What is the adult version of "Let's be friends"?
February 9, 2006 5:37 PM   Subscribe

What's the adult version of "Let's be friends"?

This may sound like a very naive question to some people, but I'm truly clueless about this, and have mentioned it to a few others who admitted they didn't know either. The problem is not about meeting people, it's what comes afterwards.

As I understand it, most of us make friends in workplaces and educational establishments, or at least in locations that you frequent regularly, say a pub or a bar. What happens is generally that you talk to the person over several days or weeks, and if you get on, you invite each other out to an activity or two, and then if you still get on, you are friends, without it needing to be explicitly stated as such.

But what about those one-off moments when you meet a stranger you like, but if you don't say anything you probably won't see the person ever again?

Say you're at a concert. You strike up a casual conversation with a stranger. You find that you like that person, and would like to see that person again after the concert, and maybe become friends with that person.

If you ask the person out for an activity, it may very well be interpreted as actually "asking the person out", as in romantic/sexual, not just friendly. Saying "I like you. We should be friends/do stuff together sometime" is leaving a huge opening for rejection, and would put the other person on the spot and make it very awkward for him or her to say no, if he or she never had any wish to have any more contact with you.

I'm not sure I'm articulating the question very well, but basically I'm looking for the best way to offer friendship without making the other person uncomfortable or having the gesture misinterpreted. The answer is most probably obvious, if so please, humour me and enlighten me. Is there some kind of adult secret code that I'm not aware of?
posted by questionmark to Human Relations (32 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe ask for their number? I don't really know, but I'm sure that's what some people do.
posted by cloeburner at 5:40 PM on February 9, 2006

Best answer: I give out my calling card, and say something like, "You're so fun, we should totally hang out sometime!" It doesn't always work, but worth a shot.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:43 PM on February 9, 2006 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I think your best bet would be to invite him/her to a group activity so it is not perceived as a dating thing if you are uncomfortable asking for that reason.

"Hey, my friends and I hang out at this cool pub occasionally, if you'd like to join us sometime", that sort of thing.
posted by twiggy at 5:45 PM on February 9, 2006

Best answer: It's tough. There isn't really an accepted social code for asking another grownup to hang out and do friend stuff outside of ongoing social encounters that stem from other interests. The world is not friendly to the non-couple-oriented.

It's easier if you're both straight and of the same gender, because then they usually don't think you are asking them out. Your profile doesn't say if you are a man or a woman, but it is generally easier for straight women because there is a basic level of affectionateness that is acceptable, more so than between men. I usually just say "do you want to get together/hang out/go shopping/go to another concert like this one sometime", although one time with a woman who I saw a lot in a professional setting and worked in a very gay-friendly environment, I specified "just friends, not a date" directly. Asking men to go hang out friend-wise is a much more subtle thing, and very dependent on the individual situation, so I have no general advice here. I have originated a good number of successful friendships with men that way, however, maybe it's just an issue of putting across a non-threatening or non-sexy or sisterly or just-one-of-the-guys manner.

Unfortunately I have no advice if you are a guy wanting to hang out with other guys. Men's friendships fascinate and mystify me, so I'd love to hear what other guys have to say about how they initiate friendships with each other.

On preview - yes, I also do the "group social" thing a lot. In fact that is so common for me that it didn't even occur to me to write it in my original response.
posted by matildaben at 5:49 PM on February 9, 2006

Let's go to the pub.


I've moved a bit and made an effort in a few places to make friends. I'm male and for me friendship and beer go together. That and doing stuff that interests both parties as well as boozing.
posted by sien at 6:01 PM on February 9, 2006

Business cards are a great idea.
posted by unSane at 6:11 PM on February 9, 2006

I'm a straight male and most male friendships mystify. What on earth do they do?
posted by sid at 6:19 PM on February 9, 2006

Best answer: I am, likewise, pretty uncomfortable in situations like this and don't really have a prefered method for dealing with the accompanying anxiety. But there is one that I hear from other people and it seems to be pretty commonly accepted among my generation: "We should hang out sometime."
posted by Clay201 at 6:27 PM on February 9, 2006

Best answer: I do this a lot. I think it's a lot easier because I have a boyfriend and so most guys that I meet know I'm not trying to hit on them. Usually it works out that we're talking about something or another and I'll say "Oh hey I just read this really interesting article about XYZ, give me your email address/IM handle and I'll send it to you!"

