How To Be Friends... Or More
Sometimes when you meet people, you just know; you were made to be friends. Everything just clicks, but you don’t really know them that well. Or maybe someone of your preferred gender catches your eye in another way, and you can’t stop daydreaming about them. What to do? Unfortunately, we’re beyond the easy-breezy Kindergarten days when you could just walk up to someone and say ‘hey, wanna be friends?’ or ‘I like you’ (kids are super cute, aren’t they?). When you’re a teen or young adult, it starts to get trickier. I mean, you could just be blunt and forward if you want to, but that’s braver than most of us are up for. So I have some ideas of ways to subtly get to know people better, while gauging if they reciprocate your feelings (whether those feelings be friendship or something more).
Part 1: Friends
Ask them to do things with/for you, and if you can do things for them
While it’s definitely not a good idea to pawn personal work onto other people, if you’re having trouble doing something, you can always ask them for assistance or advice, especially if it’s really a two-person job or they’re more experienced than you are. For example, if you’re really struggling with a math concept and you know the person is an expert, you could casually ask “Hey, did you figure out last night’s math homework? I had trouble with problem eight.” For a lot of people, that’s invitation enough to help you work it out, or maybe even set up a study/tutor group. Or you could reverse things and do something for them, which is even better, because not only do you get to spend time with them, but they’ll see you’re a helpful, kind person.
Be places you know they’ll be
It could be anything from walking past science class when you know they’re getting out, to finding their lunch place at the cafeteria, to asking a mutual friend to invite you both to hang. The main point here is to be casual, and not obsess over seeing them; just take the opportunities you know they’ll be around, and try to make them. Or you could go a step further and try to see if they have any casual plans, such as seeing a movie or grabbing something to eat, and casually mention ‘Oh, that sounds fun!’ That way, it’s up to them whether they shrug it off or invite you to join them- you don’t feel pushy or get rejected, and they don’t feel like you’re impeding their personal space or like they have to let you join them if they’d rather not. If they do invite you or, better yet, if they start inviting you to things without you even saying anything about it, you’ll know they’re likely interested in hanging out more.
Don’t be afraid to be bold
If you’re tired of waiting around for the right moment, you can always just go for it and ask them to do something with you. If you’re concerned about rejection, you can make it casual: ‘Hey, I’m going bowling at the new rink and looking to go with some people. Is that your kinda thing?’ Again it lets them back out without having to feel bad, and you can then go with other people if it turns out they can’t or don’t wanna hang that day. Of course there’s nothing wrong with just asking ‘Wanna go bowling tonight?’ but if you’re shy like me, the other way is a good starting point.
Part 2: More than Friends
Of course the tips above still apply to when you just wanna hang out and get to know your crush better first, or casually ask them out as friends. But what about when you’re not sure if you’re the only one with feelings beyond friendship, or you want to let your crush know what they mean to you without flat out saying it? When you’re ready to make the move, here are some ideas.
Gauge their interest of you/actions around you
Does your crush always seem eager to see you, or does he/she seem content to hang with the group when you’re not there? Do you get the same greeting as other friends, or is yours different in some way, such as being gentler, shyer, or sweeter? While these signs aren’t proof that the crush is reciprocated and you definitely don’t want to overanalyze or blow things out of proportion, these are some good things to watch for to help get an idea if there might be something there, or if you’re just a friend to this person. It’s best to look for these if you’ve already been friends for awhile so that you don’t mistake new-person shyness as nervous crushing, etc. The sad truth is, you’ll never really know unless you ask, but doing a subtle analysis could save you some trouble if you find out that you’re treated just the same as his guy friends or if she smiles at everyone that way- because if there’s no difference, you’re likely just a friend (unless he/she is just an amazingly private person). Again, you never know.
Indicate your own interest
Given the complicated nature of the tip above, you can see why you might get to a point where you just want to make it clear that you are interested, and then leave it up to your crush to either reciprocate or not. The best ways to do that are to reverse the above; let yourself smile shyly at him, or giggle at all of her jokes even if they’re just silly (basically, just don’t do anything to hide the crush like you might normally do). You get to decide how obvious you are about this- if he’s the only one who sees your special smile and wonders about it, or if everyone within ten miles knows that you’re crazy for him/her. