This blog post was originally written for and published on The Broad Collective, a now defunct local blog here in Athens, Georgia. I lifted it from there to republish it here because… it’s mine, all mine!
No, I promise. We’re not swingers.
I actually said this to a couple that we had never met one night while sitting at the bar inside Big City Bread. We were just awkwardly trying to figure out how to ask another couple to hang out because we liked them.
“Do I ask them for their phone numbers? How do we tell them we like them?” I remember feeling excited and my heart was pounding and I was nervous and totally scared they’d shoot us down.
We had struck up a conversation with them while sitting on opposite ends of the l-shaped bar inside Big City Bread. My husband was finishing up a late Friday night shift and, at the time, we were a one-car family, so had driven up there to pick him up. After work, we sat to enjoy a beer together and sort of wind down when a nice couple at the other end of the bar struck up a conversation with us — or maybe we struck it up with them? I don’t remember the specifics anymore, but we exchanged a few pleasantries, probably toasted our beers to one another (that’s kind of our style, anyway) and I turned to Colin and asked him what we should do next.
He was equally excited at the idea of NEW FRIENDS! How many times do you, in your thirties, meet another married couple and think, “Wow! I like BOTH of these people equally! I hope they like us equally, too!” So, in that false-bravado, I’m-not-afraid-of-anything, true Jami style, I marched up to them as we were leaving and said, “So… We were just wondering if y’all might want to hang out some time.”
The couple exchanged glances and the guy replied warmly, “Sure!”
This is when I — for some unknown reason — felt it was important to share with them that we weren’t swingers (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and immediately regretted it.
What if they ARE swingers? What if I just made them uncomfortable? Aw, shit, Jami. Way to go.
But the guy said, “I guess, we can give you our numbers?” He was clearly equally as nervous and excited about the idea of NEW FRIENDS as we were.
So I took the little scrap of paper, torn from a corner of the Flagpole with their cell phone numbers scribbled on them and we hastily made our exit. COOL! A new set of friends! I programmed the numbers into my phone as soon as we got into the car because, “What if we lose this piece of paper? How will we find them?”
We weren’t really “in the market” for new friends — my husband has a huge circle of friends here in Athens and, after three years here, I’m developing my own little tribe as well. But we realized that we had yet to find some of “just our” friends — a couple that neither of us knew much about, but that we both liked and wanted to hang out with. And it wasn’t until this experience that I realized just how hard it is to make new friends as an adult.
We’re not really afforded many opportunities to make new friends based on our interests. Sure, we can meet other parents at the PTA meetings or in the neighborhood or at your kiddo’s practices, but the initial reason we start after those relationships is because they’re easy and you already have something in common — your kids.
But what about what we want? It’s interesting how, once we get married and have kids, we put ourselves and our wishes on the back burner. I think I suffer from an acute case of whatever-this-thing-is-called because I spent so long as a single mom, there wasn’t time for meeting new people, much less carving out time to learn about them and create great friendships.
“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
― Anaïs Nin
So why is it that it feels so hard to meet friends when we’re all grown up?
We’re busy. We’re tired. We’re too comfortable. We’re shy. We’re insecure. We’re scared. We’re ________.
But the beautiful thing is that we are all, together collectively, all of these things. I tell my kid all the time when he professes about insecurities to me that the other person in every exchange has those same fears.
I get nervous when I think, “Wow, I like that person. I would like to know them better,” but the truth is, my life could be richer for knowing them — and I could play a role in enriching their life, too. If I don’t gather up my gusto and just leap, I’m cheating myself out of two opportunities — one, to maybe make a new friend and two, to push myself to not grow stagnant and too comfortable and boring.
We’ve hung out with Nick & Erin (that’s the couple’s names) a lot this spring and summer and, honestly, I feel like we’re pretty lucky to have found them. We’ve even introduced them to the rest of our friends (it’s getting serious, y’all) and, no surprise, everybody loves them, too. They’re great people and I’m so grateful that our lives have intersected.
So, a little challenge…
That Facebook friend that you’ve been following and liking all their posts and thinking to yourself, “Dang, I wish I was like, actually friends with this person,” — give it a chance. Ask them to hang out.
That friend that you adore that you never actually make the time to hang out with — make the time. Dig deeper and cultivate that friendship, man!
And if someone asks you to hang out because they want to get to know you better, unless they’re also touching your inner thigh or giving you their bedroom eyes, take it at face value: you’re cool and people want to be closer to you.