Many folks in midlife start to notice that their life circumstances change rapidly. As their children leave the house, they also notice that their relationships in general are also changing at the same time.
Some of us realize that we have more time on our hands, or that the friendships that we cultivated with other parents aren’t fully meeting our needs.
We want more meaningful relationships in our lives – ones that support the same positive habits that we’re trying to cultivate ourselves.
My guest on this episode of the Done with Dieting Podcast recently went on a “Friendsperiment” where she actively went out and made new friends as an adult.
When I learned about it, I had to have her on the show so that she could share her insight with you and help you feel more connection and belonging in your life.
Tune in to this episode so that you can create your own friendsperiment.
Xena is a certified life coach with the Life Coach School and is the host of the Confidence Made Easy podcast.
She helps her clients to have their own backs & do whatever the f*ck they want, without all the doubt, fear & drama that gets in the way.
She coaches clients all over the world from her home in Papamoa Beach, New Zealand, where she lives with her partner & two fur babies.
Can you ever have too many friends? I’ve invited my friend and confidence coach Xena Jones on today’s podcast to talk about creating friendships in adulthood. Recently, Xena held an experiment called the “Friendsperiment,” where she intentionally set out to create in-person friendships with other adults.
It’s the equivalent of walking up to another person and asking, Hey, would you like to be my friend? Tune in to learn how it all turned out.
You are listening to the done with dieting podcast. The podcast for women in midlife, who are done with dieting, but still want to lose weight and feel good in your clothes. You know that diets don’t work long term. But you feel like there’s this secret that everyone else knows that you just haven’t figured it out yet.
I am your host, Elizabeth Sherman. And I’ve helped hundreds of women get off the diet roller coaster change their relationship with food, exercise, and their bodies. Through this podcast, my goal is to help you too.
Welcome. Let’s get started.
When we talk about health, social support is a huge aspect of mental health. And we can connect the dots between our mental health and our ability to take care of our physical health. There’s no doubt that the pandemic has highlighted isolation and loneliness for many of us.
As you’ll hear in today’s episode, one of the things that I struggled with before moving to Mexico was creating and developing friendships as an adult. And in speaking with so many women, I know that I’m not alone.
In today’s episode, I’m talking with confidence coach Xena Jones about creating friendships in adulthood. Developing them and then also what to do when friendships end. I think you’re really going to love it.
Elizabeth: All right everyone, welcome Xena Jones to our podcast episode. Xena welcome.
Xena: Thank you. I am so excited to be here. This is going to be so fun.
Elizabeth: This is going to be fun because you are going to share something with us today that I think so many women struggle with, and we’re talking about friendships. And before we even get into friendships, let’s introduce you. Xena and I have actually been talking for a half an hour before we even pressed record. We’ve just been chatting and chatting it up. So, I feel like we’ve been on this podcast episode for half an hour now.
But anyway, Xena, introduce yourself with your lovely accent from New Zealand and tell everyone who you are, how you help folks, and all the things.
Xena: Yes. Wow. Thank you. Yes, I am in New Zealand. I live here on the east coast of the north island with my partner, and our two the babies, and I live right by the beach. So, I am very blessed to be here. I am a confidence coach for women, and I teach women how to have their own backs, and kick ass their life. That’s what I do.
Elizabeth: So, let’s talk about that. What does it mean to have your own back?
Xena: Such a good question. I think this means something different to everybody, but the way I love to describe it is it’s treating yourself the way that you would treat your best friend, right? The person that you love and care about the most in the world, the way that you treat them, with things like love, and support, and compassion, and consideration it’s doing that for yourself.
Having your own back the way that you would have your best friend’s back. That’s the simple version. What do you call?
Elizabeth: Yeah. I guess when I think about having my own back, I think about after I’ve made a decision sticking by myself. When I think about having my own back, I think about if I’ve made a bad decision, being kind to myself as opposed to the inner critic that shows up. Right? And starts all of that negative self-talk, being willing to stop that and say, that’s not helpful whatever the bad decision was, let’s move forward.
Xena: Yes, definitely. So, instead of judging yourself, it is being compassionate with yourself. And curious like, okay, this didn’t go how I wanted it to go. So, why is that? Without the judgment, I should have done this differently. I should have known better.
It’s like, okay, it didn’t happen how I wanted it to happen. How can I be kind and supportive to myself? What can I do differently next time? I often teach it to my clients and like a triad. So, the three Cs. One is commitment, committing to being kind to yourself, committing to a goal or an outcome that you want.
Taking courageous action towards that, which is beautiful when we talk about like the friendsperiment, right? I committed to making new friends. And then, I had to show up and take courageous action towards that. Like that required me to get outside of my comfort zone. And it wasn’t always easy.
And then, the last one is compassion. Being compassionate towards yourself when things don’t go to plan. Which does happened. Right? My brain always is as most of us do, we have that tendency to want to beat ourselves up to be hard on ourselves. And it’s replacing that with the compassion.
Elizabeth: Yeah. I think that one of the things that when I talk to women, a lot about when it comes to health is I hear all the time, I can’t get myself to follow through with my plan. And I love that you’re putting commitment into having your own back because it is so true. If something’s important to you, then why aren’t we following through with it, right?
Xena: Yeah. And instead of judging yourself for not following through, it’s like, let’s get curious, why aren’t you following through? What happens when you do to follow through. What’s happening in your brain? Let’s have a look at that and explore so we can help you to solve for that and stay committed.
Elizabeth: Yeah. So, how did you get involved in coaching? How did this become your passion?
