Steps to Making Connections

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Postby Movingalong » Sun Jul 08, 2007 10:03 pm

Update: Well, this has been a really slow week for me in terms of making connections. The 4th of July caused quite a disruption here. Quick backstory. . . every year on the 4th of July, my neighbors have a party. I've asked them not to do this for the past several years but they've done it anyway. So I have to stay at home because I need to make sure everything is OK on that day. But this year, I think I've convinced enough people not to do it and it was totally quiet this year. Yahoo! I was thrilled, but because I was unsure, I wasn't able to make any other plans. But the rest of the week was good. On Monday, I went to my writing class. That class is always so great. Everyone thinks their life story is uninteresting, but once they share something, everyone else is totally amazed. . . and each one has a different reason for being amazing. It's really affirming in that sense. On Tuesday, I went to an interview job class and learned a lot. On Thursday, I went to a cover letter job class and then to Toastmaster's. At Toastmaster's, I was the general evaluator, my biggest speaking part yet. I also asked someone there if he would help me with information on my job search. He seemed hesitant but agreed to allow me to send him e-mail, so I might still e-mail him to ask for help. On Saturday, I went to a book club. It was disappointing. My favorite people didn't show up. I suspected they wouldn't because the book wasn't very good, but it was a bummer not to see them. Then today was church and I got to see several nice friends. I was really feeling frustrated and disappointed at my lack of progress this week. I think I need to practice more patience.
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Postby Movingalong » Mon Jul 16, 2007 9:09 pm

Update: This week has been up and down, but it's been restful in a lot of ways, so that was nice. On Monday, I went to my writing class. That class is always such a blast. Such supportive people! And great fun when people read about their life stories. I shared some more about what I would write about, but I hadn't written anything to share yet. I also called a job support group that I want to join. I got some information via voicemail. On Wednesday, I went to my Toastmaster's group. The president of the group was complimentary to me in telling me that it was nice that I pitched in to volunteer to fill roles for absent people. And I did an impromptu 1 minute speech. I almost drew a blank but recovered after a few seconds. That was confidence-boosting. On Thursday, I went to my other Toastmaster's group. I was the evaluator for a speaker which meant that I gave a 2-3 minute speech about her speech. I was happy that I won the contest for the day for that, but thrilled that I didn't say any umms or ahhs during my speech. So since I started, I think I'm improving. And I'm seeing several things in common with the speaker that I evaluated, so I'm wondering how I can reach out to her to see if there might be a possibility for a relationship there. On Friday, I talked with a person at the job support group. She was very nice and helpful and shared some things about her job search that were very helpful to me. On Saturday, I went to a tai chi class, then to a rubber stamp store, then to a BBO party. I was a little down after going to the tai chi class and rubber stamp store. In the tai chi class, everyone knew each other so I felt like an outsider. At the rubber stamp store, I had tried to befriend the owner several years ago, but couldn't make the connection, so now that I see her with so many friends/customers, I felt sad that I couldn't be a part of it. But that night, things picked up at the BBQ. I got to talk to a lot of nice people and I made plans with a friend for lunch later this week. On Sunday, I went to church. And today, Monday, I went to the writing class. I'm a little sad that the class is over for the summer. It continues in the fall though. It's such a fun class. I got to hear about so many lives through stories. And some of the stories are so great. We laugh a lot at some of the wonderful adventures people have. I also called a small group leader from my church. I'm joining another small group because the other group is on vacation for the summer. The guy I talked with was so nice. He was referred to me by my current group leaders. I'm looking forward to it.
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Postby dani » Mon Jul 16, 2007 10:33 pm

