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On making friends & partial solutions

Here at The Art of Simple, we like to talk about “partial solutions,” the idea of meeting a need not in the ideal way but in a way that works…for now. As we all continue to navigate the challenges of 2020 (including the approaching holiday season), we thought it’d be helpful to revisit this idea and share a post that Tsh wrote a few years ago on this very topic.

The topic of friendship has been a common one around our house lately. We have several kids who’ve shared a desire for more—or for more likeminded—friends, and after taking off my mom hat when the kids are in bed, I pour myself a drink and confide the same thing to Kyle.

I’d like to have more local friends. And I’d like to have more likeminded friends.

It’s a weird thing, to be almost 40 and confess that it’s hard to make friends. It conjures up playground emotions of vulnerability and awkwardness, because it puts you in a position of need, which can feel …uncomfortable.

But this being a safe space, I want to tell you something on the receiving end of years of emails and private messages from you: a lot of us feel this way.

Some of you are in your teens, and have confessed to me a desire to find friends who share a kindred value of people over things, quality over quantity, meaning over status.

Some of you are in your twenties, doing the career thing and feeling alone, or doing the young parent thing and feeling alone, and overall feeling alone as you navigate some pretty big waters.

Some of you are in your thirties and forties, like me, realizing how isolating some of our roles can be, whether they be breadwinner or stay-at-home parent (or a weird combination of both, like me), and longing for more local support and camaraderie.

And some of you are older than me, walking ahead and confessing that it’s still hard as we get older to make friends.

So let’s just say it together: finding friends can be hard. But finding friends is so very worth it.

friends canoe

Here’s what I’ve been voicing to my oldest daughter, who’s on the cusp of teenhood and in that delicate stage of keeping toes in both waters of childhood and adulthood: partial solutions.

This is something my therapist back in Thailand taught me years ago, it’s something I’ve written about here from time to time, and I say this phrase at least once a week here at home.

Life is full of partial solutions—where there’s a way to get a need met, and it might not be the ideal way, but it’s a way that works.

Partial solutions apply to almost every area of life, from decorating our home, to getting dressed in the morning, to carving out a career for ourselves, to electing a politician.

And it’s absolutely the case with friendships.

When I share the idea of partial solutions with my daughter, I’m telling this to myself, too, because I find it’s easy for me to build a wall and call it permanent in order to hold too tightly to my ideals. When it comes to friendship, I really am, at almost 40, without a best-best friend, and would love to find more kindred spirits.

And I’d like her to be local to me (as in, lives in my particular town), an entrepreneurial breadwinner who gets the challenge of providing for her family both financially and maternally, a Christian—an Anglican, please, so she can share my theology and approach to worship, and while we’re at it, it’d be great if she also currently lives in a fixer-upper and deals with all those challenges therein. Oh, and a mom with kids the same ages as mine.

Ridiculous, right?

But when I’m feeling pouty, that’s when I can take a step or two back and realize that this is precisely what I’m doing.

(Another word for this is picky.)

lucy and ethel

What I’ve been telling my daughter is this: Yes, pray for and hope for new and closer friendships. That’s a good thing to want. But also don’t be so idealistic that you don’t see the opportunities for friendship right in front of you. The person in your life that you least expect might end up the answer to your prayer.

Partial solutions is the best answer for me and my daughter right now as we seek out deep, meaningful friendships.

It looks like taking the initiative when we’d rather wait to be invited. It looks like pursuing that person already in our life instead of waiting for someone who might not exist. It looks like looking out for who might need a friend more than me. It looks like keeping healthy boundaries when we feel particularly vulnerable about all this (I’m looking at you, social media).

It looks like continually keeping our eyes peeled for someone who fits our bill, but it looks even more like keeping partial solutions at the forefront of our mind when we desire companionship.

We can be each other’s kindred spirits in the most surprising ways. It doesn’t need to look how we think it should look. After all, as Ram Dass says, “We’re all just walking each other home.”

