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!