Sorry for taking so long to get back to this thread!
dani wrote: One of the best groups I ever joined was a tiny support group of about half a dozen people. We sat in a circle in a small room and it was easy to communicate. I did make a couple of friends and it remains one of my fondest group memories. If you don't mind my asking, what type of group was this? If you don't want to announce it publicly, you could PM me. I'm just interested because it might be a support group that I could look into.
It was just a support group involving journaling and a specific plan for progress, which is a pretty standard format, even here. It wasn't the group topic(s) that resulted in the ambiance, it just happened. It could happen, or not, with any group. As for size, there was no particular reason for that either. The same thing can be accomplished by periodically breaking down a large group into smaller discussion groups. Hope that helps! dani
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Postby Movingalong » Tue Jul 17, 2007 9:39 pm

dani, Thanks for the comment! It sounds somewhat like my writing class. Because the participants share personal info. about their writing, everyone gets close pretty fast. I think if I were able to continue that class, it might evolve into something. Unfortunately, I don't think my schedule will allow it, but we'll see.
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Postby Movingalong » Tue Jul 17, 2007 9:39 pm

Hey anyone reading this thread, I want to invite you to hop on in and make comments on your efforts in making connections if that's important to you. How are things working for you? Any successes or achievements in this area? Share them with us.
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Postby kjc » Wed Jul 18, 2007 9:57 pm

A friend and I decided to utilize her history major (from many years ago) and keep me upbeat at the same time (I always seem to enjoy being on vacation and doing things more than being home and doing things) by periodically acting like tourists in our own town. So a week or two ago, we went to the North End (Boston's little Italy) and looked at a church (we ran late, so couldn't take a tour), ate dinner, and picked up some vanilla pizzelles from a bakery we found (that wasn't Mike's Pastry Shop, which is overrun with tourists). Today we went on a Duck Tour around Boston! It was a great view of various parts of the city that I hadn't seen before (or, at least, hadn't seen from those angles) combined with a friendly history lesson and lots of silly trivia. Then we ate a cheap but nice dinner with friends afterwards. Next, we may go visit a church in Copley Square that we saw while on the tour that sounds like it has a wonderful interior. And I confessed to her that every October, I try and get motivated to go on a Haunted Boston tour as Halloween approaches and she thought it was a great idea. Kelly J.
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Postby kashtanka » Thu Jul 19, 2007 5:00 pm

Movingalong, What a great thread! In one of you posts you mentioned that you like sewing, and had attended a sewing class. Have you ever looked into the American Sewing Guild? I became a member a few months ago and I love it. They have what they call "neighborhood group meetings" , and at these meetings there is a presentation on a technique in sewing, and the oppourunity to make new friends. I'm shy like yourself, but I asked a question about getting some sewing lessons (as I'm not that experienced) and six people gave me their phone numbers. One woman asked me to her home, and when I visited her, I found we have a lot in common, and the indications were there that we could be good friends. Anyway, my general observation of the steps you are taking is that you are trying rather hard to start as many friendships as you can. Good friendships take time to build, and my concern is that you will have so many people who remain acquaintances because you don't have time to nurish the relationship. That is my opinion. My best friends are those that I met in my writing groups, and I was thinking that the book clubs that you're in may be lead to some good friendships as well. As someone else here suggested, classes don't seem to offer much of an opportunity to make friends because a lot of people are just there to take the class, and leave as soon as the class is over. My suggestion is to pursue things that you are REALLY interested in, and you may make a few good friends, and that's all you really need for support. Kathy
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Postby Movingalong » Mon Jul 23, 2007 5:22 pm

