One of the hardest parts about being post-college is making new friends.
It’s especially hard to make new friends when there is no specific reason to constantly see someone. (Why did you lie to me Friends?!) This is a problem I’m running into at the moment.
Making new friends is a lot like dating, which is weird and confusing… Anyway, here are the similarities:
First Date – When you meet someone new with whom you think you have a lot in common, you usually decide to go on a first date. Presumably, you would be doing something you talked about in your initial conversation (like eating tacos, for instance).
The first date, like any other first date, can either make or break the friendship. You want to be cool but not aloof, funny but not clownish, authentic but not too authentic. You’re basically trying to present the truest like-able version of yourself. That’s actually the major difference between romantic first dates and friendship first dates. When on a romantic first date, you often try to present the most attractive version of yourself, or what you perceive to be attractive to the other person. If you think the guy you’re out on a date with likes modern art, you either talk about some modern art piece you like or you talk about how you don’t know much about modern art. Either response is okay. But if you’re on a friendship first date and someone brings up modern art and you absolutely hate modern art, you can totally say that! When you’re trying to create a friendship, it’s important to set the tone for how the friendship will be. When you’re trying to create romance, it’s important to set the tone for how things could be. Basically, in one instance you’re being honest, in the other you’re being open. Obvs, I’m not a love doctor, so don’t actually take my advice on any of this. This could all be wrong. Maybe I’ll write a more in-depth post about first date etiquette.
Communication – Communication is important to any type of relationship and friendships are no different. However, the communication post-first date is super hard to navigate, at least for me.
I’m often caught in between wanting to talk to someone and having nothing to say and also trying not to seem either too interested or too uninterested. The second problem tends to be my biggest one. It’s easy for me to either come on too strong or be totally distant. The funny thing is that I’m only ever feeling one or the other, especially in a new friendship/romantic relationship. If I want to be friends with someone, I’m obviously super interested in talking to/hanging out with them, otherwise I would be uninterested. For some reason, though, you have to exhibit both disinterest and enthusiasm in the early stages of a relationship. It’s all very weird.
Anyway, all these games make communication difficult for me to figure out because I want to talk but I don’t know how often I should and then I feel bad if I don’t but they do and then I feel weird if I do but they don’t respond. Life is hard.
Second Date/Follow-Up – The Second Date is actually the most important part of any budding relationship. Everything hinges on how well the second date goes. It can prove that either the first date was a fluke or it really was as great as you remember. First dates are fun, second dates are stressful.
Not only is the second date stressful when it’s happening, it’s also stressful before it even starts. Figuring out what you’ll do on a second date is kind of super important. If you do the same thing you did on the first date, it’s kind of whack. If you do something crazy, that’s way too much too soon. As always, you have to reach some unspoken, unknown, happy medium.
Those are three reasons why making friends post-college is really hard/weird/stressful and why it’s like dating. Unlike college, you don’t just happen to run into people when you live in a city with 8 million other residents (that’s actually not quite true. I’ve happened to run into people a lot in my time here. It’s always so surprising). There’s no weekly event that you will see someone at. It very much depends on two people being intentional about a friendship. That kind of intentionality can be cool – it makes the friendship seem more important – but it can also be hard, especially if there is no clear direction (which there usually isn’t in a friendship). It makes it so that you can’t just be friendly acquaintances with someone that you’ve met and went on a friendship first-date with. You’re either friends or you’re not.
It’s hard out here for a chimp.