Friend Zone / by Courtney Mehlhaff

Have you ever thought about how weird it is to make new friends as an adult? Like a full-fledged adult, in your 30s, with a well-established life and career and pre-existing social circle. 

I think some would argue that you should already be set by then, "full up" in the friend department, especially if you're also in a serious romantic relationship. Who has the time or the energy to spend on new people? 

But sometimes, you interact with someone awesome and can't help thinking, "This person is cool. I want us to be buds."  And suddenly it's absurdly complicated. 

You're not a kid -- you can't invite them over after school.  You're not a college student -- no study groups or campus activities.  You're not coworkers -- you can't chat in the break room or bond over happy hour. There's no natural way for a friendship to evolve, and there's always the super awkward possibility that they'll mistakenly think you're hitting on them.

I pondered this problem about a year ago, with a woman I regularly saw in a professional capacity (outside of my regular job). We always chatted and laughed and got along famously, but I couldn't find the right non-creepy way to say, "Wanna be my friend?"

I consulted another friend, who has the very rare ability to set her sights on someone new -- a neighbor, another mom, someone she met at the park -- and determinedly work them into her fold. She likes the chase, I think, and also enjoys a bit of light cyberstalking. But more importantly, she's willing to take a chance, and I believe that's what she advised me to do.

I was gearing up to make my pitch when I learned my would-be friend would-actually-be moving out of state. At our last appointment, I wished her all the best but was silently kicking myself. You idiot! You should have just said, "We should hang out." 

And then, right before I left, she asked, "Can I find you on Facebook?

[insert angelic choir] Yes! It was just that simple, and we've been "official" friends ever since. When I told my cyberstalker pal about this unexpected triumph, she just smiled.

"It feels good when they come to you, doesn't it."