And it’s like what that wise sage Winnie-the-Pooh once said: “You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”

pooh piglet

Top photo by Vanity Fair

Reading Time:

4 minutes





  1. Susie Davis

    Lovely, true and practical. Passing this one along. Thank you.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Thank you, Susie! I’m always encouraged by your words and kindness. XO

  2. Missy June

    It seems to be sad commonality to so many of us – although in late elementary school, I think my daughter is at the peak of her friend compatibles! However, I have reached out to so many, made overtures and effort to connect with many local women and find endless roadblocks…mostly time, it seems. It makes me sad that friendships are so low on many priority lists that there isn’t time to cultivate them. Then that insecurity sets in that maybe others are doing so, without me? It’s hard to say.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      I totally get that, Missy! The insecurity thing, I mean. I keep telling my daughter that a lot of our insecurities are rooted in fear that we’re missing out—and of course I’m telling myself those things at the same time. 🙂

      I think busyness is also a scapegoat in our culture…. I felt like people made more time for relationships when we lived in Turkey—it’s simply prioritized higher there. I think our culture sadly values crossing off our to-do lists more than making time for people. Which I can fall prey to, for sure! But I still see it everywhere.

      Thanks for chiming in.

  3. Heidi

    Man, I wish I lived in Austin. Check, check, check and check (even Anglican!). My best friend moved 800 miles away this fall, and I’m bereft. I thought I had more friends and it wouldn’t be a big deal, but turns out I don’t have more friends like her. 🙂 Lately I’ve been too tired to do the initiating; it would be really nice to be pursued for once. I know that sounds kind of whiny, and I do love the friends I have, I just need the space to be passive and loved at the same time sometimes.

  4. Tsh Oxenreider

    Oh man, YES and AMEN to that last part you said! It would be nice to be pursued for once…. I get that. XO

    • Katy

      Yes! Someone else doing the
      Pursuing or planning would be life giving. Thank you for this post, I was wrestling with his very topic last week.

  5. Amber Nelson-Smith

    I spent my 20s and early 30s as a single person. It is amazing to me now as a wife and new mom how much finding friends is like dating! Put yourself in new situations, initiate, go on a “date” or two even if you don’t feel like it. Ask for the digits of the mom you just met on the playground, even if it feels super awkward. I’m thankful for the blind-dating skills I developed over many years!

  6. Helen

    I think everyone who has moved around feels like this. It’s hard to build up close friendships when there is no shared history. But I have also found that it’s just when you are not looking for a good friend that one appears and, through a shared interest or being in a similar place with the kids, an important friendship can begin. It’s not the same as a friend you’ve had since you were little but it’s often what you need to remind you there are good people out there.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Yes, very true—moving a lot does add to this sense of rootlessness. Good point, Helen.

  7. Karen

    A few years ago, I realized I was in a real-friend deficit. There were lots of women in my life, but few “mutually nurturing” ones. SO, I invited 2 long time friends to lunch and opened myself up by telling them I needed some friends who wanted to really put down roots. Turns out they did too. So, we committed to getting together once a month AND to keep in touch via texting, email, group-me. Every year we lay out the dates ahead of time and while sometimes things have to shift a week or 2 we are COMMITTED to gathering for our 2 hour breakfast. It takes time and intentionality, but the rewards we have reaped have been SO worth it!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      I love that, Karen!

  8. Melissa Crawford

    OH, THIS. I love the communities I’ve found on the web, but I know I need friends right here, right now. It’s so hard sometimes, but so worth the effort. Thanks for this–I needed it today.

  9. Gosia

    Yes, almost everyone would like to have perfect best friend, almost exactly the same as we are. But it’s not possible. And would it really be fun? My friend once told me (as a joke, we were talking about why she didn’t want to be with one guy):
    “You know, he is almost exactly like me. We like the same movies and books etc. I don’t want to be with him. If I wanted to talk to myself then I would stand in front of the mirror.”
    What’s great with friends is that they can challenge your thinking. They understand you in some situations, they can comfort you in others, but there are many when they point new things for you. Because you have different point of views.

    My mother told me other thing about friends.
    “We like (or love) our friends not because of their merits but despite their flaws.”
    Nobody is perfect and you probably won’t find your perfect match. You can be irritated by your firend. Maybe you will think “Oh god.. what she’s doing is so stupid and irritating.” or “She is really pesimistic about this. I wish she was more optimistic. It’s exausting always trying to cheer her up about this.” But that’s who they are, we won’t change them. The question is can we still like them even when we know about their flaws.

    • Abbie

      And when the answer is “Yes, I love her with her flaws” the friend becomes that much more dear and wonderful.

