Dear Savvy Sister,
I am a huge introvert and I find as I get older, I have a harder time making real connections with people. (People so often misunderstand introversion because they don’t see me as a “shy” person). I really don’t enjoy “Mommy” groups, book clubs, “Girls Night Out,” or any function where I have to gather with people I don’t know very well. I work a lot and when I am not working, I spend most of my time preparing for work or taking care of my family. My closest friend, a coworker, just moved out of state, and I was devastated at the loss. I have been burned in the past by female friendships, so I am very cautious when it comes to making new friends. Most of the mothers of my child’s friends are a great deal younger than me, so I feel like we are a generation apart. I do get lonely, however, and I miss having the connection with other women. HELP!
Angelina Jolie has said that she doesn’t have a lot of close female friends. (Insert HUSBAND-STEALER jokes here.) That makes me think that when she finally bestows her trust in someone, she’s a really awesome friend, the kind who’ll, say, hold your hand when you get a tattoo. I suspect she’s an introvert just like you. And you’re right to distinguish it from shyness, which has more to do with feeling inhibited or embarrassed in front of people. My 7-year-old son, for example, is shy. That’s why he only threatens to LEAVE ME FOREVER in the privacy of his own home.
But you can’t just call up Angelina Jolie. Plus, it would be hard to establish a true friendship with her when you’re busy coveting her husband. Oh, Brad. You know you’re exactly my age, don’t you? And we share a love of New Orleans, adopted children and George Clooney?
Wait. What are we talking about? Oh. Right.
You’ve got two issues here. Three, actually.
1. Your closest friend abandoned you. I HATE when that happens. One of my nearest-dearest moved two years ago, and I still get weepy when she posts pictures on Facebook. Two suggestions: call her often, and make sure she calls you. It sucks that you won’t be working with her anymore, but talk time can give you a boost. Also – plan a visit. Is she relatively close? A quick overnight? Make it happen. Don’t give her up. In this case, long-distance relationships work.
2. Have you heard of Post-Sucky-Friend-Disorder? You DEFINITELY have some PSFD going on. Me, too! Me, too! A woman once broke up with me because she thought I was judgmental – but instead of telling me, she just stopped speaking to me. And I thought my judgmental-ness was us having close intimate banter! Didn’t help that our daughters were besties. Screwed up everything. I cried for months about it. But you know what? I learned from that. In hindsight, there were signs I missed. A little fabrication here, a missed dinner date there – next time I won’t waste my time on someone with so little friend potential. So tell yourself: Those failed friendships say more about them than they do about you, and at least they gave you insight into who you don’t want to trust.
3. Here’s the crux of the issue: Because you still bear PSFD scars, you’re not interested in the hard work of weeding out the field. But, honey, if you want to make friends, you’ve got to get back on that tractor. It’s like dating, really. I know, who wants to do THAT at our age? I’m an older mom, too – a lot of my kids’ friends moms are total hotties who don’t even need Botox yet. But my hangout friends are exactly my age – and I met them all at the gym. We went through a long tryout period during which they invited me to some gatherings, but not to all of them. And get this: some of them are conservative. ACK, right? But it turns out that some conservatives are people, too! Who knew? Now I love these women dearly.
You need to start the interview process, and try to enjoy it. I don’t blame you for not wanting to get involved in stranger book clubs. Last time I did that, it ended abruptly and badly with some untimely allusions to Hitler.
So you must occasionally run into women you think are cool. Invite someone to meet for coffee. You may click, you may not. And what about the BFF who moved? Did she have local friends you can
steal hook up with? If you trust her, then it makes sense that you’ll like her other friends, right? Invite one of them to go to a movie.
I know this isn’t easy. I’ve spent many a night alone with the kids thinking, Why doesn’t somebody call me? Honestly, though, couldn’t I have picked up my phone?
Finally, finding a girlfriend is hard enough, but then investing the time and effort into showing her what makes you tick is exhausting. When do you tell her about the night you spent in jail? Will she be think your fear of balsamic vinegar is weird? And it won’t happen overnight. You may endure a dozen latte dates before you find someone who’s Chardonnay-worthy. But it’s worth the effort to find that perfect one who doesn’t care that you snort when you laugh or the fact that you’ve never donated blood.
Bottom line? Hit the pavement, sister. Reach out and make some connections, and don’t be afraid of the metaphorical one-night stand. Didn’t you kiss a lot of frogs to get to your prince? Me, too. This is no different. You’re gonna meet a lot of bitches – but trust me, there’s a dog out there for you. Maybe even two.
the Savvy Sister