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The question

I'm a 30-year-old, single female living in Toronto. A few years ago, I had an active social life and dated lots but most of my girlfriends married and had babies, so now they are understandably preoccupied with their new family units and being around similarly scheduled, new moms. In the past year, several females seemed to show an interest in being friends, but every time I sent a text to plan something, I got radio silence or was told their schedules are too hectic and they suggested trying in a few months. Ouch. I'm not sure if it's me or it's just a time when most folk are not looking to expand their social lives, because they're too busy raising children and being a part of a couple. I appreciate friendship is based on proximity and convenience but it feels awful reaching out to someone and being ignored. When I go out, I will meet guys, have a great conversation and they give me their number to hang out in a platonic way. Is it just harder to forge female friendships? I have a few past friends on Facebook and Instagram and perhaps because they are aggressive with their social-media use and capturing their "about town" lives, it perpetuates their popularity. How do I go about getting the "it" factor?

The answer

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Need more friends? There's an app for that! I'll get to that in a sec. But first I want to say I know how you feel.

I had a rockin' social life in my twenties. Out into the night we'd go, my merry band of villains and I, thrash around in the mosh pits, dive off the stage into the crowd, going to party after party, endlessly hanging out on patios, balconies, or as part of a hungover mob of a Sunday on some friends' couch.

People were always popping by my apartment. I used to leave my front door open and one morning there was a girl in my bed who wasn't there when I fell asleep.

Fun! But, just as with you, when I was around 30 my "posse," dispersed, some to other parts of the country or the world, some to the misty netherworld, the non-mosh pit of young parenthood.

You could tell when someone had a kid. There'd just be a big, metaphorical "bloop" and they'd disappear. Sometimes they'd resurface, looking shell-shocked and a tad green around the gills, several years later, like a very, very slow-motion Whac-a-Mole. Some you never saw again.

That's probably a big part of what happened to you. I was lucky: I had a few real, lifelong friends leftover when the smoke cleared from the frenetic socializing of my twenties.

But I think it's better when you work it the other way around: build your "social circle" one real friend at a time.

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It's a mistake to confuse your "social life" and real friends. Here at Damage Control HQ (located in a fortified bunker somewhere in the Ozarks) a few weeks ago, we received a question from someone who thought she had all these friends, but no one visited her at the hospital. That's where having a "social circle" gets you.

Once you have a friend – I've quoted this before, and I know it comes from one of the biggest jackasses (but paradoxically most oft-quoted) in the history of literature, Hamlet's Polonious, but anyway: "Those friends thou hast, their adoption tried, fasten them to your soul with hoops of steel."

In other words, when you get a friend who's passed a couple of loyalty tests, do everything to keep him or her.

So how does one make friends, post-30? Well, that's a little trickier. Why not start with the guys who're keen to "hang out" platonically? They could become your friends. Nothing wrong with guy friends! Like dogs, we can be fanatically loyal.

And they'll have female friends – who could become your friends.

Other than that, just pursue your interests and passions with interest and passion, and I'm sure you'll find other like-minded souls to accompany you on your journey. Maybe take a class.

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And as I mentioned off the top, there are plenty of websites where you meet other people or groups with similar interests. I know a guy (cough cough nerd alert cough cough) who meets with other people who like board games. He's made many friends. There's even a group for introverts! (Sounds painful, but might actually be fun.)

Above all, don't let shyness stop you. Life's too short for shyness. You sound sweet and charming from your letter and very open and honest. Reach out to people. I'm sure you'll be swimming in newfound friends in no time.

Are you in a sticky situation?

Send your dilemmas to damage@globeandmail.com. Please keep your submissions to 150 words and include a daytime contact number so we can follow up with any queries.

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