Create a Friendship Ritual

On making close friends as an adult

Something I’ve struggled with for all of time is wanting to have a best friend. I’m lucky to have many awesome friends, but you know what I mean – that one person that you talk to every day through random texts, who you call when you have an extremely personal dream that you can’t even tell your husband about, and who you spend hours with in the bathroom getting ready to go out.

My mom had that one friend when I was growing up. Every protagonist in all the 90s sitcoms I grew up on had that friend. I wanted that one person, too.

But that one BFF has never been my story. I’ve always had a bunch of pretty close friends, and the few times I have gotten close to BFF status, those friendships ended horrifically.

In my later 20s I learned to see what a gift it is to have several close friends and started playing to that strength by bringing my different connections together in one group.

On my 26th birthday, I had a slumber party at my house in Des Moines since Kyle was traveling, inviting girls from the restaurant I worked at, other friends I’d made through Kyle, and my marathon-training buddies. It’s no surprise how girls from different groups can become close friends in a matter of hours when there’s cheap beer involved.

The next year, I started a club of sorts – the Des Moines Girls’ Group. Most of the girls I knew when I lived in Iowa were through association of dating Kyle. He had gone to Iowa State, and when I moved to Ames with him, he had a huge group of guy friends from school. Some of the girls in this group were Cyclones too, but many, like me, were brought in by default as a girlfriend.

We only got together when the guys planned something, so I made a change – we’d have a girls’ group.

Once a month, we’d pick something different that was girls only – boozy brunch, cupcakes and cocktails, play at the trampoline park – all the real fun stuff the guys would obviously never go for. The things we really wanted to do but didn’t have the right group to do it with…until we realized our group was right in front of us.

As a result, we all got to know each other better. Our friendships grew deeper than the friends-by-default kind. The best change for me was that I stopped thinking of this whole group as Kyle’s friends and recognized them as my own.

Just when the Des Moines Girls’ Group was hitting its stride, I moved out of state. These gals threw me a heartwarming going-away dinner, and a few months later at my new home in Arizona, I received a home decor project in the mail that they’d made on one of their Girls’ Group outings. They kept it going after I moved.

After six years of living in Arizona, I still feel like I have a home in this Iowa group. Our Facebook group chat has become a place for pregnancy announcements, and it seems at least two of us are pregnant at any given time, which has created some close sub-groups. Even if I never made a friend in Arizona, these girls made sure I never felt alone.

Making friends in Arizona has been the great challenge of adulthood. Kyle and I have been here six years now, and between the two of us we’ve held something like nine different jobs(!) and we’ve lived in three different cities.

We each have picked up friends on our own and some together as a couple. Part of the challenge is everyone living far away – our friends span within a 60-mile radius in all directions, and we’re all in the stage of life where we’re constantly busy – growing careers, growing families, chasing travel dreams. Get-togethers are few and far between.

But with the people we know, those meetups are always meaningful and leave us longing for more time to connect with them.

A friend of mine encouraged me to start a book club though, and similar to how my Girls’ Group worked in Des Moines, this meant bringing together a group of women who only were tied together by one thread – a passion for reading. Well, and being friends with me.

Every month, seven of us block out a date on our calendar to get together and talk books. This is my girls’ night I always look forward to, but I didn’t realize how powerful it has been for the other girls too until we celebrated our book club’s one-year anniversary a couple months ago. We met at Kyle’s cousin Ashley’s apartment, who just moved to Arizona six months ago and joined the group.

We all sat around Ashley’s counter and talked for over three hours. And we could have kept going.

I had known each of them for years, but until book club, not one of them knew each other. And here we were, all at different stages in our lives, some married and new moms, some dating, some divorced and starting over – and all of us laughing and laughing and laughing together. Oh yes, and talking about the book here and there too.

I still don’t have one best gal friend I call (except my mom, always Mom), but I have this group of gals I can count on every month.

When you appreciate what you have, it’s funny how you start to receive more of it. After that book club meeting, I got a phone call from one of my best friends from Des Moines whose voice I hadn’t heard in over a year. I’m also in a group text with gals from my hometown who I haven’t seen in years but we share pictures, kid stories and book recommendations nearly every day.

I went out with my friend Sarah after a book club meeting one night, and she let me know how much book club has meant to her. She said it has given her confidence that she can make friends as an adult.

It has become apparent to me that friendship is actually a common struggle in adulthood. Maybe not in the same way I’ve gone after it, trying to find that one BFF, but many women I meet have some kind of thing they’re trying to work out with friendship – whether it’s hanging onto toxic friends, making new friends, or holding onto close friends.

