm shy and introverted, so outside of work or school, I'm unlikely to find companions as it is.

So I get what you're saying.

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I agree. I have found this to be difficult as well. I have loved my co-workers, but I was the young one who joined an established social studies department, and I've been the baby for awhile. The other two women in my department I have really loved, but one retired this year and the other will reture in two years. I love them, but our relationship teeters back and forth between being maternal and friendly. Both have older children, and one has grandchildren, so sometimes it's been difficult to relate for me.

If I get into a doctoral program, I'll be surrounded by those mostly younger than me, who are trying ro find a significant other (I am married). I'll be closer in age to my advisor(s) potentially. I'm shy and introverted, so outside of work or school, I'm unlikely to find companions as it is.

So I get what you're saying.

 

I have a 20 yr old son who just announced his engagement to his girlfriend, so I am a ways off from being a grandmother.  But I am still a fairly young mom.  Most of my old friends my age are just now having their babies.  He's in the Navy and doing his own thing, so it's not like I am tied down with children.  

 

My husband goes to school and stays home so he's available to help my disabled mother, and I am the one who works and provides for our family.  

 

Heh... My 12 yr old self says "bring me a best friend that I can have forever".  :lol:

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When I was fresh out of college, several of my coworkers were 10-20 years older than I was, from totally different backgrounds, and they are still some of my closest friends. Granted, there may be some differences in life experiences between your average 20-something and your average 40-something (a few had children just a few years younger than me), or with people who have vastly different beliefs, but as long as you're open to the possibility and so are they, wonderful friendships can flourish. I think sometimes those friendships just come out of both people being in the right place at the right time and sharing a similar experience, whether that be work or school. Good luck in finding an awesome friend!

Edited by Ellie55

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Hi there, I can relate to you all.  I didn't even start college until I was 26 because I did military first.  Now I am 40 and finishing up my second masters, getting ready to hopefully start a PhD in the fall when I will be 41.   I figure I will be done at about 46, and whenever I think about that I cringe a little. My son is 19 and in college now. I struggled during my MFA as an older student.  I certainly wasn't the only one, and there were others that were older than me, but I guess my personality just didn't work well with it.  I found it horribly hard to relate both in and out of class.  I think it was exemplified by the fact that in an art program so much of what you do is personal, and being in a graduate class with 23 year olds that have never had a job made my head want to explode. I ended up connecting with other departments and doing a second masters, which helped me connect a lot, but there was still a big difference. I found that I  challenged myself a lot more than necessary in ways that were not helpful. I did quite a bit of comparing about how so and so is so much younger but so much further ahead with research etc.  I am not sure any of that is a valid argument but I think it is hard to avoid some times.  I had to remind myself often that I have a life of amazing experiences that those younger than me had, and also that our experiences are different, and no less valuable or valid than the other. I did make some friendly connections with some younger students, and one of my best friends now is 13 years younger than me.  But she is also a very advanced PhD student in a gender studies program.  I found great connections with faculty, and now that I am out of both programs, I am much more connected to them than fellow former students.  I do find, as Shana mentioned, that there can be a maternal thing happen with a couple of female faculty, but really I feel like they are lifelong sources of support for me now, and I love them dearly.  Former male faculty have been more like good friends - buddies.  We hang out and drink beer and network each other.  I often wonder whether my future in a PhD program will be different than my masters time, as far as socially.  What I have learned is that these age and experience differences contribute to making our education much more rich than if we were all on the same page.  We will be the older friend for some, and the younger friend of others.  We will provide insight on life that others might not have, and they will push us to perform academically.    But finding strong friends within all that is going to be trying. We don't connect with others the way the new generations do...there simply is a disconnect. We still had analog phones in highschool ;) !  

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Honestly, I think most friendships aren't like the ones portrayed on TV and in movies: all the unconditional heart-to-hearts, sunny montages of carefree time spent together and the hours each week spent in their company, remaining friends for decades on end...it's an exaggeration on real life, at least. It might be that you're wanting something that doesn't really exist.

 

What I'd do is take up a group activity/hobby that you can do without the family in tow. Meetup is really good (it attracts folk of all ages) - hiking, running, foreign-language conversation groups don't take up too much time (perhaps 1 or 2 hours per week), but you get to hang out with people who have similar interests to you, which is always a great foundation for friendship. 

