I Joined A Platonic Dating Website And Am Now Rethinking My Need For Friends

I need to find someone who will go thrift shopping with me, dammit, so I decided to get a little creative.
Publish date:
February 4, 2013
friends, friendship

I hope everyone’s not too tired of reading about “OMG HOW DO I MAKE SOMEONE BE MY FRIEND?”

I think it’s really comforting to hear from so many other women in their 20s and 30s who just graduated college or moved to a new city and are having a hard time meeting people. I recently fell out with my best friend from high school, and my best friend from college lives two hours away and is about to have a baby with her husband. My awesome teenage sisters are both going to be away at college next year. I need to find someone who will go thrift shopping with me, dammit, so I decided to get a little creative.

I’ve been with the same guy since my freshman year of college, so I never had to join a dating site or worry about meeting that special someone. I completely bypassed those years of anxiety and stress that most women go through when it comes to dating, not counting my painfully awkward high school years. So it was with both trepidation and excitement that I signed up for a platonic dating site: Girlfriend Social.

I heard about it in the comment section of this article and signed up that day. It’s exactly what you think it is--a cheat sheet for meeting friends in your area -- and it’s free, easy to sign up, and only for women. Of course, there are downsides; but I’ll get to those.

I’m one of those annoying people who loves talking about themselves and thinks that they’re basically defined by the pop culture that they like. I know this because I realized I was having way too much fun filling out my online profile. I carefully made sure to list all of my favorite movies ("The Royal Tenenbaums," "Breathless," "Annie Hall"), my favorite TV shows ("Community," "Girls," "Breaking Bad," "Mad Men," "Louie"), my favorite bands (LCD Soundsystem, Matt & Kim, the Magnetic Fields), my favorite authors (Jonathon Franzen, Joshua Ferris, Jane Austen, those are just the J’s). I also listed all the activities I do (baking, shopping, drinking) and the activities I totally plan on doing one day (tennis, yoga, running).

Those are the shortened list versions. My profile is embarrassingly comprehensive.

I think I had some weird fantasy in my head that I was going to magically be matched up with someone on the site who shared all of these interests, who would encourage my shopping and drinking habits and force me to take up Pilates with her, who would be pretty but not threateningly so.

Basically, the personality of Emma Stone with the face of Emma Stone’s unknown cousin. (Don’t get mad at me, guys. I’m not saying this because I’m hung up on looks, I’m saying it because if I met Emma Stone’s face I wouldn’t be able to befriend it, I’d have to marry it.)

And she would totally live right by me in the middle of nowhere!

That brings me to the number one downside of the site for me (besides my wildly unrealistic expectations). One of the hardest hurdles for me in trying to make friends after college is that I live far out in the country, about 20 minutes outside of the nearest (very small) town. I found one person on the site who lives in a nearby town; everyone else was at least 40 minutes away.

Of course, if you live in a highly populated area, this might be worth trying out. In New York, for example, there were more than 1,300 women of various ages looking for friends on Girlfriend Social. So if you’ve just moved to a new city, I would definitely suggest trying this site in addition to joining a club or going to classes or calculatedly spilling your latte on somebody in your local coffee shop.

Basically, how it works is you fill out your profile, including a picture and what you’re looking for/why you joined the site, and then you can see other women in your area. If you find someone who you think you might want to hang out with, you can send them a “friendship match” or a message.

From there, I guess you would either talk online or meet up in person, but I haven’t made it that far yet. My preferred method of approach is to click through dozens of profiles, eliminating each one for various reasons (too far away, 30 years older than me, spelled night as “nite”).

Yes, I’m too picky and judgmental. I think one problem with trying to catalogue-order a friend in this way is that it’s too easy to look at their profile and make snap judgments before ever meeting them or even talking to them. When I happen to meet someone in person, I’m not going to know their age or spelling abilities right away; instead, I’ll notice their cute sense of style or enjoy the joke they just tossed over their shoulder at me while waiting in front of me in line.

Unfortunately, I never seem to meet people in person. Two of my post-college workplaces are dominated by older, married women, and the friendly 20-something tutors that I work with at another job mostly live at least an hour away from me.

And like I said, the problem with living in the middle of nowhere is that there are no opportunities for platonic meet cutes. I don’t walk anywhere, I drive. There are no clubs or cute coffee shops near me, no museums or hip art galleries, and I’m not about to join the YMCA.

So maybe it’s about time to suck it up and message some of the girls on Girlfriend Social who live even somewhat close to me. This brings up another thorny question, though: What do you do if you start talking to someone on there, and then find that you’re not really compatible? How do you back out without hurting her feelings?

Again, I never had to do the whole dating thing, and that’s kind of what this feels like: awkward and rife with emotionally scarring gaffes, but without the end goal of sex to make it worth it. Yeah, that definitely feels like something I would say to create an awkward silence with a potential new friend.

What should my next plan of action be? If enough people yell at me to pursue the friendship site, I might try harder to meet up with someone from there and write about it. I also have my eye on a pretty redheaded girl (in a totally non-creepy way!) who volunteers at the same animal shelter I do. See, Mom? I’m getting out and meeting people in real life, not just on the Internet!