When I got married, I breathed a sigh of relief. I was finally done with dating forever! No more awkward blind dates, no more getting shy around potential dates, no more sitting at home wondering, “Why doesn’t anybody like me?” So when I moved to a new town and started looking for friends, I was horrified to discover that making friends as an adult has a lot of similarities with dating. Now, being in a new town again, I have been reminded of this discovery, and I decided to start a list. So far, I’ve been able to find 10 similarities.
1. It can feel like a relationship is never going to happen
When you first move to a new place, it’s really tempting to feel like you are never going to make friends. Sure, you had great friends before, but that doesn’t mean you will get lucky again.
2. Everyone is checking everyone else out
Then, when you go to a new place where people your age hang out, you look around and discover that people are staring at you, just like they did when you were single. But now it’s for a whole different reason. Instead of wondering whether something romantic will happen, they are wondering whether you like Monopoly, knitting, or vegan cooking, because they could really use a friend with similar interests. Because, fortunately, just like in dating, most people are looking for new connections. Of course, there are some exceptions because…
3. Some people are not available
While most people as happy to make new friends, some people just aren’t available. So no matter how cool the people you meet are, if they are not available, it’s not going to happen. Maybe she just had a new baby, and doesn’t have the energy to develop new friendships, or maybe he’s lived here for his whole life and is happy with the friendships he already has. Whatever the cause, some people just aren’t available for making friends. When you do find someone who might want to be friends, though…
4. Nothing is as thrilling as making a new connection
Me when I make a new friend. Source: parenthub.com.au
If you are cool and self-contained, like my husband, you might be able to summon a calm reaction after meeting a new person like, “Well, he seemed nice.” If you are like me, though, it’s more like, “Wow! That was so great! I could totally tell that she wanted to be friends! And she likes hiking, too, so we will probably become best friends forever and plan each others’ baby showers and be buried in adjacent plots.” This crazy-intense reaction is why…
5. The fear of coming across as creepy is constant
When you first meet someone, you don’t know whether they want to be friends or not, so you try really hard to play it cool. That means that every contact has to be carefully contemplated, because you don’t want to scare the other person into thinking that you are some crazy person who really REALLY wants to be friends, even if it’s maybe a little bit true. For example, my Facebook detective skills are insanely good. I recently found a person on Facebook that I had only seen once, and had never even talked to. Yes, I am that good. And no, that person is not my Facebook friend because adding them at this point (ie, before we have spoken) would be super-creepy.
6. The first few meetings are really awkward
No one quite knows what to say, and both people are distracted by thoughts of, “Boy, I hope I’m not screwing this up.” Which, of course, makes it much more likely that one of you will screw it up. And it might seem like the first time hanging out would be the worst, but in reality…
7. The second get-together is the scariest
The first time you talk, getting along could be a coincidence. Maybe the other person was just being polite. Maybe they forgot to mention that they are of the exact opposite political persuasion as you, and they really like to share their views. Hanging out once means nothing if it isn’t repeated, so the second meeting is the scariest because that is the one where you get a real feel for whether you could be friends. If things go badly there, a third meeting is unlikely to happen. Unfortunately, sometimes that second meeting (or maybe even the first) goes badly, and you remember that…
8. Some relationships just aren’t going to work
No matter how much you want to be friends, some combinations just don’t go together. You may discover that your personalities clash, that you have totally different interests, or that you just don’t have anything to talk about. You can try to make it work, but that often doesn’t work any better in the friendship world than it does in the romantic world. You can still be friendly, and who knows, you might be surprised, and something could develop, but sometimes it will just never happen. And that’s okay. Even when you do find someone you get along with, though…
9. It is important for your family to like them
As nerve-wracking as it was to introduce your parents to a significant other when you were younger, it pales in comparison to introducing your adult friends to your family. At least with parents, you can have a fun rebellion if they hate your significant other. On the other hand, if your spouse or kids, if you have them, don’t like a new friend, it can be really difficult to develop that friendship. You start to talk up your new friend before they meet your family, “She really likes pizza, just like you!”
10. Nothing happens until you are willing to risk rejection
And, finally, we come to the most important similarity between making adult friends and dating: you will never find what you want unless you put yourself out there. Yes, making new friends is hard. Yes, you will get discouraged. Yes, you will be afraid at times. But if you want to make friends, you have to be willing to risk rejection. As I recently told my husband, if I try to make friends with five people and scare off three of them by being too friendly, I will still have two friends, but if I never try, I will have zero friends, and two is better than zero. So go ahead, introduce yourself to the person in front of you in the grocery line or across the aisle in church. Brave the dangers and embarrassments and know that, in the end, it will pay off.
Note: This post was originally published on my other blog, but I thought it might be relevant to readers here as well. Hope you enjoyed!