How to make a particular friend
August 2, 2009 5:46 PM   Subscribe

Another "how do I become friends with this person?" question! (Only possibly with a little more to it).

So I've combed through the posts and questions tagged with friends and friendship. There are loads of these. And lots of good advice. But I'm still not sure how to proceed here (which could be my own deficiency, who knows, but please help! if you can).

In general I just don't have any friends. I'm a female in my late 20s, live with my husband of the same age, and have none of my own friends. I relocated here to be with him and have made friends with some of his friends, but it's clear that I need a few friends of my own. I'm generally introverted and can spend loads of time on my own without getting lonely, but lately I have been getting lonely. I'd guess it's because I am not only suddenly friendless, but also familyless and petless (the pet situation will be rectified, but not for another few months yet. I expect things will perk up at that point). As far as I can tell, nothing is wrong with my relationship with my partner; I'd just like another friend or so to hang out with.

So I've been searching Craigslist & Gumtree (I'm in the UK) and it's been utterly depressing. Of the scant amount of people actually looking for friends, most of them just don't seem like people I'd have anything in common with. I've written to a few ads, but it really feels like a huge dead-end. I am easy to get along with and can talk endlessly to the right people, but I am considered slightly unconventional (although probably not by metafilter standards) and while I'm not entirely adverse to clubbing, it's not what I want to spend all my free time doing. Here's the main problem; I think I want a specific type of friend, not just any old friend. There is a guy I work with who is my age and who I get along fantastically with. I keep thinking about him and really want to be friends with him, but I have no idea how to bridge the gap. Currently we email back and forth regularly at work and have gone out for a drink after work once. We have tons in common and seem to be on the same wavelength. I like him a lot--I have a slight crush on him. I don't know if this matters or not, but I am in a relationship where I can sleep with other people, but usually with my partner present. At this point, though, there's no way I could disclose that to my co-worker, especially as it would likely just weird him out (and I know that sort of thing is generally a bad idea with co-workers, but trust me, it wouldn't be an issue as far as the workplace is concerned). I still would like to be friends with him, though, and he seems so cool that I'd really rather be friends than have a sexual relationship, if it were a choice between the two. (I'm realizing that finding someone who clicks with me this well isn't an easy thing to find). He seems to have loads of friends (he posts his escapades online in the form of photos, which he has linked me to) and I feel like he probably just doesn't have room for another friend, particularly a married one. When I first met him (a couple months ago) I felt like he was very, very interested in me (as in, he was regularly looking at me, striking up conversations and in general I got a "he is gonna ask me out" vibe, which is pretty much always right) and then when I told him I was married it seemed to me like the interest declined slightly, but that could just be me. In general, though, I feel like most single people have problems with being friends with married people because of the couple dynamic. That wouldn't be an issue in my case. We're very un-couply and spend a lot of time apart from one another.

Problems: I don't know what to do with people. I can talk to people no problem, but "hanging out" has always been an issue for me. In the past I have usually refused invitations out because I thought I was being invited out of politeness or because I wasn't sure what to do with the people. Even now, I don't know how to approach potential friends because I'm not sure what to do with them or how to entertain them. It all feels incredibly awkward. With my workmate in particular I don't know how to go from being "work buddies" to being actual friends. I'd like be like "hey let's be friends" without weirding him out and sacrificing our current at-work friendship. I know I should ask him to go do something specific (I guess?) but I don't know really how to do that without it seeming really, really awkward. Like I said, we talk a ton and I know about his specific interests, but I don't actually know much of anything about his personal life. In the past people at work would ask me to go to lunch with them, but that doesn't happen here (nobody goes out for lunch). So am I missing anything here? Please help--with suggestions specific to my workmate, or specific to finding other friends. I feel sort of very pathetic right now.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (11 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I say, "hey, let's be friends!" to people all the time. They really like it!

Seriously, don't be afraid to say, "I really enjoy hanging out with you, Bobby-Joe. I haven't made a lot of friends of my own since we moved here. Wanna come out with us on Saturday to jazz in the park or whatever?"

People love friends. And they also really like it when someone likes them. If you guys click (as friends), then that's great. If you really click he'll make some time, and if he's too busy, no biggie, plenty of friendly fish in the sea.

