Encouragement for the Mom in the Friendship Dating Stage

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I started dating again when I moved to Charleston.

Friendship dating.

43 years young. Married. Smokes only meats.
Enjoys long walks on the beach, wine, and witty banter.
Seeking friends who don’t need their food cut up. Baseline.
Just kidding.
Must also wipe themselves.

When I first moved here, like a responsible mom, I found the essentials:
Doctors, dentists, and a donut shop (duh, priorities — Joey’s Bag of Donuts).

Once the kids were established with sports teams and youth group and music lessons, I looked around and realized I was — like Celine — all by myself. Drinking prosecco alone. Strolling the beach like some sad Nicholas Sparks sap. Laughing at my own wit.

Alone.

Well, not entirely. I do have a dozen kids. Okay, just four, but you know the feeling. But I was — in fact — friendless. I mean, husbands are great. Truly. But a girl needs her girlfriends. And everyone knows that.

A group of women sit at a table with books in front of them, two of them shaking hands.Friendship Dating

Which brings me to the phenomenon of friendship dating . . .

I have moved all over the world. And I am rich — kind of like “T. Swift rich” but in friendships collected along the way. However, starting over, and creating a new community is rough stuff. Especially when you are *ahem* more mature in age.

Long ago, preschool parties, “fun”damentals football, and MOPs mixers allowed for those informal friendship pick-up lines like, “We should get the kiddos together for a playdate sometime.” Read: You seem normal and *bonus* are now in the running to be my emergency contact. Maybe this will develop into a girls’ trip to the Keys. Fingers crossed.

But moms of older kids are at a bit of a disadvantage. We can’t use a Trojan horse toddler as a pretense to vet a prospective friend — funny enough, my 14-year-old has rejected all offers of playdate arrangements henceforth. “No thanks, bruh.” Direct quote. So I was left with no other option . . .

I had to pimp myself. Yes, I said it. (Come on. We all know this to be true. I am just saying the quiet part out loud.)

Picture This:

Friendship dating: A woman waves "hello" in front of a large bookshelf.

You are invited to the neighborhood book club. You bring your Grandmom’s famous cookies. Please, God, let someone “friend me” for this recipe. You dress cute. But not too cute. Must not look like you tried too hard. The night begins with a “harmless” ice-breaker. Flashbacks to not-hot-middle-school-me. Everyone is encouraged to share something interesting about themselves. Sweaty hands. Dry mouth. Anxiety to the rescue.

It’s the American Idol intro of friendship dating. Tell me I’m wrong.

WHAT is even interesting about me? I should call my mom.

That I manage to feed all three kids in this failing economy?
No! No political jokes.

That I married the hottest man I met on Tinder?
No. Too personal and kind of creepy.

That I earned multiple advanced degrees but currently stay home because it’s so rewarding?
And nope. Just a humble brag and only occasionally true.

Best case scenario: Someone asks for your number and you meet for coffee later.

Worst case scenario: That was the “last” book the club read, or so you thought.

Encouragement for Friendship Dating

When I first arrive in a new town, I do all the things: coffee dates and Bible studies, wine tastings, and Bunco. One super fit friend in California first invited me on a death hike: Cerro Alto. It was a test, which I survived. So, we’re still friends. But like romantic dating, it’s a whole lot. A whole lot of exhausting work.

So much small talk and caffeine. And you cannot wait until you reach the “hang out in your
sweats, messy hair (messy house) don’t care” phase of friendship. Actually, one girlfriend calls this stage of friendship dating “fridge friends” — when they just throw open your fridge without asking. I love that. But, it takes a hot minute to identify your “fridge friends.”

A woman looking inside a fridge.Whether you are 27 or 47, finding your people is no small feat. Everyone wants to be seen and known and loved — from awkward teenagers to their slightly less awkward moms at book club. We are more than our kombucha or lattes, forgotten careers or forged ones, mini-vans or SUVs, Orange Theory or couch-fit, Hello Fresh or sourdough starters. Dimension and diversity define each of us.

So, don’t just be kind. Be inclusive. The rough streets of Charleston are filled with Stanley-toting, Lulu-layered ladies who may look perfect but are still on the market for the other half of their BFF heart charm. And it might just be you.

“A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.” Proverbs 27:9

About the Author

Melissa Kulp Frankenfield is a former public school teacher turned homeschool mom to four kids and active duty army wife. After living all over the world, Mt. Pleasant is now her forever home. Melissa loves Jesus, wine, and the beach (in that order) and requires all those to survive parenthood.

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