Kat Vellos is a connection coach and trusted expert on the power of cultivating meaningful friendships! This was perfect timing as I just posted on my blog a post about Making Friends in midlife! Kat cares about connection and having high-quality interactions. Over the years she has facilitated many groups and workshops.
It was after her move to the bay area in California did she notice that it was difficult to establish ongoing friendships. Kat then noticed that others were having the same challenge and she became curious and started to do some research and conduct some interviews to understand why this happens to people. And more importantly, why do we care about it!
We dive into talking a bit about introverts and extroverts and how each type of person has different ways of getting their social needs met and it’s important to recognize that as you move forward in your journey.
Kat shares with the listeners what surprised her the most about her research was how many people said that they struggled to make friends in adulthood and found it difficult to connect with others. We then discuss how a lot of the ways we developed relationships when we were younger are not relevant as we get older and our circumstances change. Our conversation moves into how if you have children their relationships bring you into proximity to other adults and those friendships happen naturally and as times progress if you don’t “name” the relationship and say you want to work on it then it drifts away. A very natural process that I too have experienced with both my kids over the years. Our lives change and evolve and some of these relationships move to different stages. As we now look for friendships in midlife, seeking out friends where we are in the same proximity is a great place to start!
Kat then gives us some advice on not giving up on relationships too soon. Perhaps you’ve extended an overture to someone to have coffee and maybe it went well or was rocky. Cultivating a new friendship is like dating. You need to give it a couple of opportunities for the energy to thrive! She reminds us that the same advice that applies in a dating relationship applies in a platonic relationship! Give it a two-date minimum and give each other enough space and grace to show up. Kat shares that Jeffery Hall’s research says it takes between 90 and 200 hours to convert a stranger into a best friend. And it needs to be 90 hours in the first three months of meeting each other! Now that’s commitment.
We go on to discuss that everything doesn’t need to feel orchestrated or a big event that is stressful to put on the calendar. It can be a bite-size at a time that you are reaching out to connect. A 30-minute coffee chat or a short walk is a great way to connect. You don’t need to commit to a three-hour lunch. Kat gives some great tips on how to create some touchpoints with new friends so you can learn more about each other and cultivate those meaningful connections! She describes this as finding ways to weave your life together. I love that phrase. It’s so fun to think about how you can start weaving another person into your life? Do you have someone in mind right now where you’d like to take that first step and begin to “date”?
Kat goes on to share different ideas on how you can weave various touchpoints into each other’s lives. She has some very creative ways to share. She looks at these as “friendship connection activities”. It might even involve art or music. Just to give you some ideas which she elaborates in the interview. Some fun creative ideas.
We then discuss how reigniting old friendships is a great way to cultivate some connection that you may be wanting in your life. That person already knows you and you have a common history that just needs to be brought up to speed. These people already have context about where you come from and what your life has looked like so far. There is already a built-in appreciation, familiarity, love, and trust that is fertile ground to resprout!
Kat then discusses her book: We Should Get Together and shares some of the most surprising comments she has received from readers. She also shares about how some are guilty of not making time with their friends because they are defaulting all their time to spend with a partner. There are still ways to connect with friends if you do feel that your time is being stretched in other directions and you still want to be intentional about weaving in connections. Kat shares some great tips for bridging the gap.
During our conversation, Kat shares about the Connection Club on her website which she started in the summer of 2020. This was a result of her research and people wanting to stay in touch with their friends but being very busy. This is an opportunity for people to get together as a group virtually and write letters and cards to the people that we care about. It’s scheduled and on the calendar. Who wouldn’t appreciate that? Kat also has another group called: Here to make friends. This is a group for people who want to make friends. She shares all the details about how this group is run and the benefits of being a member. It sounds like a great place to connect and build some new friendships!
One last nugget that Kat shares is to be mindful of what type of connection you need. Who are the people that are most likely to help you meet that need? There are all different types of connections and there is no one-size-fits-all for every human being. It’s so important to know yourself and what you have to offer a friend and be generous with that too!
We also dive a bit into discussing how to manage yourself and your social life while getting back into socializing and connecting with friends after a year we had in 2020. It’s ok to listen to your true needs and honor them. And be compassionate with yourself.