As exciting as it can be to move from country to country, it is also challenging – especially when it comes to making friends.
In a previous post, I was talking about how easy it is for children to make friends, and how hard it is for us (or some of us) in adult life. And I even find it more difficult now that I am married.
During my single years, I used to go out with friends and it was easy to just start chatting with somebody new which of course (in the case of a guy) very often also led to a date. So that’s no option anymore. Says my husband, and he is usually right. Friends seem to be a little bit like money: If you have some, it is just adding up to more, but getting together the first couple of bucks (or friends) is the hardest.
Recently, I mustered the energy to ask another expat wife whether she would like to go for a coffee – and boy, was that hard for me! It is just as hard as asking somebody out on a date. Or so I assume, because let’s face it: I am a girl. And being a girl, I liked to take the easy route and wait for the guy to ask me out, which always worked. Never in my life have I asked a guy out. And while asking another woman to go for a coffee is certainly not asking somebody out on a romantic date, it involves the same silly thoughts:
What if she thinks I am too needy? What if she thinks I must be weird because apparently I have no friends? What if she thinks I am really stupid but because she is so polite, she doesn’t want to say no? What if she thinks I am a creepy psychopath like Jennifer Jason Leigh in “Single White Female“?
Those had been my exact thoughts before I scored my very first coffee date in Seattle. Almost two years had passed without me making any friends apart from colleagues of my husband’s. And that is not the same, right? It is like borrowed friends. Or second hand friends. But even meeting up with colleagues was difficult, since we were living downtown and most of his colleagues were living outside of the city. Most people our age have their families and are eager to go home after work. So our social life was non-existent. So I took up yoga class, partly because of the yoga, partly because I wanted to meet akin people. However, almost everybody stayed to him/herself (that’s very Seattleite), and I still felt quite isolated.
And then Miss N. joined the yoga studio and immediately I felt drawn towards her. So I started thinking… Maybe I should ask her to go for a coffee? And all of the above questions and many more sprang to my mind and made me hesitate and hold out – until one day I did ask her. And she said yes! (If that sounds like the beginning of a romantic love story to you, then it proves my point: it is very similar to asking somebody out on a date.)
And like on a first date, I felt a bit nervous upon meeting her for the first time, and later on she confessed that she had been struggling with the same doubts. By now we are best friends and I wouldn’t want to miss her for the world. Which is one of the reasons why I keep going back to Seattle whenever I can. It’s like a long-distance relationship, haha!
Bearing that experience in mind and deciding that at the age of 36 I should be able to make the first step towards what may become a new friendship, I now asked that nice lady out on a coffee. She said she would love to and that she was glad I had asked her. But what if she is just too polite to say no? What if she thinks I am a bore? …
…Uuh, the beauty of first dates! 🙂