The folly of new friendships

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If we didn’t meet in high school or work together, I’m honestly not sure how our friendship came into existence.

I’d like to open with a sweeping generalisation: Most of the time we meet our friends at school (primary, secondary and uni etc.) or at work. I have one friend remaining from primary school, a solid handful from high school and a wide variety from the various jobs I’ve had over the years. But as I sat across from a remarkable woman at a dinner party last week, I wondered, how do we do it from scratch?

I’ll admit, there are other ways I have formed bonds: mutual friends, close proximity to neighbours and the deep, meaningful connection with my barista. However, as I sat at this dinner party, I found myself without any of my usual associates as they were seated at the other end of the table. Now I can make polite chit chat with a cactus – that was not the problem. My problem was that I was enjoying a conversation with this sublime stranger, let’s call her Jennifer, and I wanted to see her again. I know what you’re thinking and you’re correct: I was platonically crushing on this woman!

But how do I graduate from dinner party acquaintance to new friend? I could Facebook and Instagram stalk her. I bet she has a lovely Instagram (sigh). But what if that’s too forward? Plus I would prefer to have her phone number. She probably uses emojis in really creative and cool ways that I don’t know about yet.

As the panna cottas were being passed around I knew I was running out of time; I could track down our host and demand they help me befriend Jenny, but I didn’t want to seem desperate (however, it struck me that any effort I made at this juncture would surely come off as desperate).

Jen was regaling me with stories of her recent volunteering expedition — because of course she was — and I had an idea: What if I played this like a real crush? Back in my very single days I would be chatting to men in bars and could rope them into seeing me again. It would go something like this:
Man: “Yeah I really like supporting local music and going to gigs.”
Me: “Really? Me too. You know [random Melbourne band] is playing next week, we should go see them!”
Or some version of that… we’d end up going out, I’d realise he wasn’t particularly interesting and I’d be back at home by midnight Tindering my socks off. Maybe I didn’t need the host, a school yard or the Internet; maybe I could make a new, adult friend all on my own using the same technique.

Jen: “…And that’s how I discovered my love for upcycling furniture!”
Here was my chance.
Me: “That sounds so fascinating. Hey, we should go op-shopping some time and dig up some buried treasure!”
Jen: “Sure, add me on Facebook and we’ll go from there.”
Hmmm, not a phone number. But just like my old dating days, I’ll take what I can get..*

*That op-shop trip never materialised, but it gave me the confidence to strike when the chance presents itself.**
**And I so wasn’t bothered she ignored my friend request.***
***Jen, if you’re reading this, coffee?

How else can we do it? Join in the conversation and tell us other ways to form grown-up friendships.


Fi is a writer and editor for The Merry Go Round. She enjoys sunshine, singing in the car and viewing the glass as half full (of wine)