Making friends with other girls

I went on a date the other day. I changed my outfit a few times before I settled on something that was cute, creative, seasonally appropriate but still sleek, and stylish without being generically fashionable. It had to look thrown together without being sloppy, involve a cool necklace, feature boots, hide all of my flaws and emphasize all of my most attractive characteristics. It had to make people think, “That girl is awesome,” without even realizing why they were thinking that.

Getting ready for my first date with Bear took about ten minutes. But that’s because he’s a guy.

As expected, she is wearing a perfect outfit. With a silvery white cotton scarf, a chunky, worn leather belt,  and riding boots. She is prettier than the photos of her online. Thick, lustrous dark hair with a quirky little elfin braid on one side, a sudden, big smile.  She is clearly confident.

(nice. source)

I trip over my words, trying to say hi and then something funny in quick succession.

She looks straight at me, sizing me up, judging me from head to toe in the space of a swift, non-judgmental glance. We wait in line for coffee. I’m bad at talking in a line. I want to face the person I’m having a conversation with, and then I get distracted when I have to move forward and figure out what kind of latte to buy and get money out of my purse and put the change back in and step enough to the side so that someone else can order while I’m trying to get the change back into the zipped pouch and the cash back into the folded section of my wallet. All of this is much, much worse when I’m trying to say clever things and look poised and ask the right questions.

She doesn’t look like she is flustered, or trying to think of something to say. So often, girls don’t. They look calm. They have it together.

I want them to like me. I want them to ask me to hang out again. I want to be good at making friends with other girls.

I remember a girl I’ve been friends with forever  (since before an age when you had to win people over with your charming personality and ability to nonchalantly wear the skinniest jeans in the world) telling me about meeting another girl in a class at college. The other girl was cool and easy going and mischievous. The kind of girl my friend really wanted to be friends with.  Suddenly, she was nervous. She had to figure out a way to get this girl to have coffee with her. She had to approach her casually, after class, as though by accident. She had to act like the thought had just popped into her head, like she was the kind of person who just asked people to grab some coffee with her all the time.

She was frustrated and laughing at herself, saying, “Why is this so much harder than asking a guy out?”

(nice. source)

I am friends with other women. My closest friends have always been other women. But I am never tired of meeting them. I never stop caring what they think, when I already think they’re cool. And I’ve noticed that as I get older, it just gets more complicated. Everyone already seems to have a wide circle of friends. We’ re all always casually alluding to them.

“Yeah, I’m gonna just hang around here and meet up with a friend after this.”

“A bunch of my friends love this place.”

“My friends are all in the city.”

Some of us say “best friend” a lot, too. Or even “best friends.”  Like tiny walls. These roles are already filled, no need to even audition.

We’re all busy, and the drama of our lives plays out on small stages– our immediate surroundings, the space between work and home. Anything more than a ten minute subway ride away is a stretch, unless it’s for someone we’ve known long enough to know we can tell them everything.

I meet women for lunch and coffee all over the city- friends of friends, blogging contacts, professional writers I want to connect with– but I don’t really expect to see them again. Our lives are already established. We are busy being already complete. Which is why I have to try so much harder to win them over. I want to be the one who stands out enough to get a call back. I want to become the new friend.

Before I met Bear, when I was dating men, getting coffee felt so simple. Men liked me for being a woman. If I was attractive and funny on top of that, I was practically perfect. But with other women, I have to be so much more.

She laughs at my jokes. She is calm. She answers me articulately. She gestures naturally, and adjusts her elegant scarf. She seems to like me. She mentions her group of best friends who all live in the city. They usually hang out in Brooklyn. I wonder if I’ll ever see her again.

(source)

*  *  *

Un-roast: Today I love the way I can sometimes make other people laugh

P.S. If you didn’t read it because it was Christmas, read the spam post. And then tell me how funny it is. Because right now I’m feeling like one of three people who thinks it’s hilarious. And that makes me sad.

