I spent yesterday afternoon with a friend who has just moved to San Francisco. She’s been here two weeks and is in the early stages of her own BFF search. Plenty of her friends are willing to set her up with pals in the Bay Area, she says, but she doesn’t have the easy, go-to BFF that I set out of search of a little over a year ago.
Walking around the city with someone who’s in the same place as I was when I first moved to Chicago, I felt like I’d traveled back in time. Except this time, I had all the friendship weapons in my arsenal. Back then I was a JV friender, now I’ve made varsity.
When I first started this search I felt really lost about where to even begin. I was so overwhelmed by the vast ocean of potential BFFs in Chicago that I missed perfectly good friendship opportunities right in front of me. I didn’t always recognize the opening. When I did, it made me nervous. Matt would say, “You should talk to her. You could be friends,” about women with whom I chatted in a bar or a clothing store. I was sure he was crazy.
A year later, I’m super attuned to every friendship opening, however small. Like in Lulemon yesterday, when a salesgirl mentioned she was new in town. “You are? So is my friend!” I said to get the ball rolling.
I’m a regular Patti Stanger.
During that same Lululemon trip, my friend remembered that she and the assistant manager, another recent transplant, had a mutual acquaintance. “You have to introduce yourself!” I said.
She didn’t. (I understand this. Making friends is a lot of work, and when you’re out window shopping with an old pal, it’s fun to pretend said workload doesn’t loom like the storm cloud over Eeyore. It’s a welcome break.)
My immediate reaction to the seemingly innocuous observations that the salesgirls had recently moved to San Francisco was to pounce on them for my friend. Some BFF radar went off in my head. I contained myself.
I didn’t have this friendship reflex last year. It’s further evidence of my belief that friending is a muscle. It needs to be exercised, and the more you practice, the stronger you’ll be. Plus, you need to train your brain to recognize a friendship possibility when it presents itself.
If you are someone looking for new pals, challenge yourself to recognize how many times a day small interactions occur that could be spun into friendships, or at least-girl dates. You don’t need to take the “relationship” any further, just train your brain to spot the possibilities.
It’s a first step.