As an aside, if you want friends etc. join a bookclub. Or a sporting team. etc. etc. Whatever your interests are. You'll meet tonnes of friendly people, and eventually, some that you'll want to keep seeing after the novel/match/Warhammer convention ( ;) ) has ended.
posted by smoke at 5:56 PM on August 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

I don't know if this matters or not, but I am in a relationship where I can sleep with other people, but usually with my partner present.

Do you mean your partner is watching you make love with another man?

If so ... yeah, you probably shouldn't mention that to potential friends.

I don't see why it's relevant to this issue, anyway, unless you're hoping your friends will also be friends with benefits.
posted by jayder at 6:26 PM on August 2, 2009

I'd invite the co-worker to something on a weekend, midday, along with your husband -- an exhibit at a museum? -- maybe at 11:30 or so, and then you can suggest lunch afterward if everyone's having a good time. Here's what you could say:

"Oh, I hear there's an exhibit at the X Museum -- A's in the B. Husband and I were thinking of going this weekend -- any interest?"
posted by palliser at 6:27 PM on August 2, 2009

In general people aren't as suspicious as you'd think about your conversational motives. I just got back from a Magic: the Gathering tournament (Grand Prix: Boston) and nearly every single person I struck up conversation with was willing to continue conversation until one of us had to leave.
posted by LSK at 7:11 PM on August 2, 2009

Build on your previous success: go out again for drinks after work. Repeat. It doesn't have to be more complicated than that.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 7:53 PM on August 2, 2009

I have married friends of the opposite sex. For me, I'm really respectful of the marriage boundary, and when a married friend asks to do something with me, I'm always more inclined to go if the spouse is invited also. That way, I'm sure that they are really just wanting to be friends instead of something else (which is important to me, even if it's not important to them -- I don't want to be in a more-than-friends relationship with a married person).

Maybe this is helpful for you to know. Ask him to do something you both would enjoy, but include your spouse and make sure he knows your spouse will be there. "Spouse and I are doing X on Saturday; come with us!"
posted by Houstonian at 8:38 PM on August 2, 2009

It does not need to be any more complicated than inviting him out. Time with a work buddy and an interest in making friends in a new town are perfectly reasonable.

Ditto on the book club and other group activities; we all could use more than one local friend.

Best luck.
posted by deanj at 11:33 PM on August 2, 2009

In the past I have usually refused invitations out

Stop doing that. Change that "usually refuse" to "usually accept", and you will have more friends, guaranteed. Give people the benefit of the doubt that they mean what they say and if they are inviting you to come, they want you to come.

In the past people at work would ask me to go to lunch with them, but that doesn't happen here

Well, you can still ask them! You can say, "Hey, I've been meaning to check out that new lunch spot around the corner, do you want to check it out with me next week?" Say "next week" because it's close enough that it's not "someday", but far off enough that you can avoid busy days at work or people already having packed a lunch. If they say yes, proceed directly to "Great! Does Wednesday work for you?"
posted by heatherann at 3:34 AM on August 3, 2009

Why do you assume people are only asking you out to be polite?

If you ask your coworkers out to lunch and they refuse, would you think "Oh, they know I'm just being polite and don't really want them there", or would you think "That person doesn't really want to come out with me and I better stop asking"?

What do you think they're thinking, when you refuse their invitation "to be polite"?

I think you're way overthinking the way people will react to you. People don't often ascribe a complicated set of motives to a simple invitation, or a normal chat, unless you try to make it complicated. People, mature ones, don't even really care if your invitation or interests are quirky, and people understand that everyone is different and has different modes of interaction. So organize a lunch, ask your coworker to hang out with you and your husband, go for happy hour (which is generally more chill than clubbing), and stop worrying. Good luck!
posted by Phire at 6:19 AM on August 3, 2009

I don't know if this is popular in the UK, but this site allows you to search in your area.

You look for groups in your area based on your interests. I moved recently and this has been a good tool. When you go to these meetings, you already have something in common so it's easier to make friends.
posted by Groovytimes at 1:05 PM on August 3, 2009

Personally, I feel less awkward when I host things (since I'm in my own space), so if your home would accommodate that perhaps you could invite people over for a weekly movie night potluck or something.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:37 PM on August 4, 2009

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