Friday, March 24, 2017

the five stages of friend dating

I wrote a post a while back about the essential friends for every new mom. Every word of that post is still as true as ever, however, that post was written when I was knee-deep in an awesome tribe that included a lot of my Jax friends. I'm busy building my tribe in VA and I'm more like toes-deep in my tribe here, so I've been busy doing a little something I like to call Friend Dating.

I've been meeting moms at the park and church and just generally playing the field all over my new city. (Don't hate the player, hate the game.) This isn't my first rodeo. I'm an extrovert and I'm all about community, and I know my time here is limited, so I take Friend Dating pretty seriously.

And after five (!) moves, I've given a lot of thought to the awkward dance that is meeting new friends. So, I've broken down the process of meeting new friends in a new city to these Five Stages of Friend Dating. Consider this your helpful guide if you're the new kid in town.

The Intro- Now, if you're lucky, this usually happens on common ground. Maybe you're meeting people at work or your neighbors or for us military folks, a spouses club. Lots of times, it's the built in places that we wind up in after a move. But, I'm particularly sensitive to the plight of stay at home moms because lots of times we have to get creative and step out of our comfort zones and create places. (That's why, if you're all #nonewfriends, you should probably steer clear of me right now. While I build my tribe here, I'm on the hunt and everyone is fair game. Playground mom? Yup. Church ladies? Bring em! Honestly, if you have a stroller and you look like you're playing with a full deck of cards, I'm probably gonna ask you for your number.) But usually, where ever you meet people, you'll zero in on a few girls who seem like your kind of people. Then it's on to the good stuff.

The Ask- So, you've narrowed down that chick that looks like you'd get along. You've thrown out a few lines to see if she'll bite and you discover you're kindred spirits in such important matters as celebrity gossip and champagne being appropriate for any occasion. You want to hang out outside of library story time, so you silence the 6th grader inside your head and ask if she wants to maybe get the kids together for a playdate. You wait nervously for her to throw you some shade and hustle out of there as fast as she can, but instead she says she'd love to! Whew! This is one of the hardest parts of meeting new people. [True Story: The idea for this post was born in the awkward moments right before I gathered the courage to ask another mom for her number a few weeks ago. I thought to myself, "God, this has to be the most awkward I've felt since I was 12." Followed by a mental tantrum fit for a tween wherein I decided I hate the Navy and I hate moving and new cities are, like, so stupid. Then I snapped out of it and asked homegirl for her number and now we're friends, so trust me I'm an expert.]

The First Date- This truly is the most awkward thing about friend dating. You've mustered up the guts to ask a total stranger to hang out with you and now you are both doing the dance to see if you're actually compatible. Maybe you guys have kids the same age and you crushed it with small talk, but really you don't have much more in common. That's okay. Some friendships can live right here in the Playdate Zone. There's nothing wrong with that. I like to think of my tribe as an onion. I've got my childhood friends and my sisters way down deep in the center, but every new move and new city and new chapter of life brings friends that make up the other layers, even the outer ones. If you've made a Playdate Friend, congrats! She'll probably help this new city feel a little less lonely. But if you and this girl click and you think it might be time to get a little more serious, read on.

The Kid-less Date- This is an important DTR moment in a mom friendship. Getting together without your kids truly says, "I want to take this thing to the next level." Kids are a distraction and a safety net and without them, you're likely going to have an actual grown up conversation free of distractions and repeated Goldfish requests and you're going to get to see (and reveal) some of the pre-mom woman that's living deep inside you, under the messy bun and the athleisure. That woman is dying to see some sunlight, so you deserve a friend to ditch the littles with and go be adults for a while. If you've made it here, then go dust off your cute shoes and swipe on some lipstick, girl, cause you are rocking this new friend thing!

The Sweatpants Phase- I'm gonna be honest here, this is kind of the Holy Grail of Friendship phases in my humble opinion. This is the blessed time in a friendship when the small talk has faded away and we can be real. This is when you're gonna start to hear my trucker mouth and see a lot more of my undone eyebrows and dry shampoo. This is when you're going to hear me admit my kid is sometimes the worst and I will not follow it up with a nicety about what a blessing she is to avoid judgement. This is the place in friendship where we don't necessarily need "plans" to hang out and I will not frantically clean my kitchen prior to your arrival. I love this phase because this little slice of friendship heaven is part of what makes being a woman fun and what makes motherhood bearable. It's definitely okay if every friendship doesn't reach this point, because these friends are about quality, not quantity, but if you're sticking around your city for any length of time, I'd suggesting letting at least one worthy girl into your Inner Sweatpants Circle.

So go! Gather that tribe, lady! And if you're reading this and you live in my new city and the intensity of my making a guide to Friend Dating doesn't completely freak you out? Well then what are you waiting for? Hit me up!

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