I went on a blind date hoping to find a new BFF
The feelings I had were so cliché that they surprised me: I had a fluttery feeling in my tummy as I repeatedly checked the time, I re-applied my lipstick every 30 seconds, and I rethought my outfit four times before (as usual) returning to my original choice. I was going on a blind date, not with a romantic interest, but with a potential new friend.
One of the hardest things about being in a new city is having no support network. The process of making new friends as an adult is a very tricky one. Most people barely have the time or energy to maintain their established relationships and responsibilities. It’s a hard thing to do; you find yourself hunting for pockets of free time while cramming your schedule with events and activities and making too many open-ended promises of “let’s catch up soon!”
So, I compiled suggestions of places to look for new friends: yoga classes, public lectures, Whole Foods, subway platforms, trivia nights, and Facebook groups. I filed away general advice, such as to do things I enjoyed to meet like-minded people, strike up conversations at places like bookstores and cafes, most importantly, to always say “yes” to invitations. Basically, I was looking for a meet-cute. The advice for meeting a friend didn’t just overlap with, but was exactly the same as advice for finding a significant other.
But I was still surprised at how I felt when someone I had never met reached out and suggested a coffee date. I was delighted, but at the same time felt nervous and twitchy-nosed when we arranged an actual meeting. “They picked me!” quickly turned to “They picked me?!” After a casual suggestion of a location, I planned extensively. I worked out an outfit that seemed thrown together, but somehow also was very me. I caught up on current news and ventured into my scarily long list of things to read on my Pocket app, listing all the possible talking points that I, of course, would likely not actually use. I rehearsed a valid excuse to leave early, that I likely also wouldn’t actually use.
Something I should have planned for better was the “blind” part of the date. A rookie mistake. I found myself in the cafe frantically trying to connect to Facebook to check out her profile pictures as I scanned the room for someone who looked familiar.
Even when I was almost certain I’d found the right person, I had to remind myself to breathe normally. When meeting new people, breathing obviously helps. Luckily, as usual, I found I wasn’t short on words, even if the first batch tumbled out breathlessly as a single string of hi-it’s-so-nice-to-meet-you-how-cute-is-this-place-were-you-waiting-long-also-I’m-Kate-you’ll-never believe…. But we settled into a comfortable familiarity as we dispensed with the job-interview vibe (“So, where do you see yourself in five years?”) and stayed for much longer than either of us expected, discussing all sorts of things.
When we left, both late for our next plans, I was buzzing, and not just from the coffee. Then, of course, I began dissecting everything with my scalpel-sharp brain. Did I talk too much? Did we stay too long? How soon do I text? Who suggests the next date? Was I imagining the good vibes? But I made the decision that “I’m a gal of little chill, so why pretend otherwise?” and we met again the next day. It was, and still is, the start of something wonderful. I know it’ll take time before we’re texting from our respective couches as we binge watch the same series, or are finishing each other’s…sandwiches. And that’s fine, we don’t have to be exclusive. The friend dating continues.
Kate Robertson is an Australian writer living in Brooklyn. Right now she is working on a project about women in horror and eating pickles. You can find her on Twitter here.