Friday, April 30, 2010

Dating Your Friends

The whole of my growing up years it seems as though potential friendships were practically thrust at me. My parents moved to a neighborhood when I was just 1 year old where my two closest neighbors were two other little girls my age. Later, school started and I met people my age with similiar life goals (learn the alphabet, try not to stab your neighbor with a fork, etc.) that encouraged camaraderie and good will. You grow up and find other things in common, sometimes you make some enemies along the way. You hit college and you get this instant dose of close friends because you're living and eating together, basically becoming adults together. It's like a new form of family.

And then you graduate.

And you have to date to find friends.

Typical post college conversation with new acquaintance:

Me: So, um, you want to maybe grab coffee sometime?
Acquaintance: Sure. Um, when are you free?
Me: Oh, anytime. Um, except for all day long, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday nights and the next 4 weekends when I'll be out of town. What about you?
Acquintance: Hm. I'm not free on Mondays or Thursdays and when you get back into town I'll be leaving for a month. Maybe I'll call you when I'm back in town and we can set up a time to hangout then?
Me: Sure, sounds great. I'll look forward to it.

And then a year goes by. A year where I've probably not done a ton of hanging out with anyone I'm actually really comfortable with. I've gone on lots of little "dates" with people who are my age(or, as is often the case, 5 years younger) and still don't have a friend like those college and hometown friends. Still no one that you can just call up last minute to just hang out, who really does know you. Because making friends after college really is like dating. It's awkward, you have to plan it out and you spend the whole time wondering if you're clicking enough to even bother trying to hang out again, let alone dreaming of a time when you could just sit around in your pj's laughing together while you attempt to learn the dance to "Seize the Day" from Newsies. (Seriously, not an unlikely scenario for my college friends and I. Not saying we did it. Not saying we didn't.)

It's all compounded if you happen to be an introvert who works a job that requires you to be extremely outgoing and pursue people all day long. You go to hang out with college students all day, have tons of interesting and often pretty deep conversations about life, God and the state of the world and sometimes the last thing you have energy for when you get home at night is calling someone up and pursuing them. Inviting them on a friend date that may or may not actually happen because of the mutual chaos of your schedules.

Since we've moved to NC, I haven't had that crazy long day of pursuing people. I've often just had a day of playing with trains, snacking on goldfish and enduring tickle fights. And I'm not going to say I've become this amazing friend-maker as a result. I think I'm inherently pretty slow at it. I'm not the type of person that's ever going to have a million good friends and, as I've posted previously, I do have major issues with the phone. I just find it hard to take that first step.

But, I've seen progress. I've gone on a few of those friends dates and they've actually resulted in finding what my college roommates and I (as well as Anne of Green Gables) would call 'kindred spirits'. I've met some people I can do life with "last minute." Who are ok, I think, with me being me when we're together. As a result, I'm laughing more and smiling more. I'm reminded of just how powerful a good friendship can really be in our lives. How just being around someone we're comfortable with can really put life back into perspective somehow.

I'm told that after your 20's and early 30's it can get easier to make friends again. I hope that's true. For now, I'm thankful for the ones I already have and so excited about the new ones I'm coming to know. And I'm looking forward to the day when dating really is over with. For good.

1 comment:

  1. This is so funny, and so true!!! Mike and I are friends with another couple who always talk about this dynamic when you're trying to "date" other couples. As if it's not hard enough to find someone you click with at our age, then you also want to find a pair of people you both click with! Ugh!!!
    I'm so happy that you've found some kindred spirits in NC. :-) It makes life so great!
    P.S. I can still do the Seize the Day dance!