In sixth grade, I transferred to a new middle school. My classmate, Kyle, was the only other person who transferred from elementary school with me, and while we got along, we didn’t have a ton in common. At recess the first day, Kyle left with a group of boys to play football and I sat down on a bench and stared at the dirt.
After about five minutes, a girl from my class sat down next to me. “I’m Alissa!” she said.
“I’m Stephanie,” I said. We both stared at the dirt.
“Can you see those ants?” she asked. “Sometimes I feel like I have some kind of super bug vision because I can zero in on them no matter where I’m looking.”
“I see a lot of bugs, too!” I said, and suddenly we were friends. We had sleepovers and played foursquare during recess, and when I moved to Hawaii at the end of the semester, she wrote me letters at my new address.
I’ve been thinking about that interaction a lot lately, because in a matter of months, I’m going to be fresh out of friends. That sounded bad. Mine aren’t dying mysteriously or anything. We’re just moving on with our lives and away from each other. Each of my friends is at a point in their life where they have to make choices about the future based on their burgeoning career or stable relationship or young family.
I was going to use a corny metaphor about how our paths were parallel and are now diverging, but that makes it sound a lot smoother and more predetermined than it was. It was actually more like someone yelled, “SCATTER!” and we panicked and ran different directions and smacked face-first into the rest of our lives. Of course we’ll try to stay in touch, but I’ve realized that if I want a social life that doesn’t revolve around my cat, I’m going to have to make some new friends.
The only problem is that I have no idea how to do that.
Due to some charmingly crippling shyness, I’m usually the passive member of the friendship-forging process. In the past, the more outgoing person has come up and sort of made friends at me, so all I really have to do is smile and nod.
That strategy hasn’t worked for a couple of years. Since graduating college, I don’t spend as much time with tipsy kids who have time for shenanigans like friendship. Now I’m surrounded by adults who worry about things like bills and window treatments and get sad when they drink. It’s clear that I’m going to have to step up my game and get friendly.
I just wish I knew where to start.
Where Does One Meet Friends?
– Through mutual acquaintances? If I had any mutual acquaintances, I’d just be friends with them.
– While participating in a hobby? When I bought my house, I unwittingly bought 30 new hobbies that take up all of my time now, including yard work, plumbing and dryer vent cleaning. I don’t meet many new people in my backyard.
– Online, maybe? Craigslist has a “Strictly Platonic” section in its personals, but that seems murdery. Are there any mobile friendship apps out there? Like Tinder, but for learning about people’s hopes and dreams and quirks? Is that suggestion somehow more murdery?
– At work? Will that ruin our professional relationship? Won’t our co-workers be jealous of our inside jokes and easy rapport?
– Just… out? I go to the hardware store a lot. Maybe I’ll meet my next best friend shopping for sprinkler heads or testing stepladders. We’ll accidentally reach for the same wrench and my new friend will laugh and make an awful pun, and we’ll dance hand-in-hand through the aisles of leaf blowers and faucets, knowing it was meant to be.
Once I find someone who seems like friend material, how do I seal the deal?
How Does One Make a Friend?
– Should I ask if they have bug vision?
– Should I invite them to dinner? It will have to be buttered noodles because that’s the only thing I know how to cook and I keep forgetting to buy sauce.
– Should I lure them in by learning everything they like and pretending to like it too, then snatch them up into a net until they agree to be my friend?
– Should I condition them into friendship by handing them candy every time we talk?
– Should I ask outright if they want to be my friend? Why does this method feel like the creepiest one?
– Should I lay a complex trap for them by staging the kind of life-or-death, survivalist situation that forces people to become close, like a zombie apocalypse or a wolf attack?
I don’t know what I’m going to do. It’s starting to look like I’ll have to quash my agoraphobic tendencies and go outside and participate in a hobby with other humans. I’ll join a tetherball team, maybe! Or a book club! It’s going to be totally great and not at all scary or horrible! I’m feeling good about this. I’ll have so much fun.
Oh my god, you guys. I just read on Twitter that mutant super wolves have attacked every major city on earth and everyone is dead except us so we’ll have to band together to fight them.
Guess we’ll have to be friends now. Would you like some buttered noodles?