Friend Finding 101

The last time I made a conscious effort to win over potential BFFs I was an awkward, eager 18-year-old—one of about 2,000 college freshman looking for the same thing—so I was feeling a little rusty when I started this search. But when you cannonball into the friend-dating pool, you learn a lot…fast.

So, here, the strategies I’ve developed so far. Call it Friend Finding (Woman Wooing?) 101. The first five tips were included (in more detail) in an essay I wrote about a month ago. The others are new. All 10 may seem obvious, but I’ve found that the no-brainers are the easiest to forget.

1) Facebook is there for a reason. You may have 50 online friends who live in your area but whom you’ve only met once. I subscribe to the belief that if we can be virtual friends, we can be the face-to-face kind. Reach out to anyone in your Facebook network (or MySpace or Friendster, if those sites even still exist) you think might have potential. Utilizing the Facebook message system gives your approach a casual feel before you take the friendship offline.

2) Make the first move. If you’re a woman who’s used to being wooed, you might forget that friend-dating isn’t the same as romantic dating. If you defer to the potential BFF to ask you out, you could be waiting forever. Every girl likes brunch. Just invite her for an omelette.

3) Tell your old friends you’re in the market for new ones. After I started this blog, a long-distance friend sent me the names of three girls she knew in Chicago. When I asked her why she hadn’t told me about them earlier, she said she’d figured I already had my own crew. Lesson learned.

4) Make the second move, too. The rules of friendship may call for reciprocation, but until you are actual friends, rules don’t apply.

5) Join, join, join. I’m in two book clubs. I’ve done cardio hip hop and yoga classes. I want to start a ladies poker game. I’m even toying with the idea of joining Weight Watchers (lots of girl dates=lots of wine and cheese).

6) Be up for adventure. It’s easier to create an insta-bond when you’re both outside your comfort zone. Plus, you’re more likely to create a memory at a roller rink or fortune teller than a diner.

7) Give second chances. First dates, any kind, can be awkward. If someone you weren’t so keen on asks you to get together again, say yes. One more date can’t hurt, and it might turn out that she doesn’t truly have a potty mouth, she just curses like a sailor when she’s nervous.

8 ) Listen. I used to be so worried there’d be uncomfortable lulls in conversation that whenever a friend-date spoke, I’d be working on my next line instead of hearing what she was saying. Nothing says “I’m a good friend who listens” than being a good friend who listens. Referencing something she said earlier does not go unnoticed.

9) Admit your girl crush. We all just want to be liked. If you really feel like there’s a mutual connection, some breezy version of “Oh we’re totally going to be BFFs!” at the end of the date isn’t scary, it’s endearing.

10) Assume others are looking for the same thing. Everyone wants good friends. Don’t present yourself as the sad sack who can’t find anyone to play with at recess. No, you’re the strong independent woman who wants to expand your social horizons. Own it.

Did I miss anything? Think any of my tips are off-base? Got advice of your own? Do tell!

24 Comments

Filed under The Search

24 responses to “Friend Finding 101

  1. How about adult-ed classes given by the town? Painting classes, cooking classes, photography classes. They meet more than once, and have like-minded people creating together regularly.

  2. I have not been “diagnosed” as being depressed but I know that there have been more than a few days over the past 12 years that the local mental health facility would not have turned me away had I showed up on their doorstep. I realize now that most of my problems could have stayed shrunk into a more consumable serving had I had a couple of buddies. I would have forced myself to be a bit more “likable” and pretended to be less unhappy. Just acting more happy, even when I am not, makes me feel better. I would have listened to my girl friend’s dilemmas. That would have made me look at my own problems less. And I think that I would have laughed more and better because laughing by yourself is never as good. (OH! As important as a BFF would have been to me there is one more thing. I wouldn’t have moved two blocks from my husband’s ex-wife and their three children.)

    Thanks for sharing your story! I just love it!

    Denise Burks

    http://www.successinthesuburbs.com/

  3. Oh Rachel – If I were still living in Chicago, I’d love to be your friend – you sound great! Alas, I’m now living outside of Toronto… moved here for love and on the hunt for some pals too. When I was in Chicago, I met one of my very best friends at pottery lessons. I also volunteered for Best Buddies of Illinois – a great organization – where I met some splendid people. I highly recommend it. Good luck! Chicago is an OUTSTANDING city!!

  4. Lisa Z.

    I also wanted to start a ladies’ poker night!! I even picked out the pink poker set…I had a night book, ladies invited, and just kept canceling because I don’t know how to play…

  5. Love all of your tips and particularly relate to No: 5 Join, join, join. Four years ago me and my family moved 200 miles to, not only a different town, but a whole new country with its own culture and traditions. We were a little out of our comfort zone. One of the first things I did was join in. I offered to help out at the local school, I enrolled on local courses and helped at events. I’ve now got a support group of wonderful friends around me with varied interests and I’ve made some friends for life. It’s never too late to get out there and start making friends. I’ve even started to understand what they’re saying now LOL xxx

  6. Callie

    I think there is something compelling about group activities and finding close friends within a group context. For instance, if you get involved with a charity and you have attend one of their meetings and then someone suggests all going out for drinks after. It feels casual and usually in that situation when it’s a whole bunch of people that you don’t know well its much easier/less awkward to open up and talk to lots of different people and find a connection!

