Making friends is not easy for me and it never has been. Don’t let the online persona fool you, I am a total book-worm introvert with very little self-confidence in real life. I generally have always had a couple of very close friends that know me better than anyone else does – and then I have people that I chat with when we bump into each other in public. I have never been able to walk up to a person and introduce myself, I don’t do small talk, and I get overwhelmed when I meet a larger group of people that I don’t know.
And by large group I mean four or more.
You Lose Friends in Divorce
I lost long-time friends in the divorce. These were people I thought I could trust to have my back no matter what. They disappeared for various reasons but for the most part I think there is this mentality that once you are divorced you have divorce cooties that can jump on to them and ruin their own marriages if you get too close. I think some people just don’t know what to say and your relationship becomes awkward and then there are those that disapprove of what you are doing.
Anyway, not long into the circus that signified the end of my marriage I found myself with two close friends in real life and the rest online. Don’t get me wrong, I love my online friends! It’s just sometimes you need someone to come over, bring a bottle of wine, and let you cry.
I was lucky to have two very supportive women in my area. I really hate depending on other people, but I learned to. There were days they took the kids or brought dinner, or just told me it was going to be OK. You have to love friends like that.
1. You Have to Have Self-Confidence – or at Least Pretend You Do
Usually when you’ve been in a relationship with a narcissist you come out of it with very little self-confidence left. You have been broken down and left in pieces, made to believe you are unlovable, and left with the idea that no one really likes you.
That’s not even counting the trust issues.
You kind of have to have some self-confidence in order to make new friends. So this is the difficult first step. You are going to have to take a deep breath and remember why people would want to know you. If you can’t think of any other reason remind yourself that you are loyal. You are loyal to a fault or else you would not have put up with the narcissist’s crap for all of these years.
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to meet a loyal friend! I know that one of my friends turns into a Cajun fireball when someone says or does something to dishonor or minimize me. Who wouldn’t want a friend like that?
2. You Have to Open Up Just a Little
Part of friendship is sharing. You have to let a person know you – maybe not everything all at once but at least a little. That means that you are going to have to step out of your bubble and trust someone. This is probably one of the hardest parts that you’ll have to do.
On the other side of that coin don’t tell them everything all at once. I have this really horrible tendency when meeting new people to give them the story of my life – all of it. I think in my mind if they know everything then they can make an educated choice about whether or not they want to be friends with me. If they know all the bad stuff up front then maybe they won’t walk away when they see some of my negative qualities, and believe me there are a lot of them.
I did this the other night. We go to a big church and in a year I haven’t gotten to know anyone because it’s just harder in a giant church, right? Anyway the other night I met something like six new people all at once. To make it worse, it was the Pastor, his wife, and various other people in leadership positions. I said way more than I needed to and then spent thirty minutes crying in the car because I was overwhelmed with so many new people and because I am fairly certain I made a complete and utter fool of myself.
So, open up but keep it light. Give them a chance.
3. You Have to Get Out There
Finding friends is like dating. If you don’t get out there where you can meet people that have similar interests to yours you’ll never make new friends.
- Take a class in something you enjoy like cooking, painting, or whatever
- Get involved in a church group or some other group that meets regularly
- Join a gym
There are lots of ways to meet people and develop friendships. You just need to get out and do it.
4. Don’t Lower Your Eyes
I went through a period of time when I could not look myself in the eye in the mirror. I forced myself to do it, little by little until I could. I don’t know if anyone else is so beaten down that they can’t look into their own eyes but I certainly was.
I think that I couldn’t face the fact that I had let myself down. I had a lot going for me when I was young but I had let everything slip away until I was an android – mostly robot but just a little of myself remaining. My own eyes accused me of not caring for myself.
Looking into other people’s eyes made me frantic. As soon as my eyes would meet theirs I would feel like I was about to be terrorized for some reason. I had to look down and away. Because I am naturally shy people tend to think I am snobby and aloof. It made it worse when I couldn’t meet their gaze because it made me look deceptive.
Practice meeting your own eyes in the mirror. Smile at yourself. Look into your own eyes and tell yourself nice things. When you meet other people make it a point to look into their eyes while you are talking to them. Don’t stare awkwardly but listen intently and look at them!
5. Be Honest
If you freak out on them, be honest. Explain that you are working through anxiety issues stemming from an abusive, narcissistic relationship. Most people are really understanding and sensitive – and if they aren’t you don’t want them as a friend anyway.
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