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Don’t Limit Your Friend Circle

Two guy friends fist bumping
If I expect my friends to fit a specific description, I will overlook solid friendship options for likely petty reasons.

I met up with a friend for dinner last week.  We hadn’t talked and had barely texted in months, but as always, we picked up right where we left off. I really appreciate that about her; no matter how busy we are or how long it’s been since we last got together, she’s always easy to talk to.

But I don’t think I would have chosen her as a friend on my own.

We met about 10 years ago when we worked for the same employer. I thought she was nice, but I didn’t think her outgoing nature would mesh well with my quieter personality, so I didn’t try to get to know her.

That changed after we were assigned to work together. We spent most of each work week problem-solving and coordinating and figuring out each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Soon I realized that not only did we work well as a team, but we were friends.

Fear of missing out (on friends)

I wonder how many friends I’ve missed out on because I just didn’t think we’d hit it off.

Another former coworker told me about her grandkids every Monday when we recapped our weekends. As a single person in my 20s, I really couldn’t relate to her stage of life. But we had some of the best conversations.

Last year, a woman at my church began helping with the youth Bible study that I also help with. I had rarely talked with her before, and I worried we wouldn’t have much in common since as a homeschooling mom of four kids, she is also in a very different life stage than mine. But once again, I learned that my expectations are a poor gauge of friendship possibilities. Now I can’t imagine our study without her.

Each of my friends is a unique individual, and my relationships with them will differ from person to person. I have some deep friendships with a few people — including the friend I met for dinner — but I can’t judge all my relationships off my closest friends. I mean, just think how exhausting it would be if all our friendships were that close! If I expect my friends to fit a specific description, I will overlook solid friendship options for likely petty reasons.

Break that mold

How can we break out of our friendship molds and be open to getting to know more people?

Initiate. There’s just no avoiding this one. We’ve got to be willing to make a move. Ask them their name. Ask them again if you forgot it. Invite them to sit with you at church or in the lunchroom at work. Maybe even invite them to get together with some of your other friends.

Accept. Be ready to say yes to their attempts at friendship. Maybe you don’t really like their restaurant suggestion, or you feel more like staying in and watching a Friday night flick by yourself. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with suggesting another restaurant or staying in, but be willing to try something outside of your normal routine.

Keep trying. Some friendships don’t take off right away. And some friendships will always be more like acquaintances than deep relationships. That’s OK. But keep initiating and accepting, and you’ll likely find some closer friends.

Not just for extroverts

I know many of you reading this are introverts. I’m in that camp, too. It’s OK to recognize that seeking out friends can be a little harder for us.

But at the same time, let’s not be afraid to follow our more extroverted friends’ examples. One of my newer friends — a definite extrovert — told me that one difference between the two personality types is that introverts assume other people will be bothered if they initiate conversation, while extroverts expect people to be glad they initiated conversation.

I recognized my own friendship attempts in that definition. It’s so true; I worry that a new acquaintance might be put off by my attempt at conversation or friendship — that our differences are too great. But what do I gain by letting those fears hold me back?

That new person at church or at work: Is their personality different from yours? Maybe they’re in a drastically different life stage? Maybe they’re from another culture?

Don’t let fear hold you back. Initiate. Accept. Keep trying. And go meet some new friends!

Copyright 2023 Lauren Dunn. All rights reserved. 

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About the Author

Lauren Dunn
Lauren Dunn

Lauren Dunn is an education reporter for World News Group. She loves stories (especially the good ones), making pizza (usually double pepperoni), and spending time with friends and family. Lauren has lived most of her life in Wichita, Kan., but still regularly gets lost when driving around town.

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