P.P.S. Also, while I’m telling you to do stuff: send me photos of yourself with cake!

New post at Un-schooled, about maybe being a homeschooler forever.

24 Comments »

Kate on December 27th 2010 in life, new york, relationships

24 Responses to “Making friends with other girls”

  1. Greta responded on 27 Dec 2010 at 10:51 am #

    This part really stuck out to me:

    “Men liked me for being a woman…..But with other women, I have to be so much more.”

    It’s funny, that being recognized as and expected to be a PERSON, how it throws us off.

  2. Cindy responded on 27 Dec 2010 at 11:04 am #

    Girls are so much more complicated than guys.

    Probably why I don’t hang with many ladies. I should get better at it because it’s not good for me to know more about Xbox Call of Duty and Tonka Trucks and Teenager music, than fashion and woman’s issues.

    sheez.

    Off to read that hilarious post. and I write posts all the time that leave me on the floor laughing and no one gets it so …no worries.

    hehehehe

  3. Kate responded on 27 Dec 2010 at 11:07 am #

    @Cindy
    You also know a lot about Star Trek… :) Love it.

    And in the end, it’s definitely more important for me to make myself laugh than everyone who reads my posts. I have to deal with myself a lot more.

  4. Linnea responded on 27 Dec 2010 at 11:23 am #

    Story of my life!!! Girls are way too much work I dont even try anymore :P

  5. Gaby responded on 27 Dec 2010 at 11:40 am #

    You impressed me, Kate! And I really hope I have made a good impression too. I totally get what you mean, I get girl crushes a lot. In the “I want this girl to be my best friend/ I want to be her” kind of way.
    I did think the spam post was funny, but I didn’t think to comment because I can’t relate, seeing as I have 2 blog readers who I usually have to send reminders to every time I post.

  6. Christin@purplebirdblog responded on 27 Dec 2010 at 11:40 am #

    I have never been fashionable. When I was thinner I wore a lot of guy’s clothes, but they don’t hang right on these hips so I had to give in and at least wear girls jeans. I became BFFs with cardigan sweaters which I felt made me “cuter.” And I have recently rediscovered I love the way dangly earrings brush across my neck. But I still don’t have an “adult” pair of shoes. I wear skate shoes and tennis shoes and
    Chucks, and my “nice” shoes are my checkered slip-on Vans. I’m working on it. I’m sure fashionable chicks look at me and think I’m ridiculous. And I just don’t give a crap. :)

  7. Kate responded on 27 Dec 2010 at 12:00 pm #

    @Gaby
    I definitely consider you one of my friend-making successes! But I think I may have to give you most of the credit.

  8. Valerie responded on 27 Dec 2010 at 12:24 pm #

    I just can’t seem to be friends with girls. I start to feel like a fraud of a girl because they are fashionable and flawless and I am not. Then I want to try to moisturize and exfoliate and straighten hair and tuck and hide and then I realize it’s all a waste of time. I realize I just spent time gouging my own body when I could have been playing the accordion or hula hooping which interests me more. And then I start to realize that I am more interesting because I have hobbies that do not include scorching my skin to a golden brown or ripping out my own body hair so I have other things to talk about that don’t seem to interest many other women.

    It all gets lost in translation. I don’t understand designer anything and they don’t understand the love of a good mosh pit. So we part ways.

    But secretly, and not very often, I feel sorry for the girls I can’t be friends with. I start to think that if I was unhappy only developing my physical appearance and not my mental abilities, then how happy can they really be?

    This, of course, is not true of all women…just some of the women I have met in recent years.

  9. San D responded on 27 Dec 2010 at 12:30 pm #

    Too much trouble to be one person for guys and another for girls. Just like Popeye, I yam who I yam. I am sure I have given a few of my “girl” friends a lot to talk about after I left, but hey, isn’t that what girlfriends are for?

