You + Internet = New Friends?
How To Use Your Computer To Move On
If one doesn’t frequent bars or churches, exactly how do you make new friends, especially in a new place?” That was the question facing Shirley Foley Simpson, 57, an administrative secretary in Phoenix, Ariz. The ladies I work with are married with spouses and/or children.”
The same challenge faced Alison Persson, 34, full-time separated mother from Huntington Beach, Calif., taking graduate courses in the evenings. I have friends, but they work during the day and the ones that don’t, live in far off places.”
Stephanie Burchell, Ph.D., LMFT-A, is a Texas State Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate with a private practice located in Dallas, Texas. At the end of a committed relationship, it’s common to feel disconnected. Having access to a strong support network is always important following a divorce.”
For Jason Wilson, 33, a claims adjuster recently transferred to Dallas, Texas, the situation was similar. After my divorce, I wanted to shoot a few games of pool or watch the game with someone on Sunday afternoon. I was sick of doing things by myself.”
When the dust settles following a long separation or divorce, moving forward in life can be difficult if family and friends living nearby are in short supply. Many interests are not conducive to being solo activities and people may be reluctant to do them alone. Getting out of the house and doing something beyond a narrow, confining routine is important. My husband got an outstanding job offer here and I agreed to move from Sarasota, Fla.,” recalls Simpson. After the divorce, my old friends were back in Sarasota and it’s a heck of a commute from Phoenix! Life is to be enjoyed and part of that enjoyment is sharing with others.”
By nature, we thrive through the relationships and interactions we share with others.” notes Burchell. Participating in casual activities with friends and like-minded individuals require very little mental energy and commitment.”
Persson found that social interaction being limited to her three-year-old was not fulfilling. I got motivated to make new friends when I didn’t seem to know what was going on in the real world. I could only tell you what was going on with Sponge Bob, Dora and Sesame Street.”
For Wilson, dimensions of his life were absent. My ex was unusual in that she enjoyed sports and what many people would consider ‘guy’ things. I had been doing nothing but watching TV for a year and a half and was burned out on it. I did not miss my ex, but I missed doing the things we used to do.”Wilson went to a couple of singles get togethers and divorce support groups, but those people were casualties of their divorce. I wanted to be around normal people that I had something in common with besides being recently divorced.”
CraigsList is a site where people can place and answer ads free of charge to buy or sell anything, look for jobs, or to meet new people. In the personals is a category, strictly platonic. Both Simpson and Persson placed ads in the women for women section. Simpson estimates that she got between 20 to 40 responses from both genders and all ages. Even though I was pretty specific, maybe ten percent fell into the category I had posted for. I was fortunate to make the right friendship connections.”
I am not looking for another girl to party with, I am looking for someone to discuss daily life over a cup of coffee or dinner.” Persson says. One was from a woman that sounded like me.”
Wilson signed up for a free dating site. I didn’t have much success on there and wondered about the competition. I browsed the guys in my age range nearby. I read a few profiles and one guy sounded just like me. I wrote to him telling him that we were in the same situation, liked the same the things and that I was straight. After a few emails and phone calls, we met at a pool hall and became fast friends.”
The Internet provides a gateway to countless numbers of potentially interesting and like-minded individuals making a big world seem a much smaller place. The goal simply involves going out and having fun.” says Burchell.
I’ve met two lovely ladies who have become friends.” says Simpson. One had just moved into town and was looking for friends to see independent films and enjoy ethnic dining. We’ve seen several films and dined at some exotic locations. The other person was also looking for an adventurous soul and we’re planning a trip to see the great museums of New York City. We’ve gone to movies, dined out and she is planning to join me for dancing lessons later this year.”
Persson now is able to enjoy adult companionship when she and her new friend take the youngsters to the park. I believe that I have made new friends and have more opportunities to enrich my life.” Burchell sees a silver lining in the dark cloud of divorce. Taking extra special care of your ‘self’ during this time should be the primary focus. Take this opportunity to achieve personal growth and re-discover a stronger sense of ‘you’ as an individual.”
As using the Internet worked so well for Wilson and his friend, they decided to expand their efforts and were successful. We were talking and the idea came up about contacting some other guys to get together for cards or watch the games on Sunday. Now, we have regular get togethers and the weekends are great. Life is good!”
Simpson is glad that she chose to make friends online. I’m pretty well set for friends now. I feel very fortunate. Friends make the world go around. The Internet has been a viable alternative for me in this area.”
I use the Internet for everything including dating, shopping, keeping in touch with people.” says Persson. Why should I approach making friends any differently? It has worked for me.”Wilson has seen his life transformed. Now when I get off work, I don’t feel like I am coming home to a jail cell. I can’t explain how much the improvement is in my quality of life now.”
To ease the transition back to singlehood, it’s comforting to know the Internet gives us back a little control when searching for an ideal person to associate with.” Burchell concludes.
Tips to consider:
1. Play it safe by making new connections one friend at a time.
2. It might be best to first consider socializing among a group of friends.
3. Avoid too much alone time where emotional attachments can develop prematurely.