I am no expert on friendship – I have a handful of former friends who would line up to tell you that – but there’s one thing that has helped me deepen my existing friendships that I would suggest making time for.

Create a ritual for friendship.

  • A daily text

  • A weekly coffee date, happy hour, run, walk, axe-throwing session, kids’ play date, etc.

  • A monthly book club, girls’ outing, new restaurant dinner club

  • A yearly girls’ trip (I’m working on making this one happen, but I’m sure it’s going to be life-changing)

One last thing on this – rituals are great for strengthening any relationship. Kyle and I try to have weekly coffee dates, where Grandma watches Leo and we go to a coffee shop and talk life. Many of our best conversations happen there, where we’re able to speak in full sentences and drink our hot coffee in one sitting.

And a favorite example of mine – last year before my book club started, I was really longing for a weekly ritual type of thing with friends but it wasn’t working out. I was out for breakfast with my dad, and I saw the opportunity right in front of me. I worked part-time last year and we took advantage of that schedule, meeting every Thursday morning at 8am at Bisbee Breakfast Club. Every week of the year, my dad and I had an undistracted hour to deepen our relationship. I looked forward to it every week.

It’s easy to get swept away with the busy-ness of life and let friends (or family members) fall away. But the work you put into ritualizing time with friends is often the thing you’re really looking for to feel fulfilled and is undoubtedly worth it.*

*Disclosure: Unless you come away feeling worse. Then it’s time to get the hell out of that friendship.

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TS Song of the Week: “It’s Nice to Have a Friend”

This song came out on the Lover album right when I was beginning a new friendship ritual with a couple gals I met at my yoga studio. Every Friday, we worked remotely and took the opportunity to meet at a coffee shop and work together, aka Fancy Fridays. One of those gals would be my date to the Eras tour three years later.

Parenting Thing I Tried This Week: Green Hulk Pancakes

Does anyone else have a picky toddler? Does anyone else want to bang their head against the wall in frustration during dinner time? Does anyone else use popsicles as bribes even though all the parenting advice in the world tells you not to?

*Raises hand

I’ve never seen my 2.5-year-old eat a vegetable. Not once. Enter, Green Hulk Pancakes. These pancakes from Baby Foode take minimal ingredients and go right in a blender for easy-peezy prep time. The spinach makes them green – EXCITING to toddlers! – and healthy – EXCITING to parents!

And they’re delicious. Make them for your kid, or make them for yourself if you still struggle with veggies. *Raises hand again

What I’m Reading – Tranquility by Tuesday by Laura Vanderkam

“Going to bed early is the equivalent of sleeping in for grownups.” – Laura, Vanderkam, Tranquility by Tuesday

Time management expert Laura Vanderkam’s latest book contains 9 guidelines for finding more tranquility in your busy days. I am loving this because she’s a mother of five (what?!) and the context of the book is especially considerate of families with extremely early-rising small children.

If you want a taste of what Laura is about, check out her podcast, “Best of Both Worlds.”

Where I’m Writing From – Press Coffee

I’ve been a loyal Press fan since I moved to Arizona. Thankfully, there are locations all across the valley and wherever I move to, I can find one within 10 minutes. You can’t go wrong with their drip coffee (and free refills all day long!), but if you want something zazzy, try the Chai Shaker – cold brew + chai = the perfect way to caffeinate during Arizona’s 90-degree version of fall.

Discussion Question

What friendship rituals do you have or have you had in the past that brought you joy? I’d love to see more ways people are doing this!

I think I’ve finally said all I need to for this week. Thanks for sticking with me. If you enjoyed this newsletter, please consider subscribing so it hits your inbox every week, or share it with someone you think would enjoy it. Your taking the time to read this means the world to me.

Go make time for what matters to you.

Thank you for reading Mom Needs Coffee. This post is public so feel free to share it.


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  1. Hey Michelle! I wrote a substack post at the tail end of 2022 about loneliness and friendship too- it seems to plague all of us as adults making friends. I have a small social battery, so getting out can be hard, but I’ve made it a point this year to do more texting with the people I care about and hosting more get togethers at my own home to stay connected and that’s helped a lot. I have found sometimes I don’t have the guts and battery to venture out, but I can always invite people towards me and that’s helpful too. 🙂

    1. Kayla, your post is awesome! Glad you’re finding ways to connect this year that feel aligned with you. I get that – my husband is always the one saying we need to do stuff with friends and I’m like, but we could just have a quiet night? And I always end up happier I had time with friends. It’s usually what we need when we don’t want to admit it.

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