Remember when you were little and making new friends wasn’t even really your responsibility? You’d say, “there’s a girl in my class named Alice” and then your mom would call Alice’s mom and set up a playdate and the next thing you know, you and Alice are wearing these necklaces and fighting over the BE FRI side because everyone knows that’s the better half:
It got a little more difficult in middle school when all of the sudden everyone was super judgey even though you all looked like weird half-kid/half-adult mutants who hadn’t grown into their noses yet. But still, you’d find the girls who were also wearing Limited Too while everyone else had already discovered Abercrombie and you’d claim a lunch table and rule your own little domain together.
By high school, ideally your elementary and middle school friends were still in tact enough that you were settled into a group. And college? You were literally living with hundreds (or thousands) of potential friends.
And then suddenly you’re an adult. You’re not living with hundreds of friends and eating every meal together. If you’re lucky, you move to the same city as a handful of your friends. But it’s not the same. It can be a really rude awakening. When I moved to NYC ten years ago, I knew approximately two people in the city. So after a few months of watching Friends and eating dinner alone, I had to figure out how adults actually make friends (turns out just hanging out at Central Perk doesn’t cut it). And that brings me to:
You know what I’m talking about. You meet someone at work or at a party or at a gym class and you think “YOU. I want to spend more time with you. You are BFF material.” But then you have to figure out how to play it. Ask for her number? Friend her on Facebook? Ask her to hang out outside of the office? It can be even more stressful than dating! Making friends as an adult is really hard.
Sometimes you need a strategy. When I was 24, I started a new job and I really wanted to break into a twosome who were already good friends. So I employed a strategy I like to call “divide and conquer.” One of the girls went home early for the holidays and I moved in on the other one so fast she didn’t even know what hit her! I was basically separating an animal from the herd so I could prey on her. But that lunch date I suggested eight years ago resulted in one of the closest friendships I’ve had in my life! And I totally hooked the other one when we got back from the holidays. We were the happiest little threesome any office has every seen!
Sometimes you need to be set up. My boss once left me with a girl at a cocktail party and said “I think you two will like each other.” We chatted and agreed that we should probably hang out again. Fast forward a few years and that friend and I have discovered that we are insanely and wonderfully similar. We’ve traveled together and shared a bed and laughed about how much we owe my boss for setting us up!
Sometimes you just have to be brave. The last ten years have definitely shown me that it’s good to act on your friend crushes. Because we all want to make new friends. Connection with others is one of the most important things in our lives. And I know I’m not alone in wanting more/new friends as an adult, but feeling like that’s really hard to accomplish. So as part of my routine maintenance, I’m being braver with my friend crushes. I’m asking people out and rekindling old friendships and pushing new acquaintances into “text all the time, meet for drinks, tell each other secrets” territory. And I hope you’ll all join me. Go ask that coworker out to coffee. Or say “we should hang out sometime” to that girl in your volunteer group…and mean it. Who knows, maybe your friend crush will be as giddy as I was a couple months ago when one of my friend crushes asked for my number!