Can you get over the hump in a friendship slump?

The kids in the back seat are staging a conversational attack on public school when she piped up, in a soft voice, "I might actually make a friend." She paused, "I used to want lots of friends, but now I think I'd be happy even with just one." My heart fluttered, thudded, then sank. I remember that feeling. I had it so strong when I was a kid. Just one friend who really wanted you around. Just one whose mother hadn't forced them into playing with you.

You could hear it in the tone of your mother's voice as she answered the brand new cordless phone out on the stone stoop when evening was already starting to cool, sinking kind of, and then the sound of her lowering herself with a little thud onto the stair, holding the broom absolutely still and balanced next to her. You couldn't hear the words. I'll never know exactly what was said during this exchange, but I know the few neighborhood friends I had were reluctant ones.

What is it that I experienced, and now my children are experiencing? Is it the trifecta of friendship doom: living in the country, being homeschooled, and afraid of making friends at church?

This one, beautiful dear one, she holds her heart so openly. She has "friends for the day" - at gymnastics camp, swimming lessons, gym, the park on a sunny afternoon - that seem to partially fill her friendship tank. But she, perhaps the most, longs for true friendship where you see someone all the time and you can call them on the phone and it's not wierd at all.

The false starts at making friends feels like an almost visceral cycle - the leap, the balancing and almost falling, the inevitable dismount that jams your knees and makes you even less likely to climb up and try again. Does this get better in public school, I wonder? I always thought that was the key, when I was dealing with this myself as a tween. But I don't know, because I never went.

What has your experience been? Do you homeschool or public school (or were you home or public schooled) and what kind of friendship difficulties or successes do you remember as child? What made things work? What made things not work?