  10. Tammy

    I’m struggling with these same feelings. And at 35, shouldn’t I have it figured out by now? Glad to know I’m not alone.
    I know I need to make new friends, I know I need to take the initiative, but I’m in the midst of major depression and it feels impossible.
    I love the idea of partial solutions and will write it down in my healing journal. Maybe I’m thinking too much about what would be ideal, and I need to look for the parial solutions instead.
    Thanks so much for this!

  11. Noelle Brandaw

    I must confess that one of my dear friends and I were discussing how to connect with you just last week! She lives and homeschools just down the street from you. I live on the other side of town. Our kids attend a Tue/Thur homeschool enrichment program in walking distance of town square. We keep trying to figure out some not-creepy-social-media-stalker way to invite you into our little tribe. Our sweet circle of friends has slowly gained members over the years… It is a special group. The kind that cares for one another when they are sick (that’s me, the one that got sick) and raises each other’s kiddos like our own, we love without judgement, and all of a sudden our kiddos are so big, growing up together… The years are flying by. When you feel ready, just say the word. We would love to meet you! Maybe a little get together at Red Poppy or El Mon. Cheers!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Would love that, Noelle! Really and truly. I sent you a reply via email. 😉

      • Noelle Brandaw

        I think my Spam filters must have eaten your email. I went on a hunt but no luck! noellerose @ yahoo or @noellerosetx on Instagram! Looking forward to meeting you. – Noelle

  12. Nichole

    Hello, Maybe to forward but, oh well, I’ll consider this my moment of vulnerability for today. I’m a local and can check off a bunch of the friend requirements.:) I’d love to meet up one day at Blue Hole, the library, or the coffee shop. We might be kindred spirits. Love and light to you, Nichole

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Love that idea, Nichole! I always enjoy meeting readers, and find it even better when they turn in to friends. 🙂

  13. Kerri

    I particularly appreciate what you say about being willing to initiate. If EVERYONE wants the other person to initiate (and then refuses to initiate themselves), then everyone will stay lonely. I’ve been seeing a lot of memes lately to the tune of “if I always reach out first and you never do, then I’m done with you.” I’m not sure that’s a great relational model…even though I understand the feeling.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      I get the sentiment, like you, but I’m also willing to let it go in the name of real relationships. Thanks for sharing, Kerri.

  14. Beth

    ” When it comes to friendship, I really am, at almost 40, without a best-best friend, and would love to find more kindred spirits.”<~~ Me too, except I'm 42. I've had some really awesome friends, and they've all moved away or we've parted ways and I find myself in a very hard time in my life, feeling very alone. I loved this post. It gave me a lot to think about.

  15. Rebecca

    Wow…thanks for putting words to my thoughts. (And for being vulnerable with us). Saving this to reread and share with my daughter down the road.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      It’s not easy for me to be vulnerable, so thank you for saying so, Rebecca!

  16. Devi

    This right here is the number 1 struggle of my life after university, although if I’m honest, it was tough before then, too. Is it because we are on a generational shift, where we are living between the expectations of an older generation and the realities of a new one? No idea, but this feels significant. I’ve made so many relational mistakes in this area as well in the need to find friends instead of focusing first on building trust. I think that’s one thing on my mind going forward – it takes time to build lasting friendships, and a groundwork needs to be laid first. On the flip side, it makes me so grateful for the forever-friends I’ve made in the different places of the world. When I was younger, I wondered why I didn’t have more. Now I know that it is a precious gift to have the friends I do have, and few somehow feels right.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Yes! I feel the exact same way on so many levels, Devi. And I love what you said there at the end and it’s been what I’ve reminded my daughter—she has several amazing friends who happen to be scattered all over the world. It might not be ideal right now, but she’ll look back in amazement. (I hope.) 🙂

  17. Janice

    Oh man I so get this, in fact my husband and I were just sitting having coffee before church yesterday talking about this same thing. how we want to be more intentional and find those kindred sports – we relocated from the Dallas area to the north Austin area two years ago now and left some really great friendships and even though we are still friends it’s hard with long distance so now we have a whole lot of acquaintances but struggle for real meaningful friendships. Plus we admit that we are a different “slice of cheese” -we are a homeschooling family, we are also an interracial adoptive family and my husband works from home and we love travel and outdoor activities. Take hiking for instant we love to hike as a family many of our friends would do not want to join us on that. And Not that friends need to match all your personality preference/qualities but certainly to have like interests. And it’s so true it seems the older you get the harder it is to make new friends. (Anyway I’m in Cedarpark – we love venturing into Georgetown often 😉 – esp for Blue Hole 🙂

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      We’re super close to Blue Hole! Maybe we’ll meet you there…. say hi if you ever see me. We love the outdoors as well. XO

  18. Meredith

    Thanks so much for sharing this – I’ve been feeling similarly for awhile here. I have some very close long-distance friends but there is something different about a local best friend who just drops by announced.

