Scenario – You just finalized your divorce, then you see a friend’s status on Facebook and she’s telling everyone thank you for coming over to her house for dinner. You’ve been friends with this individual (who happens to be married) for a long time and you realize that you were not invited so you feel hurt. Is it time to make new friends?
Ok, not all married women are evil, but sometimes they will not include you because the event is for couples and they assume that you will feel left out after having gone through a divorce. Besides her husband used to talk to your husband and now your husband is no longer there so it might be awkward for her husband. (I know I’m going to get the BS comments, but wait for it . . . . ) OK, you’ve just been branded the pariah with the Big D – emblazoned on your chest – YOU ARE DIVORCED! To some of your married friends you have a disease that they might catch or you represent an idea they don’t want sitting around their dinner table because it might expose some of their shaky marriages to it.
Yes it’s time to make new friends – married or not, homosexual or heterosexual, short or tall, parents or kid-less – people come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors with varied interests and activities. Who YOU are as a person is how your character and attitude is played out in different settings with different types of people. You are re-inventing yourself as a result of your divorce and new friends as well as the support of your current loving friends is a way to do that.
In my Examiner article, Divorced and Friendless – 7 ways to make friends in Dallas I highlight some Dallas area places that I have frequented and visited in my 10 years of experience living in a big city and being single, to married, to parenthood, to divorce. It’s a city I love.
Here’s the Top 7 Ways to Make Friends after a Divorce
Meetup.com – Yes Meetup has gotten outdated with the expansion of Facebook. When you are new in town, Meetup is great because it’s not based on the rigid rule of locale exclusivity of your network the way Facebook is. It’s hard to find groups and pages on Facebook that allow you to join unless you know someone who also is a member of that group or you have a lot of Dallas area friends. That’s the point though; you are trying to make friends so meetup.com is great for that. You can find groups that are for single moms in Dallas!
One group calls themselves the Single Women over 35 Meetup Group and The Arte Affairs Single Social Club. Other groups are not specifically about being single or divorced and I like these types of groups because they cater to interests. Book Club or wine enthusiast Meetup groups are great because they engage and encourage conversation about a topic.
This makes it easier for an individual to take personal cues about someone’s communication styles, likes and interests. Once engaged, you can quickly assess whether the other person is friendship or acquaintance material. Fabulous Females of Fiction and Food and the Wine and Champagne Social Group are two examples. I also liked running or fitness groups as you can really engage with someone if you run or workout with them and accomplish fitness goals together. It also helps you gauge and compete with yourself athletically.
The key in Meetup is how you search for a group to join. When searching, you can search around your zip code or for groups within 10 miles of your zip code. Use search terms that are generic and related to what you are looking for: wine, moms, women, book, fitness, walking groups.
Thoroughly read the group rules, discussions etc to see if they would be a great fit. Some groups will require a bio so have a photo and quick bio ready. Also more members doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a better group to join. Some Meetup groups have a lot of members, but many of the same people come out for events. It’s best to meet and then branch out to grow your network.
LinkedIn – Now we are talking about networking. I have found that LinkedIn is a great way to network and meet individuals in a more professional setting. However, just creating a profile is not enough. When LinkedIn gives you guidance on how to expand your profile, take it. Then once your resume and profile is complete you can add networks of friends, join groups, discuss topics, etc.
The key to meeting people is to join groups in the industries, interests or professions that you are interested in. Take a look around and see how active the discussions are and do they plan events. Attend events that they put on. Another way to network is to ask questions about people and their work. Ask how they got the job they are in.
While you may not be looking for a new job, you are gaining a connection to grow your network. Just recently, I noticed a connection that graduated with my sister in high school. I don’t know him, but it gave me a lead in for something to talk about. Then you just send a message. We ended up discussing my blog and website and we will likely work together for new ventures. From that conversation, I got his cellphone number because I found his wife and I have the same interests. Yes I just made two friends with one email. And guess what if they don’t answer back, I don’t take it personally. I make it a point to connect, send a message with a new person that I have not spoken with in 6 months. Reconnecting is king!
I have made many connections from LinkedIn that are more than just networking for jobs. It becomes a way to identify expertise on a subject, empowers you to be a part of groups that cater to women in a professional setting. Mentioning work, if there are employee resource groups at work that promote diversity, women, etc – these groups are important for developing relationships outside of your department.