Xena: Oh, funny story. I think it’s relevant to this podcast because what happened was, I was living here in New Zealand, and I decided to move to London. And I moved all the way from New Zealand to the other side of the world to London. And I got there, and I hated it.
Now, I am a huge fan of travel. I love solo travel and I got there, and I absolutely hated it. And I started eating and I started drinking a lot of cider and sugary kind of drinks. And I piled on a bunch of weight, and I ended up going to the doctor over there in the UK.
Back then as part of the United in NHS health system, they offered me life coaching sessions instead of the weight loss pills and which I had asked for. I thought the solution here was weight loss pill. If I lost the weight, I’d just be happy. And they’re like, we’re going to give you some life coaching sessions. After that, you can come back, we’ll talk about these pills.
And long story short, I took the coaching sessions, very determined that I would be back. But I didn’t. I went and had the coaching sessions and that absolutely changed my life forever. It changed the way I thought about myself, my body, my entire existence. And I lost so much weight naturally after those sessions.
Elizabeth: That is fascinating that the NHS said, we’re going to give you life coaching.
Xena: Yeah. They gave me, I think it was four or five stations and unfortunately, they don’t do this anymore. But I’m so grateful that I did because it changed my life so much that I was like, I have to become a coach. Why isn’t this everywhere. How did I not know this existed?
Elizabeth: Yeah. That’s so fun. So then, one of the things that we wanted to talk about today was adult friendships. What are you seeing as a trend in folks who are making friendships. Tell us more about your friendships and why you felt like you wanted to have more friendships?
Xena: For me personally, now that I work for myself and I work at home in my own office, I don’t get out. I don’t meet people as much in a workplace which is previously how I’ve met a lot of my friends have been in workplace situations. I wasn’t really going to the gym, I was running. So, I was doing a lot of activity and things on my own. And I wasn’t really meeting and connecting with new people.
And then, especially, when COVID hit, all of the kinds of events that you might’ve gone to all of the networking that was gone. So, I was experiencing that I had some friendships from the past few years from growing up, from college, and school, and previous employment, and so forth. But I was wanting new friends. I love the friends I have, and I also have a lot of friends around the world from having traveled, but I really wanted to create more in-person connections.
People like myself might work for themselves, have their own business, and understand some of the joys and struggles and things that we go through as a solopreneur. And also, more people with like-minded interests. So, my interests have evolved in the last few years and I’m very heavily focused on personal development, personal growth. And a lot of my friends aren’t, and that’s totally okay. Love them, but I would love to have some friends who are so that we can have different conversations.
So, that’s what sparked it for me was wanting to connect with new people and make some different friendships outside of what I already had. And I was noticing that especially amongst my clients, there was often this talk of loneliness and wanting to have more friends. Also, a lot of my clients are single women.
So, there would be talk of wanting that companionship from a romantic relationship as well. And it was really interesting kind of seeing that crossover, they want it. But they’re not necessarily doing anything about it. They’ve just written it off as being too hard. That was interesting.
Elizabeth: Yeah. And I really resonate with this, and I think that that’s probably one reason why I really wanted to have you on the podcast is because when my husband and I lived in the states, we lived in Austin, Texas, we don’t have children.
And we lived on a street that was actually quite busy. There were people in our neighborhood who had very tight relationships with their neighbors. But just the makeup of how our street was, it wasn’t something like, we didn’t even do our own lawn, for example.
So, we weren’t out seeing our neighbors, right? We had a lawn service doing it. We weren’t really interacting with our neighbors. And because we didn’t have children, we weren’t automatically in those friend groups of your kids’ parents either.
And so, it was really difficult for us to make friendships because then all of the people that we met at work, they had families that they were going home to, and it was just really tough for us. And it wasn’t until we actually moved to Mexico, that we now have a huge social support system, which has been amazing.
But it was something that we just really struggled with in the United States. Like, how do you make friends? We would go out with other couples, and it felt weird like calling them up and being like, do you want to go out to dinner?
Xena: Yeah. You don’t want to come across as creepy.
Elizabeth: Right, exactly. Like, don’t get the wrong thing here. It’s not a swingers thing. We’re just looking for other people who are cool.
Xena: Yeah. I love what you said. I really relate to that because one thing I experienced is I chose not to have my own children. I’ve decided from a young age, I’ve always known I didn’t want to have kids. And many of my female friends then, settled down married had kids and our friendship changed because then they were very focused on their family. And I was at a very different place in my life. And that definitely altered the friendship.
So, I can relate to what you’re saying is that you’re at different stages of life sometimes. And it’s trying to find people who are at a similar place that you can be friends with.
Elizabeth: Yeah. Well, and especially with friendships that you have and then your friend has a baby or a family, you completely understand that they have other priorities and that they can’t spend time with you as much as you would like them to.
Unfortunately, those relationships do drift apart. I think that they can come back together again. And we’ve noticed that with many of our friendships where the kids don’t actually want to be around mom and dad anymore. And so, they have more free time.
Xena: Yeah, definitely. And I think that’s what I’ve experienced as well. My friends are younger moms, and they have young kids it’s very much focused on that. And the conversation becomes very different, of course. But like you say, later on, you can reconnect. But again, I love what you were saying around, how can you do it without being creepy?
Elizabeth: Yes. And we’re going to come back to that. But I also want to talk about cause I’m sure that a lot of folks here who are listening right now also noticed that maybe I don’t want to say the quality, or the connection of their relationships hasn’t been great.
But when you have those friendships of convenience of the people who are in your neighborhood or the parents of your friends or your kids’ friends, are those just friendships out of convenience or are they chosen? And I love the friendsperiment because what you’re doing is you’re actually deciding, instead of just saying, well, I guess these people will have me, right?