  19. Katie C.

    I left my outside-the-home job to become a stay-at-home-mom last year, and ever since then have found myself a bit lonely and wishing I knew how to make friends. I feel like for the first part of our lives, making friends has more to do with location/circumstances than anything else- you become friends with the people in your class/grade who you interact with every day. Even at my jobs after college, my local friends were pretty much my work friends. And no, we didn’t hang out after work beyond a little texting, but we had a great friendships just chatting at work. That seemed to fulfill my need for somewhat like-minded friends at the time, and after work I was happy to go to my own home and just hang out with my husband. Being a stay-at-home mom is a game-changer, though. I still keep in contact with my two best friends from high school, and we get together a few times a year, but they can’t fulfill my need for local friends, and even those friendships look a bit different than they did in high school because 1)people change and 2)we live in different cities and lead different, non-intersecting lives now. I know often moms make friends with people at church, but our church is small and in the process of major changes & re-building. There aren’t literally aren’t people our age, and we feel a bit too committed to the church right now to leave. Then, like you, I catch myself creating this ridiculous wishlist of qualities I wish I could find in a friend that matches my own quirks & very specific values/lifestyle. Maybe it was easier to make friends as children/teens, not only because “times” were simpler back then, but because WE were simpler back then. Adults have had more time to really develop our personalities, so it’s going to be a lot harder to find friends who are similar. Or is this more of an introvert problem? Extroverts have it so much easier.

    Well, I’ve really gone down a rabbit hole here, but I did want to mention that I agree with your advice to your daughter- pray for friends, and God will provide them. When I was an insecure high school freshman who had just moved back to the town my family had left 3 years before, I was so desperate to make just one friend. I prayed every day for one, and God sent me the friend who perfectly met my needs at the time, and would eventually end up introducing me to my husband 6 years later! I have no doubt in my mind that God orchestrated that friendship, so I know He can supply friends later in life, as well.

    • Melissa L.

      I make friends slowly. I am introverted – but not shy. I don’t have one best friend. I have 6 very good girlfriends. I spend little time with any of them and we never gather as a group; it’s impossible between jobs, spouses, and kids. Even though some of us live what would be considered close to each other, with differing schools for our kids and in my case, a spouse that works nights requiring that I am the one home with the kids every weeknight, well, it’s hard. I am replying to your comment because I too was a work outside the home mom who became a stay at home mom when my son was 2. And it was really lonely (even for an introvert!). I missed out on the mommy groups that all got to know each other when their firstborns were babes-in-arms and I now I was at home, with reduced income and a crazy toddler, not conducive to getting to know a friend over lunch or coffee (and within a year a second baby.) I didn’t start making any new friends until my son was in preschool that did a lot of things that brought the families together. But none of these people have become a close friend. It’s more when we see each other we have pleasant conversations or exchange helpful information but we don’t really do things the way I do when I get a chance to see my old friends.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      “Maybe it was easier to make friends as children/teens, not only because “times” were simpler back then, but because WE were simpler back then. ”

      Katie, this is SO true, I think. A good word here.

  20. Claire

    Thank you for expressing what so many of us are feeling. I haven’t found a ‘best’ friend locally, but I do have a handful of close friends that I get together with individually. Each friendship is different and each one contains an element of the perfect ‘best friendship’.Rather than looking for one person, perhaps 2 or 3 people may be your answer Tsh, and maybe you know them already. I have also learnt that if I don’t make the first move I probably won’t see many people.

