When to follow up about following up?
December 23, 2013 5:36 AM   Subscribe

I met an old classmate at a party recently and would like to reconnect. I emailed her about asking her to hang, but I've gotten no response. What next? Social anxiety-colored snowflakes abound.

Recently I was at an alumni holiday party, where I spent an extended amount of time talking to a classmate who I really didn't know that well while we were at school. Despite not really knowing each other, we really hit it off, I think. I enjoyed the conversation we had, and I believed the feeling was mutual. At the end of the party, I gave her a card with my contact information, and she told me her email address (which is comprised of her name, so that was easy for me to remember). I believe we made vague mentions of hanging out, I'm not sure-- I had had some wine. It also came out during our conversation that I was not on Facebook, so she told me that I should get on there and friend her, even though she was pretty hidden. (I'll just say now that I'm not going to get into why I'm not on Facebook here. I have no plans to get on anytime soon.)

I was elated when I left, for several reasons. I have social anxiety due to poor social skills, which I'm trying to improve, but my Asperger's is a cruel mistress. I'm horrible at reading people. I'm in NYC, and even though it's a big city, it's also been incredibly hard for me to make acquaintances, let alone friends, here. I've been getting better, though-- I've met a couple of people through gym classes, book clubs, etc., although I've only been able to make outside plans with one of them. So I was thinking, "I had a nice conversation! A cool connection! Yay! Awesome! Go me!"

The next day I added her on LinkedIn. At the party, we talked about our jobs. We're in similar lines of work, went to the same school, and all the alumni seem to have each other as connections on that site, including people they know personally, so I didn't find this unusual. She added me back. I waited a week, and then emailed her at the address she gave me, asking if she wanted to hang out.

This was on Tuesday, and I haven't heard back. I'm not sure what the protocol is to following up with her, if any. Maybe it's because of the holidays? In that case, should I write her again after New Year's, or would that be too much? I had a therapist a while back who told me that no response is basically a response, but can that really be true all the time? I really don't want to contact her about this on LinkedIn, and getting on Facebook just to contact her is not an option. Thanks in advance.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Let it go. You've done your bit. You should feel good about what you did -- that's an accomplishment even for people who don't have social anxiety.

Either she's cooled on you, or it's the holidays and her life is super hectic right now and she'll get back to you when she has a minute. Either way, it's nothing you can fix or solve.

In approximately 1-3 months, you can send another email that says something like, "hey, I was just remembering our conversation at the alumni meeting. We never did get that coffee (or whatever). I'd love to see you sometime if you're free." And then let it go.

It's good that you made that connection. You should feel good about that because talking to people is hard. You did a hard thing and got a positive result, though it might, or it might not, be as positive a result as you'd like. But it's positive, so you're doing something right. Think about what that might be and go do more of it. Good for you.
posted by gauche at 5:48 AM on December 23, 2013 [17 favorites]

Don't email again asking to just hang out; email to ask her to something specific like a work-relevant event or something you've got tickets to. In the meantime, yes, the holidays mean that "no response is a response" thing doesn't apply here. In fact I would always assume that one lack of response means absolutely nothing and try again, but always with an invite to a specific thing.
posted by BibiRose at 5:50 AM on December 23, 2013 [5 favorites]

Sometimes when I tell people, hey, let's be Facebook friends, what I mean is, let's loosely "keep in touch" on that site because I don't really have the energy/inclination for anything more than that. Maybe she does the same thing. It doesn't mean she doesn't like you or doesn't think you're cool, it could just mean she's not looking to add any close friends to her life right now. I think you probably could e-mail her again one more time after the new year, but be prepared for another ignored response.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:57 AM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

I agree it may be just the holidays taking over her life. You don't say your gender/orientation but she may also be hesitant if she thinks your interest is more romantic than friendly. I agree to wait at least a month and then send another email that is clearly about being a friend, not a date, and see if she responds.
posted by saucysault at 6:05 AM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Many people - myself included - slow down on email over the break and file things as to be answered in the New Year; unfortunately that means that sometimes I forget about the email or it gets buried. I'd give her a week after the New Year and then email with a more specific suggestion like coffee or such and if she doesn't respond then just drop it.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 6:06 AM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

i know a lot of people who basically don't communicate over anything besides facebook - these people can go weeks or months not checking their email. she told you her preferred way to be contacted and that's off the table for you - this might mean that you had a nice conversation that won't go further because of that.
posted by nadawi at 6:35 AM on December 23, 2013 [6 favorites]

Nthing that this could easily just be the holidays; I know I've let a lot of emails from new acquaintances (and even old friends!) hang longer than I normally would. But it could also be that she fears your interest is romantic; you might want to make sure she knows that's not the case, if it's possible that she might think this. When someone is more enthusiastic than I'd otherwise expect, this is sometimes my fear, and it makes me a little more reserved than I'd normally be. I also want to say, in response to a throwaway comment in your post, that it's not just you: making friends in NYC is much harder than it would be in a smaller city. It takes longer to develop a community here than it does in other cities, and dating is also much more difficult. Trying to make friends in NYC and at the holidays is incredibly difficult!
posted by dizziest at 7:11 AM on December 23, 2013

You can't know the answer to this and it really doesn't matter. You have done well for someone with social anxiety, even for someone who doesn't have social anxiety. Let it go. I understand how hard it is to make friends in a new city-have been there many times, succeeding in some places and not in others. It's not you I'm fairly sure from what you have written. It's just the way social dynamics work sometimes. Don't give up but try to let go of expectations, conscious and unconscious. Then whatever comes, comes.
posted by claptrap at 9:23 AM on December 23, 2013

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