“I stopped drinking a year ago. All my friends are still there, at the bar, every weekend. I needed to stop. It’s so lonely.” “We used to go out all the time, but since having kids, we’re too tired. We barely have time for ourselves, let alone friends. It would be nice to connect, but I guess everyone is busy at this time of life.” “I can’t afford to go to the spa every week or join the country club like my parents did. We don’t have that kind of income.”
When there is a major life change, you move, have a baby, or change a habit that is no longer working for you, it can be a lonely time.
It’s hard to find new people or figure out what kind of things there are to do that don’t involve jeopardizing what is important to you right now.
When people ask what adults do for fun, they’re often asking, “How can I connect?” For some of us, we resign ourselves to drudgery, believing that is what adulthood is all about. When we see ‘fun’ as being only the things that we can’t access, or choose not to, we believe that adulthood is ‘sober’ (in both meanings of the word) and dull. It doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t have to be expensive, it doesn’t have to involve drugs or alcohol, and it doesn’t have to (always) require child care. It’s about friendship, even for tired introverts.
Friendship usually provides one or more of three things: Practical support, emotional support and intellectual support or inspiration. Here are some ideas for building connection with friends or to add more fun to your life:
Years ago, we started a Worker Bee club where one of us would have a major project to do on our house or yard (painting the outside, building a deck, making a pizza oven) and everyone would spend the day helping. The next time we would go to someone else’s house and help them.
Weekly child care groups where two moms or two dads plan an afternoon to watch the kids and the rest get free time.
You know you need more exercise but hate doing it. Find someone who wants to explore different places with you and go on a walking tour of your city. Or a weekly cross country ski date. Or a running partner… You get the idea. Look for groups to join that already exist.
Cooking clubs – where you get together once a month and cook or bake a bunch of food with others and then switch dishes.
There’s nothing like tea (or coffee) with a friend to find connection. Even with the kids around, constantly interrupting, you can check in on a regular basis with a genuine “How are you doing?” and with honest answers to that question.
Hugs, hand holding, kisses on the cheek, a back rub, sitting close. Physical affection is something that many people feel is only for your partner and awkward or misconstrued elsewhere, but we need more!!
We are starving for affection in our day to day lives. The same rules apply with friends as it does in dating: ask before touching, and look for cues that someone is uncomfortable. But you also need to ask if you need it. “Can I have a hug?” “Can you just rub my back?” We’ve got to get better at this people.
Phone dates with a partner, family member, or a friend. Find time to connect.
I heard of several couples who have put ads in Kijiji for friends who shared certain interests and reported that they had made some good friend as a result.
Plan a festival, feast, block party, board game tournament, bonfires, backyard concerts, camp out in a snow quince, walk up movie theatre – in the garage… make it big, but don’t make it complicated. The key to this being fun is LOW STRESS! In a word, potlucks. Everyone plans a different part of the event (one does face painting; one does animal tricks; one plans a street hockey game).
Your goal is that you and everyone else has fun. Full stop. If someone doesn’t pull their weight or the extra chairs fail to materialize.. it’s all good.
Intellectual Support/ Stimulation
This might be the friend who ‘knows stuff.’ You call them when you need to know something. These days, that friend is often ‘Google.’ But some people have info even google doesn’t. For example, the story of how they came to Canada, which uncle was the one with the club foot, or the name of the Dr who delivered your younger brother. Get to know someone whose first language is different than yours, who grew up in a very different way than you, or who is part of a different religion than yours.
Join a book club, start a documentary night, or a food club. I once heard of a group of men who started a food club with 12 members where each month one of them planned and cooked an elaborate meal for the other 11 members, each trying to outdo the other, matching wines to cheese and trying new recipes. The other 11 months they got to have a free fancy meal with 12 friends.
Join a political party or a non-profit. Hang out with activists, or go to a protest or event and find out about their cause.
Attend a lecture and ask questions during question period. Most universities have public lecture series or conferences, many are free.
Make a point to go to a free concert or a public performance (check your city guide).
What kinds of things do you do to connect with others? I’d love to hear your ideas.
For an interesting read about connection and happiness, check out The Little Book of Hygge- The Danish Way to Live Well by Meike Wiking *of the Happiness Institute in Copenhagen.
*Please note: I have signed on as an affiliate sales person for McNally Robinson which means that if you click on the above link, and decide to purchase the book I’ve recommended, I will receive an affiliate’s fee. I only recommend books I have read and believe to be worth recommending.
For more about building community and connection see Lonely? Let’s Move Closer
For more about building a life based on values see What’s Worth Digging For? Finding your Values
Read about work alternatives at The Rat Race Ain’t Made for Humans – Get out in 4 easy 😉 steps
Read about work/school/life balance at Drowning in School-Work