A few weeks ago I attended a speed-friending event hosted by GirlfriendCircles.com. It was surprisingly fun. Maybe I shouldn’t have been shocked—I signed up didn’t I?—but just the word “speed-friending” (or is that two words?) sounds awkward, right? I thought so at least.
It turned out to be great. One of the most interesting parts of the evening was listening to GFC CEO Shasta Nelson—a former pastor and life coach, and thus a practiced and engaging public speaker—expound on the importance of friendship. Not just why we need it, but how we can create it, and what just doesn’t count. (“If you meet someone tonight, and then never talk to her again, that is not a friend.”) One thing that really stuck with me—and I’ve heard Shasta say this before—is that there’s no vocabulary for making new friends. There are no platonic words for flirting, picking someone up, having a girl-crush.
When I talk about my search, I have no doubt that an outsider would think I was ranting about a romantic relationship. My sheer excitement about a great new prospect, the references to “going on a date” and “picking a girl up”? The vocab screams lovers. Never mind the fact that in my home, date has become a totally platonic term.
“What are you doing tonight?” Matt says.
“I’ve got a date,” I say.
The latest romantic term I’ve brought into my friending is “the honeymoon stage.” You know that point with a new friendship when you’re so excited about this person, you think she could be your new best friend forever, and every time she reaches out, you get all giddy? I’ve had that with some friends for sure. I’ll get a text and immediately shove my iPhone under Matt’s nose so he can read it himself. It’s the part of female friendship before you’re too aware of the other person’s flaws, and if you are aware they don’t bother you. They’re just “quirky.”
Recently, I was writing about a new friendship. No matter how I pieced the words together, it sounded like I was pursuing a budding romance. And while that can be funny, in this instance it was just frustrating. I could think only of Shasta, wishing there was a fix to this lexicon dilemma.
We could change the dialogue right here and now. If someone has insight into the language of friendship, I’m all ears. Is there a less misleading way to say “I asked out a girl I’ve had a crush on—we’ve been flirting for months—and now we’re going on a date?” See, just writing that feels awkward.
Mostly, I just want to understand. Why are there no platonic words for creating a new—and vital!—relationship?