The politics of friend making


I miss the simple school yard format of friendship making.


It could be very cutting but it worked well.


You’re in or you’re out.


Conversations were like tests. They were very straight forward. “What bands do you like?”, “What albums do you own by that band?” and “What is your favourite track on that album and why?”


Then the person who asked the questions would decide on whether you had passed or failed. If you were fortunate enough to pass, the friendship was instantly deep and meaningful and you would be potential BFFs.


And even if you failed these questions, there were second chance acts that you could undertake to grab your desired target’s attention. I had plenty of tricks up my sleeve when I was younger:


  1. Flatter people. (Who doesn’t like being complimented.)

  2. Be cheeky to grown ups. Especially the bossy uptight ones. (To create the facade that I was unafraid of anyone.)

  3. Possess cigarettes or steal things. (Because it was cool and dangerous.)

  4. Gain attention by dying hair an obnoxious colour or by wearing something ridiculous. (I once went through a phase of wearing nothing but  prom dresses and I thought I was hilarious.)


These performances always seemed to win over the kind of people I longed to impress.


Those were the days.


Now, as the years dwindle by, I notice that my old schemes are no longer a guaranteed success to befriending strangers. We have supposedly matured since school days. Being rude to anyone is bullying (and quite rightly unacceptable). It’s no longer clever to smoke or steal. Quite the opposite (especially as by now most of us have learnt the reality of consequences). Folks are juggling jobs and kids and other important stuff they have going on that seem to dominate any conversations you possibly share (often making them unbearable). And worst of all, people already have their trusted associates. They have had them for years and are quite content with those time consuming relationships-  why would they bother nurturing a new friendship? It’s hard work and most are far too busy and important.


Maybe there lies the problem. When we were children, we absorbed every moment! We were still busy but much less important. The world was enormous and we were daunted and excited by it. We felt we had all the time in the world yet ironically we couldn’t wait another second before going ahead with what we wanted to. Emotions were new and interesting. As adults we have created our own swamped planets where we safely reenact the same rituals day in and day out until weeks turn into years and years into decades. Irony strikes again as we start to obsess on how time ran away from us yet we don’t seize the day. Why? At what age do we stop being enchanted by the beauty of the world and quash our curiosities and desires? At what age do we stop being fascinated by each other?


When I try to befriend someone now, I tend to look like a deranged stalker. Over-flattery is perceived as trying too hard. Showing off is usually an act that makes me look like an idiot. Standing out is fun I suppose, but many people would agree, that too often makes me look like an idiot.


I mean I do all these things anyway because I am sure that the people I have these potential friendship crushes on, will totally get it and think I’m fantastic, obviously.


But if it doesn’t work… how do I gain new friends without seeming… desperate?


Where is the line now we are grown-up, judgemental, clicky and responsible?


When are where is the appropriate time and place?


How do I invite a stranger out to get to know them better without seeming like I might follow them home when we are finished hanging out?


I have a potential friendship crush at the minute. My daughter has recently started at a Montessori nursery. I chose this setting for many reasons (that I won’t get into), one of them being the hope that I might meet some like minded people. Parents that have similar (very liberal) views on the world, education and raising their children (asking too much?), parents that are a still able to let loose and have fun, parents that enjoy every single second of their sons and daughters and show it.


Believe it or not, I struggle finding these kinds of people.


So when I do have a crush, it is rare, and as intense as the ones I had when I was a child- I have found someone that ticks all the boxes on my list of criteria! How do I make them love me?


I am working this woman (or trying to). I make sure to arrive at the nursery at the same time as all the other parents, so I can become a familiar face. (The nursery is very small so this is not a hard thing to achieve). My crush  is a tomboy and very laid back. Her daughter looks like a disney kid and wears amazing clothes. We have chatted once or twice. I always smile at her and say hello. I have no idea how to go about befriending her though. Perhaps patience is the answer and eventually one of us will make the move to get to know the other. Without looking like a weirdo.


God it’s exhausting being a so called grown-up. There are so many expectations! We are supposed to know exactly who we are and have readily formed opinions ready to share and never must we show it when we haven’t a clue what we are going on about. I think this is why booze was invented wasn’t it? So we can loosen up and have an excuse for any behaviour that makes us look different to how we want to be perceived?

I mean we are all going to the same place in the end so why can’t we all open our hearts and minds, put our guards down, be honest with our emotions and love each other? Wouldn’t that be great?