DAME’s Friendkeeper tells a lonely woman how to meet like-minded folks in her new town and advises another on her pal’s overbearing pooch.
I recently moved to a new city because of my husband’s job. We weren’t particularly thrilled to relocate, but it was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up and I work from home so a location change wouldn’t affect me. At least not in the work arena. But friend-wise? I know no one here. Like, zero. Back at home I had a whole wonderful network of friends I could call on for any occasion, whether it was drinking too much on a weekday or a shoulder to cry on. My question may seem silly, but how do adults make new friends? Like I said, I work from home. Plus, I have no kids so there’s no chance of built-in mommy pals. Desperation is setting in and I’m getting totally sick of hanging out with my hub. Don’t get me wrong, he’s great, but c’mon. I’m thisclose to putting a “friend wanted” ad on Craigslist but that seems too … creepy. Please tell me there’s a better way?
One Is the Loneliest Number
It’s too bad that as adults we outgrow that fabulous way little kids make friends. You know when they’re toddlers they pretty much make friends based on height: “You’re short like me, wanna hold my shovel?” And the older we get and the more our walls go up, the less we want to risk A) rejection and B) friending the wrong people, so we stay home and binge-watch Parks and Recreation and think, I could be Amy Poehler’s friend… Here’s the thing I always say: Be yourself but more so. Do you love books? Hang out in bookstores more. Do you like health food? Is there a co-op? Do you love running or biking? You can join a group of people who do that. Have you ever wanted to learn something? Knitting? Playing mahjong? Essay writing? You can take a class. OR teach a class! Those are great ways to learn and socialize without feeling funny. Do you have a dog? Do you want one? Do you want one of mine? (Kidding!) But walking a dog is a great way to meet people (if your dogs don’t bite other dogs like mine do, but when I used to have a nice dog I met other people). The other thing you should do is ask your old friends if they know anyone in the place you moved to. I’ve set up friends who’ve moved to a new city with other friends there. And if all of that sounds dreadful, try social media. There are location-based groups and interest-based groups with people from all over the place. Also, your husband can help. I was at a party for my publisher and was talking to an author who had recently moved here from London and he asked me if I’d be friends with his wife. I met her for coffee and we are buds now. Don’t lose heart; it’s lonely and weird being in a new place. I admire you for not going into your shell like I would really want to do.
A friend of mine is obsessed with her dog, like so many people I know. And it’s sweet, I totally get it. I’m tight with my pet cat. But my cat ignores people, so my friends don’t really need to interact with her if they don’t want to. Her dog, of course, wants to be with everyone all the time. And he’s huge, but doesn’t realize how big he is. And, well, I’m sort of scared of big dogs. Like, when he greets you, he jumps on you and practically pins you to the wall. And follows you everywhere, and sticks his nose in your nether regions. He’s just, well, dogging me all the time. So, I would happily just offer to not come over to her house and socialize elsewhere, except that she brings her big pooch with her everywhere. And I mean everywhere. They’re practically fused together. I don’t know how to broach the subject because I know how much she loves him, and she sees how I struggle with trying to disengage her dog from my various body parts. It’s going from sort of amusing to uncomfortable to annoying to dreadworthy. And saying someone’s sweet dog is annoying to anyone is going to make me the most loathed person in town, and even telling you, who has written books on the love between people and dogs, is me taking a huge risk, but if anyone knows how to negotiate such a thing without judgment, it’s you, Julie. I don’t want to lose a friend, but I don’t know what to do.
Not a Dog’s Best Friend
Anyone who knows me will be stunned by this response, but I totally blame your friend. You’re trying, she’s not. Here’s the thing. I am a dog person, and I live with two dogs that are under the impression that they are on the same level as people—actually scratch that, they are superior to people. They sit on couches and dining room chairs. And they jump up on people who come in to my apartment and they lick people’s legs way too much, especially in summer. And when someone comes in to my home, I watch them to see their response. There are a lot of people who like dogs but not that much. There are also people who wish they liked dogs more than they do. These are the people who come in and scratch my dogs behind the ears and I fear they will draw blood, or they pet the dogs and run and wash their hands. That’s cool. I say, “Sorry, they are annoying.” And reposition them. It is my job to make the people feel comfortable. Because we live in a society where dogs don’t have the right to vote. And believe me, there are dogs that bother me, too, just like there are people that bother me. I have a friend (let’s call her Mom because she’s my mother), she has this dog that is huge and is always almost knocking me down. She’s a puppy and she’s still learning manners. I love the dog, I’m not crazy about the hand-to-hand combat. She also tongue kisses. Usually I say, “Sally you need to buy me dinner first.” Or make some joke. But the bottom line is you don’t have to be so nice. Make jokes, own your space, try not to feel uncomfortable. If you have children, you have to be responsible for them in the same way. It’s really about good manners and self-awareness.
Got a platonic problem of your own that could use the Friendkeeper’s advice? Fire away: [email protected]. No situation is too uncomfortable or too small and all details are kept confidential.
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