This may be the librarian in me, but just generally having a way to contact them so that you can get to know them at least a little more before saying "let's you and me do something together" is often good and sending them some reference/song/cool joke/bittorent site is as good a way as any. A second approach is "I'd really love to talk to you more about this, what's a good way to get ahold of you?" With women I'm even more open and just say "I'd like to be friends with you, let's hang out again."
posted by jessamyn at 6:30 PM on February 9, 2006

now that I think about it, most of the male friendships (i'm male) that I've made since college have been friends of friends -- ie, you see this dude hanging out with your friend long enough, and eventually he becomes your friend.

In college, I met a lot of people through just randomly meeting folks, or meeting folks who introduced me to others, but since then, it's always been in traceable back to someone I already know.

Now, I have randomly got in conversations with people at bars and it eventually led to an exchanging of numbers, usually with one of us saying "yeah, we should play some music or something some time" -- but if that was the first place I met them I'd rarely rarely follow up on it.
posted by fishfucker at 6:31 PM on February 9, 2006

oh, sorry -- i didn't answer the question, but (and this is LAME) what I do these days when i think I want to meet up with someone later is say "Hey, are you on myspace or something?" (years ago, of course, I would've said friendster*).

It's not a phone number, which I like because 1) i hate calling people out of the blue ("hey, remember me dude? we talked when we were both totally drunk about some bullshit you'd probably rather forget about") and 2) you can micro-stalk them, look through their friends list to see who they know, etc etc.

This, of course, won't work if your friends are truly grown-up (OH ZING MYSPACE LUSERS)

* has anyone noticed that the same shitty response speed and constant downtime of myspace is starting to mirror friendster's performance in its twilight years? seriously -- that seems why most people switched to myspace in the first place: because you could actually log into to the damn thing.
posted by fishfucker at 6:37 PM on February 9, 2006

also 3) if you or they are crazy they don't have your phone number.
posted by fishfucker at 6:38 PM on February 9, 2006

"Are you on Myspace?" seems to help.
posted by nowonmai at 6:40 PM on February 9, 2006

Its true that a drug buddy/ booze buddy meeting is the most acceptable new-friend gambit, but a $10-$15 music show ("hey, someone just gave me these tickets, wanna go?") is usually welcome.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:04 PM on February 9, 2006

Best answer: "Hey, I'm goin' off to do X. Gimme a call if you're interested in meeting up." Give them your number. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Maybe I'm just all aspie, but just giving the "No big deal, it seems like you're into the same stuff, see you there" treatment seems to work and it's not awkward. If they're not into it, it's like, some other time.
Also, getting a beer after work. Sorry alcoholics, but it's fun and easy. And for guys there's usually a sports game on. I don't like sports enough to really follow it, but I'll watch a game and drink a beer.
posted by klangklangston at 7:14 PM on February 9, 2006

Best answer: I have two comments to make wrt straight guys meeting straight guys.

(1) A common interest usually gives you an approach like "hey we should get together and jam/fix cars/drink sometime". At least for me, the issue of wanting to be friends wouldn't normally even arise without some kind of common interest cropping up.

(2) Exchanging email addresses is definitely the way to go. It's less socially charged than exchanging numbers, and an email is much less awkward than a phone call from some dude you met at the pub and hardly remember.
posted by nomis at 7:52 PM on February 9, 2006

I usually exchange phone numbers or email addresses. Sometimes it works well, sometimes it works a bit too well (two friends of mine coupled up soon after all three of us met at a radio station's party), sometimes the other person turns out to be creepy.

Another thing that seems to work is exchanging blog addresses.

And then it turns out that everyone is interconnected with each other anyway @_@
posted by divabat at 7:53 PM on February 9, 2006

Hospitality can help. I mean, if you follow up on whatever brought you together in the first place, and can offer something related -- "Yeah, the food here is great! I know a lot of good restaurants in the neighborhood you are [visiting/just moved into]. Ping me if you want some recommendations." -- that sort of thing.

In fact, I made a friend in just this way here on AskMe. (Even though I welshed on meeting up with him the last two times he was in town. Sorry, you-know-who-you-are, but don't give up on me!)
posted by trip and a half at 7:54 PM on February 9, 2006

For me, I've found having something in common to do helps a lot. Take this as an example:
I love to rock climb, and I met a girl at work who happened to also like the outdoors and rock climbing. After finding this out, I mentioned that we should go rock climbing. We exchanged numbers, and when I called her, we ended up talking on the phone for a few hours and are now good friends.
The point is that this friendship came about through finding something in common to do. I would have liked to ask her out regardless of the rock climbing connection, but having that in common made it a lot easier and less creepier on my part. So, if you find someone at a concert, start to bring up the topic of future concerts coming to town. If you find out there's a band you'd both like to see, bring up that idea of going to see them together.