  10. Dana Udall-Weiner responded on 27 Dec 2010 at 2:06 pm #

    Totally relate to the idea of trying to make friends but also feeling complete with what I’ve got. For me, it’s a matter of time and energy. Although I love the idea of having more girl friends, I just can’t seem to make that happen. And at times I feel like I’m almost cheating on the friends I already have; do I invite the new friend into the group, or just keep her on the side, like my special, one-on-one friend? Things were easier way back in college, where less effort and thought were required. And where everyone wore sweat pants. (I went to women’s colleges, where things were happily casual. Less shaving, less shopping.)

  11. jstolk. responded on 28 Dec 2010 at 12:52 am #

    Oh can I relate! The other day my husband and I were hanging out with some of his guy friends and their girlfriends. The girls intimidated the hell out of me with their designer shoes, fruity drinks and talk of girly things like make-up and the latest chick flick. I felt more comfortable with the boys and their flannel shirts, beer and talk of Star Wars and dirty jokes. The girls apparently now think I think I’m weird because I don’t like/ understand girly things. But I just think it’s easier to get along with boys.

  12. Wei-Wei responded on 28 Dec 2010 at 3:18 am #

    Girls… are intimidating.

  13. Tempest responded on 28 Dec 2010 at 12:19 pm #

    I think I always thought it would be easier when I got older to make friends with other girls. The few points in my life it seemed easy was the year I transferred to a new high school (and everyone else was new too), and the summer I went to a special art school program (but in reflection, most of my friends there were guys..). I only had older brothers, and I idolized these amazing older girls who seemed so put together to my young eyes. I wanted friends like them. But it’s not any easier now. I know that other people perceive me in that special light because of my profession, but it’s not easy to make real friends. The people I connect most with live far away, so it’s not like we can just go out for coffee, the movies, etc. Women in my age group are all about kids (having them, taking care of them), or aren’t married and obsess about finding partners. It’s so complicated.

    But my whining aside, I had just been thinking of when I was in college (and while one would think going to art school would make finding similar friends easy, a bunch of social misfits makes for poor socializing) and saw this girl at the art store – and yeap, she seemed so amazing, so mature, so put together, so enchanting, and how petrified I was to ask her to coffee. I can’t even remember now how we got past that point, but we did. That friendship lasted for 5-6 years, before it ended (I ended up being the more mature, put-together one I guess), but I miss that sort of connection with another woman.

    Sigh.

  14. AlisonM responded on 29 Dec 2010 at 6:05 pm #

    I’m just catching up from Christmas, and this was great to read! I remember my first proper girl date. We were set up by a mutual friend who was leaving town. She thought we’d get on. We did. Eventually. After a few awkward lunch dates. Then we moved to drinks in a bar. And eventually she asked me back to her place. I remember the relief! She’s letting me into her home!, I thought. She must want me in her life, and not just for coffee.

    I too have suffered a kind of self-consciousness about the fact that people so often present this image of being already complete. Like they’re not advertising for new friends right now, no positions available. So if you try to push things beyond a coffee here and there, you’re being a creeper. Or a nuisance. My mid-20s were bad for that. When everyone is trying desperately to be an adult. To be fully formed and “done”. In the last year though I’ve felt somewhat liberated from that. I’ve made quite a few new female friends — some even through blogging and forums. It’s like online dating!

    Anyway, I hope she does call you. The right women are just as worth chasing as the right man ;)

  15. molly responded on 30 Dec 2010 at 1:23 am #

    Some of the comments here make me sad, because I love having great female friends and I rarely have to act like anyone other than myself around them.

    For me, there are probably two factors that go into finding true friends. The first is that my husband is a big nerd, so the people he meets tend to care more about their geeky passions than about convention and conformity. They often wear their hearts and personalities on their sleeves, making it easy to connect (or not) right away. Their friends and partners are often similar, which is how we’ve expanded our circle of friends, and it helps tremendously that we currently live in a rather geeky city.