School or Community College and Continuing Education
Take a class. Taking a class requires you to immerse yourself in a room full of people for a finite period of time. Within that time, if you take a course that you have an interest in you typically will have to meet for group sessions after class and it’s a way to earn a credit, gain a life skill or gain a hobby and meet people at the same time. My sister took a court reporting class and made lasting friendships this way as each class or cohort moved with each other. You had the same set of people the whole step of the way as everyone tried to accomplish the same goal – graduating.
Food – Cooking classes, tastings, pairings
Food brings people together and makes them happy. Sign up for a cooking class. Whole Food and Central Market have some great cooking classes to sign up for. Local Cooking classes has a listing of restaurants that have classes and Dallasfood.org also has a great blog with cooking classes and tastings.
I always encourage cooking classes as a way to meet people, especially if it’s hands on because you have to cook with someone else at times, there will be people to taste test and over dinner you can chit chat in a more informal setting. Wine,beer and liquor tastings as well as food pairing classes are also great ways to meet people and make friends.
If you enjoy food, you have a topic you can discuss. You can interact with the teacher who in turn interacts with the students. You can comment and participate in group discussions and learn something new at the same time. My favorite pairing class is the Mozzarella Company in Deep Ellum. It could be because I love cheese and wine, but Paula Lambert is a fantastic cook, entrepreneur and loves what she does. Class discussion is plentiful and always welcomed. She has great classes that I would recommend and even sets up culinary trips to foreign countries. Another great way to make friends.
Traveling while single sounds scary to some people, however, try going on a trip for 3 days to two weeks and you WILL make friends for life. I guarantee it. When you take a trip as a single person, the only person you have to answer to is yourself. You can decide to go with a group or decide to take advantage of YOU time. Either way, the therapy of relaxing, learning about a new place, learning about a new culture, meeting people and making friends makes single travel worth it.
Many places such as community colleges will have short term travel to learn about a different culture. Schools like the University of Dallas have Summer Adult programs to places like Rome. Sites like Studyabroad.com have programs where you can travel, learn about different things, explore different subjects. You can also travel via different interests. Are you an avid runner? Companies such as Marathon Tours and Travel specialize in tours for runners, even if you are going at it alone. You get to meet or room with like minded individuals with the same interests.
I even like http://www.singleparenttravel.net, a website that specializes in travelling for families. As single parents you can meet other families and enjoy time with your kids. This site takes the hassle out of travel planning alone. You can also travel with cultural groups like the Japan – America Society of DFW that offers cultural trips to Japan. This is just a few there are a ton of groups you can find to travel with or just pick and place and plan.
Volunteer – volunteer for a cause that you love. Charitable work can introduce you to new people but it can also teach you new skills. There are a ton of charities that you can volunteer your time to, either a little or a lot. When I moved to Dallas, I loved running and wanted a way to travel for running so I joined the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of North Texas’s Team in Training. They trained me for my first marathon and at the same time I met some wonderful people, learned how to fundraise and developed even more love for the organization.
You can also volunteer at the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas as an ambassador spreading the word about the organization speaking at community events and passing out flyers. You can also volunteer at hospitals, museums (become a docent) or volunteer at many different organizations. Volunteer for your city at the library or any number of local city events and get to know your city more. Either way, volunteering is a great way to meet people as well.
Church – Technically churches would fit under the category of charities, but being involved in your church as a volunteer, fundraising, joining the groups, fellowship and teaching is another great way to become more involved. As a single parent, many churches have single parents fellowship and ministries so that you are not judged and can worship God without guilt. In this post, I’m not going to recommend a church, but I wll recommend the 94.9 KLTY Christian radio station forum for single parent ministries. There’s a lot of churches listed that make a great place to meet other single parent Christians.
There are probably many more ways that you can meet friends and I may not have included them all in this post, but these are some of the ways that I have been able to make friends and meet people in Dallas. Remember, being able to communicate is key, my blog article, “Divorced and Trying to Make New Friends – Tools for your first meetup” teaches you how to communicate when meeting new people for the first time. It can be very scary to just walk up to someone and say Hi! and the blog article gives general guidelines on communication.
Here’s another caveat – in case it hasn’t hit you yet – some of these are great for finding dates. Yes, I have found dates this way as well AND none of these are online dating sites.