3 Social Mistakes You’re Making That’s Repelling New Friends Away From You

As your DrSpouse goes through medical training, they have to match in different cities to do residency and fellowship for a few years.

So you have to be prepared to be whisked off to a city that you don’t know where the nearest grocery is.

If you are going to thrive where you are, having a face-to-face community is essential.

In fact, many studies show that meeting a group of friends at least monthly can make you happier than any other factor!

When my husband was doing his first fellowship, I met one of my good friends while we were both swinging our kids at a playground. I met another friend through Side By Side (more on what that is later). And a third friend at the gym pool when we were both yelling at our kids, “walking feet!!!” and “don’t splash your brother!!!”

These encounters were all random and unexpected.

I was incredibly lucky to have three close friends during my time in that city.

As you live in a new community, you will meet new friends in any unexpected situation as well: at kid connections, church, work or volunteer, a playground, library, post office, or bus stop.

Each time you open your mouth to speak with somebody new, you’re always potentially making a new connection whether you realize it or not.

What should you say??

I’ll go through a few things you may be saying that’s repelling you from making new friends, and what you should say instead.

Social Mistakes You’re Making That’s Repelling New Friends Away From You

1. Do NOT Compare, Criticize, or Complain

At the early stage of first impression, your potential friend is still making a decision whether you’re friend-worthy material. And when you’re brand new to a city that you’re still struggling to adjust to, it’s easy to bad mouth your new home.

The problem is comparing, criticizing, or complaining sends bad vibes. Whether it’s fair or not, your potential friend doesn’t have much to go off of except what you are choosing to show them at THAT moment.

It’s like a first date.

Here’s some examples of what you shouldn’t do:

  • Don’t complain about how you’re from California and the food choices suck 🚫
  • Don’t say you’re from New York and everything is so slow 🚫
  • Don’t say you are from the South and hate the lack of culture or class 🚫
  • Don’t complain about higher cost of living (ESPECIALLY if it’s a friend who will never see more than $100k annually since one day YOU will) 🚫
  • Don’t say your new hairdresser botched your hair and you can’t find a good one here 🚫

I know — all of this could be completely true and you’re genuinely suffering and need validation and empathy!

But instead of feeling bad for you, they’re hearing negativity. They’re wondering, “If I become friends with this person, are they going to be a drain to me??”

Instead, save the complaints for another meetup after you know each other better.

2. Do NOT Look Mean

This one is straight forward so I’ll keep it short.

It’s hard to make friends when you always have a scowl on your face.

Here are some ways to physically look friendly:

  • Smile as if you are meeting your favorite celebrity in real life
  • Look at their eyes often enough that you know what color they are
  • Have open body language
  • Give warm goodbyes as if you can’t wait to see them again

3. Do NOT Be Only A Taker

When meeting a new friend, think of what you can offer them, not what you can take from them.

Here are some examples:

  • Be an outstanding listener by asking a lot of questions and soaking in their responses
  • Help solve their problems with tips, referrals, or resources
  • Offer to introduce them to your friends and network

Then they’ll think, “This person is an asset to me,” and feel that they’ve got to know you better.

If Making Friends Is Too Hard, Make Insta-Friends Within These Groups!

If all of this has made you throw your hands in the air and want to retreat to your own bubble, there’s an easy way to find real friends quickly:

Look into medical spousal groups.

Here are three of them:

  1. Side By Side
  2. American Medical Association Alliance
  3. Facebook groups (such as Lives of Doctors’ Wives & Dads Married to Doctors)

I’m involved in all of these (except Dads Married to Doctors, of course). Here you’ll be meeting people who are like you: married to a spouse in the medical profession.

We are ALL adjusting to a new city, solo parenting, living away from family, made sacrifices to our careers, have late retirement savings and accruing six-figure student loans, and have to do most of the share of work at home because our spouses work “80” hours a week or are living away on clinical rotations and electives.

We get you.

Also, commiserating is common and encouraged 😎

In Summary

When meeting people for the very first time, be friendly. Be open. Be kind. Show them you’re friend-worthy material.

And join medical spousal groups like Side By Side, American Medical Association Alliance, and Facebook groups. They’re easy ways to find genuine friendships. And they will get you instantly.

I’m a hugger. I’m hugging and supporting you, friend ❤️

To your strong medical family,