Or, concisely, what trip & a half said.
posted by jmd82 at 8:15 PM on February 9, 2006

I say f--- the accepted social norms, and instead muster up a refreshing sense of straight-forwardness. Seriously, people like that. Just simply say - "You know, I mean I just wanna hang out, I think you're fun to be around, but I don't want you to get the wrong idea or anything." and whatever else comes naturally and passes the test of your better judgment :) It's important to say that last quoted line with genuine concern for their feelings so it will come out the right way - if you sound concerned for them instead of overly concerned about how you're coming off, it would tend to make people feel more receptive.

I used to be a spineless jellyfish who was way too afraid to say "no" in the past - how I wanted love and approval from everyone around me. Since then I've learned how GOOD it feels to be assertive... How much anxiety/worry disappears when you set your own boundaries.

Oops! After re-reading I just realized you were asking how to establish friendships with anyone - not just with those of the gender you're attracted to (e.g. women if you are str8 man). In that case, certainly, it's harder. Heh, if you're at a concert/whatever, and you chat with someone like another straight man (or even if this is female-female) and you just smile and look them in the eyes and say what I suggested, I think they'd be scared away! I think jessamyn's advice is good.

I am a straight female and the last time I befriended two straight females (who are identical twins, oddly enough, and all three of us have like gobs of stuff in common) I just started chatting with one who was in my class and we talked maybe 2-3times in class before I saw her around campus and I know she has a daughter and I have a niece the same age so I said we should get together and do something fun with the kids (especially since I had listened to her woes about the father being out of the picture, etc.). I think I was just the one to speak up about what we were both thinking cuz as soon as I suggested it she responded with an emphatic yes and said we could also hang out, or talk, or whatever. I think this probably happens fairly frequently in life ... a lot of times the feeling is mutual (I mean if the conversation is really going well, is fun and feels uninhibiting, how can it not be?) and people will thank you for being the initiator... Just don't be overzealous about it, otherwise you'll freak people out.
posted by mojabunni at 8:40 PM on February 9, 2006

Music and sports almost exist for precisely this. "Hey, wanna catch a show/game?"

After a deprived childhood, I taught myself the rudiments of the major team sports just so I could at least keep up with the key events. "Hey, Kobe was on fire last night!" fills up so many slack conversation spaces for guys -- I suspect most of them are faking it, like me. ;-)

Don't overanalyze this. "Come on over and hang out some time, there's always beer in the fridge" is perfectly normal guy speak.
posted by dhartung at 8:56 PM on February 9, 2006

Wow -- I've never given a single moment's thought about that beyond "hey -- ya wanna go drink some beer?"

I guess I'm easy.
posted by spilon at 9:02 PM on February 9, 2006

You know I have no idea, and I don't really ever try to do this, other then with girls. If a guy said something like that to me I would assume he was gay and asking me out, honestly.

The myspace Idea is a good one though.

Its true that a drug buddy/ booze buddy meeting is the most acceptable new-friend gambit, but a $10-$15 music show ("hey, someone just gave me these tickets, wanna go?") is usually welcome.

You can always ask someone if they smoke the refer, and if they do, you can offer to smoke them up. Potheads need to network, you know.
posted by delmoi at 9:19 PM on February 9, 2006

You're talking man date, baby! (Probably best not to use the phrase, however.)
posted by rob511 at 9:48 PM on February 9, 2006

my wife has actually said to (girl) friends: "Let's be best friends" it usually works out pretty well...
posted by jacobsee at 9:50 PM on February 9, 2006

But what about those one-off moments when you meet a stranger you like, but if you don't say anything you probably won't see the person ever again?

Personally, I like to leave it like that. Leaving on a good note. But if I must, I'd say, -Will I see you again?
posted by semmi at 10:16 PM on February 9, 2006

I have a regular bar, and know the other regulars at least by look if not by name. Booze and socializing really do go hand-in-hand for some people.

Sometimes I'll carry around calling cards and casually hand them to people I want to spend more time with. People get a huge kick out of a personal calling card, for some reason. I haven't figured it out yet.

what I do these days when i think I want to meet up with someone later is say "Hey, are you on myspace or something?" (years ago, of course, I would've said friendster*).

