FAMILY & PARENTING

I’m A 36-Year Old Woman And This Is How It Went When I Tried To Make New Mom-Friends Online

by Karen Belz
Karen Belz has written for sites such as Bustle, HelloGiggles, Romper, and So Yummy. She's the mom of a sassy toddler and drinks an alarming amount of Sugar-Free Red Bull in order to keep up with her.

At the age of 36, I’ve taken pride in the fact that I’ve maintained many healthy friendships. Sure — literally every good friend of mine lives in a different state from me.

But, I’m making it work. Well, sort of.

I was born and raised in New Jersey, went to college in Pennsylvania, and currently live in Maryland. The Maryland move was due to my husband’s job transfer. Never before did I assume we’d end up here, but things have been pretty good. Especially because hardshell crabs are the absolute best. The one downfall? Most of my friends are elsewhere on the East Coast. While I do my best to text and catch up, sometimes it can be tough.

Because there’s another big difference between my good friends and me — I’m the only one with a kid. I don’t have mom friends. I have a couple of acquaintances that happen to be moms, but zero local mom friends that I can call up and immediately schedule something with.

My daughter is 3, and literally my favorite person. Being a mom wasn’t something I always imagined for myself, but I’m happy that life took me in the direction it did. That said, I still remember life prior to having a child. Usually, I kind of nodded kindly when someone showed me baby photos. I didn’t understand milestones. I still can’t read ultrasounds. And, honestly? I wasn’t a natural. My own child is the third, and currently last, baby I’ve ever held in my life.

There’s so much I can chat about with my friends, but usually, I feel bad going on and on about the mom stuff. Because I remember how it made me feel. Yes, my friends have an interest in my daughter. But would they care about the fact that she’s (finally) eating more vegetables? Of course not. Nor would they understand the trouble of a picky eater. And that’s why I knew it was finally time to make some mom-friends. In-person, in Maryland, and on my own.

I Started With an App Called Peanut

Peanut is known as being “Tinder for Moms.” Even though I met and married my husband before the dating app became big, I knew the concept. Swipe one way if you like someone, swipe the other if you don’t. On Peanut, moms can try to “sell themselves” with a short bio and a photo or two.

For someone who’s new to the scene, that’s a lot harder than you’d imagine. Do I post a photo of me and my daughter? Or, just me? What if my photo is too goofy looking? In a situation like Tinder, it makes a little more sense to judge someone by a photo. But, does the same go for mom friends?

mom friends
Karen Belz/LittleThings

Then, there’s the bio. I noticed that a lot of the profiles didn’t tell me much. For example, some moms stated things like, “Looking for some mom friends and playtime to burn off energy and socialize!” While that’s nice, my ideal mom connection is someone I can chat about television with. I want to know favorite shows, movies, and bands. And that’s probably because that’s how I connected with all of my non-mom friends.

I Was Reminded How Much Harder It Is To Make Any Sort of Friends as an Adult

My core friend group is more or less in Pennsylvania. When I went to college, I had an active role on the campus radio station throughout all four of my years. That’s where I met so many of my friends. Even my best acquaintances have the station in common. Back then, our conversations revolved around indie rock, pop culture, comedy, and classes.

So, now it’s a bit of a jump to openly meet someone who just wants our kids to run around in a field. Remember how I said I valued friendships? I’m not looking for a one-time mom date. I’m looking for a close friend I can confide in. And sure, if we can also talk about sleep regressions, that’d be great.

mom friends
Karen Belz/LittleThings

Then there’s the question of actual in-person compatibility. Personally, I’m a Democrat who’s anti-gun and pro-vaccine. It’s OK for others to have different opinions, but I know it’d be a major clash right off the bat. So, for my profile? I put in a personal screener. I mentioned I love the Obama family and getting vaccinated.

I figured that those who might not share those viewpoints could skip past me — and, it might end up saving us both a lot of time. For moms who disagreed, they could swipe down and say sayonara.

The Matches Can Make Your Day

The Matches Can Make Your Day
Karen Belz/LittleThings

It’s really thrilling when matches start coming in. Knowing that a mom you thought was cool also thought you were cool is nice. But then, there’s a standoff. Who’ll contact who first?

It seems scary, especially for those (like me) who don’t have a ton of dating app experience firsthand. I didn’t want to be a jerk, but I also didn’t want to come off as being too needy. In talking to other moms, I’ve realized that’s a common problem. When all you really know about someone is that you both have kids, you create weird rules in your head about who to message and when.

My advice? Just say hello. They’re not going to think you’re a weirdo for reaching out first. That’s the purpose of matching, after all.

But, Ghosting Still Happens

Moms ghost each other all the time. But weirdly, it’s hard to take personally. Think about how many times you meant to call someone back, or write someone when a personal disaster strikes and you get distracted. Moms are some of the busiest people alive. It’s also why they often don’t prioritize friendships with other moms the way they should. They just have too much going on.

I will say, if you’re sensitive to ghosting, Peanut may not be the best app for you. Let me put it this way. Currently, on the app, I’ve made 13 connections. I’ve talked to about five of them. One I’ve met in person, and one I’m scheduled to meet when the world gets a little safer. Those others? Either a conversation went quickly flat, or they just never responded back.

There’s another obstacle at hand — and that’s age. Personally, I have friends of all ages, spanning from the ’20s to the 50’s. But oftentimes, I have that “instant connection” with other moms who are in my own range — which is 30s. Peanut is filled with a lot of young moms. While they’re sure to be incredible people, I knew that my Seinfeld references may fall flat.

Again, I was looking for a true connection. And while everyone on that app likely had some positive things going for them, I wanted to be sure that I met someone who, one day, I’d trust with my daughter.

As mentioned before, so far I met one person off the app, and we hung out three times. Based on the circumstance, we were never able to meet up more than that. However, it was nice having a connection with someone who had lived in Maryland her whole life. Even better? Our kids were weeks apart in age and — when they met — got along perfectly.

Our first hangout was at a coffee shop, no kids allowed. It was the closest thing to a first date that I’ve had in years. Luckily, she had used the app before and I wasn’t her first connection. So, her comfort in meeting a stranger helped put me at ease. I admit I was a nervous wreck.

But unfortunately, as friendships go, I got some bad news. She and her family decided to move to Florida just months after we really connected. While we still talk, that goal of gabbing while the kids played was no longer a reality.

But I realized that it was a new connection I made because I put the effort in. And technically, it was a success! Was it scary? Of course so. But, it gave me the confidence to keep trying to find a great friendship. After meeting one person, it became easier to reach out.

Making friends after college can be difficult. For moms, even moreso. While I don’t want motherhood to necessarily define me as a person, it definitely makes social engagements a little harder to plan. But finding people who can understand and lend an ear is incredible.

When you meet new friends, you feel like you’re more at home. Eventually, I hope to connect with more moms in Maryland that’ll make me feel good about making the state my permanent home.