Blame it on Sex and the City, Girlfriends, and the Babysitters Club (the brain, the brain, the center of the chain), but having a strong group of girlfriends is one of those things many women find important. I know I certainly do. And to that end, girlfriends can be difficult to find/keep. I’m not a guy but I’m pretty sure Boy Meets World, The Best Man and Californication prove the same rings true for them as well.
If you ask me right now, I could name all of my best girlfriends from elementary school all the way up to my move to Tallahassee to pursue my graduate degree. When I moved to Atlanta in March 2013, I found myself without girlfriends for the first time. I mean my nearest and dearest were only one Skype session or text message away. However, it was strange not having someone less than five minutes away that I could just show up on their front steps with a bottle of wine and snacks and be completely welcome.
When I moved to Atlanta I was dating someone, but that relationship had been on the decline and I knew it wasn’t going to last much longer. I wasn’t very close to any of the girls I met through him, so it was clear I was not getting any of them in the terms of the break-up. So now what?
In middle/high school, it was easy for me to make friends. Although, I live in a different city, I’m still really close with most of my high school friends. In college, you can find like-minded people in fraternities, sororities, clubs and intramural sports and even at a tailgate. Some of my high school friends attended the same college as me, so I came into freshman year with built-in friends. I ended up becoming super close with girls on my hall and as I joined organizations such as Alpha Phi Omega, I was blessed with some friendships that I hope last forever.
After college, some people are lucky and find a few friends at work. Especially, if you’re all coming in as entry-level employees straight out of college, you quickly bond. That wasn’t an option for me. I am the youngest person in my office and am a part of a really small team. While, it was easy to talk about an episode of Scandal with my coworkers, I knew we wouldn’t be heading out to Buckhead for drink and dancing on Friday night.
I realized that there are countless number of online sites and apps that make it easy to find someone to date. But for a girl looking for a shopping and Starbucks partner or a guy looking for a bromance – the options are limited. Why isn’t there a Tinder for friends? To my surprise there is. The app is called Wiith, but it just launched in May and basically only has people from San Francisco- not really helpful. And the more I think about it, the concept is a little creepy: Oh she looks cute and she says she likes to flat-iron other people’s’ hair – swipe right; Oh she prefers Dunkin’ over Krispy Kreme, swipe left! OK – so now that we’ve crossed Frinder off the list what is there. Below I breaking down some of the top suggestions I found when I was trying to figure out how to make friends after college and how they did and didn’t work for me.
I tried Meetup, which in theory, isn’t a bad idea. The site is an opportunity for you to search for a group of like-minded people by interests. Gamer? There’s a meetup for that. Salsa dancer? There’s a meetup for that. Do you like to eat desserts after hiking? There’s a meetup for that. Well possibly…you may have to create that one, but I’d totally join.
The first few groups I tried were a definite miss. I realized old guys just showed up trying to
drop a roofie in your cup hit on younger ladies or to find a “companion”. An extremely creepy fellow with a weird odor walked up to me while I was at an event and whispered in my ear, “Chocolate has always been my favorite flavor.”
After I choose better Meetup groups I did find some really cool people. Unfortunately, and not to sound like a mean girl, I ended up befriending a really crazy girl. She seemed really cool at the beginning and then showed her true colors – like ending a friendship over a pair of moccasins. Yes, that’s right I said a pair of moccasins. Also, she almost ruined my first Beyoncé concert, but that’s a blog post for another day. For now, this is what I have to say:
With that being said, I definitely think Meetup has the potential to be a very good way to make friends. I just didn’t have the best of luck.
2. Networking Events
I went to networking events and tried to mingle and meet some cool ladies. This was a so-so method for me. People at networking events are trying to make connections that they can leverage in the future for business or personal advancement. So while I met some really cool ladies, they weren’t necessarily looking for a girlfriend for happy hour. Also, I was younger and still in the entry-level phase of my career – in their mind there was not a whole lot I could do for them. I did try a few 20-something or young professionals groups that were interesting, but again people there were business card pushers and not looking for friends.
3. Take a Class
The failure of this idea is mine alone. The only classes I tried were dance classes. There’s not a lot of time in between combinations and choreography to bond with a girl and gather her interest in grabbing coffee. However, I think that a class or volunteering gives you a great opportunity to connect with someone you know shares at least one of your interests. If I had a time machine and could travel back to March 2013, I’d make myself take a wide variety of classes and push myself to meet new people.
4. Just say hello.
A lot of people told me that I should just go out and say hello to people. Striking up a conversation with a random person isn’t hard for me, but translating that random conversation or compliment into a friendship is where I had difficulty. Another thing I noticed (and I am guilty of this as well), is that people are usually wired to something. Sure it would be easy to chat up someone at Starbucks, but they usually have in headphones. Ace is a MARTA queen, and I’m sure she could tell you that most of the MARTA patrons are on some sort of device only disengaging from it to make sure they haven’t missed their stop. In general, we don’t connect to people as much as we did in the past. While we’re casually scrolling through Instagram, we could be missing an opportunity to meet someone new.
I’ve been lucky to have some of my favorite humans move to Atlanta and to have met some new ladies here. However, I still need to make a better effort to put myself out there. I can admit that I slacked off the pursuit of girlfriends once I seriously started dating my boyfriend. All in all, making friends is hard, but in the end it’s worth it. Pinterest attributes it to Carrie, but it was Charlotte who said:
“Maybe our girlfriends are our soulmates and guys are just people to have fun with.”
Friendship in itself is rewarding, but I think there’s something special about having close girlfriends. Through laughter and tears, good times and bad, good girlfriends can get us through it all.