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On Making New Friends: Attempt Numbers 2, 3, and 76.

Okay.

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.

Cruise_web

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.)

Attempt #1:

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.

Attempt #2:

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:

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.

Score!

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.

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Katie

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Comments

Stephanie
Reply

Oh, good luck. I find making new friends so hard – partly because everyone is so busy, but also I’m just awkward. Couple dating is weird too. We currently have three couple friends we are trying to cultivate. The first has been pretty successful, but there’s this awareness when we hang out with them – on our side anyway – that they are WAY smarter than we are. Which is cool because we always learn stuff, but we worry we aren’t holding up our side of things. Another couple is just really busy and the last involves dodging certain political ground in conversation. All good people though, so we try.

Katie
Reply

Thanks for the luck! We need it. And yeah — at least it’s a little better than dating dating, because it’s perfectly okay to avoid the hot topics with friends — it’s not like you’re going to marry them, so you don’t necessarily have to agree on the big issues. As long as they’re good people, it’s worth the effort. And maybe that other couple is smarter (though I find that hard to believe), but you guys have something to bring to the table too, by way of interesting tales of world travels. So it’s a win for everyone. :)

Dennis Hong
Reply

Oh, yeah, I totally have one of those awkward rejection stories, too! This one time, I was emailing back and forth with a blogger friend I’d met online, and I totally invited her and her husband to Vegas with us.

Yeaaaah, they shot us down.

*sigh* :-p

Katie
Reply

Haha MAYBE if a certain person’s awesome company hadn’t turned that blogger friend down for a job, perhaps they could’ve afforded said trip to Vegas! And I’m sure as you’re wasted and celebrating right now, you’re not thinking ANYTHING about that rejection. :) I hope you’re having a blast, even though it definitely would’ve been more fun if we’d been able to make it!!

Britany
Reply

Friendship hunting as an adult is the WORST. Next to dating, of course. Be thankful you’re not stuck doing both. I’m thinking about moving in the near future, and the thought of making new friends is so daunting. So please, crack the code to adult friendships and then tell me all your secrets before I have to figure it out myself!!!

Katie
Reply

Ugh. I AM thankful for that. Maybe I could hook you up with Justin’s bff in Syracuse… ;)

I’m pretty sure there is no friend-making code, unfortunately, except this: You have to put yourself out there. Consistently. Rejection might happen, but those friends aren’t right for you anyway. But you HAVE to make the moves because people — especially those who already have friends — are inherently lazy and won’t make the move for you. That is all. :)

Bill
Reply

Jeanette and I moved to rural Oregon in November and we are trying to connect with our new life at every level. She’s job hunting,which when she signs on somewhere, will probably be our best source of new friends but meanwhile…the only successful connection we have made is with our building contractor and his wife. Yes, really, we have become good friends. They like to party and so do we. They like to hike, fish, explore so it is, so far a real blessing. We actually joined a small rural church and, although we aren’t church going types, it has opened some opportunities. Small group but they have events that include beer and other fun stuff. Thank God! If it ever stops raining maybe we will actually fit in here. You are so right about putting it out there. Sometimes making friends is like walking all the way across the dance floor while everyone is watching to ask a girl to dance…and she turns you down. Its a longer walk back.

Katie
Reply

Churches can be an excellent way to expand a social network — especially in a tiny community where there’s not much else happening in the way of social groups! Good for you both!! Good luck getting it to stop raining in Oregon, though. ;)

Andi
Reply

We are dying to make friends with some couples too!

Katie
Reply

You have some right here in VA! Just… um… like 6 hours away. ;) Ha!

Colleen Brynn
Reply

I knew I would like this post before I clicked on it. I always find friendship making as an adult so very interesting. It doesn’t come naturally to me, but when I do find that special someone, it usually happens very quickly and easily. Ha. I’m so happy for your successes and hope something pans out! Who knows… maybe somewhere in there is a life long friend…

Katie
Reply

So true! When I really connect with people, it’s pretty easy to make friendship happen. It’s trickier with couples though — much harder I think to build those closer friendships when there are more people involved. At this point we’d be thrilled with some people to cook/eat out with on occasion! :)

Sarah
Reply

Even harder than making individual friends as an adult is making couple friends. We have such a hard time finding people that we both like that aren’t already set with a whole bunch of friends and no more room for new ones. We moved four years ago, and since then, we’ve just been trying to find a couple of good, solid mutual couple friends. We only have one set right now!

Katie
Reply

YES! That’s what I’m sayin’. It’s really rough to incorporate yourselves into an already-existing tight-knit group. I guess we have a bit of an advantage living in a military town, because many people are new-ish and don’t yet have friends. It’s still hard though to find people that “match” both of your personalities. Keep trying and don’t give up! Good friendships take time. And alcohol. But mostly time. :)

Sarah
Reply

I wish you could figure out a magic formula, I moved to a new area a year ago, and still haven’t made any friends! I am looking for a part-time job that would afford me at least a little human contact. :)

Katie
Reply

Haha, I wish I could, too! You just have to keep putting yourself out there. I asked my veterinary tech out yesterday and she gave me her number! We laughed about the fact that trying to make new friends felt a lot like dating. And, like dating, you only get as much out of it as the effort you put in. :)

ben
Reply

I think all of us have experience this awkward moments in life :)

Katie
Reply

Haha, so glad to know I’m not alone! :)

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