Making friends in a new place

Moving across the country, I remained hopeful that I would be able to foster some new friendships once I arrived to Maine. I would like to say that my job and the kids are pretty demanding of my time (a tenure track position in a university), but the reality is that I have had difficulty making and keeping friendships over the years.

In order to reach my level of education, I was in graduate school and working during most of my 20’s and 30’s, though I was able to maintain a few close relationships with some college friends which was really all I needed at that time.My husband and I regularly socialized with these friends on a Friday or Saturday night and these were fairly “easy” relationships, supportive, with a common history of having gone to the same college and living in the same town. We spent holiday and vacations together.

And then a job opportunity took me to Northern California, and since that time I would say it is challenging to form friendships. In California we lived in a town of 1000 people, so it was easy to know who people were and I found that I could go to events and activities and not have to worry about knowing folks; my husband knew everybody and folks felt they knew me by association. But there were not coffee dates or long walks with friends on the beach; I was either busy teaching or taking care of the two kids we had after I finished my graduate studies.

The two angels keep me busy

I think I am a pretty friendly person, and I tend to connect well with others. Part of the issue of forming friendships is that I am introvert; I like to spend my free time alone, walking in the woods or on the beach or reading a book. The other part of the issue is that I feel overwhelmed with making plans and obligating myself to building a friendship. I would also say I have trust issues with building friendships. And I like to discuss matters of spiritual and intellectual development, that perhaps many folks would not be interested in.

My husband and I did form a friendship with a couple in Northern California. We spent time going to see bands play, we watched each other’s animals when we traveled, and we celebrated some holidays together. Things changed when I got pregnant and had the first child, and I could not devote the same amount of time and care to pet sitting their animals. They came over to visit the baby when we first came home from the hospital, but the relationship rapidly changed and faded.

Then there were the friendships with other parents, but they usually revolved around the kids and everybody was so busy, it was often difficult to come together outside of kids’ events.

Now that I am in New England, things haven’t changed much. I found that going to church is an easy way to socialize, but it does not obligate me to forming deep friendships. There is something about the spiritual community that offers a feeling of connection that endures, though this is not really friendship per se. There is also a good source of parenting support within the church community. I got to a yoga studio, where it feels like a community, but of course we don’t really know each other.

I also have colleagues at work I have bonded with a bit; likewise, I have colleagues across the country that I work with on various projects. These are very satisfying relationships, but I would be hesitant to call most of them friendships.

I am not really sure how to go about forming those BFF type relationships. I am not sure where my endurance would come from, nor the time and energy. For me, I think this may be a spiritual issue, one I need to release to God and ask for guidance around, trusting that God is bringing the right people to me.

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