  7. Cathy

    I love your blog! This is very timely, as I’ve also relocated and have been looking for help in making new friends. I am not shy about asking women I meet to lunch. Some of these lunches have evolved into the foundation for what I believe will be solid friendships in time. But one woman I’ve met several times never reciprocates. We have a great time, and she always expresses strong interest in staying in touch. But I always have to be the one to follow up and invite. I wait a decent interval, don’t display stalker tendencies, etc. I do NOT want to be anyone’s pity project! I would appreciate your perspective on how to tell when it’s just not going to work out. Thanks so much!

    • Hi Cathy,

      So glad you are enjoying the blog. I’ve been in the same situation as you are, and know how frustrating it can be. I generally try to set a “I will even make the third move, but if at that point she never reciprocates, I am moving on” rule. But, that can’t be a hard-and-fast rule. I spoke to a professor in social psychology about this very thing and he told me that while that’s a fine rule of thumb, you have to take into consideration people’s circumstances–family and work situation,etc.

      My suggestion would be to try this woman one more time, but invite her to do something out of the ordinary, not just brunch or coffee. An exercise class, bowling, a cooking class… Doing out-of-the-box things together will help form a bond, and might put you foremost in her thoughts when she’s up for doing something fun and different one day. Also, if you both have a great time, maybe it would help to get the next date on the books at the end of the current date (I am so with you on the stalker tendencies, but at this point it sounds like you’ve established yourself as sane).

      I’ve found that when the women I am meeting already have a ton of friends in the city, I have to do most of the work upfront. But eventually, if she’s still not reciprocating, I think you’re right to move on…

      • Cathy

        Great suggestions! And she does have many, many friends already. I’ll try to think of something different and try again. Thank you!

  8. I moved away from all my bff’s about a year and a half ago. I found myself surrounded by people I did not know and wasn’t sure I wanted to know. But I knew that I needed girlfriends. I haven’t found a bff yet but I have found some women that I am willing to pursue in what felt like a “girl crush” way. They ended up being friends. Love the post.

  9. Hi Rachel,
    Found your blog from The Happiness Project blog and I love it! What a great idea.
    I moved back to the city where I went to university 3 years ago after living in Asia. Luckily my best friend is here so I don’t have to do without him. But as much as I love him and his partner, I do crave my girl time. Although I haven’t made a girl BFF in my city I have made a couple great friends. Last year I instituted a “year of yes” and let everyone I knew know about it. What it consituted was if someone asked me to do something, I had to say yes, unless I had a prior commitment with someone else. My friend was just an acquaintance at the time but once she knew that I would go with her to whatever wacky thing she dreamt up, we started hanging out at least twice a month.
    My year of yes was up in January but I still make a conserted effort to say yes whenever possible, as you just don’t know who you will meet.

  10. These tips are wonderful!! I never dated, so I didn’t have those sorts of ideas. I am hoping that maybe one day even I might utilized these tips to make some face friends, too!!

  11. beckybelle

    Your tips are great, and worth following! I even started a book club group on FB (by invitation) to link my friends in different states together!

  12. Nikki

    Hi – what a great attitude! I have recently been through some major life changes and although I have not changed cities I am in need of some new friends. Your blog has inspired me to stop putting my wishbone where my backbone ought to be (I heart Elizabeth Gilbert) and go make a new friend! Thanks!

  13. Shari S.

    Activities are a great way to make friends, but you really do have to make a strong effort. Last summer, I met a woman while I was running, my regular route. Fortunately, she “reached out” and started a conversation about seeing me running that route often. We ran together for the next few minutes and then exchanged e-mail addresses and have been running almost every Saturday and Sunday since. We have such a good time together and so much time to chat that we’ve become very good friends. I have to credit her with initiating the conversation rather than the normal and quick hello given to fellow runners.

  14. marty

    I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your blog! I actually had kind of an opposite experience of you – I moved to Boston right after college and had a really hard time making friends. Everyone else already had friends from high school and college and were not in the market for BFFs. However, in Chicago (I moved here in 2000), I made a ton of friends right away – mostly because I had an extremely extroverted roommate who took me places and made me socialize with new people.

    Anyway, I wanted to jump in and say I LOVE poker and would definitely be interested in a ladies’ poker night if you do decide to get one going!

  15. *sigh* It’s too bad I live in California. I’m in two book clubs as well and love poker. I would totally come over in a half hour to paint each others toe nails and watch The Biggest Loser.

  16. Pingback: To Find What You Want, Stop Looking? « MWF Seeking BFF

  17. Bob

    Thanks for the tips! (They work for men too.)

  18. I definitely prefer “Women Wooing”!

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  22. I like your ideas and this post! Who wouldn’t want to make a new friend or two? This list will probably come in handy once I start college! :)

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