On Making New Friends: Attempt Numbers 2, 3, and 76.
Sometimes in your adult life, you find yourself in situations you thought you’d covered — and I mean been-there-done-that-dead-and-buried-it kind of covered — when you were a kid. And it didn’t really occur to you that you might have to do it again.
Like feeling forced to eat something you don’t really like.
Or feeling so sick and scared that no one — and I mean no one — but your mother can help you feel better.
And especially the stress and fear of rejection that comes with attempting to make new friends.
Now. There are actually adults in the world who’ve never had to worry about making new friends. I know. They’ve grown up in one place, stayed there, got married, had babies, and kept all of their same friends from high school. Sure, maybe they inherited their spouse’s friends and made a few other “couple” friends along the way for added security and an expanded network of social opportunities, but they never depended on the formation of such friendships because they always had the original crew to fall back on.
And if you’re one of those people, you probably don’t even know how lucky you are. Seriously. You’ve been sheltered, sure, but when the alternative is asking random girls in the yogurt aisle at Target if they want to go get a burrito or something, “sheltered” is starting to sound like a luxury cruise through the Bahamas.
But here’s the thing — I don’t even like luxury cruises. They’re too structured and filling and inundated with people who wear un-ironic visors. Also they pollute the environment immensely.
I much prefer the train. (Which also probably pollutes the environment and is full of people who un-ironically wear knee socks, but whatever. It’s a personal choice.)
So far, because it’s pretty much been gross outside and I’ve been stuck at the house dealing with renovations, I’ve made lots of half-assed attempts at building acquaintances, but really only three solid moves at actually boarding the Friendship Train. (Not counting another grocery store incident, this time in the beer aisle, where I choked yet again.)
Angie and I ate dinner at the bar of a local foodie restaurant, where we started chatting with another bar-goer who happened to know everyone at the restaurant. He was everything that, to me, makes a good friend — happy, personable, and rife with food industry connections. Sometimes there are tricky dynamics involved when it comes to a married member of one sex striking a friendship with a married member of the opposite sex. It must always be made clear that you’re seeking friendship – not “friendship” — which I feel I did pretty successfully. He still made sure to give me his wife’s business card in addition to his own, and while we have yet to get together with them, we’ve been in contact via email and I feel pretty good about this summer’s prospects.
Wearing thin on our tolerance for greasy takeout, Justin and I decided to splurge on a local fancy seafood restaurant for dinner a few weeks ago. Our server happened to make incredible craft cocktails, and while the place emptied out, we found him knowledgable, friendly, and rife with food industry connections. (See a pattern here?) He was actually very close our age, and not “just” a server, but a restaurant manager with a background in culinary cooking, and I learned that his wife cuts hair, which would solve my issue of trying to find a new hair stylist (which is the absolute worst task of moving, in my opinion). His friendship resume was off-the-charts, and I really thought we’d made a connection. We exchanged numbers, he initiated the Facebook connection, I sent him a message asking about a contractor he’d been using on his house, and never heard anything back.
All I can presume is he saw something on my Facebook feed that made me a less-than-desirable friendship candidate. (That, or he’s really horrible at returning Facebook messages.) I think I’ll get extra stalkery and schedule a hair appointment with his wife before I ditch that train.
Attempt #3, I think, has been the most successful, though it didn’t seem that way at first. After a particularly grueling Friday for Justin at work and for me with the exceptionally flaky drywaller, we walked to our local Tex Mex dive where we could partake in gargantuan, potent, pre-mixed margaritas before stumbling back to the dusty shell that used to be our home. During the long, crowded wait, we struck up a conversation with an easy-going couple. Still young but with two practically grown kids, we’ve found we do particularly well with this subset since we don’t have kids ourselves, but are too crotchety to hang with the pre-kid, early 20-something crowd. We hit it off so well that I invited them to come eat with us when our name was finally called so they wouldn’t have to wait, but the wife quickly declined. I gracefully said it was nice to meet them before exiting to our booth and drowning my dejection in tequila.
But then, miracle-of-miracles, Justin and I were still camped at our table to avoid facing the reality of our kitchenless house, when they stopped by before leaving to give us their phone numbers! They explained that they hadn’t been out alone together in a really long time, but that they thought we were fun and we should get together sometime.
Now Justin and I need to find the perfect excuse to give them a call. I find couple’s dating to be far more intimidating than single’s dating for the simple fact that they have to like both of us. And we have to like both of them. Which means we probably have to avoid all talk of religion, politics, parenting, and reality television shows on at least the first three dates.
I don’t know about you, but I’m pumped.
While finding friendship as an adult can be downright frightening, it’s facing these experiences head-on that helps us grow as individuals. It’s that thrill of discomfort — the delicate unbalancing of your carefully crafted life structure — that lets you etch out a few notches on an otherwise un-marred bedpost of life. And you want to mark up that bedpost, guys.
It’s far too pretty without them.