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I definitely sometimes feel like I'll never make any close friends ever again. All of the people I truly call friends I met in elementary or middle school, with the exception of one person I met at a job about 7 years ago. I actually would be fine with having just this group of friends, but the reality is that we have all been moving in very different directions. One is a stay at home mom with young kids and we really can't get together unless we're doing a kid-friendly activity. Another joined the air force and is currently in Las Vegas, which is quite far away! A third is moving to North Carolina in a few weeks, and another lives a few hours away in State College. The last who still lives here and doesn't have kids has a very different schedule than me these days, and we just don't get together often. Plus, by this time next year, I'll hopefully be settled into a PhD program in another state.

So in August of next year, I'm going to be pretty isolated from all of my friends. I'm not sure how easy it will be to make new ones. As an undergrad, I made friends with other students, but not good friends. We really only hung out in between classes and went to different school events. After I graduated, I didn't really see any of them again. We just comment on each other's Facebook posts. At my current school where I'm doing my masters, I've sort of made some friends. During my first year, I didn't really talk much to the other grad students, and I'm the only grad student in my lab. This past semester, I started seeing some of them more since I started my grad assistantship and I did some work outside of my lab, and we planned a few grad student social events. However, only five of us ever go! So I'm not too sure that these relationships are going to turn into strong friendships.

I guess I don't have any master plan for acquiring new friends in my future PhD program. I am a bit quiet until I get to know someone, so that makes things even more difficult. Ultimately, I will have labmates that I can try to connect with, and my top program choices have social events (UT even has a grad student retreat camping in the Smokies in September). So I shouldn't have trouble actually meeting people. The trouble is making sure I don't act too socially inept!

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This is a really interesting thread. I think I'm sort of the opposite of you, OP, because I've always been someone who likes lots of acquaintances, but has never wanted (as an adult, anyway) a best friend. I honestly prefer to spend most of my time either by myself or with my husband and kids. Being with other people for extended periods of time gives me what I call a "socialization headache." I like doing the occasional girls' night out or brunch, but anything more and I begin to get antsy for personal space. 

 

I like the idea above of joining Meetups to meet people in the same "season of life" as you. I know some of my acquaintances have met their besties in crafting groups or fitness groups organized either by Meetup or by their local recreation centers. Might those be an option for you?

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I like the idea above of joining Meetups to meet people in the same "season of life" as you. I know some of my acquaintances have met their besties in crafting groups or fitness groups organized either by Meetup or by their local recreation centers. Might those be an option for you?

 

While the suggestions are good, they do not apply to me.  I do not like to hang out with "groups" of people.  I prefer to just relate to one person or two at the maximum, at a time.  I am not a fitness guru, and while I enjoy crafts, I simply do not have the energy to be creative.  I have a small art studio that has gathered dust in the last year.  When I am in school, I spend a lot of time away from home, so a lot of my free time goes to my husband, or taking care of my disabled mother.

I know you are probably thinking "well, if she has no time, how can she commit to a friendship".  It doesn't sound rational.  I just simply miss having that close friend.  All I have is my husband and my mother... and well, I just wish I had a friend on the outside.  

And for those who don't believe anything like that can exist... I have seen it for myself.  My mother who is in her 60's, is still very close to her childhood best friend.  My ex-husband, is still close to his grade-school best friends.  I have seen close relationships that have lasted 30+ years so I know they exist.  When I moved to California, the friendships I thought were close (and were 15+ years into it), fizzled because I became "out of sight, out of mind", and they moved on to the next close friend who lived near them.

 

Anyway, I must sound like I am whining, and I apologize for that.  

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Yours isn't so uncommon a scenario, Navymom. Which might not be entirely consoling, though at least maybe it'll be comforting to you to know that you're not alone. :-) It's a common cry, especially (I think) among us females, who have the best-friends of grade school, high school, etc.