Here in Athens, GA (college town) it has become the social norm to ask people if you can facebook them. Facebook is often used as a verb - "I'll facebook you."

Once someone if you friend you can get to all their contact info, usually including phone numbers, in addition to being able to "micro-stalk them" incessantly.

It seems people rarely bother with phone numbers until after a long facebook acquaintance.

<derail>re: myspace crappiness... myspace has actually always been pretty crappy. From a developer standpoint, it's chalk full of holes and bugs. I could be down with that when it was all independent like... but it was puchased by Fox. They have money and resources. It comes down to the way they roll out features -- they stack stuff up without troubleshooting any of it first. Not to mention the gawd-awful idea of letting people embed autostart movies/music into their profiles.</derail>
posted by Famous at 11:05 PM on February 9, 2006

We have a phrase we use in Ireland, "hey, don't be a stranger!" meaning I'd like you and I to keep in contact. Of course in a family guilt -tripping sense it is used by the elders to say, you don't call around enough!!
posted by Wilder at 2:55 AM on February 10, 2006

Sports are a great way for straight guys to bond and become friends. It seems to bridge the politics/race/religion/age divide. Unfortunately I'm not a sports fan, and one time a very nice guy who wanted to befriend me nervously asked if I wanted to go to baseball game with him, and I callously told him I hated baseball. That would have been fine, if I'd only added "But let's grab some grub and a few beers and go to -----(insert activity here)", but I didn't for some reason, and felt bad about it later. I'm generally an introvert (perhaps being an only child didn't help), although I used to be worse than I am now, and people usually approached me rather than vice versa. I had to make myself be more sociable and friend-friendly, and it's been very rewarding.

I have to agree with people who said drugs are a good base for friendships. I made several friends based on our common love of the ganja. Some of these people were friends of friends, and we ended up being closer friends than the original friend-in-common, which sometimes hurt the person's feelings.

But it gets harder to make new friends as one grows older. I'm on atheist mailing list that consists of generally very cool people who hardly ever discuss atheism and religion, and after years of e-mail correspondence we've become quite close. Most of them live in other parts of the country, but almost all of them are interested in getting together if we're ever in the same neck of the woods. Two of them (a male in SoCal and a female in Florida) want to get together when they visit the Bay Area in the near future.

So I'd say pursue activities you enjoy and hang out with groups of people who like the same things, and take it from there. And when you run across a cool person, take jessamyn's advice and ask for their e-mail address and share some interesting articles/sites/jokes etc. E-mail correspondence is a good segue into a real life friendship and both of you can determine whether you want to take it further based on your correspondence. "Hey, here's my e-mail address, do you have one? You're a cool dude/girl and maybe we can hang out sometime in the future. I'm not coming on to you and I'm not an axe murderer or anything".
posted by Devils Slide at 3:22 AM on February 10, 2006

Devils Slide has it... address the awkwardness, and there is no awkwardness. "This is going to sound cheezy, but..."
posted by Robot Johnny at 8:28 AM on February 10, 2006

If I don't just say "not to sound whack but" and go straight to the point, I make something up.

Meaning, I say, "hey, bunch of us are talking about going to bar XYZ this sunday to watch the PDQ, have any interest?" It's a complete fabrication, but as others have mentioned it's perfectly kosher-seeming to invite someone to a concrete event but skeevy to ask them to do things in general.

So they say yeah and you get contact information from them. Once you've done that you can follow up later with "that got cancelled but" and a real invitation to a real event. When you reveal later that it was bs so they didn't think you were trying to get into their pants you can all have a good laugh about it. Just don't leave them hanging till the last minute thinking there is an actual event...
posted by phearlez at 8:55 AM on February 10, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for all your responses! I've marked as best answers the solutions I think are workable. I hate the use of alcohol and drugs as social lubricant with a passion (no issue with their use, just the social lubricant part), so those are not going to work for me at all I'm afraid. I'm not a "normal guy" and to be frank, don't really want to play the emotionally-stunted game of "normal-guy speak".

WCityMike's suggestion is exactly what I would want to say (especially the "cool people are kind of rare" part, which is the truth), but for a lot of people that may be already be too intense. It's strange in that it is what most of us are thinking, but voicing it that way would I think freak a lot of people out.

The main idea I've picked up from the best solutions seems to be to offer your own phone number/email address instead of asking for theirs, so the other person wouldn't feel put on the spot. Which is a great suggestion, thanks!
posted by questionmark at 7:16 PM on February 11, 2006

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