Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Girl-Crushes: Happy Endings and How-To's

Have you ever met someone and realized the moment you said "Hello," that that person is the one? The next candidate in your line of People I Need to Hang Out With? I have. Many times. As I navigate the dating realm it has come to my attention that oftentimes I am not only dating boys, but courting new friends that are girls. This phenomenon is known in feminine terms as a "Girl-Crush" or "Friend-Crush," or a "Bro-mance" for the males. As difficult as dating the opposite sex is, sometimes it can be even more crazy to try and "date" a new friend.

Case in point:

When I was in college I "knew" two girls. Both were friends of friends and/or involved with my program and both were super cool. Though I knew somehow we were destined to be friends, I couldn't quite find my "in." So I admired their coolness from afar and waited patiently for circumstances, or kismet, to bring us together.

After a while it finally happened. One of my girl-crushes had need of a pianist. A mutual friend hooked us up, and we lived happily ever after (no really though, we eventually became roommates and now we're neighbors).

The other crush took a bit longer to develop. Fortunately, we shared a friend group. Over time, our mutual capabilities for decision-making (good and questionable), race-horse tolerance levels, and our penchants for being the subjects of embarrassing occurrences that are relived every time our friends reunite have brought us together. We, too, have lived happily ever after and I have openly proclaimed the fact that I like her more every time we hang out.

Both instances required patience, well-placed witty comments, interests in common, and of course, chemistry.

Now, as my circle expands post-college, I realize that trying to make new friends is even harder! A lot of people already have a "crew," so to speak at this point in life. So what to do if your girl-crush does not need a pianist or you do not share a friend group? I give you: A Small Guide to Friend-Dating aka How Not To Crush Your Girl-Crush.

Step 1: Befriend on Facebook
--This can be an important "first move." It is fairly innocuous, and it gives your potential BFF the opportunity to read your witty "About Me" and your obviously similar interests without coming on too strong. If the person does not have Facebook, well...can you really be friends then?
[JUST KIDDING...Facebook is merely one of many vehicles through which one can merge onto the Highway of Friendship]

Another point along the lines of this subject: you will be tempted to write on this person's wall. Unless some hilarious event occurred where you first met, or you have a pertinent link to post that has to do with a conversation you had, you must avoid this tendency at all costs. You don't want to seem creepy. I say this because the other day I literally went to do this exact thing, and found myself stressing over the perfect thing to say. After starting and restarting several times I realized that the best tactic was just not to say anything at this point. The safest way of establishing contact after you friend them? "Like" their status, then perhaps insert a comment.

Step 2: The Hangout
--Sometimes fate places the golden opportunity in your path. For instance, if you discover you both like the same TV show. This is the perfect time to throw in a little "Hey, what are doing for the show on [insert day here]?" Primetime is the best time to develop friendships. It provides an avenue for conversation during commercials or commenting on plot developments, but leaves room to breathe while the show is going on so neither one of you feels you must talk the whole time. This is also true for the gym. Inviting someone to Pilates class? A+.

Another way to initiate a "hangout" is to ask the person out for coffee or happy hour. These times of day are simultaneously time-limited and open-ended. If you both have somewhere to be, you can safely leave after an hour and a half or so. If you both have free time it could blossom into an afternoon at the mall or dinner with your happy hour beverages. At the very least, if things go well it will lead to Date #2.

Step 3: The "Secret" of Success
--If there's one thing I've learned it is this: the ultimate way to build a friendship is to share a secret [NOTE: I discourage this tactic with anyone in the Witness Protection Program]. If you share a secret with someone you are not only letting them learn something about you, but you implicitly give them your trust.

Now, do I recommend that you share your deepest, darkest secret? No. Sharing something too deep too soon can imply and/or reveal boundary issues. Keep the secret sharing to the skeletons closest to the front of the closet, such as "Sometimes I forget to wipe down the elliptical after I use it at the gym," or "I read all four Twilight books in a day." Save the juicy stuff for down the line when you're out for a crazy night in Vegas (you're going to be BFF's right?).

In conclusion, when friend-dating I encourage you, as in any kind of new relationship, to take it slow. Friendships, like relationships, are built over time. And if you haven't had enough of the cliche's in this conclusion, always remember to just be yourself. That's where the good stuff is.

Go out, make a friend, and have a great Tuesday!