Xena: Yeah. That’s a really interesting one because I have a client and we have coached on her thoughts around using people. And I think that that kind of speaks to like, is it a friendship just for convenience?
One of the things I said to her was like, what if you are using them? And they’re also using you, what if that’s not a problem. Like, a friendship for convenience. What if there’s just not a problem. I think there’s a saying something about like friendships come and seasons or something like that. They’re there for a season or a reason and then sometimes you move on and that’s totally okay. What are your thoughts?
Elizabeth: Oh, I love that because I actually have a client right now who is having so much drama about a friendship that ended. And it didn’t end well, but she’s having a lot of judgment on herself. I think not only because of how she handled it, but also with the expectation that friendships should be forever.
Xena: Oh, yeah.
Elizabeth: I just don’t think that that’s necessarily true. There are relationships that are going to come into our lives, and they’ve worked their course, and then they just naturally finish. You can mourn the friendship, but it doesn’t mean that either of you was wrong, right?
Xena: Yeah, definitely. And I think it’s a lot like romantic relationships, right? Like you get into a romantic relationship and your intention is usually to be with this person for the rest of your life, right? This is your person. And I think the same is true for friendships. Like you think you’re going to be friends forever. But sometimes life happens, and things change and that’s totally okay. And sometimes you can go through.
I’ve actually had a couple of significant friendships. I would’ve called them like my closest to my best friends. And I think of two in particular where our friendship ended abruptly. And now, with the tools and the knowledge and the awareness I have, I definitely would have done things differently.
But then, I was very much blaming them, and I was very angry, and I was very judgmental, and I went through a lot of grief, I would say, at the loss of that friendship as you would. If say for example, your partner perhaps cheated on you or said, I don’t want to be with you. Like, you wouldn’t mourn the loss of that relationship as well.
Elizabeth: Yeah. I had a very similar experience which I’ll probably be talking about on a future podcast episode. I haven’t cleaned up all of the stuff around it yet. Because the podcast episode I have half of it written will be about forgiveness.
And in that relationship, if it hadn’t gone the way it did, I wouldn’t be a coach today. I had such a reaction to that relationship that I went through coaching. And was like, oh my God, this is amazing. And I want to be a coach as well. And so, I can’t at this point, fault that relationship or have any negative thoughts about that experience because it brought me where I am today.
Xena: Yes. I think that’s such a powerful place to get to and I also want to acknowledge that we don’t get there straight away. That when we can get to that place of being like, what was the gift or the lesson? What was in that for me? What can I take away from that? What was my learning, basically? I think that’s such a powerful place to be able to get to.
Elizabeth: So, friendships will naturally fade out. And what that does is it allows us to have more friendships. Now, what are your thoughts about the number of friendships? I’ve always been someone who had very close friends. I didn’t have a lot of friends.
I don’t want to say, I only could manage like a few friends at a time, but I only had three or four close girlfriends at a time and didn’t have like lots of friends. And I don’t know if that’s an introvert, extrovert type of thing. What do you think about that?
Xena: That’s interesting. I would have considered myself exactly the same and I am very introverted. And it’s funny because my partner says to me, you had so many friends, it’s ridiculous. And I can’t really think about that, but he’s right in the scenes that I have friends sprinkled all around the world all throughout New Zealand and some of which definitely are here.
But being an introvert, like I often don’t connect with people. I think you’re one of my friends, but I don’t feel the need to like message you every week, or get on a zoom call, or I don’t necessarily maintain my friendships in the past traditional saints, or what we commonly think of maintaining a friendship.
But I also don’t think it’s a problem if you just have a couple of close friends. What is it that you’re looking for? Here’s how I want to answer this, I think it’s what is it that you are looking for in friendships? Just like what it is that you’re looking for in a romantic relationship. Like, are you fulfilling those needs? And that doesn’t have to be with just one person when it comes to friendships or perhaps romantic relationships. However, you are inclined.
But can you tick all of those boxes. And I think this is something that we were going to talk about anyway. Can you make sure that you are getting all of the kind of different types of friendships and different connections that you’re wanting? And that may only need to be with a handful of people or maybe it’s like 10 people. Does that make sense?
Elizabeth: Well, yeah. Cause like for example, I think that for so many of us or at least I saw it with my parents. That my parents did everything together. And not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I think that it puts a lot of pressure on that relationship. That when your partner is the only one that you go out to dinner with, the only one that you go see movies with, the only one that talk about dreams with, or travel with, or whatever. There has to be some consensus there.
And so, it puts a lot of pressure on that relationship. And if your partner isn’t interested in for example, traveling, I remember hearing this once about a woman whose husband didn’t want to go to the same travel destinations as her. And they took separate vacations. And I was like, oh my God, that is crazy. That is just crazy, man.
Xena: I love that.
Elizabeth: I know. But like this was years, and years, and years ago when I was still thinking about traditional, what should our relationship be like? And so, to have a friendship that you could go traveling with, that could be amazing.
Xena: Yeah, definitely. And I love the idea. Speaking of vacations, I am a huge solo traveler and I really value the experience of going on a solo vacation or even taking yourself on a solo date. I think that that’s a very empowering thing to do.
But then also being able to go out for a date with your partner, or with one of your female friends, or any of your friends. It’s a different conversation. It’s a different experience that you’re having, right?
Like I love to go away on a girl’s weekend with my girlfriends, as well as like travel with my partner, and then I love to go away on my own.
