When I started this blog two-and-a-half years ago, I was looking for new friends and had little to no idea how to find them. Much has changed in the time since. I’ve made lots of new pals. I’ve figured out a number of ways to meet new people–joining groups, getting set up, accepting invitations. I’ve settled into a life in Chicago that I never saw coming when I started on my friend quest.
And lately, I’ve found myself on the other side of the friend search. Recently an old acquaintance moved to town and reached out for dinner. I met a woman in a doctor’s office who suggested we exchange email addresses, and we did.
It seems the friender has become the friendee.
As such, I wanted to pass along some notes from the other side of the fence.
If you invite a potential pal to brunch (or drinks, or dinner, or even a non-food get-together), and she doesn’t immediately reciprocate with an invitation of her own, this does not mean she didn’t like you. Sometimes it just means she’s really busy, or she’s trying to keep up with other pals and she honestly hasn’t remembered to reach out because your friendship is brand new. I’ve long hammered the point of making the first move, and then the second, and even the third when it comes to new friends. Reciprocity is a rule of friendship, but if you’ve only met once, you’re hardly friends. The rules don’t apply. That new acquaintance I met? We had a great time at dinner. I didn’t reach out again immediately, because my schedule was jammed with travel and some dates already on the calendar. But when she texted me a week later to say hi, I was reminded to invite her along on a girls night, and we both had a great time. I was so glad she reached out that second time, because I had been meaning to get in touch. I didn’t think she was weird or desperate or pathetic. I thought she was smart, and cool.
People really do like connecting. After meeting a new friend in the doctor’s office–we exchanged email addresses and talked for ages as we left the office together–I was so excited! I called Matt squealing, as if I’d made my first friend ever. It was just so flattering to have her simply say, “Would you want to exchange email addresses? I’d love to chat more.” Um, yes please. She clearly didn’t know who she was dealing with. Friender McGee over here. In the context of sitting in the doctor’s waiting room, I probably would have been too shy to ask for her email, so I was so happy she did the dirty work.
The lesson here is one I mention a lot: If you extend a hand of friendship, it is the rare person who will call you a weirdo. And, not to sound like your mom, but if she does call you a weirdo, who cares. She’s not worth it.
I’ve been on both sides of the friending fence now and I make you this promise: No potential friend is analyzing your attempt at friendship as much as you are. So go for it. Couldn’t hurt. Really.
Has anyone ever tried to friend you? How did you react? Share your dispatches from the other side!