Make new friends, but keep the old

Dear Annie: I’m having a hard time trying to keep in touch with my boarding school friends. We went our separate ways after graduating high school and were adamant about keeping in touch. Lately, I feel like we are drifting apart because I’m always the one having to reach out. And whenever I try to see if we can FaceTime or talk, they come up with excuses. I guess I’m frustrated because I’m always making the effort — from reaching out to being the one to fly up and visit. I miss back in high school when we’d always hang out.

— Boarding School Friendships

Dear Boarding School Friendships: You’re a good friend, putting in extra effort to keep in touch. But all that extra effort is making you sore. Give yourself a rest. Go out and meet some new people: Strangers are just friends waiting to happen, after all, and late adolescence and early adulthood — the period you’re in now — is one of the absolute best times for forming lifelong friendships.

As for your boarding school pals: You might find that you eventually fall back into a rhythm with them and pick up like no time has passed. Some friendships are like that. Or you might continue to grow in different directions. That’s OK, too. It doesn’t change the fact that at one point your roots were intertwined and you did some serious growing together. You’ll always be a part of one another’s stories.

Dear Annie: My family just recently moved from our home of 16 years. Our former home was on a flag lot, on a cul-de-sac mostly filled with retirees. It was VERY quiet and not a little isolated, since you couldn’t see our house from the street. Now we live right on a street, as you commonly picture a house. (Our 5-year-old dog is going crazy because he’s not used to seeing anyone else other than us, and now he sees every dog and/or person that walks by.) We also now live a few blocks away from a middle school, so it is much more lively and full of possible friends for our kids and us than the old neighborhood was. I’d desperately love to make friends, but I don’t know how. What should I do, and what are the signs indicating the other person is politely done?

— Sheepish in Vancouver

Dear Sheepish: It sounds as though your pup isn’t the only one having trouble adjusting. We humans are creatures of habit. It takes time to adapt to new routines. While there are a few different threads in your letter, it seems the underlying fabric is social anxiety. Know that 1) many people around you are as eager to find friends as you are, and 2) no one is as at ease as he or she seems.

Taking up group-oriented hobbies is one way to make friends in adulthood. Meetup.com is a great way to network with people in your town and meet up with them for shared activities.

As for your question of how to know when someone is done with a conversation, the following list from SocialPro.com covers a lot of the bases. If someone is doing any of these, it’s a signal they’re ready to wrap things up:

∫ Checking their phone.

∫ Looking at their watch.

∫ Acting distracted.

∫ Packing up their things/preparing to leave.

∫ Standing up when they were previously sitting.

∫ Focusing on other people/things in the room (instead of you).

∫ Fiddling (shifting weight from one foot to the other, messing with their hair, etc.).

“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book.


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