SOS: Making IRL Friends in the 21st Century
Why is it so hard to make friends as an adult?
It’s difficult to know if it’s always been this hard, although I suspect it hasn’t. I don’t want to be a technology hater here, cause let’s face it, you’re reading this off your phone or computer or tablet and I rely on this technology to make my millions.
That’s half the problem though. The invisible people that we so readily accept as “friends”. The Instagram randoms, Facebook warriors, the Snapchatters of the world. These invisible people have started to fill the void that real life people used to fill.
So it’s no wonder that when we meet someone, face to face, in 3D, we have no idea how to behave and do the most simple things – like introduce ourselves.
Our big kid goes to swimming lessons on Sunday mornings.
We have been going to the same pool, same time, for at least a year. What does that mean? It means we see the same parents every week.
About six months ago, as the kid is frolicking in the pool after her lesson, the Husband overhears a mother call out to her daughter in the pool “Chloe, what do you want for breakfast?”
When her daughter prominently yelled out across the pool “BACON!” we knew these were our people.
Six months on
Six months on from that moment, we have spent at least half an hour a week with this family, chatting, exchanging stories, enjoying each others company.
There’s another father who brings his two girls to their lessons, who has become part of our little group. We even started planning a get together after the kid’s lessons, you know, beer, sausages, the children playing, that kinda thing.
There’s only one problem.
See, it took me three months of talking to the other mother to finally put my hand out and say “I’m sorry, my name is Billi” to which she replied, “I’m Liz!”
That took me three months! Three months to introduce myself properly to someone I already considered a pool friend.
So what’s the problem? No one has ever asked the father of the girls what his name was.
We have spoken to this man for at least six months and we have no idea what to call him.
So what is it? Are we so used to being bold and faceless on-the-line that we don’t even have basic manners anymore?
Bildo, what’s your answer?
Do you have friends too, whose names you don’t know? They could be parents from your children’s activities, the person serving you coffee every morning that you chat to (they are people too), the guy you see out at lunch every day?
The answer is simple – you have to be brave.
You have to suck it up and do what you know is right. You have to be polite and use the manners that you see on TV, cause let’s face it, you don’t see it very often in real life.
Here are a few simple steps in case you need directions:
Step 1 – Put your goddamn phone down: Don’t chat and banter with your new coffee friend and then pick up your phone. Whatever is online can wait.
I know we all do it and it’s now becoming a norm to be checking your socials while simultaneously speaking with someone but fuck it’s rude. Don’t be a dick and just be present.
Step 2 – Suck it up: If you have been conversing with the same person for months and you still don’t know their name, don’t be shy. Here’s the 101 to introducing yourself, to spare you even a moment of embarrassment:
a) Using your right hand, put it over your heart (that shows you’re genuine) and then say these exact words: “I’m sorry, my name is _____, I don’t think we’ve properly introduced ourselves.”
b) Then put said right hand out and offer it for a shake to the other person.
c) Logic dictates that they will give you their hand and tell you their name. Shake their hand.
There! You did it! You’re a real adult now!
Step 3 – If you make plans, stick to them: Don’t be a piker, everyone hates that guy! We’ve all been there and we’ve all done it, BUT it’s a dick move.
You might go out and hate it but at least you tried! There’s something to be said for that as well.
But the more likely scenario is that you will probably have a great night doing something unexpected because that’s what happens when you take chances.
I’ll step off my soap box now
I’ll take my own advice and next time we see our very good pool mate whose name we don’t know, I’ll be sure to take an awkward, but very mature and adult move of following steps a-c (as above) and actually finding out his name.
I’ll let you know how it goes, but I bet you he won’t slap my hand away and tell me to fuck off. At least I don’t think he will.
Tell me – do you have trouble making friends as an adult?
Thanks for dropping by my beloved readers! Now go and shake some hands and learn some names, IRL y’all!