I Am Having Trouble Making New Friends

I made a new potential friend recently. She shared my love of cake, Beyoncé and sub-moronic reality TV, which seems like a decent enough foundation to build any relationship.
Publish date:
January 17, 2013
news friends, how do you make them

It’s difficult to come by real friends.

The type of friend you can reveal your deepest secrets to without fear of judgment or exposure. The ones who offer you the encouragement you need to fuel your dreams on days when you’re running on empty. Lovingly confiscate your phone to ensure you don’t drunkenly tweet anything that could render you unemployable. Tell you what you need to hear, rather than lie to you.

If you’re really lucky, you’ll find all these traits bundled into one faithful person. Usually, they’re spread across a few individuals who comprise your inner circle.

When life goes perfectly, these are the friends we grow with. They are the constants in a world characterized by change. However life is rarely perfect, and sometimes we grow apart from people who were the stitches that held the fabric of our lives together. And it’s devastating.

Maybe all your friends have got engaged and you’re the lone single one. You’d rather have your uterus eviscerated than endure endless chatter about wedding dresses or caterers. Perhaps your friends are now scattered across the globe on a quest to quell their existential crises. And of course there’s the friend that turns out to be batshit crazy.

My circle shrank due to the fact that we all became very different people. Our idea of what constituted a good time varied. For some of us, the idea of getting dressed up and going out seemed like a chore (*raises guilty hand*).

The most practical self-help type advice tells us that when at this juncture, you should become your own best friend. Bond with self and become reacquainted with the woman in the mirror. But there will always be some things that are unquestionably more enjoyable when done with friends.

Like getting drunk. Watching "Sex and the City" reruns (while drunk) and speculating as to whether season 1-3 Carrie supported her lifestyle by accidentally on purpose doing sexual favors in exchange for shoes. Trips to the nail salon. Moving into your new apartment. Sneaking out of that Bikram yoga class you both promised you’d endure. Birthday parties.

No matter how self-sufficient we are, we all need good friends. The love and laughter they bring makes life brighter. Without them, life is gloomy. So once you’ve lost a few friends to time and space, after getting over the inevitable sadness the next logical step is to find new ones.

The trouble is it isn’t that simple. You can’t grow good friends, and it’s difficult to make new ones. Especially when you’re a twenty-something year old and less likely to be in environments conducive to making friends (where's the playground for grown-ups?) or have the time required to invest in a new relationship.

I made a new potential friend recently. We met at a dinner party. The conversation flowed effortlessly. She shared my love of cake, Beyoncé and sub-moronic reality TV, which seems like a decent enough foundation to build any relationship. She suggested we do lunch.

In my head I did the “Yay, new friend who seems sane(ish)” dance. We made plans that seemed solid enough to make us both feel like they would happen, but fluid enough to ensure neither party would be offended if they never materialized.

Have we done lunch? No. We’re both in that phase when we’re all either busy, pretending to be busy, or so busy being busy we fail to realize busy is the enemy of all things that give life joy and substance, and it’s a state we should seek to cure rather than covet.

I should really text her and pin down an actual date. But it feels odd initiating an exchange with someone who is essentially a stranger you had a moment with, but that moment doesn’t necessarily compel either of you stay in touch.

It feels like not much has changed from the days of being in the school playground and trying to muster up the courage to ask someone to play with you. Making a new friend when you're an adult can cause the same feelings of uncertainty and awkwardness I thought I had abandoned. So until I figure it out, I’m guessing my diary will be filled with loose dinner dates that might never happen. Which is completely unacceptable.

So what are the rules to making a new friend as an adult? How do you say, “Hey, you still up for lunch?” without seeming needy or pushy? And should it really be this complicated?