Embracing The Friend Date (Or How I've Been Filling My Time During My Dating Hiatus)
Confession: depending how you look at it, I might've lied about my dating hiatus. That is, I've been going on dates these last six months — just with my friends.
Upon taking my necessary-for-my-sanity break from the dating game, I realized that my nights and the rare weekend (because today's average fuckboi withholds Fridays and Saturdays until he's really for real about you) would no longer be filled with the anxiety of whether or not they would be filled with dates — they just straight up wouldn't be, which meant no anxiety about it which meant I had total control over what my nights and weekends were going to look like. Without the potential of any half-assed, no-reservation-made, planning-it-the-day-of dates on the horizon, I could redefine "the date" and goddamit, I did!
There's something to be said for friend dates. They're, in a word, lovely. However, when you're single and dating around, friend dates can sometimes fall by the wayside. I mean, you only have so much time and effort to put into any sort of date, so one that may or may not produce a soulmate or, at the very least, some light sexual touching, obviously takes priority. Yet, time, maturity, and this dating hiatus have re-grounded me in the importance of the friend date. In a world riddled with commitment phobes, ghosts, zombies, breadcrumbs, and 23 other 2018 dating terms I have too much respect for you to list right now, your friends and dates with those friends is something you can almost always count on as long as you put in the effort.
However, when I decided to fill my time and schedule with my resurrected passion for friend dates, I realized I maybe needed some fresh new friends to go on said dates with. Of course I have my best friends to date, but we've been dating for so long, that our dates are now understood. We will see each other this week or next, we just have to decide on when and where. And those dates only take up a few days of the week at best. I realized that if I was going to make the most of this dating hiatus by dating friends, I was going to need to branch out a bit. So I started sliding into DMs.
That's right — yah girl became an Instagram fuckboi for a minute and started creeping on cute, local gals that I saw a potential connection with, and just started going for it. And, because around the same time I took my dating hiatus I also got serious about my blog, I had even more reason to start reaching out because #networking! Basically, I made Instagram my very own Bumble BFF and Bumble Bizz. And, truth be told, just because I have a leg-up because of my blogging connections doesn't make sliding into DMs any less awkward. Every conversation I initiated was done while thinking, "Did that sound okay? I sound insane, don't I. OMG. I sound so desperate. Who reaches out like this? They're probably gonna think I'm a psycho. I'M NOT, THOUGH. I JUST WANNA MEET NEW PEOPLE. GOD."
Look, y'all. This shit (making new friends) is HARD once you reach a certain age. Your early-to-mid 20s are so full of booze and brunches, that connecting over who got the drunkest last night, where next weekend's brunch should be, and why the fuck Sarah would say that about you when she doesn't even know you is easy. It takes no effort when there's that much alcohol and immaturity involved. But the older you get, the more settled into your life, work, and whatever else you get, which results in less time and less tolerance for frivolous friendships.
HOWEVER, I decided to give it a go. To branch out, reach out, and go out with some new friends. And lemme tell ya — friend dates are every bit as nerve-racking as romantic dates. Sure, you don't have to worry about whether or not they're going to try and sleep with you (I mean, maybe in some cases you do IDK), but many of the same romantic date frets are alive and well with friend dates.
Will she like me?
Will I like her?
Do we hug hello or shake hands? (I've found it's almost always a hug and kinda weird if it isn't)
What if we have nothing to talk about?
What if it's awkward?
What if she has a lazy eye or some weird facial twitch she's covered up on Instagram?
How do I GTFO if it's a horrible time?
What if her laugh is awful? I'm funny, so that's not gonna work long-term.
What if we find out some weird connection between us and I react the wrong way (i.e. ex-boyfriends, ex-friends, ex-coworkers)?
How many drinks can I have?
OMG. WHAT IF SHE DOESN'T DRINK???
And the worry about WTF to wear is ever-present. At this point with romantic dates, you have your one or two bulletproof outfits (that one top with the thing and your good jeans with those black heels). But a friend date is a whole new ballgame. Because the best kind of girls dress for girls anyway, so you know they're gonna look cute and hip as hell. Therefore, options on how to come off as the potentially super fashionable yet effortless and down to earth friend are ENDLESS. You should be able to ask your new friend date what you always ask your other friends: "What are you wearing?" But y'all aren't there yet. Not yet.
But for as nerve-racking as friend dates can be, their benefits outweigh romantic dates tenfold. Once you're there, the hug hello is out of the way, and your first glasses of wine have been ordered, you do something you normally can't afford to on new romantic dates — you relax. You gab, you gossip, you probably passively try and one-up each other when ordering food because we're women and can't help it, you hem and haw over whether or not you should get dessert or another glass of wine (the best of friend dates do both), you split the check without discussion and, if it goes really well, you both leave realizing how much more fulfilling and fun friend dates are than romantic dates. There are no worries about who will pay, a kiss goodnight, the temptation to let it turn into more than a kiss — it's just a good time had by two people. Or an OK time. Or a terrible time. But regardless of what kind of time it was, it was a time without romantic pressure which makes all the difference. Sure, you might've had a few moments of paranoia, thinking the entirety of the restaurant thinks you're a lesbian so maybe you spoke a little too loudly about your most recent sexcapade or that one time that YOU REALLY LOVE DICK. But other than that, you just enjoyed a worry-free, wined-up friend date. GO YOU.
Of course, if it did go well, post-friend date worries mirror post-romantic date worries.
Will I hear from her?
Did she like me?
Could I see myself hanging out with her again?
Did she really mean it when she said we should?
Is it too soon to text?
It's weird to text a "That was so fun!" text right now, isn't it? I should probably wait, right?
But for real, when TF do you follow up?!
Did people think we were lesbians?
Did I want people to think we were lesbians?
OMG AM I A LESBIAN?
Jk, I love men so much.
But as with any other kind of date, it'll unfold the way it's meant to unfold. If you both felt a connection, had a great time, and are titillated (such a great word that deserves to be used more) at the idea of spending more time together, you might have a beautiful new friendship on your hands. On the flip, if they or yourself felt and thought none of those things then FUCK 'EM. YOU DON'T NEED THEM ANYWAY.
But for real. As I stated before, new friends are hard. The most you can do is put yourself out there, go on a few dates, and see if something sticks. Chances are it won't because, like romantic love, coming across great friends is a complete crap shoot. But all that matters is you tried. And hey — if it doesn't stick, you always have your besties, your dog, and your family who, even when they're all busy or boring (because I don't know about y'all, but Cece gets busy from time to time), are all you really need anyway.