I don't have any magical answer for it. I'm a social butterfly, of sorts, but I don't really care for the Meetups I've went to, though they're fine enough for what they are. I think it's just a season-of-life thing that we all have to come to terms with: some people will come into our lives forever, some will be for just a moment. I'm still pretty young, so I don't have the "whole picture" view yet. But I have had the bad-breakup with a friend that was like what you described, and only recently came to terms with letting it go. I still have my 2 best girl friends from uni. years, so that gets me through the hard times. But I live in a city that I've yet to make quality friends like I've always been able to before, albeit on a lesser level than my ladies from college. I've heard married life is like that, having less and less personal friends, especially once you have kids (I don't yet), but both my husband and I are rather young and social, so we at least can keep married acquaintances. Though my mother has one or two close friends that's she's made, post-marriage and raising 6 young wild things! ;-)

 

All this rambling to say: if you're looking for a soul-mate girl friend, it's probably going to take some time, and there's the chance that relationships will come and go; things change all the time, unfortunately. But I doubt you'll be friendless forever. I've had friends who graduated and found it difficult to find a peer community like in college, and I've had others who have fit right into their post-graduate years. I myself went overseas and became best friends with a young lady in her 40s, and we're still friends, even though I'm "home" and she's in China. It's probably just one of those "seasons." It sucks, it's not comfortable, and no one likes it. But it happens to us all. You don't strike me as the kind of person that won't be unreceptive to possible new friendships, so I would just try to enjoy the other aspects of your life; relationships will happen. Focusing on the "other" may not be as special or desirous as finding a heart-mate friend. But, then, that kind of friendship wouldn't be so special for the having, if it came too readily or often. I suspect that kind of friend will come around where you least expect it. I certainly never expected to find another best friend overseas! Do try not to be too sad. You're definitely not alone in your longing. I hope you do find that special friend, sooner rather than later. Goodness knows many of us girls just need that good, social outlet! *^^*

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Yours isn't so uncommon a scenario, Navymom. Which might not be entirely consoling, though at least maybe it'll be comforting to you to know that you're not alone. :-) It's a common cry, especially (I think) among us females, who have the best-friends of grade school, high school, etc.

I don't have any magical answer for it. I'm a social butterfly, of sorts, but I don't really care for the Meetups I've went to, though they're fine enough for what they are. I think it's just a season-of-life thing that we all have to come to terms with: some people will come into our lives forever, some will be for just a moment. I'm still pretty young, so I don't have the "whole picture" view yet. But I have had the bad-breakup with a friend that was like what you described, and only recently came to terms with letting it go. I still have my 2 best girl friends from uni. years, so that gets me through the hard times. But I live in a city that I've yet to make quality friends like I've always been able to before, albeit on a lesser level than my ladies from college. I've heard married life is like that, having less and less personal friends, especially once you have kids (I don't yet), but both my husband and I are rather young and social, so we at least can keep married acquaintances. Though my mother has one or two close friends that's she's made, post-marriage and raising 6 young wild things! ;-)

 

All this rambling to say: if you're looking for a soul-mate girl friend, it's probably going to take some time, and there's the chance that relationships will come and go; things change all the time, unfortunately. But I doubt you'll be friendless forever. I've had friends who graduated and found it difficult to find a peer community like in college, and I've had others who have fit right into their post-graduate years. I myself went overseas and became best friends with a young lady in her 40s, and we're still friends, even though I'm "home" and she's in China. It's probably just one of those "seasons." It sucks, it's not comfortable, and no one likes it. But it happens to us all. You don't strike me as the kind of person that won't be unreceptive to possible new friendships, so I would just try to enjoy the other aspects of your life; relationships will happen. Focusing on the "other" may not be as special or desirous as finding a heart-mate friend. But, then, that kind of friendship wouldn't be so special for the having, if it came too readily or often. I suspect that kind of friend will come around where you least expect it. I certainly never expected to find another best friend overseas! Do try not to be too sad. You're definitely not alone in your longing. I hope you do find that special friend, sooner rather than later. Goodness knows many of us girls just need that good, social outlet! *^^*

 

 

Thank you!!!  I guess I just needed to hear that I am not alone in this... (meaning there is nothing wrong with me).  It has gotten harder, the older I get, to connect with others.  Hopefully I will have the chance to have some close friendships into late adulthood. 

