People want to be invited. They want to know that they are a part of something. And I believe this is true at any age–from young kids who want to be included at the playground to adults who want to be included in a social circle. It’s okay to make the invite!
Making friends as an adult is often difficult and awkward. There are places where friendships naturally happen–school and activities as kids and even throughout our college and young adult years. You see people often and create a bond over a shared interest or a shared schedule. Some of my dearest friends, although separated by states, are friends from college or even from high school and middle school. But those activities change as we become older and older.
I moved to Indianapolis when I was 25 years old. I didn’t know anyone other than a few family members. When I started working, a few fellow teachers welcomed me into their social circle and invited me to join them in their social lives after school. I remember feeling so included. Even if I couldn’t make it to after-work drinks or an event, I was still invited, which felt nice.
One of those new work friends shared how she had met a friend, and she likened it to a date—as adults, we rarely see the same people unless we’re working with them or go to the same church or gym, so when she’d meet a kindred spirit, she’d say, “Let me get your number and we’ll grab coffee or drinks sometime.” A friend date. Maybe a bit forward, but I’ve loved that advice and try to use it when I meet someone I click with. In college, my college roommates and I would host weekly potlucks. Or pitch-ins, as Hoosiers say it. And I continued that once I had been in Indiana for a few years. So, the idea of including others wasn’t new to me, but as adults, it seems much more work to make friends. And it doesn’t have to be a huge plan like a potluck. It can be an easy meet-up at a local coffee shop when both have the time.
I loved this idea. I think most people want to be invited–invited to hang out, invited into a conversation, invited to join a playdate, invited out for coffee or a porch hangout. It feels good to be included.
Almost a decade ago, I awkwardly asked a friend I didn’t know really well to meet up for coffee, even saying something to the effect of, “I think we’d be friends, and we should meet up for coffee!” and we did become good friends and kinda joke about how our friendship started.
I am not always good about making the invite. Sometimes the seasons in our lives allow for more or less socializing. It doesn’t always happen as my life has changed over the last few years with leaving my professional world and becoming a stay-at-home mom. And I’ve gotten out of the habit over the last two years with COVID precautions, a move to the suburbs, and a third baby. And I’m definitely awkward about it and out of practice, but I’ve tried to be intentional about it lately, and I realize that it takes more forethought than it did when I had fewer commitments.
A few things I’ve reminded myself lately as I try to get back into this habit:
It’s okay if it’s awkward.
You probably made their day with your invitation even if they said no.
Be you. If you’re not feeling it, don’t force it.
It feels good to challenge myself in this area.
If you’ve continued to make the invite and there’s no reciprocal response, it may not be meant to be. And that’s okay. You’ve done your part. Sometimes I wish adult friendships were as easy as little kids asking other little kids to play a game on the playground, but it usually isn’t. So, I’ll continue to awkwardly invite friends, new and old, to hang out.