The Secret to Making Friends as an Adult, Taught to Me by My Father
My father always made friends very easily. He talked to anyone and everyone. His funeral was filled with people sharing stories about how great of a man he was and how they met, through random conversations. One man approached me and told me he was from Chicago and had been with my dad just the month before. He flew back (my father lived in Puerto Rico) when he heard of my father's death. These were people that, although he did not hang out with often, loved him.
My father was a friend collector.
But it was early last spring that I started to realize how easy it could be to start making friends as an adult myself, being my father's daughter and all. I had walked into a bar in a small town to grab dinner and catch the end of the Cubs game with a friend I had met the month before, through a random conversation, of course. My friend is handsome, charming, and very outgoing. As we sat down, my friend began to have a conversation with a gentleman who was sitting at the bar alone. The owner of the bar walked by and my friend included him in the conversation as well.
When we left and got into the car, my friend was raving about how amazing the people we just met were. Then it hit me. This man is a friend collector, just like my father, and a wave of emotion washed over me.
These random conversations, very much like my father's, with complete strangers, happen often. Any time we go somewhere, my friend strikes a conversation with someone, anyone. And every time he talks about how awesome that person was, never once realizing how these conversations would have never taken place had he not initiated them. So with that, here are three things I learned about creating friendships as an adult.
It Takes Courage
After college, we make friends through work or through existing friendships but very rarely by simply saying hello to a random stranger. It takes courage to say hello to someone you do not know. But I myself have struck conversations with other women by complementing their shoes, asking where they get their hair done, and letting the conversation flow from there. Some give short answers and move on but that rarely seems to be the case. Others engage especially if they feel your compliment was honest and didn't have an ulterior motive. All it takes is a simple hello, easier said than done but do.
It is Like Dating
After the initial hello, you have to get the conversation going and the topic most people like discussing is themselves. In that small town bar with the Cubs game playing on every television, it was very easy to strike up a conversation about the game and then the follow up was a simple “are you local?” The lone patron shared with us that he was, how he worked on a farm not too far from there, and how his father helped build the area we were staying in. It was very engaging. We learned a lot from him and thought it would be great to run into him again next time we were in town. The first 'date' went well.
I think for women, at least in my opinion, the follow up can be hard but not impossible. So you liked her shoes, that turned into a conversation about your favorite shoe store, your love of shopping, one mentions a great place to get great deals. Perfect. Ask her to text it to you so maybe you can go together. Sounds like a date right? Because of course, it is like dating and yes, this is a real scenario that I myself have done. Truth is most women want to make friends with other women but never make the approach. You'd be amazed at how many women want to stay in touch with someone they met in the shoe department at Nordstrom or discussing coffee brands in the Target aisle.