Making New Friends After a Divorce

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Divorce can have far reaching effects on your social life. It is not uncommon for men to feel like their circle of friends has gotten smaller post divorce and their social calendar is full of openings. Rebuilding your network of friends after a divorce can be intimidating.  But fear not, robust and supportive friendships are attainable with a little elbow grease and some patience.

One of our favorite lifestyle blogs “The Art of Manliness” recently published an article about making friends when relocating to a new city. While you may not be relocating after your divorce, the conditions necessary for fostering new friendships remain the same—proximity, repeated and unplanned interactions, and a setting that encourages meaningful interaction.

Sociologists identified these three elements as early as the 1950’s—and they still hold true today:

Proximity is about sharing physical space. Being in the same place as other people will greatly improve your odds of making friends. For proximity to work in your favor you should expect to spend more than a few minutes in a given location. An excellent example of the effectiveness of proximity is high school. Spending hours a day 7 days a week in the same location with other people produce fertile opportunity for forging friendships.

Repeated and unplanned interactions will create familiarity. It is rare to meet someone and instantly become best friends. Consistently running into the same people unexpectedly reaffirms that you share common interests (or at the very least similar schedules).  Routine can feel dull for some people, but there is value in have some predictability in your schedule while trying to meet new people. Always getting coffee from the same coffee shop, or attending the same divorce support group every week will make you more familiar (and more approachable) to potential new friends.

Meaningful interaction is a little more abstract because what has great meaning for one person isn’t necessarily meaningful for others. Don’t try to predict what might be meaningful for potential new friends. Instead focus on creating a comfortable and relaxed environment that will facilitate genuine interaction. The article on The Art of Manliness illustrated this point well saying:

“When you first meet people, no matter the environment, they tend to be cautious. They won’t let their sense of humor show; they won’t talk too much about their personal lives, etc. People are more likely to open up when you have a small backyard BBQ versus just meeting up at your local trivia night every week. It’s in smaller and more personal settings that friendship grows.

Making new friends can be difficult, but the reward for success is great. Think of it as an adventure—you might have some wrong turns and mishaps, but that is what makes it an adventure. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Get out of the house, join a club or local meet up or even take a class. Finding new experiences will lead to finding new friends.

 

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