  21. Miriam

    I am experiencing the same thing! We just moved to Austin at the beginning of November, and initially I was much more concerned with friends for my kindergartener. I’ve realized in the past week or so that I desperately need to make a friend, too. It’s hard because I’m working full time again and we don’t have a church yet. I just randomly stumbled across the fact that someone (who I don’t know) is hosting an If gathering at their house in my very neighborhood, so I’m going to try to get my super introverted self to go to that, in the hopes of meeting at least one nice person. Eek.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Let me know if you need suggestions on good churches in the Austin area, Miriam! XO

  22. Jennifer

    This deeply resonated with me. Thanks for being so brave and honest… and thanks for normalizing my feelings as a 40 something still seeking real life local friends in this big ‘ol world.

  23. Allyson

    Thank you so much for this, Tsh. I needed to hear this. It’s so encouraging, and weirdly empowering, to hear that I’m not alone in this struggle.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Weirdly empowering is a good way to describe writing this, too. Thanks, Allyson!

  24. Share

    What a thought provoking article. Moved just outside of Dallas three years ago from CA and put forth a real effort to get a craft group started once a month…..confirmed four but they never showed up all at once, always scattered, then it just petered out within a few months. I’m quite a bit older than you and most of your readers I suspect. I’m active daily in exercise, fiber and metal arts, participate in fiber classes once a month and still it doesn’t feel like its enough sometimes, yet I’m not desperately seeking a friend, more like cautiously optimistic….lol. Over the years I’ve had plenty of friends some younger and some not so younger and looking back I now know that whom ever is in my space I want them to be well, adjusted and happy overall. I’d be first one to help a friend figure out a solution that empowered them and not exulted me to a different position.

  25. Ashley R

    I so needed this today! Our move to Beijing has been really, really hard for me and the boys. We left a fabulous community, and I left a kindred-spirit sort of friend who had moved in right next door (you know!)-liturgy loving, homeschooling because we had to, theologically studious, book and outdoor loving…there were so many ways we clicked AND our husbands did, too! I have mourned the loss of that geographical closeness and all of the good friendships my kids had, perfect friends for each of them at just the right ages. We are trying our best to make community here, joining a homeschool co-op and Scouts, but the friendships are slow in coming when it takes an hour one way on the subway just to see people. It’s been very isolating. We all needed the advice to seek partial solutions and find the community we can, where we can, even if it isn’t perfect. (But I AM looking forward to a bit of time with old friends over our New Year holiday in a couple of weeks! And I’m thankful for Skype and WeChat video calls!)

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      You started with your move to Beijing, I looked up and saw your name, and my first reaction was, “Hey—I know another Ashley R who recently moved to Beijing!” ….aaaaand then I realized you’re the one I already know. 😉 Ha!

      Grace and peace to you, friend. It’s challenging, isn’t it?

  26. Janel

    I really love this piece, Tsh. Myself, I have friends who were instantly dear to me and I have friends whose hearts were only gradually revealed to show me that they are just the person I needed without realizing it. I grew up moving every few years, so I can empathize with the in-betweenness of locations and how that can make it hard to get to know people (I’m also an introvert!). I very much hope that you and your daughter can walk that path of partial solutions to discover intimate connections with new and old friends. <3

  27. Dulcimer

    Thanks for the reminder that SO MANY other women in their thirties are searching for authentic, tangible, in-person friendships after some amount of disillusionment with Internet friendship (which totally has its place too, but comes with significant limits). In some ways, all I need to empower me to get out there and see the gift and potential in relationships around me is knowing that I’m not the only one: “When it comes to friendship, I really am, at almost 40, without a best-best friend, and would love to find more kindred spirits.”

    Why do we long for that “best-best friend?” Are best-best friends even a good idea? We are all so different; wouldn’t it make more sense to just nurture the connection points that we find with others, and have a diverse group of friends that represent, support, and challenge the multi-faceted people we are?

    Thanks, Tsh, for your candid and refreshing approach.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      I think I’d like to dig into some more writing with your thought here –> “Are best-best friends even a good idea? We are all so different; wouldn’t it make more sense to just nurture the connection points that we find with others, and have a diverse group of friends that represent, support, and challenge the multi-faceted people we are?”

      …because I’ve long felt like this. The very concept of a “best” friend has rubbed me the wrong way for years. And I think the solution is exactly what you’ve said here, Dulcimer. Thanks for sharing this wisdom.

  28. Emily

    I’ll be 42 tomorrow, and I think I’ve mostly figured out the friendship thing. Finally!