Elizabeth: Now, let’s talk about your solo travel because I think that takes just cojones. Like, to get on a plane by yourself or even drive somewhere and be alone. Walk into a restaurant alone. I’ve done it because I’ve worked. And I had to go out to eat while I was on a business trip. But I’ve never done it actually living in the same city as where I live.
Xena: Wow. I feel like I’m going to sit you some homework.
Elizabeth: Okay, bring it. And for all of the other women here.
Xena: Yes, it is so empowering to be able to take yourself out. Let’s just say, dinner and a movie on your own. Treat yourself to raise up nice. Go out to a restaurant that you love, or you’ve always wanted to try and enjoy that dining experience. Go to a movie of your choice.
There’s no compromising, you get to do whatever you want, how you want, when you want, where you want. And then, at the end of that experience, your brain’s like, holy sh*t, I’m amazing. I did that, what else can I do? Bring it.
Elizabeth: I love it. I love it. Well, and it’s true because it’s like, you know what? I don’t want to deal with anyone else’s agenda right now. I just want to do what I want to do.
Xena: Imagine, going away for a weekend on your own. It’s so fun.
Elizabeth: I’m thinking about eating alone. Well, when I used to do that, when I traveled alone for business, I used to bring a book with me. People are on their phones now. But how do we not do that? How do we still check in with where we are and be present with the whole experience without feeling like we need to escape? Yeah?
Xena: Yeah. Such a good question. So, I always like to recommend to have either the book or the phone there as a backup for if you get to the point of discomfort that is like intolerable for you. Right? And then, you’ve got that kind of that distraction. But what I recommend is the worst thing that’s happening is what your brain is saying to you.
And your brain is like, oh my God, everybody’s looking at me. What are they thinking? They think I’m all alone and blah, blah, blah. Like your brain is just as I say, my brain is just being an assh*le. That’s it. That’s the worst that happens is your brain starts kicking up all of these thoughts.
But if you can sit there and just watch your brain doing this and be like, okay, I can still have a good time. Maybe they are thinking about me. So, what? What do I want to think about me? I think I’m pretty badass sitting here doing this. Watch me people.
Elizabeth: Well, and what I’m hearing you say is actually becoming your own friend.
Elizabeth: Well, you said it at the beginning. But I’m hearing it again with this solo date thing.
Xena: Yeah. And again, when I teach my clients how to have your own back, I’m like, take yourself on a solo date, you’re going to have so many opportunities. Cause your brain’s going to kick up a fuss and you get to have your own back. You get to be compassionate and curious. You get to stay committed, stay present, all the things. It’s courageous to do that until it becomes comfortable. It takes a while sometimes.
Elizabeth: Yeah. I love everything that we’ve been talking about. This is great. So, let’s talk about your friendsperiment. First of all, what is it? Yeah, I have so many questions.
Xena: Okay. So, my friendsperiment, what I called it was basically I wanted to make some new friends. And so, I decided to make it an experiment because that sounds fun and with a lot less pressure. I’m just going out there and seeing what works, what doesn’t work, and how I can make some new friends. And I learned a lot in this process of making friends. There’s a lot of ways I can take this. What would you like to know?
Elizabeth: Well, so first, are you still doing it?
Xena: Yes, not as actively in that. When I say yes, what I’m doing now is more focusing on some of the people I have connected with is creating more of a friendship. Because one thing that I have really learned from this is you may find connections that you hit it off instantly with. But for the most part, it takes time to get to know someone and develop a friendship.
So, I’m really in that phase of investing time in the people that I really resonated with and wanted to hang out with a want to be friends with. I’m now focusing on them and developing that friendship as opposed to meeting new people and making new friends.
In saying that though, I feel like now that I have some things in place, like I joined an all-women’s gym and I’m going to a variety of classes. Now, I’m meeting a variety of people. And even last week, I stood up a coffee date with another woman who I just hit it off with in the middle of the class.
So, it’s starting to happen more and more. And I think part of that is I’ve stopped believing it’s hard to make friends. And now, I actually think it can be pretty easy.
Elizabeth: And I was going to ask, it’s kind of like cognitive bias, right? That when we’re not looking for potential friendships, we’re not seeing them. But now, that you are in the habit of finding these friendships, you’re like, oh, these friendships are potentially all around me.
Xena: Yes. And I definitely have started putting myself in slightly different situations. And I guess, yeah. When I’m looking for, I’m more open to it. Right?
Elizabeth: Yeah. It’s like when you go to see a new car and you’re like, oh, this is a great car, I want to buy this car. And then, all of a sudden you start seeing that car everywhere. And you’re like, how did I not see this before?
Xena: Yes, definitely. Yeah, just like that.
Elizabeth: Well, cool. So, how did you come up with this and are there rules that you have, tell me more.
Xena: Okay. Rule number 1, have fun. Rule number 2, have your own back.
Elizabeth: Got it.
Xena: How did I come up with it? I must say, I got to a place where I was wanting friendships, but I was also inspired by a couple of my clients. One client in particular, I’m going to shout out Molly, cause I know she’s going to listen to this. She really inspired me by her willingness just to get outside of her comfort zone and go to lots of different things.
Specifically, a lot of sporting things. She’s a very sporty person, and meet a lot of people, and she just kept doing it, and keep doing it, and she’s still doing it. And she’s meeting people all of the time and connecting with people all the time and going up for lunch and dinner. And I am so inspired by seeing her do that. And I was like, you know what? I got to do that too. I want to do that.
So, that’s what kicked it off.
Elizabeth: Okay. So, where did you start? You have this goal that you’re going to start meeting new friends. What was the first thing that you did?
