“Why Can’t We Be Friends?” should more or less be our anthem. Why? Because making friends after college is really fucking difficult.
When you’re a toddler, you make friends based off of favorite colors and cereal.
When you’re a preteen, you make friends based off of who’s developing the quickest and whether or not they like the same “music” as you.
When you’re a teenager, you make friends based off of who throws the coolest, sluttiest parties with the most lukewarm shots, and who seems to be the most popular that week.
In college, it’s about favorite bars and similar majors. Also, Greek life.
But once you’re cast out into the adult world, it becomes increasingly inescapable how much most humans suck and how hard it is to find quality people to build lasting friendships with. Personally, any “new friend” I’ve made in the last few years has turned out to be batshit crazy, impossibly nefarious, or a fleeting love affair that had no chance of survival in the first place.
The first year or two out of college is easy. Everyone is bonding over corporate jobs, rent that’s threefold from college, and happy hour specials. We’re all very much in the same slow sinking, overcrowded boat, handing each other shots and vomiting portside. But, as the years go on and we get smarter and wiser about employment and switching titles or careers, we begin to grow apart. We don’t have as much common ground anymore. Interests shift from complaining about life and work to actually enjoying and caring.
People move across town or to new states. They get more involved with their line of work or with their significant other. Basically, people change and life happens, and your awareness of how many friends you don’t have is accelerated. Suddenly, it feels like you’re the sole member of the “Turn Down For What?” Club.
So, how do we meet new, quality friends? Dating is hard enough with all the “don’t text this but do text that but only at this time and never first thing in the morning” bullshit. Even on its worst days, though, dating is still eons easier than friending, probably because the two parties who agree to go on dates know that, at any given time, either can bow out. One person can claim to just have not “felt it” and never speak again. There is no commitment in going to dinner with a guy other than committing to free food.
With friends, you have to invest so much more. You want to commit to this new friend. You want to be able to text, call, and hang out with your new friend on the reg. You want the hassle-free commitment of being able to invite your friend over to sit on your bed while you purge your closet and have him or her fawn (or dry heave) over your clothing choices in question.
What do we do? Go out to bars to pick up friends? Venture to a concert alone and hit on potential buddies? Sit in the local coffee shop alone, chatting up whoever’s closest to you without looking impossibly creepy?
I didn’t write this column with the intent of giving you tips on how to make friends. If that’s what you think, you’ve totally misunderstood. In fact, it was written to ask YOU to tell ME how.
How do you know you can trust new friends? When can you fully open up and tell them your life story? Are they going to be jealous of your outfits and your accomplishments, or inspired by their admiration of both? What if they have a hidden mental disorder? If you both happen to like the same “type,” how do you know she isn’t secretly plotting your demise when you win the boy? How do you handle it when a brand new friend exemplifies the term “passive-aggression”?
There is so much you have to question and eyeball when allowing potential new friends into your life. Again, much like dating, nine times out of 10, they end up sucking. Hard. I guess we could try joining interest groups in our cities, but don’t only weirdos do that? Maybe we could rely on meeting new friends through old friends, but then it gets all sticky when you click better with the new friend than the old one, and she’s all like, “Well, she was MY friend first.” Claiming your coworkers as your new best friends is always an option, but if you quit or get fired, you’ll quickly learn they were never your real friends to begin with.
Or maybe, just maybe, we can accept that fact that it truly is quality over quantity and give up real life friending altogether.
Let’s brainstorm together, kids. Shall we?