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One is Silver and the Other’s Gold

Apr
4
2006

This making friends thing is a lot like dating again. The last time we moved I had a baby attached at the hip (usually literally), so any friend-making for myself was mostly a byproduct of finding a playgroup for the kid. You know, get the kid’s needs taken care of, find him companions, meet some congenial moms along the way. It works, and there’s not much time for anything else. (After the firstborn, though, you realize an 11-month old doesn’t really need a lot of buddy time, but playgroups and such are still a fine way to hang out with other grown-ups.)
But this move the kids are old enough to find their own friends in their own spaces, sort of, and so there goes my social crutch. Damn, thought I at first, but it’s really rather fun now.
Before the kids, friend making was a more serious endeavor because you actually had time to hang out with friends. A real friend was going to be a serious commitment in time, someone to brunch and dine with, go to movies with, get a drink with, maybe vacation with and discuss dates and coworkers and bosses and families and even, if things got serious and you were really compatible, shop with. But now, well, for five minutes on the playground and a coffee every now and then, with lunch if things get that far, if it turns out you’re not so compatible after all, there’s a lot less invested.
So you scope out the possibilities on the playground after school and exchange numbers with someone and make that first call and maybe arrange a coffee date and worry about being too forward and evaluate the relationship and whether or not there’s a mutual feeling of friendship. Except it goes a lot more slowly than dating, because you’ve got two whole families’ schedules to accommodate and this time around all you’re looking for is a good conversational partner. Well, and if things really work out, maybe a babysitter if you’re in a pinch, but you’d naturally scare people off if you say that at the beginning, even though that thought’s always in the back of both your minds.
Also unlike dating, for me at least, my prospects are all the same sex (as me, I mean). Which probably makes things simpler (better odds of similar communication styles and such). Many years ago in one of those enjoyably quirky feature articles the Wall Street Journal occasionally publishes, the reporter wrote about stay-at-home dads trying to break in to mostly mom-led playgroups and to make friends with moms without having it look like the dads were hitting on them. As I remember, one man had his wife make the initial contact call, so there’d be no misunderstanding.
By the way, one woman I’ve recently met, whose family moves regularly every few years, offers one piece of advice on friend-making. Don’t let anyone know you’re in town just for a limited period, because then they won’t want to put in the effort to make friends with someone who’s leaving. Instead, be vague, she says. Now, starting out a friendship with a small fib is probably not the best way to guarantee it lasts, but while it does you’ve got someone to invite to a Sunday cook-out. And, as they say in Spanish, that ain’t turkey snot.

Share  Posted by Deborah Klosky at 4:23 PM | Permalink

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