Xena: Good question. I don’t actually remember the very first thing I did. I know I started being a little bit more active in the community, so that was around the time that I joined my new women’s fitness group. But also, one of the significant things that I’ll highlight is I posted on social media, what I was doing.
I’ll admit I was a little concerned about what people might think and that they think perhaps she has no friends, which nobody ever applied, but my brain was just going there. But I decided I’m going to share my friendsperiment on social media, I’m going to share what I’m up to.
Now, that actually created a lot of success to me because what I learned from starting to share it. And I shared regular updates on this journey is that a lot of women are in the same boat. A lot of women are longing for more female friendships. They want to make more friends and they’re not actively necessarily out there doing it or they don’t know how will they think it’s too hard.
First of all, I learned that. And then, by sharing what I was doing, people started reaching out to me and asking me to go for coffee. They’re like, do you want to go for a walk? Do you want to go for coffee? Let’s hang out. I was like, wow, that was easy.
Elizabeth: Did anyone like put you on a blind date? So, to speak?
Xena: This was the version of blind day that I experienced is I went into a local Facebook group that we have here, that was around meeting friends in this area. And so, I went into that group. I was like, that is fantastic place to start to make new friends.
And I posted who I was, what I’m into, lots of stuff about me. And I said, I would love to meet some new women and hang out. And I had quite a lot of response to that post, and I see it up to one coffee date and one beach walk.
Now, what I didn’t know was really anything about these people. They just responded, yeah, we’ve got some stuff in common. Do you want to hang out? And I was like, yeah, cool. This was very early on. And both of these people were very different to me.
And what that showed me is that I wanted to be more specific and deliberate in who I’m looking for and what I was looking for. And that is when it started to feel more like dating to me. When you’re dating, you know what you’re looking for, right?
Let’s say, for example, you look at an online profile of somebody, you’re scanning for similarities, for things that you like, the things that stand out to you. So, you’re putting people in the not my person column or you could be my person column. And I think the same is true for friendships, as you want to know more about them and filter them through that system to see if you are going to be a good fit. Does that make sense?
Elizabeth: Well, yeah. It’s probably something that we already know do when we meet people in person at a party, at a bar, or whatever.
Xena: Yes. So, when you’re online, I hadn’t really thought about that. I didn’t know anything about these people, and they weren’t people that I wanted to reconnect with or hang out with more often. But that was cool, it was such a great learning experience.
And then, that made me put some filters in place. When people started reaching out to me when I was sharing this friendsperiment, I already knew a little bit about these people cause we’d been friends on social media, or we might’ve connected previously, or been a friend of a friend that kind of a thing.
So, I already knew whether or not these were people that I potentially had something in common with or would tick some of the friendship boxes that I was looking for. Then, I was able to be like, yes, let’s go hang out, let’s go for coffee, let’s do something.
Elizabeth: Yeah. And I’m very much a connector. So, I love connecting people when it comes to business. And like, oh, I need someone for this. Oh great, I have someone who I can connect you with. Did anyone come to you and say, oh, I think that you would really hit it off with my friend, Molly.
Xena: That did happen. So, I had somebody whom I had traveled with few years ago. And one of her friends happens to live locally and we connected the dots that was her best friend. And she set us up and was like, you guys need to hang out. I will be transparent and say, I messaged her, and I never got a reply.
Which is something I had already experienced. So, I had been out with one of my partners, good friends, and his wife, and I really liked his wife. I was like, oh, she seems great. So, I got her number, I believe of him. Yeah, and I text her and I never got a response either. So, I had already experienced that, and I was like, huh, okay.
Elizabeth: How did you deal with that?
Xena: Yes. I was hoping you were going to ask that. Thanks to coaching, I’d already thought that this is a possibility. The fact that I’m willing to reach out to somebody and ask them, do they basically want to go out for coffee, or on a friendship date, whatever you want to call it. I was willing to be rejected. I knew the worst that was going to happen was no.
But the other part of that is it’s not really hearing the no, it’s what I’m going to make it mean about myself. I already knew that. I knew that worst that happens, I experienced rejection because I’m thinking they don’t want to hang out with me, or they don’t like me.
So, I’d already managed to think that ahead. And I didn’t make it mean anything. I was like, this is a fun part of the experiment. What’s next?
Elizabeth: When I think about having your own back, it’s not making the result mean anything about us, right? There could be a million different reasons why those people never responded to you. I know that for myself sometimes when time gets away, I’m busy or whatever. And time gets away I’m like, oh, now I can’t respond.
Xena: Yeah. It’s been too long now I just can’t respond. And the funny thing is one of them actually messaged me like months later and said, oh my God, I’m so sorry. I forgot to respond.
Xena: Fine. You’ve been busy. You’ve got to toddler and all of the things, it’s no worries. I was absolutely totally okay with it. But I think the having your own back is just deciding ahead of time. Look, if they don’t respond or if they say no, I don’t have to make that mean something is wrong with me or anything like that. I’m just going to move on.
Elizabeth: Yeah. Again, it doesn’t have to do anything about you. And most of the time it really doesn’t have anything to do with you, right? Because everything to do with the other person.
Xena: Yeah. What are the things I had thought on to with this kind of friend of a friend is that I probably went into a spam folder, and she doesn’t even know how to check it on social media. I was like, that’s a total possibility. Even if she did check it, that’s okay.
Elizabeth: Yeah. And look at what she’s missing out on by not being my friend.
Elizabeth: Which I think for some women out here right now, some folks who are listening, we see that as being conceited. And I don’t want you to think that that’s a conceited response, but it’s just having confidence that you are just the amazing person that you are. And everyone who comes in contact with you of course, would love to be your friend.
