Female friendships are so, so vital. The way men need other men to sharpen one another, women need women to enrich one another. Each season of our lives are characterized by new beauties and challenges, both better enjoyed with feminine camaraderie. As we leave the folds of education and enmesh ourselves in our own nuclear families, it’s easy to find our social calendars eclipsed by other relationships and joys. Making female friends as we earn more years can be an uphill climb. I hope to crack the code!

Approach everyone as if you’re already friends.

I concede that this might startle some women. But that’s only because it is an infrequently practiced art! On the whole, everyone can appreciate a warm, inviting interaction from even a perfect stranger. After all, when it comes to most female interactions, strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet! By focusing more on greeting another woman with an aura of familiarity and love, you’ll focus less on your self consciousness and more on the actual meeting. This lays a beautiful foundation for a friendship to be built upon and totally eliminates all need to break the ice. This assumes you have even the most minimal amount of finesse required not to come across as too familiar or intrusive. In my experience even too much exuberance seems to somehow be charming. If all else fails, they’ll be surprised. Then they’ll need to discern a response. Essentially, they won’t even pause to consider that you’re being extra! And by the time they realize that you’re not in fact old friends, you’ll already be so deep in discussing your shared love of gardening and mutual friends that they won’t even mind!

Chances are good that they’re also yearning for more, higher quality female friendships, too.

I wouldn’t be writing this blog post if making friends after graduation wasn’t a widespread challenge. It’s an epidemic right up there with the infestation of MLM representation at arts and crafts fairs. If you feel a little shy about approaching a girl you want to befriend, she’s probably experiencing or has experienced those nerves as well. We’re all in this together, best to take the leap of faith so you can float past the initial tentative phase and get to the fun stuff sooner!

Due to feminine nature, many of us often make decisions about interactions that aren’t ours to make. Out of conscientiousness and our receptive tendencies, its difficult to be the “aggressor” in friendships even if you are exuberant and forward in your socializing. The mistake that most holds women back from making new friends is the assumption that they aren’t liked, are being too much, or are otherwise unwanted. While you should absolutely be receptive to indicators that you’re being disrespectful of someone’s space or privacy, trust your potential new friend to use their agency. They are grown ups, too! They are perfectly capable of intentionally handling interactions in such a way that you will know their feelings on cultivating a friendship. Its rather more disrespectful to make assumptions about another persons wishes, even if your intent is not to be a nuisance. So be kind, be receptive, and do your best to read any cues that signify your presence being unwelcome. But under no circumstance should you be so bold as to decide whether or not someone wants to spend time with you before giving them the opportunity to do so for themselves.

Don’t overlook old friends.

You might have drifted apart over the years, but now that you have the means and agency, reconnecting is totally possible. Reach out to old friends if you still have their contact info. Dedicate some time to sitting down and doing so, making room in your day for a lengthier exchange than you would with someone you’re already enjoying ongoing conversation with. Even if you still live too far apart or don’t have enough in common, it’s important to pour out as much love as you can on a daily basis. The interaction might end there, but the joyful connection of simply touching base can stay with both of you as long as you can remember it in your heart.

Don’t worry about how long it has been since you last connected. In many ways you’ll end up feeling like no time has passed at all. The time that keeps good friends apart is usually time filled with important transformations. You can marvel each of your trajectories in personal growth. You can share about new hobbies and interests, finding potential for new shared experiences to bond over.

Make single serving friends.

(No, I will not be ashamed of how much I love Fight Club.) Just because you never intend on having your cashier, your manicurist, or your downstairs neighbor as intimate friends doesn’t mean you can’t revel in uplifting interactions with them! The art of delightful small talk is a beautiful one, and these frequent mundane interactions don’t have to be so mundane. Ask better questions than, “How are you today?”. Be truly thoughtful when you respond to others’ niceties (without being uncomfortably transparent). Always focus on positive things and common ground in these scenarios. See everyone around you as a person to love, even if you can only love them with a few kind words in passing. Look forward to these small interactions as chances to spread joy!

Communicate routinely and habitually

At the risk of sounding too clinical, I wholeheartedly recommend regular interactions and invitations to old, new, and prospective friends. In my planner, I have an interaction habit tracker for the key ten or so people in my life. I also have routines for interacting with the farther reaching circles. I’ve begun using an app called Fabriq to ensure I touch base with the most important women in my life! While you don’t have to go sharing information of this practice freely, there’s nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to so literally prioritizing your friendships. If you find yourself going a week or more without connecting with your dear ones, you’ll benefit from this practice! Likewise, your budding friendships will blossom much faster with this strategy working in your favor!

Don’t be nice at the expense of being kind.

There are certainly nuances to invitation etiquette, but I also support… not necessarily unabashed invitations, but… optimistic ones! Some people have very busy schedules,. Some people are forgetful, even flaky. We are all affected by any number of other characteristics and scenarios and circumstances affecting our abilities to accept invitations. These things make people become serial negative RSVP’ers. Its much less likely to be a deep seated issue with the friendship! All you can do, and what you must do, is work to improve your timing. Endeavor to send invitations further in advance or with less notice on key days of the week. Keep track of responses to re-calibrate and increase chances of success in the future. Don’t stop inviting because you don’t want to be rejected. Don’t fail to check in or remind someone about a planned outing. Truly discern if the timing is off, or if the invitations are unwelcome, doing both with a kind and cheerful heart!

Vet your prospects.

Just like in romantic relationships, picking women you’re compatible with goes a long way when striking up new friendships. Put yourself in the right settings to find great friends. Vetting friends is not judgemental or conceited. Simply get a feel for their values and behaviors before you commit to any level of intimate friendship. Vet prospective friends and don’t submit to the inclination to get too close too fast. When you get too familiar with people too soon, you’re making a rather large investment with limited knowledge. You risk giving too much of yourself to someone who may not (or not yet) deserve that luxury.

When we make this mistake, we are at the mercy of our defense mechanisms. Since you’ll naturally adapt to the habits and behaviors of your friends the more time you spend doing life with them, it pays to be selective of those in your innermost circle. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t socialize with women of different standards and outlooks on life! It simply means to carefully consider who gets how much of your time and dedicated effort. This does require some thought and premeditation, like all worthwhile pursuits. So be intentional!

Give of yourself.

Ask not what your friends can do for you, but what you can do for your friends. It truly is better to give than to receive for a multitude of reasons. When the basis of a friendship is love and charity and kindness, you’ll find so much beauty and joy together!

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