Pursuing a Platonic Friendship
March 31, 2013 6:56 PM   Subscribe

So I am in an extended academic program meaning almost all of my friends have graduated and moved on and I know only a handful of people in my current city. I have always been very shy and since the departure of my friends I have been making every effort to be a more social, friendly, and outgoing person. I have been doing an OK job but sometimes stumble as I feel very awkward initiating friendships of either sex and I really need help with this one.

Recently, I met a man through school who is several years beyond me in training (though we are the same age) and while our schedules coincided we spent a great deal of time together and hit it off splendidly. We have hung out one on one in the setting where we work/go to school after hours but we have both changed schedules and locations and this would not happen organically anymore. We are both in relationships and are aware of each others situation - interest is platonic only.

I am wondering how to ask this person to hang out and how to develop a friendship without crossing any boundaries. Our communication right now is limited to occasional texting. Group setting would not work because the only group events I attend he would feel uncomfortable attending due to them being mostly trainee events. Also, a double date is out due to my bf cringing at the thought! I am also just better at one on one interactions and do have male friends I hang out with one on one with no problem. They have asked in the past and in some cases I do remember feeling awkward at first and want to avoid that. I can't think of any wording that doesn't sound unnatural or overly serious. We are both very sarcastic and communicate via banter often so that makes it difficult to extend an invite that doesn't sound flirty or overly serious. Also, our discipline has us both training about 80hrs/wk so daytime normal activities like lunch are much more difficult to achieve - I usually grab after work drinks with most of my friends but once again, worried about that being too date like. Help is appreciated!
posted by Valkyrie21 to Human Relations (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
This is a great opportunity because you have the chance to get two friends instead of just one. You can hang out with the two of them without bringing your boyfriend along. If you do that, make sure to spend time talking to and getting to know his GF. I think if you develop your own relationship with her then both of them will be way less likely to mistake your intentions for something other than friendliness.
posted by cairdeas at 7:01 PM on March 31, 2013

Three of my closest friends are married men, and I am a married woman. Here's how I do it: "Let's hang out platonically."
posted by rdc at 7:31 PM on March 31, 2013

Speaking from the perspective of someone who has wasted a lot of time and opportunity in his life being indirect: I would counsel that you just be honest about your valuing his friendship and wanting it to continue, since that's a lot more difficult with the change in your schedules. How to word that is something that I don't think we can really help with, since we don't know the tenor of your relationship beyond what you report here, and it's up to you to make it feel as natural as you can. But beneath the sarcastic, banter-y veneer, he'll probably be touched that his friendship matters to you that much.

I totally understand your anxiety. Not only is the worry about miscommunicating there, but the level of vulnerability involved in asking someone out platonically is almost the same as asking them out romantically. Probably why so many of us are afraid to do it when our work or school situations change and we can no longer count on regular unplanned interaction with those people. But if you're both happily in romantic relationships with others and mutually aware of it, it sounds like there isn't a lot to worry about here.
posted by Kosh at 7:35 PM on March 31, 2013

What if you invite him to something and make it clear that he's welcome to bring his significant other along? "Hey, I never see you anymore now that our schedules have changed. Would you and ___ want to meet up for dinner sometime?"
posted by chickenmagazine at 8:24 PM on March 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

The goal you have is rife with risk.

Since when has being in separate relationships prevented 2 platonic friends from crossing the line? You can have a general, not so deep relationship with him, but getting to a close, personal friendship requires traversing paths where emotional conversions can take place. You may come out fine and cross no lines such as some posters have mentioned above, but what are you going to do if you are not able to navigate?

That's why even approaching someone like him takes so much "angling" because you almost have to go out of your way to demonstrate it's nothing other than platonic. That's no way to begin a friendship that has staying power and is drama free.
posted by Kruger5 at 8:46 AM on April 1, 2013

Why does your BF cringe at the idea of a "double-date?" Is it the nomenclature? Is it that he thinks that your field is dull and he doesn't want the evening to devolve into shop-talk?

Personally, I don't see why you can't all get together for dinner or have your friend and his wife over to your place.

We do this all the time. Usually, we have weird video to show, right now it's Eurovision stuff on the computer, but something fun, light hearted and easily riffed on.

Or have a dinner party, with you inviting your friend and his wife, and your BF can invite a couple that he knows, or a couple of single friends.

It's not that complicated really.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:47 AM on April 1, 2013

What about inviting him to after-work drinks along with a few other friends? "Hey Bob, I'm getting drinks with some friends at [insert bar] on Friday around 6 - you're welcome to join!"
posted by wuzandfuzz at 1:40 PM on April 1, 2013

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