So – I’ll just say it - how on earth are we supposed to have time to make friendships happen?? As women, particularly if we’re moms, the effort required to plan an activity, schedule it in, and then coordinate it with other people just seems…insane. Never gonna happen. I know that sinking feeling you get when you see those cutie posts with smiling women, arms wrapped around each other, going on about how they “are so grateful for their sisterhood.” It seems like a mountain you’ll just never get the energy to climb.
I’m going to let you in on a secret to building friendships. There’s a hack. And it’s called a “standing date.”
What’s a standing date? It’s a regular time, place, and activity that just gets put on the schedule automatically. Choose something that fits into your regular life, that doesn’t take more than an hour or two, and doesn’t require much thought or prep. If you’re a SAHM, make a standing playdate (every Monday am at Chik Fil A, for example). If you want to connect with women at work, plan a standing lunch date every Tuesday. Maybe choose a standing “gym date” (every Wednesday at 7), or a standing coffee date (every Friday right after school drop-off). Choose 3 or 4 women that you kinda know, and ask them. “Hey, I’d love for us to all get to know each other better! Would you all want to make Thursday lunch a regular thing?”
Benefits of a standing date:
1. No extra “mental load.”
Half the issue with making better friends is that it’s so stupid hard to make plans. Everyone’s schedule is always booked. It takes a ton of energy and thought time to plan a new activity all the time, and then figure out when everyone can do it. So just do the same thing every time; it’s not boring; I promise people will be relieved. A standing date is just there, always, so people can plan around it.
2. Quantity time
I've found that the more time you spend with people, the better you know them. We often focus on “quality time” when making friends, and the result is an awkward “friend date” audition every time we see them. Keep the quality low (short, ordinary activity) and the quantity high (at least once a week), and you’ll see your relationships blossom.
3. Lowered expectations
Closely related to #3, when you know you’re going to see people regularly, and don’t have to make THIS time the BEST TIME EVER, you can relax. Especially when you’re lonely, every friend-making activity can feel like “OMG this is it – is she looking at me? What should I do with my hands? Did that sound stupid? My outfit is dumb. This is so awkward.” With a standing date, the pressure is lowered. This time doesn’t to be THE BEST TIME; it’s just lunch. And you’ll have another next week.
4. Increased trust
So often, I hear women say, “It’s just hard for me to share with people and feel close to them. It must be because I’m an introvert.” The whole introvert/extrovert conversation aside…if you’re uncomfortable sharing your deep fears during the first 90 minutes of a friendship, there’s nothing special about you, you’re just a NORMAL HEALTHY PERSON. Intimacy takes time. A lot of time. Friendship takes the form of an arc – for the first handful of times you hang out, it’s going to be surface level. It has to. You have to build that trust before you can start getting into the juicy stuff. We’re designed that way – there’s nothing wrong with you!
Give it a try! I promise that every time I’ve done this, it’s been like MiracleGro for the relationships. And by now you all know my favorite idea for a standing date – a craft! Check out more about getting a kit or subscribe and saving to do it every month.