One mistake I see people make when they think about friendship is that they approach it like dating. They look for a friend who resembles a soulmate: someone who has the same worldview, who shares their values, and who enjoys the same activities. Not every friend needs to check all those boxes.
I once saw a poster titled “A Guide to Love:”
(1) Find someone who makes you laugh.
(2) Find someone who has a good job and can cook.
(3) Find someone who is honest.
(4) Find someone who will pamper you with gifts.
(5) Find someone who is awesome in bed.
(6) Make sure these five individuals NEVER meet!
I think of friends like tools in a toolbox. You could have friends you discuss politics with, friends you exercise with, friends you go to cultural performances with, friends you take cooking classes and exchange recipes with, friends you call at three in the morning when you get dumped, and so on. They don’t all have to be the same person. If you reframe your definition of friendship, your world expands…and then so does your social circle.
Think about what activities you enjoy doing, and which of those activities could be enjoyed with a friend. For example, I’m an avid reader, I love to write, and I love crossword puzzles. At first glance, all of those activities appear solitary. True, I prefer to read and write alone, but I also love being part of a book club or a writers’ group. I also love trying new physical activities, cooking, going to see plays, and drinking cocktails. I enjoy many of those activities more when I do them with a friend, but there’s no reason my cocktail-drinking friends have to also be my snowshoeing friends. (I have, however, snowshoed to a taco bar before, and highly recommend it.)
Once you have your own list of activities you enjoy doing that might be even more fun with a friend, I recommend taking what I call a “friendventory” – in other words, an inventory of your current toolbox. Doing so will help identify any gaps in which you need to seek friends. For example, winter is my favorite season, and a major part of why I moved to Maine. (Pause while some of you shake your heads in disbelief…) I adore being outside in the snow, I love cross-country skiing, and I’ve always wanted to try snowmobiling. As my first full winter in Maine began, I learned that my friends didn’t embrace being outdoors in the cold like I did. If I wanted a snowshoeing buddy, I needed to widen my search.
People are out there who like the same things you do, and they’re happy to meet people who share their interests – you just have to find them. Clarity about which people you’re looking for will help you in your search.
What gaps exist in your own friendventory?