Kelly and Kathy, Thanks so much for joining in. You both had some great comments. Kelly, as always, you're my inspiration for modeling how to have great friends. I really like the kind of people that you've found. I think I'd fit into your group if they're pretty geeky. I like that. Kathy, thank you for your comments, especially this one:
kashtanka wrote: Anyway, my general observation of the steps you are taking is that you are trying rather hard to start as many friendships as you can. Good friendships take time to build, and my concern is that you will have so many people who remain acquaintances because you don't have time to nurish the relationship. That is my opinion.
When I read it earlier in the week, I said to myself that you were exactly on target and that I was feeling that way myself. In fact, I was just about to write exactly the same thing myself. I wondered if you were psychic. But over the course of the week, things have taken an odd turn. People that I thought I wanted to get closer to turned out to have different agendas (or so it seems) and someone that I didn't know that well turned out to be wonderfully helpful. So now I'm not so sure. I'm sort of feeling like I need to spread my net pretty wide because if I focus on a few individuals pretty closely and they don't turn out, I'll have to start all over from scratch. Well, that's how it's feeling from here anyway. Please read how my week went this week and let me know your thoughts. Added later: Kathy, I forgot to thank you for reminding me about the sewing association. I've been to one of those before in a different area and liked it, so it's on the back of my mind and definitely something I want to do. Thanks again for both of you posting. And if anyone else wants to join in, please feel free.
Last edited by Movingalong on Mon Jul 23, 2007 5:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Movingalong » Mon Jul 23, 2007 5:39 pm

Update: Starting back last Wednesday, I went to a Toastmaster's meeting. I led a small portion of the meeting where I created a mock trial type of thing where people had to act as a character witness for a made up defendant. They only had one minute to speak. It was fun and I got some really nice comments when it was done. After that, I went to lunch with someone from my small group from church. She's a wonderful person, but I'm beginning to wonder if we're not at cross-purposes in our encounters. I'm looking for a friend, and I'm starting to wonder if she was looking to mentor me in being a Christian. If that's the case, it's going to be pretty tough sledding because I have some definite ideas on the matter. So although it seemed like a fun lunch, I'm beginning to have the stirrings of doubt about how the relationship will go. Then on Thursday, I went to another Toastmaster's meeting and led the same thing in that meeting also. I also had some good feedback there also. And there was one woman that was particularly nice to me, so I'm hoping to ask if we can exchange e-mail. I think we might have a couple things in common to start. I want to ask first before I send e-mail because the e-mail list is for Toastmaster business and I wouldn't want to take advantage of that. Then on Saturday, I went to a tai chi class and hung around after and had lunch with the instructor. She was so wonderful and so helpful. She really helped me to look at my whole situation in a different light and gave me some wonderful ideas about where I might try looking for more friends. I will send her e-mail also. On Sunday, I went to church. And I also had some really nice spontaneous conversations with my neighbor and some guy I met in a restaurant that was plugging his own restaurant. On Monday (today), I took a test drive out to a job support network place. And I met and talked to a couple women there. They were very nice and helpful. Then I went to the restaurant that the guy gave me his card to the night before and met his wife there. She was nice also. I think they go to my church because she looks really familiar. I'm thinking that my efforts in making connections might slow down for a bit as I work on some other goals and classes start taking off for the summer, but we'll see.
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Postby kashtanka » Tue Jul 24, 2007 9:07 pm

Movingalong, I think the things you are doing to meet people are wonderful things in themselves, and even if you don't make a friend (or more) at each activity, you have still done something that you enjoy doing, and will feel a sense of purpose which increases your self-confidence. Take your time and enjoy the process. Not everyone you meet for coffee, etc., will become a future friend, and that's okay. You may have to see a person several times before you can call them a friend. You are taking a lot of steps to meet friends, and that's good, but I wonder if you will find yourself with too many friends and responsibilities at the rate you are going. Just a thought. Kathy
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Postby kjc » Tue Jul 24, 2007 10:09 pm

