Making new friends at any age can be tough. The first grader I read to has a sure fire way to make friends in 5 seconds. Wanna hear it, he asked? Sure:
Hi, my name is Jay.
What’s your name?
Do you want to be my friend?
Adorable, right? If only it works for 26 and 36 and 46 year olds, as well as 6 year olds. I mean, there’s even an app for it. Mostly, adults just muddle along, picking up a random friend or two at work, in the neighborhood, or in the case of many people, at the kids’ carpool or sports team.
Every now and then, though, you connect with someone at a social event. How to proceed?
It is like dating: you need to get a blessing or at least an “okay” from the mutual friends, the unwitting connectors. G and I did this a couple years ago when we really hit it off with another couple at E & I’s party. We literally asked if it would be okay if we invited the potential new friends to a party at our house. Where current friends E & I would be in attendance, of course. It all went swimmingly, until they – the new friends – split up. But we quickly decided we were sorted as “her” friend and proceeded.
Sometimes, circumstances conspire against you. So you want to be friends and your mutual friends are supportive, but you just need one more run-in to seal the deal. Then the potential friends go dark. Before they even knew your offer of friendship was about to be put on the table. Or did they?
Then there are the couples that you run into, look forward to seeing at the mutual friends, but you’re just not sure you are ready to commit.
Earlier this summer, we were getting ready to go to a friend’s wedding, when G asked, in his very introverted way: Who do you think we’ll know?
Other than the bride and groom? Probably a couple people from where she and I used to work together, maybe some of her neighborhood friends and dog people we’ve met at her house …. Then I hit on it: the bride’s sister Karen and now brother-in-law Dan. That’s who G had in mind.
Backstory: G had been in a perverse mood when we met Karen and Dan a few years back. He decided to tell people he was a professional curler. I’m not sure why. But he stuck to the story, and a few beers seemed to enliven his embellishment of the curling story.
I hadn’t realized this, of course. So when I went into the kitchen and saw G talking to a captivated couple, I couldn’t figure out what was going on. I don’t think Karen and Dan thought G was a curler, but they couldn’t figure out his deal. Or frankly, who he was.
Fast forward. We are at the wedding, socializing, and then we see them: Karen and more importantly for G, Dan. We sit down at a table with them, chatting. It’s great. I’ll venture to say the bromance was a little mutual. The spark is there. We have so much in common. We’ll go to dinner and see how it goes. We even joke about it whether we just leave things on this high note or try to get together and make it even better.
I connect with Karen on Facebook a few days after her sister’s wedding. We exchange “likes” of each other’s photos. I mention something to my friend, who laughs and says, yeah, they really like you guys, too. (I take that to be her blessing).
Then … nothing. I haven’t taken the next step. To be fair, neither does she. I’m not sure why. Inertia? Too much going on at work? With travel? Summer commitments? It’s been 2 months now, too late to extend that invitation to dinner, right?
I suppose we just wait until the next time we see them. In the meantime, we’ll always have the shared memory of fun times at other people’s parties.