dating for friends?

Lately I’ve been thinking about the commonalities between developing new friendships as an adult and the experience of dating. For a lot of reasons, “dating” isn’t on my radar these days. But, as my daughters are getting older and much more independent, I’ve found myself venturing out into the world in new ways; that includes noticing people with whom I might find friendship. I’m finding it’s a lot like dating.

Here’s what I mean:

hm, that person seems interesting –> maybe we should hang out –> let’s hang out –> agreement/expression of mutual interest –> plan –> hanging out (a walk, coffee, a movie, a meal, or some activity) –> contact following the hanging out –> self-doubt (was my text goofy? overwhelming? too much? not enough?) –> interpretations of responses–> texting (or not) –> one or the other or both make obvious efforts to have a repeat performance of the original hanging out.

Do you see how this could be dating or it could be making a new friend?

I’ve had the experience in the past few years of knowing people about whom I think “we could be totally excellent amazing friends” but, for whatever reasons, they don’t see me in the same way. When that happens in dating, I usually know not to take that personally. It’s not me, it’s that we’re not a good fit. I’ve used hindsight and lessons from dating to heal some of my small wounds from failed attempts at friendship.

I’ve also had the experience in the past few years of people reaching out to me to hang out but I drop the ball. In hindsight, some of those dropped balls were tossed to me from interesting people. So, I’m going back to pick up the ball where it makes sense.

With new friends there are all kinds of negotiations, just like in dating. What does “friend” mean to this person? What level of communication do they expect vs. what I expect? Historically, my closest and most intimate friends have not always been the same people I see or talk to regularly. Because my children have been young, most of my energy is used mothering. And, I’m an introvert (for real! not because it’s trendy!).

As my life is changing, will my willingness to invest in and availability for friendship change, too? I’m not sure. I suspect I’m a bit of an old dog who won’t learn many new tricks. But, I’m keeping my mind open. All I can do is try. As with dating, so with friendships; I will depend on my mantra from the 12 step recovery program I hold so dear: “progress, not perfection.”

2 thoughts on “dating for friends?

  1. I’d love to hang out with you! Many of the people who seem to be good in-person friend matches for me aren’t local (same for romance imo). One of the important things for me, beyond the basics of interests and values, is an “okayness” with mild disability. I seem to know superfit people who really don’t get that not only might I need to cancel an event due to a bad migraine but I can’t physically take a 4 mile brisk walk in the hot sun. Just bc I’m slim doesn’t mean I’m an athlete. I’m tired of having to explain; I need friends who get it and are supportive. I’m certainly supportive of others when they have issues. This is partly why i quit the dating sites too ~ so tired of all the 50+ men looking for ski bunnies and surfing babes. Bleh!

  2. I’m so dysfunctional, I can’t seem to make new friends, and the the mere idea of “dating” cranks up the anxiety to levels known to me only back in the 70s. I see people who do either or both, seemingly effortlessly, and it mystifies me. Being married all this time has ruined me! I mean, it saved me at the time, but now it’s made me totally unfit for modern society.

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