Last week, a blog reader sent me an email with a question that’s been on my mind a lot. (For the record, I absolutely love it when readers contact me. Please excuse my not just listing my email here, but I’m told that’s an invitation to spammers.)
Reader wrote: “I’m on a similar quest to find new friends and put down roots in my new community. I have never been shy about initiating a conversation or offering an invitation to someone who could become a friend, but I find that it is difficult to make the leap to a fully established friendship. [How do you go] from ‘first dates’, to building a more solid foundation with a new friend?”
I wish I had a definitive answer to this question. I, too, am now well-versed in the first girl-date. But how do you take it to the next level, so you’re not just friends who go to dinner once a month, but capital F Friends. The kind who talk about the deep stuff, act goofy together, and call each other just to say hi?
I’ve read that self-disclosure is the game-changer. That the first time you say “Can I talk to you about something?” might very well be the moment you move from friends to Friends. And it really is flattering when someone confides in you. It means they trust you. That you are their Friend.
Ultimately, the BFF quest is about putting yourself out there. I know that sounds really Sex and the City, but it’s true. If you want to lay the friendship foundation, but don’t know when self-disclosure becomes appropriate, use your best judgment and just go for it. If there’s one thing I’ve learned so far, it’s that people want to create new friendships. I really thought the opposite would be true—that we lived in a self-involved world where people are wary of friend-seekers—but since throwing myself into this quest I’ve realized that everyone wants to be friended, it’s just that nobody wants to do the friending. It takes actual energy.
So maybe you have something you’d love to talk to a new potential BFF (perhaps we just call them PBFFs) about. Don’t wait for a signal from above that your relationship has reached some arbitrary place in which self-disclosure is suddenly acceptable. If you think you click, just go ahead and tell her about the monster under your bed. If you want to go to a movie tonight, but don’t think you’re at the spontaneous-movie-date place, just give it a try. Cliché as this is, it’s true: The worst she can say is no.
I’ve had so many conversations with Matt where he says, “Why don’t you call X and see what she’s doing?” and I respond, “Oh, I don’t really think we’re there yet.” The only way any of us will get “there” is if someone makes a friendship advance. Otherwise, we could all be staring at the phone for a while.
Now if I could just take my own advice.
Can you pinpoint the moment a friend became a Friend? What do you think my reader, and I, can do to take our new friendships to the next level?