'Friend dating' can be trickyANNA TURNER
In the game of love and courting, entering the "friend zone" spells the ultimate end - the unfortunate soul who enters the zone is doomed to never be more than friends with their object of desire.
But, in life, a lot of people would actually love to enter the friend zone.
At some point in their lives, most people will find themselves actively trying to seek friends.
Maybe you've just moved to a new region and don't know anybody. Maybe you find you have less in common with your old friends than you thought. Maybe you just started a new job and want to fit in.
Or maybe you're just feeling a little lonesome.
But how exactly are you supposed to go about culminating friends? When does someone stop being your "workmate" or "that girl at the gym" and enter the coveted realm of "friend"?
It's a phenomenon called friend dating. And it's pretty darn tricky.
When we were younger, friendship was simple. Our best friend was probably from our own classroom at school and the field at lunchtime supplied an endless amount of potential playmates.
As we grow older it becomes more difficult. I've spoken to several people recently who have moved to new regions or started jobs in big offices and are struggling to meet people.
I know how they feel.
Years ago, when I moved from Blenheim to Christchurch to go to university, none of my close friends moved with me. I was a shy 17-year-old in a big city and the only person I really knew was my brother (who had been at uni for several years and probably didn't want his little sister hanging around too often).
Luckily, I was in a hall and there was a ready supply of people to interact with. Still, it took a while - and quite a few Saturday nights sitting alone in my room - before I perfected my friend dating skills and made any real progress.
Here's a few tips I learned along the way:
1. Put yourself out there
Let's face it, you're not really going to make friends by staying at home (well maybe friends on the internet, but they're not really quite the same, are they? They can't bring you soup when you're sick or take you dancing when you get dumped).
In order to meet people you're going to have to make an effort.
A friend of mine swears by the "fail-proof" method of joining groups. You name it, she's probably joined it. Knitting group? Yup. Tea lovers? She loves tea. Running? Sure. Another running group on a different day of the week? Naturally. Young professionals? Tick.
It's a great way of meeting like-minded people.
But you don't have to join clubs if they're not really your thing.
My advice? Accept invitations, even if it's not what you feel like doing. Sure, going to a Dungeons and Dragons game on a Friday night probably wasn't what you had in mind, but you never know who you might meet there.
2. Be bold
Friend dating is hard. You may have to put yourself out there for rejection but, if you don't, you're not going to make any progress.
I used to talk to people in lectures all the time, but never worked up the courage to ask them to hang out after class.
It wasn't until I asked a girl if she wanted to grab lunch after a particularly boring hour of sociology that we moved from "lecture acquaintances" to actual friends. We're still friends five years later.
So, take a deep breath and ask that girl you've been chatting to in your aerobics class if she wants to go for a run at the weekend or extend your work friendship by asking if your colleague wants to grab a beer after work.
(NB: Alcohol can be a great social lubricant but don't go too far. You don't want to be spilling all your worst secrets to your new "friend". Leave those stories for a little later in the relationship).
They may say no but, then again, they may not. It'll all be worth it eventually, I promise.
3. Not everyone you meet has to become your best friend
Most of the original people I met when I moved here were "springboard friends" - cool people to hang out with that introduced me to other people, but didn't end up coming my long-term friends.
You're going to need to meet a range of people in order to find the ones you really want to be long-term friends with.
So don't dismiss someone straight off the bat - you never know who they might introduce you to.
And, most importantly:
4. Don't cling
If he's just not that into you, he's just not that into you. Just like the famous movie tells you, it really is that simple.
If your new "friend" is not returning your texts, ignoring your emails and doesn't seem to appreciate you showing up on their doorstep unannounced, cool it.
There's nothing worse than meeting someone and being inundated with friend requests, tweets and texts before you've even had the chance to have a real-life conversation.
If someone is really interested in being friends, they'll get back to you.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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