Movingalong, You're welcome! And if you think my friends sound nifty, consider attending a science fiction fan convention in your area and maybe you'll meet a bunch of them (or folks like them)! Conventions (usually called cons for short) usually have movie and TV programming along with panels on both popular and obscure topics (feminism in SF&F, the physics of Star Trek, etc.) and a big masquerade on Saturday night, where you get to see lots and lots of beautiful hand-made costumes. If you like sewing, there are a lot of crazy costumers out there who'd love to talk about it with you. With regard to the number of friends you have, I think people have friends at many different levels. I have one or two friends I love unconditionally and would do anything for, another handful of friends whom I am close with and whose company I pretty much always enjoy, and a wider circle of friends and acquaintances I can spend a little or a lot of time with, depending upon the person and the event. By framing your goal as something like, "get comfortable meeting people and learning the nuances of friendship" rather than "get 10 friends," you'll feel more relaxed. You don't have to stop attending one of your activities once you've gotten a friend from there - do what you enjoy. That will lead to new and different groups to enjoy, full of interesting people to meet. The less of an agenda you have when you meet people, the easier it will be to make a connection. I remain very impressed with the amount of effort and concentrated work you've put into this project for yourself. Take care, Kelly J.
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Postby Movingalong » Tue Jul 31, 2007 9:22 pm

kashtanka wrote: You are taking a lot of steps to meet friends, and that's good, but I wonder if you will find yourself with too many friends and responsibilities at the rate you are going.
Kathy, thanks for the response. I'll keep that in mind. For me right now, I'm feeling like things go either feast or famine. Either everyone wants to get together and I'm trying to squeeze things in or nothing happens at all for a very long time. I'm not sure how to combat this.
kjc wrote:And if you think my friends sound nifty, consider attending a science fiction fan convention in your area and maybe you'll meet a bunch of them (or folks like them)!
That sounds interesting. The only TV I watch is Star Trek reruns, so I like the whole sci-fi thing. But I'm not so much into it that I've thought of wearing a costume. Is there an in-between?
kjc wrote:With regard to the number of friends you have, I think people have friends at many different levels. I have one or two friends I love unconditionally and would do anything for, another handful of friends whom I am close with and whose company I pretty much always enjoy, and a wider circle of friends and acquaintances I can spend a little or a lot of time with, depending upon the person and the event.
At this point, I have many people I'd call acquaintances and just a handful I want to get to know better. But I know that friendships take time, so I'm just trying to get to know those people better.
kjc wrote:By framing your goal as something like, "get comfortable meeting people and learning the nuances of friendship" rather than "get 10 friends," you'll feel more relaxed. You don't have to stop attending one of your activities once you've gotten a friend from there - do what you enjoy. That will lead to new and different groups to enjoy, full of interesting people to meet. The less of an agenda you have when you meet people, the easier it will be to make a connection.
Good advice. Thanks. I'm trying to lean toward those activities I'm having fun with.
kjc wrote:I remain very impressed with the amount of effort and concentrated work you've put into this project for yourself.
Thanks Kelly! Your comments are always appreciated.
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Postby Movingalong » Tue Jul 31, 2007 9:38 pm

Update: With my adult ed. classes winding to a close, my group attendance is getting quite a bit less. But I'm having interactions in smaller ways in different venues. Last Monday night, I sent e-mails to two members of church I saw that Sunday and a member of my tai chi class. On Tuesday, I took some fruit over to my neighbor and had a nice chat with her. On Wednesday, I went to my Toastmaster's meeting. I did an evaluation of a speaker that turned out reasonably well. I'm liking this meeting because I get a lot of practice speaking, but not sure that I'm finding many connections there. On Thursday, I went to my other Toastmaster's meeting. I asked a woman there if I could exchange e-mails with her. I e-mailed her that night and found she's interested in some of the same stuff that I am. She offered to get together. I hope we can do that soon. She seems like a very neat person. On Friday, I exchanged more e-mails with the person from my Toastmaster's meeting and had another nice chat with my neighbor. On Saturday, I had my last tai chi class for a while. On Sunday, I went to church and joined a new small group from church. They were very nice! And really fun! Since my other group is off for the summer, I asked this group if I could join them. They're very laid back and easy going and I'm enjoying them a lot for this first meeting. Today Tuesday, I got an e-mail from the Toastmaster's person asking if I'd like to attend a seminar with her. I don't think I'm up to it, but I was thrilled that she asked.
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Postby An8el » Fri Aug 03, 2007 2:34 am

