real life

How to make adult friends Marcia Brady style

Ever been the new girl in town? Struggled to make friends? Wondered whether you should invite the people that have just moved into your street for a  meal?  Best selling author and Mamamia regular Rebecca Sparrow is about to move city again and she has a few thoughts on being the new girl in town. She writes


It was one of two problems that plagued the usually perfect Marcia Brady. The first being: how do I date Greg without getting into trouble with dad? The second issue – albeit temporary – was, “What clubs do I join at my new high school in order to make lots of groovy friends?” Being a typical A-type personality Marcia signed up to Scuba, Archery, Yoga, Drama, Ceramics, the Westdale Boosters, Girls Who Have Younger Sisters Who Are Obsessed With Them and probably some other club for people who have successfully snuck into Davy Jones’ hotel room dressed as a bellboy. Marcia’s how-to-make-friends plan was going swimmingly until Peter’s volcano project exploded all over some of her new high school friends on the patio. Remember that? Those crazy Brady’s. Pure TV gold.

Suddenly it seems I need to take a leaf out of Marcia Brady’s book. I’m about to move to a new city where I know pretty much nobody. Exciting! Or actually, not really. We’ve moved five times in about six years. I move house like someone on the run from the police (or someone married to a Queensland Health employee). When you’re an adult starting from scratch to make friends isn’t exactly easy. After all, many adults have a “Not hiring” sign hanging off their face. Not everyone wants to include new people into their friendship circle.
In the past I’ve often had a workplace to go to (always a good start when you’re on a friendship hunt). But this time, I’ll be working from home. They’ll be no loitering by the water cooler. No attempts to win new colleagues over with home-made brownies (or brownies you bought from Coles and attempted to pass off as your own. Just joking. Maybe.)

So this time I’m on my own. This time, it seems I need to follow in Miss Brady’s footsteps.

If you’re new to a city or just looking to make new friends then joining something – anything – is apparently the way to go. For starters you’ve immediately got something in common – be it writing or netball, cooking or scrapbooking, toddlers or tae kwon do. When my mum moved to a small town when she was first married, she joined a tennis group and stayed with that group for ten years. Another friend does one of those Adult Education Classes every term – at the moment I think she’s learning how to speak Italiano. This time last year she was all about flamenco dancing. Other friends in recent years have signed up to art classes, wine appreciation groups, poker nights, yoga classes, book clubs and one even joined a local choir. And how about volunteering for a favourite charity or cause?

One of my favourite clubs of all time is The Shirleys. It’s a club for people called Shirley. That’s it. If your name is Shirley, you’re in. If your name isn’t Shirley then you’re referred to as a Non-Shirley (behind your back and to your face). Who knew Shirleys were so cliquey? And cagey … there’s not a huge amount of information on their website about what exactly the Shirls get up to at their meetings. I’m guessing they reminisce about Shirley Temple and debate whether Shirley McLaine will be reincarnated as Warren Beatty’s toupee. And what do you call a group of Shirleys? A gaggle? A pride? A school of Shirleys?

So next time you’re introduced to a newcomer, do the right thing and invite them along to stuff. You don’t have to adopt them forever but just helping them leave the house and meet other people is always a big help. Unless their name is Shirl in which case they’ll be fine on their own.


Ever moved cities? Had to make new adult friends?