Last week, my article on how to make new friends (a condensed version of this Friend Finding 101 post) was published on CNN.com. Though the comments were a bit less aggressive than last time (in which perfect strangers told me my marriage was falling apart) there were still some real gems. Now that I’ve learned to laugh at the craziness, I thought I’d share a few of my favorites:
“Once you’ve found your potential new best friend, let them know your level of dedication. In a box, place a small dead animal and a note written in blood (preferably yours though the animal’s will do in a pinch). The note should read: You are my new best friend. Your friends are my friends. Your enemies my enemies. If anyone ever hurts you I will be the first to fling battery acid in their face.”
“Inevitable [sic] people change or don’t change over time as well as friendships. I’ve leaned [sic] the hard way over my life that people will almost always disappoint you at any chance they get and sometimes even stab you in the back for no reason. Why you ask, because people are human, they make bad decisions, they make mistakes, and they are inevitably self-centered. There are a few nice people in the world who will give 100%, but they always get walked all over in the end and taken advantage of by ‘Takers’. It helps to be a ‘Taker’ and a ‘Giver’. If you want a true friend, get a dog or a cat. They won’t steal your girlfriend, your job or your car, cheat on you, or spread nasty rumors about you on Facebook.”
“Lady needs help!”
“This is your classic story of a stalker case.”
I couldn’t make this stuff up. But amidst the references to me as “creepy” and “foolish,” there were a number of comments saying the fundamental theme of the article is flawed because you can’t consciously try to make a friend. Best friendships, they said, should emerge naturally.
“You can’t LOOK for a new best friend. Best friends just happen.”
“The few female friends that I have made have been those rare gems you find when you least expect it and aren’t even looking.”
True, no one you meet will immediately become your BFF—the ascent to “best” takes time—but I take issue with the argument that we shouldn’t actively take steps to make friends. Of course it’s fantastic when a friendship “just happens.” I figured that’s what would go down when I moved to Chicago. But it’s also great when romance just happens, and yet there are millions of people online dating, or speed dating, or going to singles mixers because they know what they want and are going after it.
When I first started this search I wondered if I came off as a pathetic nutcase, actively looking for new friends as if no one wanted to play with me. There’s something sort of sad, it seems, about announcing you want to forge new friendships. Like you never had any in the first place. But I’ve learned that there are plenty of women in my situation. Anything great is worth fighting for (did I just steal that line from Notting Hill? Or Love Actually? Perhaps) and getting what you want often takes work. There are steps one can take to maximize the potential for finding a spouse, a job, even happiness. The same is true for friendships, and I think—I hope—that if we keep talking about it, the creepy-stalker-foolish stigma will start to go away.
Do you think the notion of seeking out friendship is flawed? Pathetic? Do BFFs just appear when you stop looking? Or is friend-dating, like the romantic kind, a necessity in the over-scheduled, over-committed, mobile world we live in? Either way, chime in.