See if you can relate to this story. You’re waiting for your 3rd grader to get done with gymnastics when you recognize the woman standing near you – she’s also been in your spin class a few times. You’ve decided that this year is the one where you’ll step out and make friends, so you gather your courage and smile big at her. You introduce yourself, and to your delight, she smiles even bigger. You have lots in common – went to the same college, have kids in the same school, go to the same spin class. It’s a love fest, and you end up exchanging numbers. The next day, you take a risk again and text her asking if she’d like to try the yoga in the park this Saturday. You smile to yourself when you picture your future together – heads thrown back in laughter over lattes, pedicures, spa getaways. Except…she never texts back.
You’re devastated. “It’s me,” you think. “I texted too soon. I laughed too loud. I asked too many questions. I’m too fat. My pants are too dorky. My breath must be bad. She thinks I’m too needy. Too desperate. Too annoying.” And you believe these things. And you never text again, and stuff everything inside under the heading “Reasons Why I’m Lonely.”
I’m about to drop some truth bombs on you – right here, right now. 98% of the time, in these situations, it has NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU AT ALL. You want to know why she didn’t text back? I have some very good guesses, informed by a LOT of personal research.
1. She had a rough day.
For so many reasons, she could have looked at your text and then promptly gotten distracted. Kids, husband, house, dinner, maybe someone threw up on the way home, maybe a teenager broke curfew, maybe a toddler played in their poop. Then, when she finally looked again, a few days had passed, and looking at your hopeful smiley face emojis just made her feel even more terrible that she forgot. Which leads us to number 2 -
2. She’s worried that you’ll judge her.
Yep, you read that right. You were the one who reached out to her, remember, so she may assume you are “outgoing” and an “extrovert” and have a ton of friends. Friends that she can’t compete with. Maybe she worries that she was too eager, too needy, that her daughter sassed her on the way out, and that you’ll regret trying to be her friend. She may worry that you’ll find out that she has a messy house, that you’ll discover that she and her husband aren’t doing well. She’s afraid to respond to you because she has a “Reasons Why I’m Lonely” list too.
So, she doesn’t text back and you think, “Ugh, I messed it up again – this is why I can’t have friends.” And then you don’t try again, and then she thinks, “Ugh, I messed it up again – this is why I can’t have friends.” It’s a sad, ugly cycle.
Stop the cycle. Text again. Choose to ignore your old story. Give her the gift of empathy, the benefit of the doubt, or the Jesus-y way to say it – give her grace. Try a few times. Flip the focus from you to her, and you’ll be amazed at how differently things turn out. I promise!
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If you are ready to take a risk - to step out - and take action to start making real, vibrant friendships, try a craft kit! It's the perfect reason to gather and make friends on purpose.