 

Thank you everyone for your generous input and encouragement.  

 

^_^

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While the suggestions are good, they do not apply to me.  I do not like to hang out with "groups" of people.  I prefer to just relate to one person or two at the maximum, at a time.  I am not a fitness guru, and while I enjoy crafts, I simply do not have the energy to be creative.  I have a small art studio that has gathered dust in the last year.  When I am in school, I spend a lot of time away from home, so a lot of my free time goes to my husband, or taking care of my disabled mother.

I know you are probably thinking "well, if she has no time, how can she commit to a friendship".  It doesn't sound rational.  I just simply miss having that close friend.  All I have is my husband and my mother... and well, I just wish I had a friend on the outside.  

And for those who don't believe anything like that can exist... I have seen it for myself.  My mother who is in her 60's, is still very close to her childhood best friend.  My ex-husband, is still close to his grade-school best friends.  I have seen close relationships that have lasted 30+ years so I know they exist.  When I moved to California, the friendships I thought were close (and were 15+ years into it), fizzled because I became "out of sight, out of mind", and they moved on to the next close friend who lived near them.

 

Anyway, I must sound like I am whining, and I apologize for that.  

I just came to this thread from the "Older Students" thread, having posted something much more in keeping with this one! I don't want to reiterate or belabor any points that I made over in the other thread, and I certainly don't want to seem like misery that loves company, but it does help me to feel less like such an odd duck that others are going through the same thing. It's hard to admit that one feels socially inept or awkward or--gasp--to consider the possibility that one might be unlikeable (this refers only to me, not to anyone on this list--I'd say that the Grad Cafe folks are a likable bunch). And yet it is also hard to see how I can work to change the situation. Everyone seemed to make friends so quickly; my cohort are hardly the socially-awkward academics one hears about. And I did feel that I worked hard not to be left out, and we've had a few really fun times. But they seem to be tapering off, so it must be something that I've done, or said, or that I was born long, long ago?

 

NavyMom, I empathize with your wanting to make friends. I've changed life paths to go back to school. I have disassociated myself from the life I had before; it no longer worked for me--never did, really--and with that have shed the acquaintances I gathered along the way, even burned some bridges that led nowhere I wanted to go. And now, I can't think of anything I had rather be doing, for any amount of money. I am, as they say, living the dream (funny as that may sound to some). With that dream, I'd like some real friends, lifelong friends with whom I can share this new journey.

 

I can only hope that all of us can find what we are searching for. To me, success is best enjoyed in the company of others.

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While the suggestions are good, they do not apply to me.  I do not like to hang out with "groups" of people.  I prefer to just relate to one person or two at the maximum, at a time.  I am not a fitness guru, and while I enjoy crafts, I simply do not have the energy to be creative.  I have a small art studio that has gathered dust in the last year.  When I am in school, I spend a lot of time away from home, so a lot of my free time goes to my husband, or taking care of my disabled mother.

I know you are probably thinking "well, if she has no time, how can she commit to a friendship".  It doesn't sound rational.  I just simply miss having that close friend.  All I have is my husband and my mother... and well, I just wish I had a friend on the outside.  

And for those who don't believe anything like that can exist... I have seen it for myself.  My mother who is in her 60's, is still very close to her childhood best friend.  My ex-husband, is still close to his grade-school best friends.  I have seen close relationships that have lasted 30+ years so I know they exist.  When I moved to California, the friendships I thought were close (and were 15+ years into it), fizzled because I became "out of sight, out of mind", and they moved on to the next close friend who lived near them.

 

Anyway, I must sound like I am whining, and I apologize for that.  

 

You don't sound whiny at all - I totally get what you're saying. 

 

I had a best friend in high school who passed away very unexpectedly, but I remember our friendship was wonderfully close.  I have a lot of female acquaintances who will invite me to go out for coffee or to a potluck, but I miss the friend who would call me at 2 AM to go hiking and who would slingshot her bra against the wall the second she got home because it was uncomfortable to wear in public (being in my presence constituted "not in public" and it made me feel loved, no matter how weird that sounds).

 

I immediately get annoyed at parties where people only have fun posing for a picture, but no one wants to DO anything fun unless they can record it for Facebook.

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