Welcome back to our very own problem pages, with our maven of misery and doyenne of DIY help books, the one and only Assumpta!
This week, Sober & Lonely Asks:
First things first, I have one friend... just one. It's not that I'm picky or choosy with friends but over the years it has just worked out like that.
I'm sure I'm not the only one but I do wish I had a bigger circle of friends. I work 5 days of the week and I don't go to college or any clubs so getting out and meeting people can be hard. Though this is something that has got me down, the problem is that my only friend expects me to binge drink at the weekends. To be totally honest, I am not a drinker... each to their own but it's gotten to the point where my friend's mother and all her family mock/pester me with the fact that I don't drink, telling me it's a shame I 'won't drink' or 'have a laugh' and that I'll 'regret it later'.
Since I'm not overly opinionated and I'm a complete weed, it's really getting me down!! Yes, I like my friend but I wish I had a nice group of decent girl friends to socialise with. How do I take the step to get out there and meet new people?
Dear Sober & Lonely,
You’ve decided to take control and stop settling for whatever you can get, so you’re off to a good start!
You have no reason to feel grateful to to your friend for offering you a place to be at the weekends. You have a lot to offer and you deserve better. Friendships should not revolve around getting hammered together. Yet you seem a bit afraid to break away from this unhealthy relationship. If this girl’s only interest in you is as her drinking buddy, then I’d say it’s time to let her go.
A true friend doesn’t try to bully you into drinking when you don’t want to. Binge drinking is an extremely damaging pastime, not to mention expensive! It’s rather funny that your friend and her family say you will “regret it later”. Looks to me like they’re the ones who will be regretting when they’re on the waiting list for a liver transplant….
Break the damaging routine
Now, clearly you need to get some better pals. You won’t be able to make new friends unless you make the time for them. You say that you work long hours and that you’ve fallen into seeing your friend at weekends. Is this because it’s easy for you? You need to break this damaging ‘routine’ of work, binge, work, binge.
Work life balance is something people talk a lot about, but what it really means is having enough time in your life for things you enjoy such as friendship. Making time for friendship should be a priority. Having close friends is as important for your health as eating well and exercise. Your mental wellbeing relies on the support and connection of friends to protect from depression and anxiety.
Find a common activity
So once you decide to make the time, find an activity you are interested in and pursue it. Joining a class of some sort, whether it’s yoga, cooking , zumba or whatever, is a great way to meet friends. A class isn’t really about what you are learning, it’s really about the coffees and chats after. You could also join a voluntary organisation and meet people of like-mind that way. If you can sing, join a choir.
The main thing is to overcome your feelings of awkwardness to meet people in situations that revolve around a shared interest. Don’t be shy! A simple ‘hello’ can start a conversation and a smile will go a long way.
In short, you are going to have to put some effort into meeting new people. But all work and no play makes anyone a dull girl, so the main thing is to get out there and play, and the friends will follow. Good luck!
Do you agree with Assumpta's advice? Leave a comment to let us know if you identify with this problem and if you have any advice that might help.