    Second, I’m chatty and tend to continue conversations by asking questions that inevitably end up getting at least somewhat personal. People who meet my questions head-on, revealing who they are and what they care about without being wary or shutting down, show me pretty quickly that we’ll get along swimmingly. Nothing against everyone else, but some people click and some don’t, and I can usually pick out the good (for me) ones within a few minutes of talking to them.

    Don’t get me wrong, it can be tough finding those people to start with. I lived in the last city for three years and came away with several acquaintances but very few friends; I guess I just wasn’t meeting the right people, or maybe that city had fewer of them to offer. Still, I know who I am, and who I get along with, and it’s working pretty well at the moment.

  16. Bookmarks: December 19th – January 1st « Angelamaphone responded on 01 Jan 2011 at 4:11 am #

    [...] Eat the Damn Cake » Making friends with other girls – [...]

  17. Ross Greenberg responded on 04 Jan 2011 at 2:11 pm #

    Kate has a beautiful nose and face and soul. :-)

    Shalom, sister.

    Ross Greenberg

  18. Tabs responded on 04 Jan 2011 at 5:27 pm #

    @Greta: The nail’s head has been hit by you, lady. I agree. Being a person can be a lot of work when you’re so used to being treated like a pretty/weak/useless/whatever thing.

  19. Susan responded on 04 Jan 2011 at 9:54 pm #

    This really hit home for me. I moved 2,000 miles away from the midwest to California and I’ve been here for 3 years and have yet to meet a true, good female “friend” here. I’m already established with my circle of best friends in the midwest and I visit regularly…but it’s really rough out here and although women will compliment me (and even go overboard with it at times..) it never really turns into real friendships….great article!!!

  20. Rubi responded on 06 Jan 2011 at 2:31 am #

    Just had to say I ran into your post today and have been reading some of your other entries too- your whole blog is fantastic!

  21. Emmi responded on 16 Mar 2011 at 2:40 pm #

    I hear you on this one. And then I tell myself, if this person doesn’t want to make a friendship with me because I’m awkward/don’t fit into their current circle/etc, then I don’t need/want to be friends with them. Their loss!

    I often feel odd about embarking on a new friendship, though. With me, it’s almost always binary: all or nothing. I care or I don’t. And when I care, I care deeply. And sometimes I worry if this will come across as stalkerish or too-much-too-fast or just plain weird.

    But that’s just me. I put myself out there and I try to be an awesome friend. I won’t put effort into any relationship unless I feel it worthy of the time and energy – I don’t have enough of either of those to waste. Friendships with females can require the most effort, but are often the most rewarding. My best ladyfriends are the ones that hand me spoons (reference here, if you’ve not read it: http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory-written-by-christine-miserandino/) emotionally. I try to keep them supplied, too.

  22. Eat the Damn Cake » it isn’t about Bear responded on 06 Dec 2011 at 1:10 pm #

    [...] saved my best outfits for coffee with other girls, but I thought it must be the guys who [...]

  23. Eat the Damn Cake » the contract responded on 09 Aug 2012 at 11:57 am #

    [...] For some reason (it might have had something to do with the fact that we were the only women there), we became friends, and then good friends, and then we were together constantly. She would sleep at my apartment after we’d talked into the night. Do you know the kind of friend who there is always more to say to? It’s something about the way they listen. She would tilt her head thoughtfully. She was so smart that she could find meaning in anything. So little topics could be stretched to become big topics and big topics could lie lightly across the top of whole months, years, even. [...]

  24. Padmaja responded on 02 May 2013 at 7:21 pm #

    I just want to tell you how envious I am of you, and how awestruck I was while reading this article.

    You can get guys as easily as you breathe. That was very obvious, from reading your article.

    I, however, have reached the age of 25 and am NEVER asked out. Nobody has ever asked me out, ever.

    On the other hand, women love me, I have a wide circle of close female friends, and asking another woman out for coffee is the easiest thing in the world for me. I’d be happy to talk more about it if you want my advice on the matter.

    Meanwhile, I will continue to envy you for so effortlessly attracting the attention of men.

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