BoldDishblog

Sure Fire Way to See Friends More Often

How to Make Friendship a Habit

A few years ago, my social life was non-existent. I worked out of town Monday through Thursday, which meant I had to seriously prioritize my time on weekends. Sad to say, seeing friends was the first thing to go.

Sure, I’d squeeze in the occasional drink with a close friend once in a blue moon, but had no clue how to handle anymore than that. Just the thought of all those texts and emails trying to plan something exhausted me!

As the months (then years) past, I started feeling pretty disconnected…and my patience with work and my family became practically non-existent. Every day felt like groundhog day. I had no way to unwind and recharge the batteries.

And, I was missing out on a lot – from the little things like laughing together about that funny dog video on Facebook and good old fashioned girl talk, to the big milestones like birthdays, weddings, and babies.

When I stopped traveling, the weight of the world lifted.

I felt like I could have a life again!

To celebrate, my friend and I decided to host a dinner night. There were 3 sorority sisters we thought would make a fun group and we invited them over.

We took a quick poll and found Monday nights were usually free for everyone, so we picked a date 3 weeks out and set a date for a casual potluck. Kathy brought an app, Nita brought the cocktails, Amanda B. a dessert and Amanda T. and I made the main dish.

We had so much fun just hanging around the dinner table laughing, talking, eating and drinking…and it was so easy for us to pull together….we had to do it again. We whipped out our calendars, found Monday the next month we were all free, decided who would host next, and set a date for dinner #2.

Once it was on the books, planning other things around it was a breeze.

By month 3, we started picking a theme which gave us even more to look forward to (and made it easy to find food to make).

By month 4, our families saw our monthly dinner night as part of the normal routine and even looked forward to it because of how refreshed, relaxed, and happier we were after. They were even starting their own fun traditions those nights.

If you know the Bold Dish backstory, you know our dinners are still going. In fact, this month will be our 79th (SO CRAZY) dinner together!!

What we’ve actually created is a SYSTEM that makes spending time together so easy, we don’t even have to think about it.

Want to know how we made it work for us all these years? Let me break it down…

It’s a predictable routine that makes scheduling a breeze: No more massive back and forth texts to find time everyone’s free. It literally takes us 2 minutes (or less) each month to get it on the calendar. We’re face-to-face, calendars in hand so any coordinating that needs to happen is easy peasy.

It’s uber efficient: Instead juggling schedules and trying to maintain multiple friendships one-on-one, we see 4 friends all at once, every single month — more quality time with more people than we had before, and it takes way less effort. Score!

It’s about quality over quantity: Even when we can’t get together in between, the fact that we sit down every month let’s us skip past the small talk and connect on a deeper level almost immediately. When you’ve got a front row seat to each other’s lives, you already know the big stuff going on and you get to dig in and dig deeper from the moment you arrive. Facebook is great, but just can’t replace the kind of connection you create when you’re sitting across the table from each other.

It’s easy on our families and gives them space to grow: Because we’ve kept such a consistent rhythm, our families know exactly what to expect every month, so it’s never something we have to negotiate. In fact, dinner night has become a fantastic time for them to create their own traditions to look forward to those nights. Especially as kids have entered the mix, it’s turned into a great opportunity for some one-on-one time with Dad that they don’t get a lot of otherwise.

It’s a fun and creative break from the day to day: Most importantly, without fail, we leave every dinner feeling better, lighter and more connected – no matter what’s going on or what frame of mind we arrived in. It’s the timeout we need to catch our breath, the place we go to vent, get perspective and celebrate, and the boost of energy we need to power through the next day.

7 years later, I can’t even imagine my life without my monthly dinner date.

The consistency and intimacy it’s created gives me support and encouragement that’s never more than a text or call away. We’re seriously invested in one another’s successes and share each other’s sorrows and joys.  

It’s never been hard. It wasn’t overwhelming to start – because we didn’t overthink it. We simply took it 1 step and 1 month at a time.

Now, it’s as automatic for us as pouring that morning cup of coffee. If you do it right, a dinner club is one of the easiest, low-effort systems you can put in place to make time with friends just another no-brainer part of your routine.

So, whether you want to set a date with friends for dinner, wine, book club or even coloring…make it a habit. It will no doubt be one of the healthiest ones you have.

Cheers!

Kristine

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