Xena: Yes. That actually makes me think of a quote that I often share with my clients, and I might mess it up, but it’s something that like, you can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there will always be people who don’t like peaches, right?
I can just be my awesome self and there’s always going to be people. And I rub them the wrong way and they don’t like something, and that’s okay. I’m good with that. One thing that I really believe is “the more me, I am” and it’s taken me some years to become the confident woman I am, who’s embraces all of my quote unquote flaws, or faults, or whatever anyone else calls them.
But “the more me, I am,” the more I attract my tribe and the more quality friendships I create. That’s what I’ve experienced.
Elizabeth: Yeah. And I think we all want to be liked, but the truth is that not everyone is our people. And so, we are not everyone’s people. Right?
Xena: Yeah. I think we also forget that we don’t like everyone.
Elizabeth: We don’t, totally. I don’t like you, but you should still like me.
Xena: I’ve experienced this. I remember being in a workplace and it was full of women and there was a lot of gossiping, and it was a very interesting environment. And I wanted them all to like me, but I didn’t like a lot of them. It’s crazy. Now, that I think about it, I’m like, huh.
Elizabeth: Why should I spend so much energy trying to get them to like me.
Xena: Yeah. Interesting.
Elizabeth: Yeah. So, tell me, what were your fears going into this friendsperiment?
Xena: My first fear when I came to share it was everyone’s going to think I have no friends. That was my first fear.
Elizabeth: And why is it a problem?
Xena: Well, that’s what I coached myself through is I was worrying about what other people think of me. And the funny thing is it’s not true. So, why am I concerned about something that’s just not true? That’s where I got to ask like, I have a lot of friends here. So, why am I concerned about that? That was interesting one for me because it just goes to show me that I think I have a little bit more work to do there, when it comes to how other people perceive me. So, that was one.
Other things that I was afraid of; I don’t know that there really were any. Because when I viewed it as an experiment, it was like, I’m just going to go and see how it goes and learn from it. I think that was a really fun way to approach it. It took the pressure and the expectation off.
Elizabeth: Well, it sounds like you were afraid of the rejection piece, but you had done some work around that to make it not mean anything.
Xena: Yeah, definitely. And I think that that’s a natural thing to be afraid of.
Elizabeth: So, tell us about some of your successes.
Xena: Yeah. One woman reached out to me on Instagram. This was actually my successful blind date, let’s call it. So, she reached out to me on Instagram, and she’d been following me for a little while. And she said, Hey, we have lots in common, I’m a coach as well, and all these things. And she lived locally.
So, we went for a coffee, and we just headed off. And I have allowed an hour for this coffee. Luckily, I didn’t have anything afterwards cause we were there for two and a half hours. We had so much in common, just chatting, chatting, chatting. It was so fun.
She works for herself as well. So, we are part of a local women’s networking support group for women in business. And we hang out regularly, which is super cool. We just have so much in common. And that was one of my favorite success stories.
Another one is I reconnected with somebody I had worked with many, many years ago, who I always liked. When we were working together, we used to just laugh and dance. We were just really silly, and we just had so much fun, and she had great energy. And I actually messaged her because she had liked some of my posts and commented on them.
And so, I reached out to her, and I message her, and I said, Hey, do you want to go for lunch? And she was like, yeah! Hell yeah, I do. And so, we’ve heard it often and we’ve been hanging out that lately, which is really cool.
So, those I say were two of my favorite success stories. And there’s still a few other friendships like I said before that I’m developing and noticing that it takes time to create that friendship. Especially, like when you don’t know anything about someone, you take that time to get to know them and do different things together.
Elizabeth: Yeah. And so, I think that the next question is did you write down a list of qualities that you were looking for in people? Tell us more about that.
Xena: Yes. I think I did this after those first two days that I referred to where they just weren’t my kind of people. And so, I went home, and I explored how I’d gotten that position and what it was I would do differently, that kind of thing. And that is when I identified that I want to look for certain things.
So, women who perhaps work for themselves, women who are interested in personal or professional development. I went as far as to say things like I would love to have a friend who’s really, really wealthy. Who has a different money mindset than I do. Who has a different reality than I do. I was like, that would be super fun and really interesting to get to know. Right?
And then, I met another woman that makes me think and one of the other things on my list was a friend who uses words, I have to go home and Google. Like, a friend who is so intelligent that she uses words that I’m like, what the h*ck does that mean?
And I actually met this person and one of the people that I’m developing a friendship with. And it was so fun talking to her and trying to interpret what she was saying. And she like works in space, stuff, and I don’t even know how to articulate what she does. But that was super fun because it really just got me thinking differently.
Elizabeth: That is so cool. Because it’s really interesting when I think about my friends that I had in the United States versus the friends that I have here. And I’ve talked about this before with people locally, but I don’t think I’ve talked about it here on the podcast. In the states, I see this on social media a lot as well that when you see pictures of friend groups, everyone looks the same. They all have the kind of the same hairstyle. They all dressed the same.
And we feel comfortable with people who look like us, who act like us, who have the same viewpoints. And moving here to Mexico, there are people here that I interact with that back in the states, I would have been like, I don’t like you. I don’t want to see you ever again.
But because we’re in this very small community, we run into each other all the freaking time. And as a result, I have friends who initially, I rejected. My brain was like, I do not like this person. In fact, all of my best friends here today, my initial thought was, I don’t like this person. Which is crazy.
But for whatever reason, the brain was protecting me or thinking like, yeah. So anyway, being put into this smaller environment where there are people from all different areas in lifestyles. In my friend group, we have someone who’s 40, Gary and I are in our fifties, and we have friends that are in our sixties. All of us hang out together, like three decades.
