It bloody is! So you said “yes” (or “I do” or other affirmative utterance) and you’re living your happily ever after. Of course you thought that dating is a chapter that belongs in your past. You were WRONG! Unless you’re one of the parasite people who believe that you should spend 100% of your time with your partner or you’re happy with the friends you made in primary school that you have very little in common with (a lot of Cape Town seems to be!), you’ll still experience something very similar to dating, namely, making friends as an adult.
If you need a breeze of novelty in your circle of friends, going to different events with an open mind is an important factor of success. Unfortunately, in the ocean of humans, only from time to time you’ll seemingly “click” with someone. Most conversations will end up being short-term distractions with no long-term potential and you’re lucky if they’re more or less pleasant. Part of the trick is to realize that seeing someone you don’t really click with often, may make you have some warm feelings towards them. This is familiarity and it isn’t what friendship is about.
2. Asking out
So you clicked with someone and you’d like to see them again? Well, easier said than done! Asking someone out for a coffee has similar associations like actual dating and rejection is a part of it. Let me share a personal example with you: just after I arrived in Cape Town I bumped into a girl in a shop whom I met before at a party. She was very excited to see me (or so she said) and insisted on swapping numbers as she worked in the area I lived in. Few days later I felt like meeting someone for lunch and texted her. She didn’t reply for three days and then said something like “Sorry for the late reply. Super busy. Sure will see you soon” as if I was some crazy stalker. Just like with dating, you should judge people by their behavior not by their words. They TOTALLY want to hang out and you’re SO funny but when you try to organize something it seems like only never is convenient for them (just like in this New Yorker cartoon).
3. The meet-up
There are millions of ways in which you may end up finally meeting up with someone, but one thing is certain: a one-on-one will leave you no doubts about whether you guys have enough in common to keep hanging out. Just like with romantic situations, sometimes one side doesn’t seem to feel the same way about things, but let’s be honest, life’s just too short to be around people whose company you’re not particularly enjoying. Between work, partners and passions there’s just not enough time to see everyone, so choose wisely. Your friends, just like your partner, may make you be a better person or just become a source of frustration and rage.
4. Will he/she text or should I?
Let’s say that you did enjoy the meet up and you think you can have some more fun in life with this person. Perhaps you’ll have it easy and someone will let you know that it was “great to hang out” or will send you a message about something you spoke about. Sometimes all you get is silence, though. “Did they not have fun? Should I text them?” you think. Taking initiative can be tough and it feels shit when you receive a lukewarm or openly dismissive reply but there’s no point in exchanging empty pleasantries.
5. Do I really like them or am I just bored?
Loneliness and boredom are your enemy and you can perceive a meet-up as cool just because you did something. I had a very good example of that when my three close girlfriends left the country, one after another, in a short space of time. As my husband travels from time to time, after they were gone and when he was away I honestly felt just lonely. It sucks when a good friend leaves your day-to-day existence and three of them leaving almost at the same time is a huge shock for even the most vibrant social life. At the same time, sometimes it’s better to read a book or dive into a hobby than spend time with people just because you’re lonely. You also can’t force friendships so in such situations it’s better to take a step back and focus on yourself. You’ll meet the people worth your time sooner or later so keep going out and socializing but don’t obsess.
6. Slow and steady wins the race
Clicking is important but adults have lives: careers, partners and other friends. Making time for new people you like is important but you don’t have to see them all the time and be BFs immediately. Keeping in touch is important, but I do get weirded out if a newly made acquaintance sends me messages, telling me about their days. Real bonding takes time and it can’t be done overnight. Besides who has time like in your teenage years to hang out every day?
7. The break-up
Your friends are an important part of your life. People with similar interests and goals, those who inspire you but also those with whom you just have fun are those worth keeping. As people do change, sometimes a shift from a BFF to a coffee friend is necessary. It’s just a natural part of life and it should be embraced. What is more, like with dating, you also need two to tango here. In other words, if you’re always inviting someone places, even if they come but never initiate anything themselves, it’s not good enough. Your objective is give and take situation. This brings me my next point which is: people who are just bad for you. Perhaps, like me, you’ve discovered that a frenemy seems to have a liking for the men you date? Maybe your friend, like mine, will tell you that you can’t hang out together because you’re a girl and now he has a girlfriend and it’s just not appropriate and you should always hang out in a group? Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter how many beautiful moments you’ve spent together and how much you’ll miss them. An unhealthy friendship has to be dealt with like a bad relationship – with a break up. You may choose a quiet withdrawal or a confrontation (which I only recommend if you think that change is possible). Choose your poison and remember that when it’s time to say goodbye, it’s for good.
8. Happily ever after
Some friendships never end, even though they may change and grow with us. I left my mother land six years ago and I still keep in touch with my Best Friend For The Polish Territory since high school. In this particular case we really have a lot in common in terms of intellectual understanding and this is something that living in different countries won’t change. I’m also in touch with another friend from high school, who is very different from me but somehow we always really understood one another. Even now in South Africa I have friends whom I’ve known since week one of my arrival in Cape Town. Sometimes I don’t see them for a long time but they’re still there and I know I can count on them if I need to. The big plus of friendships is that you can be polyfriendulous and no one will take offense in you having numerous friends.
What sort of friend-maker are you, Dear Reader? Have you not changed your circle of friends since you were still wearing nappies or are you a seeker? Do you find making friends as adults is more difficult? Tell me, tell me, please!