Cultivating Genuine Friendships

Alright moms, in our first post on friendships, we talked about how you might be able to meet moms that could eventually become your mom squad. In post 2 of this series, we talked about the importance of being true to yourself. There’s no sense in trying to be someone you’re not, otherwise you’re going to attract potential friends who actually won’t be a good fit.

Now that you know where you meet these potential friends and that connecting with them by being true to yourself is the way to go, how do you cultivate genuine friendships?

Take small, but consistent steps toward a friendship

I have women who I’ve been friends with for over a decade. When life gets busy, we may not check in very often. A month (or two) can go by and we haven’t talked. Does this do damage to our friendship? No, because we’ve come to this place of understanding and we know that eventually we’ll reconnect.

In early friendships, however, I’ve found that if too much time comes in between points of contact this often means that this friendship isn’t going to evolve into a deeper connection. Why is that? Well, you end up creating a cycle: you don’t see the person so you may begin to lose that initial connection you had; you’re not as compelled to reach out because you don’t have a history with that person and likely have other priorities: friends or otherwise. The more time that passes, probably the less likely you are to reach out.

Life is busy- what can you do?

It’s so easy to miss out on those early initial steps in friendship because life is seriously busy. And chances are, the other person’s schedule and yours may not match up well. Does this mean you won’t be friends? No, but you may have to get creative with how or when you connect:

  • Text just to say hi and ask how their week is going
  • See if they can meet at a park for just an hour
  • Grab a coffee together after school drop off and bring toys to keep your younger kids busy
  • See about grabbing a drink together: remember- build relationships with moms that you like as people; your outings don’t always have to be with kids

Continue to invite or try to set up dates. Even if it doesn’t happen right away, you’re putting yourself out there. If the other person doesn’t recipriocate and try to initial plans, then maybe this friendship isn’t meant to be. But, if you both continue to pursue it, then chances are it will work out to get together, you’ll reconnect and you’ll see if you want to get together again. If you have fun, you’ll likely be more inclined to make plans again. When you’re together, talk more about schedules and figure out where your free pockets of time overlap. This is usually easier face-to-face.

Some tips about what not to do

Friendships can develop in all sorts of ways, and there aren’t many hard and fast rules. While I’m certainly not an official rule-maker, here are my suggestions about what you may want to avoid as you develop your mom friendships:

  • Playdates at people’s houses. I have a friend who had a playdate at her house the first time she hung out with a mom and her child. She said it was the most awkward experience ever. Not only did the two have very little in common, which made conversation tough, but since it was her house, she couldn’t leave after a certain period of time. I’ve also struggled with playdates at home with really good friends because my son is sometimes possessive of his stuff. So, it’s easier to go somewhere that is no one’s territory. Think about a park or local kids’ play place, especially as you’re all getting to know each other.
  • Being late (more than a few minutes, but also habitually). I know that it’s hard being on time when you’re a mom because things can go sideways quickly even when you plan well. But, if you’re habitually late, this tells me that you don’t plan well, but you also don’t respect my time. Do I cut moms a little more slack with being late? Absolutely, but if you’re constantly late, I may not be hanging out with you very often. If you are running late, you probably know about it ahead of time. Even though things happen right when we’re about to walk out the door, it does seem like a series of events that tend to get in the way. So, plan ahead and give yourself more time than you need. If you’re running late, text the person and let them know. It’s common courtesy and shouldn’t be overlooked, especially with a new friend. We’re moms- we get it, but lack of communication and habitual tardiness are likely to get in the way of a friendship (unless you happen to meet a kindred spirit who is also regularly runs late).
  • Drinking too much. I am all about having a cocktail as part of a get together, because sometimes you just need one. But, be careful of drinking too much too early on, especially if your kids are around. Being the sloppy one isn’t usually all that attractive and if someone doesn’t know you and your endearing qualities well? Well, they might not enjoy the drunk version of you. So, yes, if you like to drink, enjoy an adult beverage together as you bond with your new friend, but know your limits and I’d suggest staying well under them at the start of a friendship.
  • Don’t be too aggressive with pursuing a friendship. I am all for continuing to check in with a new friend and inviting someone to a play date here and there or trying to coordinate plans, but in new friendships, don’t go overboard. Again, there are no hard-and-fast rules about this, but just like you don’t want too much time in between your contact, you also don’t want to be checking in too often. This can be slightly unappealing and if someone doesn’t know you well, they may wonder why you’re texting so often. Yes, texting is a fantastically easy form of communication but most of us don’t seem to text that often with our closest friends. So, play it cool: find that balance between reaching out and waiting for the other mom to reach back. You’ll find your friend groove.

Continue cultivating genuine friendships

Your mom squad needs to be filled with genuine friendships. Learn how to go from casual acquaintances to meaningful friendships.
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If you think about the great friendships you’ve had in your life, whether they were in elementary school, high school, college or after, chances are, they developed over time. So even if you meet someone that you think could be your friend soulmate, you still need to give that relationship time and attention. Take the time to get to know that person, who she is now as a mom, but also dig deeper and learn about what she was like “pre-mom.” Remember that there are many chances for us to connect with moms, as moms. We can relate to these women through our kids and about our kids. But often times, the most meaningful relationships are the ones that go beyond our kids to really meet our own personal needs.

Regardless of how old you are or how long you’ve been a mom, having great mom friends in your support network is so important. Take the time to seek out potential mom friends, start the early stages of those relationships being true to who you are, and cultivate the relationships that have potential. And then, enjoy all of the time you spend with these friends, both with and without your kids!

Let us know- what have been the best ways you’ve been able to create great friendships?

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