We all know that dating is hard. Beyond the intricacies of maintaining relationships and playing that coy, sexy, addictive witholding game with each other at the beginning to pretend you’re not the creepers you really are, just meeting someone is tough. Breaking the ice — regardless of context — can be a test of even the most confident person’s charisma. And though we accept this generally, try to give each other tips, and run endless websites based on the idea of making the opening few moments of meeting someone as low-risk as possible, we don’t acknowledge that it’s not just for dating that this is a tough scenario. Breaking the ice with a new friend — particularly someone you really like right off the bat — can be just as daunting and complex.
For some reason, for the past few months, Platonic Cupid (or whatever lesser deity handles the arrow-shooting business of lovestruck friends) has really had his sights set on me. I’ve had some serious girl crushes, and have realized that outside of the welcoming, cushy structure of school to provide constant interaction, developing friendships can be awkward. For example, I recently met one girl while out at a bar and immediately fell in platonic love. She was funny, whip smart, frank, and charming. I instantly thought to myself, “Oh, God, this girl is serious Wifey Material if I’ve ever met it.” And, aided by a few rounds of tequila shots, we engaged in that very familiar dance of “We should totally call each other!” We exchanged numbers, and my guy friends were mystified that I was able to, in effect, pick up a girl with no effort when they’d been spending all night flailing ridiculously in a similar pursuit. (I didn’t have the heart to explain to them that I wasn’t planning on using that number to bone her.)
In any case, I got nervous before the first time we hung out. Though I could sense, at my very core, that we would totally become thick as thieves, the first time you go out with a relative stranger is still a fairly awkward endeavor. We did something simple and non-threatening, and the night ended up extending into the wee hours, filled with conversation peppered with lots of “No way! Me too!”. It was a delightful affair. And each subsequent hang out, we’ve progressively moved closer and closer to friendship that will likely last a very long time — but it’s still very new. And like with romantic relationships, there is a fear that I’ll come off as too “needy” or try to move the friendship forward too quickly. I don’t want to tip my hand too early, so to speak. But between her and another promising girl crush, there is a balancing act to be struck so that real love can develop between friends.
Perhaps it sounds silly, but I recently thought about inviting one new friend to a beach house for a long weekend, and then quickly wondered if it would be too soon. With the exception of possibly ending in sex, the dilemma is every bit as fraught with excitement and anticipation as when you’re first falling in love with a new partner. When I think into the future about a new friend that I really feel a connection with, I can’t help but want to plan for things — vacations, adventures, and the like — that perhaps it is better to just let arise organically. But, damnit, they’re so cool and we have so much fun together! It’s hard not to imagine a future with someone, even the kind that doesn’t end in babies and a house in Connecticut.
In the end, I know that I don’t need to make more friends, and if it happens to fizzle out, it won’t be the end of the world. I’ll always have, for example, my best friend of many years with whom–in true BFF fashion–I have become as comfortable in routine and trust as an old married couple. But like that proverbial bored housewife, there is always a desire to get out there on my game and score some new friend tail on the side. And the pure thrill of meeting someone with whom you immediately feel the natural clicking into place of personal connection is one that is hard to resist. It’s just, perhaps, a very underrated experience. We are so quick to put all of the pressure–and the glory–of infatuation on romantic encounters, when falling in love with a new friend can be just as wonderful to live.