December 29, 2012

Make Some Friends! (Here's How..)

by Tracy   
(Introduced by Amy)

Lookin crazy at a Christmas Party
Tracy and I met in an Art Education class at college.  She was so friendly and cool and very enthusiastic (in a good way); it seemed like everyone loved her!  To tell the truth, I was intimidated.  I thought, "She's so cool; she probably doesn't care to be friends with me."  (Ugh...Please. How pathetically high school.)  

She was always friendly and kind.  The more I knew her, the better I liked her.  Then, on a school trip to see a high school art show, I asked her if she knew my second cousins who lived in her home town.  She told me they were HER first cousins.  Say WHAT?!  Yep.  Tracy and I are totally cousins! (second, once removed, but we'll go with cousins!)  Good thing we liked each other!  Pretty serendipitous, don't you think?  I miss her a lot, now that she lives across the world in Texas. :)

I now count Tracy as one of the people I look up to most.  She is funny and smart, and loves to talk (as do I, so neither of us feels talked over! haa).  Though she has dealt with some super hard experiences in her life, (but those are her stories to tell) she continues to have a rock solid faith in God.  She serves and reaches out to others easily; it's just part of her nature.  And...she probably is the coolest mom and wife ever.  Plus she loves art, so of course she is amazing!  She has been my greatest support and brainstormer in starting "Swag On".  I love this girl!  Check out her fabulous blog:

Two months after getting married in my home state of Alaska, I moved with my new husband to west Texas- thousands of miles from any family or friends. This was my first time being truly by myself without any siblings, cousins, or high school friends around to socialize with and have as a backup support group. It was just my sweetheart and me in the middle of nowhere, TX.

While I was glad to move to a new state and start my marriage in a fresh new place, rely on each other, and have new adventures while we started our family, it was very difficult being without any friends. I remember being lonely and fervently praying that I would be able to meet people that I could connect with who would be true friends.

I am not a shy person at all, and usually make friends easily. What I was unprepared for was the difference of being newlyweds in a social community (mostly at church) that was full of married families with many children and/or empty nesters.  Everyone we interacted with was very friendly, but it seemed like I really needed friends- but no one else did. Their lives were already full of children, work, and the business of everyday life. They didn’t need a new friend in their lives- all of their needs were already being met by the family and friends they already had.

In addition, making friends once you are married is a whole new experience since now you are looking for a couple (most likely) that both you, and your husband, get along with equally well.

It was even more difficult since the area we live in has a large amount of military families that are transient. Many are military students who are only here for a few months, and others are instructors who are only here for a few years. This poses a problem because people can be hesitant to reach out and try to make new friends when they know you (or they) won’t be here for long.

After praying, I realized that there were things I could do to find a kindred spirit. Here is what I have learned after living here for four years.

1.     Go to everything, and keep going.

This was my first line of defense when it came to making new friends. I feel very blessed that our church has a program especially for women to interact and get to know one another. It even provides a ladies night once a month for activities and classes. I made a point to go to every single activity- even though for most of them no one sat by me or talked to me, and I felt like a big loser. I did not let this deter me! I kept going.
I knew the importance of face time and letting people see me consistently. Eventually they would start to recognize me, and learn that I was around to stay. I was someone that they would see again, so it was worth coming up to me and introducing themselves and learning my name. It also showed those that were in charge that they could at least count on me attending- that I was dependable and wanting to make connections with other women. You can’t make friends if you don’t put yourself in situations to do so.

Similarly, I went to every church meeting every Sunday and participated. I made comments and interacted with those sitting around me. I made sure that I made my presence known and that I was willing to open my mouth and contribute.

2.     Identify, help, and invite.

This was my second line of defense in my plan to make friends. First, I identified someone that I really liked and wanted to become closer friends with, then a made a plan to make it happen.

At the time, the woman I wanted to befriend had four daughters under the age of eight and was pregnant with her fifth. Her husband was serving in the leadership of our congregation and so she sat by herself during meetings trying to manage her girls alone. I saw a need she had and jumped at the opportunity to help. This is the second step.

We started sitting in her pew every Sunday and helped her with her children. This gave us a great opportunity to get to know her better and let a friendship start to blossom naturally.  

The third step in my plan was to invite her and her family to do something with us outside of church. You have to realize that people are busy and even if they are interested in being friends, you have to find something that will work for them too.

In my opinion, the best way to do this is to invite people over to your home for dinner and/or games. Everyone needs to eat dinner, and who doesn’t love a free one that they didn’t have to make themselves?

Having someone in your home gives them the opportunity to learn where you live, see how you live/your lifestyle, and have a relaxed and comfortable space to get to know each other better. Keep in mind if they have kids what time they usually eat dinner, food allergies/preferences, and what time they usually put their kids to bed- and plan accordingly. We once had a family over and I made two huge crock-pots of split pea soup- which was not well received by the three young children.

In addition, if a family has young children, make sure any games you play are games that everyone can participate in. Something like Apples to Apples is a good choice for a first time over.