And I just never had that in the United States before. And so, I love it that you were looking for people who were definitely more diverse than you. Because we don’t seek that out, typically.
Xena: Yes. I want to speak to something you just said, which is some of your closest friendships with people you didn’t like to start with, I relate to that. My best friend, when I met her, I was like, oh, I don’t know about you. I don’t think I like you very much. And now she’s my best friend.
Elizabeth: What was funny about that is that I was talking to a client recently and she was like, I hate small talk. And I was like, what if when you go into a party and you’re like, I hate this person. I don’t want to talk to them. What if instead your brain was like, I am going to meet my next best friend here.
Xena: Oh, I love that idea. That is so fun because as you were saying that I was like, yeah, I hate small talk too, like to skip that, no. Tell me something interesting about you. I love that approach though. Yeah, what if I’m going to meet my next best friend here, that’s cool.
But also, I wanted to speak to what you said about the variety of ages, and this is like something I’d already experienced from traveling so much is sometimes, I would join like an organized group tour, or you’d meet different people in different places. And I have a variety of friends, and a variety of ages, and all sorts of different things.
So, I think there’s such beauty in that because they each bring different qualities and experiences. I’m in my mid-thirties and I have friends that are in their twenties right up to sixties. I have friends in their sixties who admittedly were like friends of my parent, but I liked them so much, we’re friends. We hang out outside with my parents. I’ll go out for lunch with them and stuff. Have them over for dinner kind of thing. I love that.
Elizabeth: That’s so awesome.
Xena: Yeah. I just love that the variety of ideas, and experiences, and viewpoints, and I think it’s fun.
Elizabeth: So, I have to imagine that when you ask people out on dates, friendship dates. That it’s actually very flattering.
Xena: Yeah. Usually, what I say is we should be friends, do you want to go for coffee? And sometimes I laugh and I’m like, I’m serious. Or it depends like the woman at the gym the other day, I was like, oh, we have so much in common. We should go for coffee and talk. She’s like, yes. Great.
Elizabeth: So, that’s how you just don’t make it weird. Because I think that a lot of people listening today were like, I would love to have more friendships, but I just don’t want to be weird about it. I don’t want people to think that I’m a stalker or whatever single white female type.
Xena: This is how I approach it; I think it’s safe to assume that the majority of females would love to make more friends. I haven’t come across a female yet, who has said to me, no, I have enough friends. I haven’t. I think a lot of us would love to connect with more people. And they’re really open to the idea of going out for coffee, or going out for lunch, or going for a walk.
So, I just come from the assumption of other women want to make more friends and as well. And I’ll be the one who’s courageous and asks them, Hey, you want to hang out?
Elizabeth: Yeah. And I would imagine that depending on, again, going back to what we were talking about before which is what their family situation in terms of how many kids they have and what their time commitment is with that. But that could influence how much time they’re available to spend on a friendship.
Xena: Yeah. Totally.
Elizabeth: But that’s not about you.
Xena: Yeah. And it’s just like, if you think back to dating as well like for a romantic partner, that kind of thing. Sometimes you’ll go through some dates and you’re like, no, that’s not the one. And the same is true with friendships.
Sometimes you’ll go out for a coffee with someone, and you get to know them and you’d be like, wow, they’ve got very extreme political views that do not gel with me. I actually don’t know that we would hit it off as friends. Sometimes got to go out to experience that and make that decision. It’s so much like dating. It really is.
Elizabeth: That actually brings up a really good question which is do you feel obligated to say to that person, I don’t want to continue this friendship anymore.
Xena: That’s interesting. I was thinking about that before we recorded and to be fair, I haven’t had that experience. I think it’s quite possible that was some of the people who I’ve had that I’ve made that decision from, that they’ve possibly felt the same way because we didn’t have a lot in common and we didn’t really hit it off. So, they didn’t reach out to set up another opportunity to hang out and I didn’t either.
But I think if somebody was to reach out somebody I didn’t gel with, I would possibly handle that in one of two ways. I like you, I’m a connector. So, I would potentially connect a couple of people who I think would be a great fit to hang out and be friends. Or I would be upfront and say, Hey, I don’t know that we really hit it off. I wish you the best.
I don’t know exactly how I would say it, but I think I would just be upfront because I would rather somebody was up front with me, so that I could then just move on.
Elizabeth: Yeah. One thing that’s really interesting and thinking about this a little bit more is Gary and I do going out with other couples, and we will often be the first ones to initiate going out to dinner. This tends to happen with us, and I don’t know if it’s like true for everyone or just for us, I don’t know. But it seems like other people don’t reach out as often.
So, we feel like we’re initially the ones that are like, Hey, do you want to go out to dinner? Do you want to go out to dinner? And maybe this is it that for our good friends, it’s not a problem because we feel secure in that relationship.
But when you’re starting out and you’re always the one to initiate and they’re like, yeah, we’ll go out. It’s like, do they really want to go out with me or what? And so, after 10 times of initiating the date, do you just say, oh, I don’t know if they want to be my friend or not.
Xena: Oh, that’s really interesting cause I would just assume like, if I’m enjoying hanging out with them, then of course, if I keep saying yes, they obviously want to hang out too. I just don’t see that as a problem.
And I think it’s like to speak to what you were saying, with some of your more established friendships, like with my best friend. We’re lucky to talk once every two months we just send a bunch of gifs back and forth to make sure that the other person’s okay.
And if she rings, I’m like, oh, we need to talk something’s up. But that’s just how our friendship is. I’m so introverted that I’m not exactly great at communication and regular check in and so forth.