    Mostly I had to realise there was never going to be one friend who “gets” every part of me. I have friends who also home school. Friends from church. Friends I chat with casually at the community centre. Friends I make music with in a community band. Friends I knit with.
    Even my husband doesn’t “get” all of me – especially the knitting part! – but he encourages me to hang out with other people so that he doesn’t have to pretend to be interested. 🙂
    Letting go of the “best friend” idea has let me have a lot of “good friends”. And it puts a lot less pressure on those relationships.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      I’m actually not crazy either about the “best friend” concept, both because of the expectations it puts on people, and because of how it makes other people feel (particularly the non-“best friend”s). Great words of wisdom here, Emily! Thanks for sharing.

  29. DeniG

    I also don’t have a best-best friend, but I have a few really good friends that, as a group, fill that spot in my heart and life. Most of them I’ve met in one of two ways: women I have served with–either as volunteers at my kids’ school, in callings at church, or at work; or women I have served–our church has a program where you volunteer to be assigned a couple other women to watch over, care for, and if you’re lucky, actually befriend, and some of my closest friends are women that I met this way that I would not have connected with otherwise. I am also lucky enough to still have a couple good friends from childhood around. None of these women are exactly like me, or even close, but between the group, all the parts of me that crave connections are covered–have nearly-grown 20-ish kids, similar religious views, similar interests, memories of growing up…. I’ve found that if I don’t run into my friends regularly at church or work, I need to set dates to see them, as a couple others have commented, like once a month lunch dates, in order to stay feeling connected. Being introverted for me means that making new friends is difficult, but also that I prefer this small circle of friends.
    PS–LOVE your idea of partial solutions, apropos for so many parts of my life.

    • Carol

      Deni: Does your church’s program of women watching over women have a name or any written literature about it so it could be replicated? Thank you.

  30. Emily at The We Files

    Yes, Tsh! I’ve been using that word “kindred” in my own search for dear friends in our new neighborhood in Seattle, which is like a whole different world from our last neighborhood (and we moved into the state only two years ago). Sometimes I forget to be grateful for the lifelong friends I already do have, and I can feel impatient for closer friendships when I have met and regularly get together with lovely people. I think it’s wonderful to keep our eyes open for friendship to pop up in the unlikely places, and to keep our hearts open.

  31. Jill

    I rarely comment on any blog, I’m usually just a stalker. But this hit home. I am a firm believer that friendship is a gift. I did not do anything to deserve the and I cannot explain or plan the amazing friendships that I have with people with some similar traits to me (which is the attraction), but most that are very different from me. The other thing that struck me in our post was your vulnerability, which is the crack that lets the light in for friendships to flourish and grow. I was reading your comments and the little group that lives close to you…maybe they will be a gift due to your vulnerability. All of this is truly a gift from Christ. One that I now recognize even more from you post. Thank you!

  32. Kristin

    Oh so true. It’s really hard to make friends. All you lovely women leaving comments- I’m in Burnaby near Vancouver. Let me know if you want to meet up! Having something in common with someone (loving the Art of Simple) is a great way to get a conversation started.

  33. Laurie

    This is SO good! And I think this partial thing is right on the money. I spent my 20s and 30s looking for a BFF…just like me, spoke my exact language, believed exactly the same things. I found a few of them but looking back, those relationships weren’t very healthy. They seemed easy at first and I suppose that’s why I wanted them. But people change and that caused those BFF relationships to implode. In my forties I moved to a different state where I knew nobody and I felt like an alien. I made one friend the first year and she isn’t one of those BFFs…but she has been a faithful friend who has stretched me in so many good ways. Then I felt stuck and asked an older woman acquaintance to mentor me…and that has now turned into a more equal friendship…but other people don’t get us because we are so different. Then there’s the woman that I hardly knew but she seemed depressed so I reached out to her…and now she’s figured some things out and we started a book club together this fall…but again, not a BFF. That woman insisted I come to coffee with another woman that really scared me since she seemed to be SO together…and now I would hate to live life without all of the philosophical banter we carry on but she sharpens me in painful ways that I now know are so important to my own maturity. I’ve more friends now than I ever dreamed I’d have at one time, and l am so very rich because of them and the differences they bring to my life.

