As a typical introvert, I have always had a fairly small group of friends. I hate small talk and big gatherings and casual relationships, so I've always prioritized close relationships with a few people over superficial ones with many. And for the most part, this has always worked for me. I still have a friend whom I met in kindergarten* and another whom I met in grade five, and I am closer with them than I am with any of my biological family.
When M and I started
dating, I was shocked to see how large her friendship group was. She
is as extroverted as I am introverted, and so she has accumulated an
enormous collection of friends and acquaintances over the years. People
from church, people from university, people from her childhood camp,
people from work. We rarely went out in public without running into at
least one person whom she would consider a friend.
have never wanted my friendship circle to be as broad as hers (I don't
think I could even remember the names of all the people she knows), but I
was always envious of how easy it was for her to find someone to spend
time with when she wanted to. Many of my friends are physicians or new
moms, so getting together usually involves weeks to months of planning.
There aren't a lot of people in my life whom I can call up at the last
minute when I'm feeling bored or am in need of a sympathetic ear.
wasn't a huge problem when M and I were dating, as I could always call
on her, but I became aware of it again when we separated. The weekend
after the breakup, almost every person in my life was busy. It was
almost comedic to see how many people were unavailable that weekend - my
mom was visiting her family halfway across the country, my
aforementioned long-term friends were both away, my brother was on call,
two of my friends had brand new babies, and another good friend had
quarantined herself in her house with her three plaque-ridden children.
Thankfully a close friend whom I had met through online dating** years
ago was free, although I suspect she could have done without being my
primary emotional support at the beginning of my breakup.
post sounds a bit whiny, which is really not my intention. This post
isn't so much about gaining sympathy (or worse, pity) as it is about
being self-aware. While my introverted tendency is to be insular and
not deal with the stress of meeting new people, my newly single self is
craving more connections and a larger community. Which means taking
risks and living with some of the initial discomfort that comes from
dealing with strangers.
So far, my focus has been
mostly on strengthening my existing relationships, which I unfortunately
neglected a bit while I was deeply ensconced in my relationship with
M. But the next step is to broaden my circle. I have recently joined a
French conversation group, as I am trying to become fluent(ish) in
French, and it's an opportunity to meet some like-minded people. I'm
also applying to be on the Board of Directors for a small local theatre
company, which would combine meeting new people with my slightly obsessive love of theatre. And I'm trying to reconnect with some of my cousins, with whom I've lost touch since my Dad died eight years ago.
of this feels a little (a lot?) stressful to me, as I am very
comfortable in my own comfort zone. But even introverts need friends,
so I'm going to use the opportunity of my newly single life to bring
more people into it. Fear and discomfort be damned.
Any other ideas for growing my community? How do you meet new people as an adult?
*35 years ago. How insane is that?
**One of the advantages of same-sex relationships. If there's no romantic chemistry, sometimes you can be friends!