I've thought a lot about what makes people connect and become really good friends with each other. Because I'm a very sociable person, I meet lots of people, but somehow most of them really don't have or make the time to spend with someone they just met - and the opportunity to extend a meeting into more "fun" doesn't seem to build. I observed that there often needs to be a need that is being met that is separate from the need to connect for there to create a situation where connection can happen. You seem to understand this and are doing lots of fun things with others who find the activities themselves meaningful and valuable. I've gone to church solely to be in the choir with an amazing director. When people tried to "convert" me, I merely would state,"I'm here to sing my praises, is that OK?" Some people are on in a relationship because they are getting what they already have defined that they need - and they don't really want any more connection than just that. This is because there is a huge category of people who get energy from doing things. Other people are a place for them how they sort of 'spend' their energy, so they don't really want to make more friends because they usually would rather conserve their energy. Then there are people, such as myself, who get energy from giving it out to other people who feel that reciprocal is an important back and forth essence of relationship - and being around people gives energy to me. So, the main difference in these two sorts of categories is people who are interested in doing thing do not want to "just hang out." Whereas, people who have fun being around other people make time to "hang out" and not keep track of every moment that they could be "doing something." If you want to make friends with these more dynamic people who like to "do" things, you have to spend your time doing these things with them and let the closeness evolve at their speed. I have found that I can never push someone like that into more intimacy until I allow them to determine how close we may get at what point. I watch the way that people treat their own friends and family, exactly how they maintain their own connections. I have learned to emulate whatever this is if I want to be considered "adopted family." For instance, if someone talks to their family/friends on the phone on Sunday morning, I'll call them and have a short chat on Sunday morning so I don't take up too much of their time then...but I'm paying attention how much of that special time they might give me. Pretty soon, they are calling me on Sunday morning and it's really fun because I know what that means to them to have a chat at that particular time. So - I watch what activities "mean something" to the person I want to befriend and get closer to. Connection, being a voluntary thing, seems to happen as people understand they have something to offer each other in an ongoing way that makes life constructively interesting for both of them. They usually don't find these points of connection out until they do already have a relationship. Also, people seem to have a different sort of language made up of certain sorts of bonding experiences. With some, you are never their friend unless you went to high school...but others make friends with their coworkers; or the friends of the parents their kids play with. Some people will never trust you until they are in a compromising situation and must confess and realize that you're not going to hit them when they're down; and some only want to show you their fun and games side...anyway, it's good to know what are your own bonding experiences and that they are just yours and maybe not someone else's.
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Postby Heartofstgiles » Sun Aug 05, 2007 4:35 am

I also have issues with making connections. I have spent over 30 years working in community development, which is all about supporting community groups, but you have a specific role so are not really 'in' the group. Then a couple of months ago I went along to a demonstration to save the William Morris Gallery and found myself walking alongside someone I kind of recognised. It was Helen who had been to the parent and toddler group I facilitated many many years ago. We recognised each other but did not talk about the old days. Turned out Helen had asked if she could organise an art exhibition as part of the Green Fair and she started asking me about potential groups. I could not help her with that but I said I would love to help with the exhibition. A few e-mails later, the weeks fly and hey presto I am outside the gates of Lloyd Park on a Sunday morning at 8am. Helen had contacted a number of local artists and one local school. She is a member of Friends of the Earth and the theme was the environment. It felt like Helen and I got on really well, I met the artists and suddenly found myself part of something I had never done before. We worked out were to hang stuff, shared the tools and just about got all the kids stuff up before it opened. I had a great day and felt very connected, it is something I would like to do more of. It made me realise you can work with artists without necessarily being one. The range of work was wide and the icing on the cake was talking to the public about it. I am still in touch with Helen, not sure it will become a deep relationship, but there is a connection. Movingalong I am so glad you started this thread. Ken
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