  34. Nova |

    Thank you for sharing this and being honest. What you’ve written rings true for me too. I take comfort knowing I’m not alone in this place. But I do feel lonely at times. I long for a/some friendships and will take your advice: pray.
    In self reflection maybe I haven’t been a good friend to the women in myself. And maybe in my desperation for friendship I haven’t chosen wisely either. So also need to pray for myself in my friendships. As relationships are cultivated that I myself be a good friend to my friends and to chose my friends wisely. Thank you, Tsh!
    Praying for you and the women here.

  35. Jenn

    Where I live, many women find the need to belong to a giant group, going out for dinner and doing fun things like concerts, shopping, etc. in these groups of women there is much talking behind one another’s backs and from what I have observed regressing back to childhood. I know this because I have my “toes dipped” so to speak in a bunch of groups, as I am very friendly to many people I meet and am always up for a good time. However, since turning 40, I am spending less and less time with these women and more time with those that truly bring a deeper connection and care to me and my life. These friends I find, are easier to pick out because they are in your corner and supporting and loving u always no matter what beliefs u have or decisions you make. I find there is no keeping score with these friendships because no matter who calls who, you are nourishing each others souls which takes the highest of importance– and keeping score becomes not even a thought.

  36. Debbie L.

    Thank you for this post! I really needed to “hear” this. I am definitely feeling lonely. As someone once told me, in order to have a friend, you have to be one. I have a tendancy to be like a turtle hiding in my shell. I need to break out and make friends.

  37. Pam

    What a lovely take on something so many of us are struggling with. Partial solutions…yes, thank you for this!

  38. Megan

    Thanks for sharing these thoughts Tsh! Sometimes I make the faulty assumption that authors and people I look up to have it all together… it’s nice to know I’m not alone. I love the partial solutions philosophy!

  39. Erika

    I find the tug and pull of starting up a friendship is difficult. Tryimg to make time for a person yet staying true to other obligations or priorities. As adults so many things require attention, space and energy everyday. And then if a relationship just isn’t working, letting the adult know can be tough. It seems to really ebb and flow each season of life.

  40. Hannah

    This is exactly how I feel, but I liked your idea of looking for partial solutions. Thanks for the encouragement.

  41. Theresa Boedeker

    Friendship, so necessary and yet so complicated. I like your idea of partial solutions. Work with what you already have. I know one of my best friends came about after two years and with someone who was so opposite me and who I thought I had so little in common with. She wasn’t even a mother, and I was. She was a career woman, and I was a homeschool momma. Yet we are alike in so many ways too. Who can’t identify with loss, grief, joy, hope, and trying to survive in life. All of us have more in common than we think. So don’t discount that woman who you think you have nothing in common with, she may become your best friend over time.

  42. Claire

    Yes! This echoes what I have been struggling with as well. Funnily enough, I suggested your podcast as a “partial solution” in my recent post about this very topic. Listening to you chat with your online friends helped cheer me up when I was in a friendship drought myself. Thank you for the encouragement you bring to me and many others Tsh!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Oh my goodness, I love this, Claire! You’ve made my day. 🙂

  43. Stephenie

    I don’t know how I missed this post last week but I am so glad to find it now! It’s amazing how many of us find ourselves struggling with this issue. I have friends in different places across the country but none where we actually LIVE (must stop moving!!!), and I seem to have lost the ability to make new friends. After our latest move, I am trying to push myself to work harder at it, to talk to people, join some activity and if I meet someone I like to actually get contact information and say “hey, let’s have coffee sometime.”
    It is so hard. I look at the other parents chatting at school drop off time, and wonder how I can be part of that. In some ways I am as much the awkward kid I always was…except over 40.
    Thanks for reminding me I am not alone in this!

  44. Julie

    I’m late to the post… but glad I went back to read. “Partial solutions”.. your therapy becomes mine. What a great word in so many areas of life. It just so happens it REALLY applies to the area of friendship at this moment in time. Thanks for your transparency.

