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Natalie Thomas Headshot

Making Friends Part 2: Is It Easier Come Parenthood?

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Last week I wrote a piece about the challenges of making friends post-twenty-something that sparked quite the dialogue. I received more comments and followers than with most blogs thus far. (I also received many a friend request.) And, unlike the others, almost all of the comments not only agreed with me, they were positive and kind. (I must say I'm not used to that!) It turns out, you concur it is really hard to make friends post twenty-something. So, with that in mind, I decided to continue the conversation.

I think one of the reasons it's so challenging is because we've become accustomed to a relative ease in the friend-making department, making the alternative rather jarring. We might not be the best at athletics or math, may never be a good knitter or nail that yoga headstand and our muffins may always turn out a little less than perfect, but we've got socializing down! It's second nature, a no-brainer. After all, we've been doing it since birth.

During childhood, there is no shortage of neighborhood and school pals, we're constantly in activities and are much more uninhibited. College is the Costco of veritable friendships. There's an abundance of choices -- every shape, size and interest, all fairly accessible. Everyone's new, eager and on the same mission. We're meeting hall mates, classmates, teammates and all of their mates. Post-college, we have new jobs and new cities filled with all the other young, happening and mingling. Even the mid-twenties are still quite approachable. At that point, there may be steady significant others, but we're meeting their friends, our friends' partner's friends and so on.

When parenthood finally comes, the burden gets a little easier. With friends, that is. Like puppies in the park for single men, a child is a new parent's excuse. Mini-me's are the perfect entry way into friendship. There are classes, play dates and, once again, school and a reason to stick around and chat, no awkwardness necessary. Kids are a natural, comfortable icebreaker. "How old is yours?", "What's his name?", "Henry, meet Stella." And you're off! Soon, you're carpooling, picnicking and BBQing with your new pals, all thanks to your offspring.

But that in-between time -- pre-kids, post twenty-something -- is tricky. Most have chosen their city and their field, partnered up and committed to their lifestyle. They've explored their friend options, choosing those they want in and weeding the others out. There are no vacancies.

Considering my current lull, I was hanging my hopes on an influx of new faces come parenthood. My older sister, a mother of two young boys, always tells me, "You haven't met some of your best friends yet." I thought she was right. I thought that's the way it worked for everyone. She moved out of the city and into the country, knowing no one, but once her first son arrived and she got him involved in baby gym and music class, she was friendless no more. However, she may be one of the lucky ones as her theory, and mine, was proven wrong recently.

At a family reunion last month, I caught up with my cousin, who just moved from Pennsylvania to Colorado with her husband and infant daughter. She, too, thought making new friends in a new city would be easier with her little one in tow. There was no shortage of opportunity, she told me, and she even exchanged a few emails (a young, lonely mom's digits!) with other mothers. She wrote, she waited... she got nothing. If an adorable little wing woman can't seal the deal, what hope do the rest of us have?

After writing the first friend blog, I heard from many of you in your forties, sixties and even seventies and eighties. According to you, with or without kids, young or grown, sadly, it never gets easier. It appears friend-making at all ages and stages is increasingly difficult.

I don't think social media helps our case. We're drawn to stay inside, surf the net and survey other's lives with their friends instead of getting out and making our own.

Unless, of course, you write a blog about having no friends! Then, they come out of the proverbial woodwork! I've received over a dozen or so invitations and counting, many I'm accepting as a social experiment of sorts. (This terrifies my husband. He's threatening to sit in back of the coffee shop in the event my new buddy is less into talking, more into stalking.)

So, stay tuned for my third installment where I detail my friend-making progress. Hopefully I'll have some good news to report, maybe even some tips or tricks for those of you out there also looking. Hopefully, I'll also have some fun... that is, if I'm not picked off first!