Lastly, a very important part of extending an invitation to someone is picking an actual date and time. Just saying, “we should get together sometime” is not enough. It will most likely never happen. If you are serious about a friendship, make it happen by making it official and picking a date and time. Be proactive.

A.    Pick someone you would like to be friends with

B.    Find a way to help them

C.     Invite them to a play date, dinner, or games at a specified date and time

3.     Say Yes!

My last tip is to accept invitations. Even if it is something that you are nervous about attending, it is so important to accept invitations when you get them. It shows people that you want to be friends and gives you opportunities to meet new people at the event at the same time. They could introduce you to a completely new set of people to befriend.

This includes attending work functions with your husband, a baby shower for someone you barely know, and helping someone move.

If you are truly struggling to make friends, you need to start somewhere. Use any invitations from others to brush up on your social skills and practice getting out of your comfort zone. You never know who could become your new best friend unless you give them a chance and put yourself out there.

Even after implementing my plan, it took several months for friendships to grow and blossom, so don’t be discouraged if it takes some time. You might find them in unexpected places.

Our first real friends in Texas were an amazing couple who are closer in age to our parents than us. She was the president of the women’s organization of our local congregation and her husband was the Bishop of our local congregation. They invited us over to watch devotionals on TV and play card games with them, and even invited us over for Christmas dinner our first Christmas away from home. She would also invite me to luncheons with some of the women in our church and gave me rides. I really appreciated her friendship and especially them opening their home to us and inviting us over.

I try to follow their wonderful example by extending the hand of friendship to others and helping them feel loved and included.


What other advice or tips do you have for making new friends? What has worked for you in the past? Please share them in the comments below!


  1. This is one of my goals this year. I feel like I was fantastic at making friends in high school but somehow I lost my Social Butterfly status after my wedding day. It just doesn't seem as easy as before. I might have to go the "fake it 'till you make it" route in the confidence department. However, now that my family has settled down in one place, I really want to make some lasting friendships again. Thanks for the tips!

    Andrea ~

    1. I agree! It is very different once you are married. I think part of it for me was that being married I wasn't "looking for love" anymore (ie. husband), and so wasn't involved in as many activities and putting myself in situations to meet people in general.

      Also, in our church we are blessed with a great single's program, and unfortunately once you are married you are kind of on your own in organizing and creating activities to socialize.

      Let me know how your goal works for the year and if you have any success stories to share, Andrea! I'm always eager for more ideas myself. :)

  2. Tracy...I so needed this. We have been in Oregon almost 6 months and I am not sure I could even count on having more than one friend. THANK YOU!!

    1. Good! Thank you so much for saying that, Jody! A response like yours makes sharing experiences completely worth it.

      Share with me any things that work for you in the upcoming weeks/months, and let me know if any of these tips work for you.

      I am already working on "Make Some Friends Part II" of more ideas/things that I've done to encourage friendships here. :) I'll send you a link when it's finished!

  3. Tracy, awesome ideas! The split pea soup story...hahaha, how funny! Did you give them something else to eat? I wonder about that now that we invite people for dinner who have kids.

    Jody and Andrea, so glad you found us! Thanks for taking the time to comment! :)

    1. Thanks, Amy! No, I didn't have anything else prepared for them to eat. :S Whoops. haha! Now I try to stick to frozen lasagna or spaghetti when we have people over for the first time. Both are easy/quick dinners I keep on hand so we can invite people after church on Sunday spur of the moment. I usually ask if there are any food allergies, etc.

  4. GREAT tips! I find that even those of us who are totally swamped with caring for family, work, church, etc... still need at least a few really good friends. Everyone needs someone to confide in, or go to with heartache/joy, or someone to just make them laugh when the kids have them at their very last nerve. Someone to sit by at church functions, or to just be silly with once in a while.
    I was quite shy to start with, but around high school I opened up into a bit of a social butterfly and made friends much easier. My adult life has gone back and forth between "make friends with everyone you meet" and "I feel like no one want to sit by me" modes. It's so easy to let yourself fall between the cracks when you are moving often and starting over again.
    With our most recent move, I made a VERY specific effort to make friends before even getting here. I found facebook groups for the local area, searched out members of my church and sent them messages with questions (asking when/where church was, about youth group for the kids, etc), and made sure I had a little safety net of people watching out for me when I got here. It made ALL the difference!

    1. Susie, your plan ahead tactic is brilliant!

    2. Go, Susie! :D I agree with Amy, planning ahead and contacting people, getting involved etc. is genius. That is the kind of stuff I love to hear- people being proactive instead of waiting for someone else to come along and meet their needs.

      PS. What you said about needing someone to sit by at church functions really resonated with me. That is something I've been thinking about a lot, and have been trying to share with VTing- that the VT program should help us fill that need. That you should always have at least two people who are happy to see you, say "hi", and want you to sit with them.


Share your questions, comments, and compliments...we like 'em all! :) Don't be shy: we want to hear from YOU! Plus, you can let this lady know her story was heard--I promise your comment means a lot to her!

Thanks, friends! :)