I well remember the day I almost broke down in the grocery store because I was so alone and desperate for friendship.
My husband and I had moved from our lifelong home in Wichita, KS, to Topeka, KS—a town that was about 2 1/2 hours away.
We’d left behind our families, our jobs, our church, and all the people we’d known for most of our lives. We’d moved to this much smaller town so my husband could go to law school.
We were only six months into our marriage and we felt so alone. However, I naively assumed we’d jump in and find friends and fellowship pretty easily.
What I didn’t realize is that good friendships often require months and months of time to develop. They are rarely something that happens in an instant.
What I also didn’t really know at the time was that I didn’t know how to do close friendships. You see, my parents didn’t really have close friends growing up. My siblings and I were homeschooled, and we did most everything as a family unit. I’d not only not seen good one-on-one friendships modeled for me, but I also had no idea how to be a friend because I didn’t have any experience with friendship outside of my marriage and my family members.
I just assumed that you’d pretty easily find people that you clicked with and they’d become your fast friends. But as I started trying to reach out and develop friendships in that new town, it went nothing like I imagined.
Sure, people were—for the most part—nice. They smiled and said hello. They made conversation. But it never felt like it went much past the hellos and surface conversations.
And truthfully, often I felt like people were being nice just to be nice—not because they really cared or wanted to have a deeper friendship.
I kept trying and kept ending up feeling like it was getting nowhere. I was so lonely and bordering on desperate that I started considering walking up to complete strangers in the store and asking them, “Do you need a friend? Because I really, really need a friend.”
As time marched on, I slowly began to learn some things about friendship. It took me many failed attempts to realize these two things, but as I’ve learned and then implemented them, it’s made a world of difference and allowed me to build some really deep and long-lasting friendships over the past 10 years.
1. I Had to Stop Looking For the Perfect Friend.
For months, I imagined what this perfect friend would look like. How old she would be, what her values would be, what she would like, how many kids she would have… I had a laundry list of expectations for this person I was sure I was soon to meet.
Every time I’d be introduced or find a person that I think might have “friend potential”, I’d compare her to my List of What I’m Looking For in a Friend. As you can guess, she never lived up to the list.
And I’d get my hopes dashed again.
2. I Had to Start Being the Friend I Wanted to Have.
As time moved on, I realized I could pine away years of my life looking for The Perfect Friend and coming up empty, or I could go out and start being the friend I was hoping to have.
So instead of waiting for Miss Amazing Friend to show up and start reaching out to me, I started looking for ways to be the kind of friend I wanted to have—to the people I already knew!
And an incredible thing happened: not only was this much more fulfilling than moping about being lonely, but some beautiful friendships ended up blossoming out of those efforts!
Here’s the thing I discovered: we often waste precious time longing for greener pastures instead of investing our time cultivating the ground we’re already on.
There are people all around us who are lonely and longing for community, too. Start reaching out to the women in your neighborhood, at your church, at play group, at the library, at your child’s school. Take time to listen, to be genuinely interested, to care about people, to look for ways to bless and encourage others.
Even if nothing comes from this effort, it will probably be more rewarding than sitting and sulking about how lonely you are. And you never know: maybe some deep, lifelong friendships are right under your nose — you just have to be the first person to reach
ACTIVITIES & QUESTIONS
- Did you have models of friendship when you were growing up, or—like Crystal—did you grow up without really understanding what true friendship looks like?
- What unrealistic expectations do you have in your search for “the perfect friend”?
- What qualities does a good friend exhibit? Do you exhibit these qualities in your life?