Why You Should Pursue New Friends Just like Romantic Partners
I think most of us would agree that making new friends postcollege can be weird and uncomfortable and downright difficult. Which means it's a lot like dating, but its very similarity to dating is a big part of what makes it so uncomfortable.
Which is why when I read Ann Friedman's recent article on The Cut, wherein she argues that we should embrace the courtship ritual when making new friends, I found myself nodding along in complete agreement.
Her contention is that friendship is as important as romance and that both kinds of relationships often start with one person pursuing the other. So while we might feel "desperate or weird" for seeking out a new friend's company and asking them to accompany us to various activities, it's actually very smart.
Just this past weekend, I was talking to a good friend of mine who moved to a new city a few years ago where she didn't know many people besides her parents. She was lamenting that while she's good at striking up conversations with other moms on the playground, and even goes so far as to exchange phone numbers with them, she has a hard time following through to arrange a friend-date.
I totally get it. Just like in dating, when it comes to making new friends I'm always worried about coming on too strong or seeming more interested than the other party. But also just like in dating, you've got to let the other person know you're interested or the relationship can't go anywhere.
And while it can feel strange for women, Friedman points out that this can be even more complicated for men for fear of being seen as gay (there's certainly more homophobia associated with male friendships than female) and commenters on her piece added that it can get even more complex when different sexualities comes into play, i.e., when a gay person tries to platonically court a straight person of the same gender. You can see how this could be confusing, but yes, friends can come in all gender and sexuality pairings.
So, it can be complicated. It can feel weird. But we should probably just all go ahead and do it anyway, the same way we keep dating even though that sucks half the time. How else will we meet anyone worth it?
And friends are just as worth it as romantic partners. Like Friedman and her best friend, my BFF and I love to tell our own meet-cute story of how we became friends--We're both from the same small town in Ohio, but we didn't meet until we both lived in New York. I didn't like her at first, but now I think she's the best. Isn't that adorable?--just like a couple would, and we're so used to introducing each other to strangers that last night, she accidentally told someone she worked at Glamour instead of me. Ha! We talk every day and see each other several times most weeks. I may not carry a lock of her hair around in my purse Katy Perry-style, but it's a defining relationship in my life. Why should any of us be embarrassed about pursuing that kind of connection?
Have you ever felt weird about pursuing a platonic friendship? Did you ever feel like you had to court a new friend?