You've moved to a town very remote from any of your established social circles: you have no best nor casual friends nor any romantic relationships. You go into one or more meetings of utter strangers with whom you know you share some common interest (OneBrick, a Mefi meetup, a Meetup.Com thing, or something else entirely). What do you do — specifically, pretend I've got Asperger's here (no offense to those who do) — to take things from the level of "just an amiable conversation" to an actual friendship?
I'm not shy: I have no qualms striking up a conversation with, or joking with, a total stranger. I remember people's names and what's going on in their lives. I don't stink, but I don't wear smelly fragrances; I shower and brush regularly; I don't look hideous; I don't pick my nose in public, rant at people, or act egocentrically or grouchily all the time; people react to me as if I am coming across as very friendly and approachable, which is what I intend.
But despite a plethora of easygoing relations, over the course of my life, I've had few people I could call friends.
I used to think that it was something preordained, or something undiscoverable but utterly intrinsic to me — but that's "magical thinking," and it's dumb
. No matter what bad quality I could possibly imagine as the culprit, there are people in this world who would be worse than I, and yet who have friendships and romance in abundance. Yet I am
the common variable in all this. I will be hanged if I know where the problem lies, though.
My guess is that there's some step that's so natural to everyone as to be instinctive, but a step that I don't realize I'm not doing. Or some cue that most people pick up on, but that I'm utterly blind to. I've cranked all my brainpower on this for a very, very long time, and I have come up with nothing. I'd appreciate the perspective from people for whom this comes naturally.
Another way to ask this question might be: a good number of Mefites have heard of and/or read or recommended the SIRC guide to Flirting
. Is there an equivalent for friendships?
I do want to really emphasize: I can engage in a pleasant conversation with a total stranger (someone I'm sharing an elevator ride down with, or someone I'm waiting on a platform with), or with work colleagues. But I don't seem to really know how to turn these things into anything more weighty. At least from my perspective, it feels like I don't have a problem with the actual amiable interaction with people — but that I'm missing something when it comes to going from point A to point C. Whatever it is, that's — I think — where my problem lies.