Friendship-making Deconstructed: Friday 13th February 2015

Making New Girlfriends At An Organized Social Event

Many of my friends have told me they are keen to hear how this affair panned out and I am so very happy to report that I did, indeed, make a new friend! Not, however, exactly as was intended…

Along with the meeting of my new friendship group came the collywobbles. The closer the event came, the more nervous I became and the more I doubted the sanity of accepting this invitation in the first place.

The day of our meeting dawned – if not bright and sunny, at least clear and crisp – specifically, without snow; i.e. no chance of it being cancelled. It was a late morning meeting and afterwards I was heading straight to the hospital for a scheduled dialysis appointment, so I for one, had a finite amount of time to spend on this project. An out, as it were.

I walked into the Human Bean at precisely eleven, the appointed time, and our group was easy to spot; there, towards the back, were six elegantly dressed, perfectly coiffed, well made-up women, making stilted conversation with each other and all with one eye on the door (the escape route). You know the look – deer in the headlights! I smiled and knew I’d enjoy this session, enjoy writing about it and ultimately be glad of the experience.

As I took off my coat, from behind me I heard: “Pam, what a nice surprise!” I turned around to find an acquaintance from my camera club also preparing to join the group. As the last to arrive, we took the last two chairs at the end of the table. Perfect! A friendly face and a kindred spirit; this day is definitely looking up and by now I am relaxed and positively beaming.

Note: Hereafter I will be referring to my Camera Club friend as “CG” – Camera Girl – because I did not seek her permission to divulge her real name prior to writing today.

In truth, the experience provided enough fodder to skewer the lot – the organization, the hostess, the very idea, in fact, of a planned girlfriend society. I could quite easily rattle off a few thousand words, sure to amuse, full of sarcasm and rife with snide commentary, but really, what would that prove? Instead, I will tell you about my delightful morning and my “new” friend.

Our hostess introduced herself (but no one else), welcomed and thanked us for coming, and read her carefully crafted opening remarks: “Today’s objective is to provide a quick and convenient means to meet and connect with like-minded women as friends or as hobby partners.”   We were encouraged to chat and to discover commonalities amongst ourselves that may eventually lead to friendship.

Shazam!

CG’s eyes and mine met across the table, huge grins on both faces because we knew, in that moment, we had had the makings of a lovely new friendship handed to us on the proverbial silver platter. Although we had only chatted very briefly at club meetings, although we had not been on many of the same club outings, we both love photography and thus the door was open, the conversation flowed easily and rapidly, there were no awkward silences and, happy as pigs in muck, we talked equipment, experiences and possible plans for photo walks around town together.

The girlfriend-making concept, however, had seemingly fallen flat with the rest of our group. The other women were very obviously forcing small talk – evidenced by their visibly anxious demeanours. Conversation seemed to be limited to the exchange of social niceties; I overheard way too many comments about the weather.  As promised with my RSVP, I worked my way around the table, introducing myself, telling the women a little bit about myself – my needle arts, my dogs, my photography and my book club – but no one seemed even remotely interested, were in fact, clearly happy when I moved along. Should I be upset? I wasn’t, merely increasingly amused by the entire dynamic – why attend such an event in the first place if one is not at least open to making new friends? Stymied!

Back again with Camera Girl, our coffees now cold, we decided to order fresh drinks and some lunch. Before our bagels were ready, more than half the group had left – including our hostess – the final two not far behind her.  At this point CG and I dissolved into a fit of the giggles, wondering how we had cleared the place out. We stayed (much longer, in fact, than I’d planned making me – again – late for dialysis) for second third cups of coffee and dessert (delicious huge cookies) and happy conversation. The time flew by, the seeds of friendship had not only been planted but had also sprouted and we left, each hoping this was merely a beginning for the two of us.

The take-away for me is that cultivating new friendships is a worthy idea but dipping into a pool of like-minded rather than random individuals seems much more likely to be fruitful and comfortable – for all involved. The notion that our poor hostess had paid to join this organization and that they had given such poor advice seems akin to fraud.

On the other hand, CG and I are now well on our way to having a lovely new friendship, we have plans for our first photo walk and plans for a lunch date – a perfect outcome from my perspective.

Note: Since the meeting I have contacted our hostess who was very embarrassed at the failure of the event and who is still without any new friends here in Cobourg. I have offered to take her out to lunch one day, to connect her to some friends in the hospital’s auxiliary who will undoubtedly immediately put her to work, and to introduce her to sorority. Whether or not she takes me up on any of those offers is yet to be seen; I hope she does, though, because through those two groups I have made the very best of friends, friends who will be mine for life, I am quite sure.

Information on professionally assisted friendship-making:

  • The theory? Women today are busy and preoccupied to the extent that friendships don’t ‘just happen’; and
  • At least four major magazines have on-going blogs dedicated to helping women connect with each other platonically; and
  • A quick perusal of on-line options revealed at least three professional groups available to help with the search for new girlfriends; and
  • These websites charge a subscription fee; and
  • Target demographic of these companies is women age 20 to 60, most of whom have moved a significant distance forcing them to leave behind their existing friends; and
  • On overcoming the shame of having to resort to such tactics: “You are busy, your schedule is jamb-packed so it’s okay to ask for help” and/or “Very soon, just like on-line dating, on-line friend-making will be customary and respected”; and
  •  Surprise: Looking quickly for an existing GTA group still accepting new members, I found that most groups limit their membership to women <30. I had assumed that the majority would be relocated retirees.
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