  45. Mary Carver

    Interesting. I may have sorta, kinda had a complete meltdown about this very thing last week. I know I should feel comfort that my internet friends are in the same boat, but really, it’s just one more piece of evidence that the women I view as kindred spirits live too far away! 🙂

  46. Erin

    My husband was in the military for 10 years. Even though we moved around, it was easy to make friends as we were part of a built-in community. I was nervous when he left the military nearly three years ago and we moved to Eugene, OR. I tend to be awkward and don’t want to seem overeager with making friends. I tend to communicate better in writing when I have time to think and edit my thoughts than in person. I’m an introvert, so I tend to like one-on-one interactions as opposed to groups. The other night I forced myself to go a friend’s house to write postcards and make calls to our senators. There were four of us who work together and feel very similar on some of the big issues facing our country. When one of them suggested we get together again to watch the new “Ghostbusters” and drink wine, I wanted to scream, “YES! LET’s DO THAT! LET’S BE REAL FRIENDS!” I restrained myself, but now I need to decide if I want to clean and offer my house or wait for one of them to make a plan. Making friends is tricky business.

  47. Rachel

    I’m late to this post but found it through Emily Freeman. The right read at the right time. Living with a chronic illness makes this area of life elusive. But it’s still a great reminder to practice “partial solutions” even if better friendship looks like connecting more with someone likeminded wherever they are. For me, that’d still be pretty great. Thanks, Tsh.

    • Empressa

      I have chronic illness and pain, too. It’s very isolating and even when finding others who can relate sometimes they are VERY different in their views on how to handle illness and pain. My optimism and blunt honesty is not always received well lol
      I’d love to connect and, possibly -dare I say it – become friends! 🙂 if you’d like to add me on FB just search for “Empressa Komlo”!

  48. Adriel

    Yup, check. This is my constant refrain. (Poor Ryan!) Our lifestyle has definitely contributed to this problem—moving, traveling, working with others in short-term capacity. We have deep, kindred friendships but they are here, there, and everywhere. (Well, except for ‘here’!) I would love to have one very best friend (besides hubby!) who lives near me and just *gets* me, has a family we enjoy (or at least a husband Ryan enjoys), and will not leave all the initiating to me. (See how short my “list” has become?) We have three families like this (two of which live near each other… interstate—boo!) and have seriously considered locating ourselves near them so we can all “do life” together. BUT never have we lived in a city/neighborhood we LOVED so much as we do now so we’d really just like for them to move to us. Ugh! This is the absolute hardest part of putting roots down in a new city as an “older” person. 🙂 Everyone seems already established in their relationships and it’s hard to “break in” during the little free time you do have to pursue a social life. Solidarity, sis. I’m believing it will come.
    Love you! xo

  49. Lori Jeffries

    I am a military spouse. This rings true for me in so many ways. I will say I am BLESSED to have a bestie. We have known each other since we were in 6th grade, although we didn’t care much for each other then. We reconnected after college and have been besties every since. That said, we live in different places. We talk to each other almost daily and see each other a few times a year. But, she can not fulfill all my friendship needs. I remember when we moved to El Paso, Texas. I had been with my husband and, off and on, with my boys for about 6 weeks STRAIGHT. Not 6 weeks of normal life, but 6 weeks of transition and exclusive time together. By the time I arrived in El Paso, I was DESPERATE for a friend. I had seen this one lady several times and about the 3rd time I saw her, I just confessed that I needed a girl and could we have lunch. She mentioned she had younger children and didn’t get out much. I offered to bring lunch to her and have lunch at her place. We did and became good friends. Is she my bestie – no. We stay in touch, but for that season, she was a significant part of my life. Continue to look for partial solutions, but might I add this, when you find someone that you connect with, pray and seek to invest in that relationship. Praying for a bestie for you.

  50. Astrid

    All the above – that is so me, finally people who get it!
    Tomorrow is a day off for the whole country (King’s Day, I live in the Netherlands) and I feel lonely. My boyfriend is working abroad for two weeks and I have no friends close by to spend the day with. This is due to a lot of moving, career changing, a boyfriend who is an introvert and living in a small-ish village (too big to have a close community, too small to offer variety in cafés-cultural things-etc.) as a more academic-oriented/childless couple in their 30ies. There are things to do, but basically all the young people here are living the family life with their own little children and the members of groups for crafts/gardening/books are usually 50+years. I totally wouldn’t mind being friends with a young mom, just that I do not meet them since I do not drop of a kid at school or at the football club or doing baby-swimming..`.at least that is how my brothers/SIL have met other parents they now call friends.

    Of course I could call a girlfriend and I am grateful that I have a small circle of good friends. However I would love to have someone local. It helps to read this thread and knowing that I am not alone in this. <3

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