But when I have a friend and she always messages me most weekends. Hey, you want to hang out? Want to go for coffee? Want to go for a swim? Want to do something? And I love that because I love hanging out with her. But I very rarely initiate it. And I never make it a problem and she doesn’t either.
Elizabeth: Okay. It’s so interesting.
Xena: And if I keep saying, yes. I’d be like, of course they want to hang out with you. They’d be saying no, if they don’t. If you enjoy spending time with them, I just keep doing it. That’s my take on that.
Elizabeth: Fascinating. So, I think that the other thing that I was thinking about with this situation or with your friendsperiment is the fear of getting into a single white female type relationship. And protecting yourself from, I don’t know, weirdos?
Xena: You need to break this down for me like, what’s the single white female?
Elizabeth: Oh, you don’t know that, are you too young?
Elizabeth: “Single White Female” was a movie from the eighties with Jennifer Jason Leigh and Bridget Fonda. And she moved into this apartment and Jennifer Jason Leigh started cutting her hair like her, and trying on her clothes, and becoming her. And then, eventually, taking over her boyfriend and it was just ‘stalkerish.’ How do you not know this? Now, you have a new movie to watch.
Xena: Yeah. I have people refer to it before and I’m like, I don’t get that. Okay, thank you for educating me, I need to look this up. But first of all, before she took over the boyfriend, I was like, sounds like a huge compliment. She wants to be like you, she wants to dress like you, she cuts her hair, and then she steals your boyfriend, maybe not.
But it’s so fascinating. I never even thought about it being an issue. I’ve never experienced anything like that in friendships. Sometimes friends might get jealous, or they might start dressing like you a little bit, but I just take that as a huge compliment.
Elizabeth: And maybe that movie ruined it for all the women my age. Yeah, we don’t want to get into that.
Xena: But then, the question becomes do you know anyone that has actually experienced that outside of this movie?
Elizabeth: No! No, no.
Xena: I’m so good to go watch this.
Elizabeth: Yes, please do. And then, report back.
Xena: I shall.
Elizabeth: So, what have you learned in this whole friendsperiment?
Xena: Gosh, I’ve learned so many things. I think a couple of the big takeaways is there’s a lot of women out there who do feel lonely and would like more female friendships. And it’s not that hard to ask someone out to be friends. We might get such a big deal in our brain, and it really isn’t that big of a deal.
And if you are willing to share it perhaps on social media or verbalize it to a bunch of people that you know, you would probably be very surprised at the response you get. It has been nothing but positive with people relating, with people wanting to connect. That kind of blew me away.
The amount of people that are like, oh my gosh, I totally relate to you. I would love to have coffee, I would love to hang out, that kind of a thing. That was fantastic.
I think that those were a couple of my biggest takeaways and the worst that happens is not hearing a no, it’s going to be what you make it mean about yourself. And that part is completely optional. That’s where you get to have your own back. Right?
This is such a beautiful opportunity to get outside of your comfort zone, to have your own back, to meet some new people, and have fun. And if you treat it like an experiment, way less pressure. Do that. Make it fun.
Elizabeth: As you were talking, what actually came together for me is when we were first talking, we were talking about sitting at dinner alone. And the thoughts that go on in our head that people are looking at me or I don’t know what to do and feeling that awkwardness.
And I think that that’s probably one thing that keeps people from starting out these relationships is they’re like, well, what are we going to talk about for an hour?
And yet, whenever I’ve done stuff like this, the hour goes by so quickly and it isn’t a thing. But we’re afraid of that brain drama that is like, oh my gosh, what do I say, or what is she thinking, or whatever that is.
Xena: Yeah. That’s interesting. One way that you can counter that is just brainstorm a bunch of topics. What are the things that you love to talk about? Talk about all of those. I’ve never actually thought about that because I’m fascinated with people.
So, I will always ask them a million questions and I think everybody loves to talk about themselves. So, if you just keep asking them questions, they will keep talking and sharing stories and going down rabbit holes.
Elizabeth: Yeah. Open-ended questions instead of yes, no questions. Right?
Xena: Definitely. Good tip. Very good tip.
Elizabeth: This has been fascinating. Thank you so much for being here today. So, Xena, tell everyone where they can reach out to you if they want to be your friend, or if they want to coach with you, or if they just want to connect with you on social.
Xena: Ah, thank you. First of all, this has been so fun, and I feel like we could talk for hours because yeah, so good. And I’m so happy to be sharing this topic with the world and with your listeners. So, if you want to hang out with me, you will find me over on my website, which is xenajones.com and Xena is spelled with an X.
So, if any of you who have watched “Xena, the warrior princess,” she also spelled hers was an X, just so you know, xenajones.com. And also, I’ve got a podcast which is called “confidence made easy.”
And one of my favorite places to hang out is Instagram. And you will find me there xena.jones.coach. But be aware, I do share a lot of cat memes and I had two beautiful cats and they do some crazy wild things. And I like to share that on my Instagram, often. You have been warned.
Elizabeth: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for being here today.
Xena: You’re so welcome. Thank you for having me. This was so fun.
Elizabeth: Over the years, I’ve done a lot of work on my relationships. What I think about them and getting rid of the unhelpful thoughts that I have about others that really take me further away from the connection and belonging that I want and really create more of that.
Like, what Xena mentioned in the podcast, what happens when we are open to new friendships and aren’t defined by what the friendships need to look like. We start to see an experience possibility everywhere.
I’d love to encourage you to start your own friendsperiment, realizing that you really have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Have a great week, everyone. I will see you next time. Bye-bye.
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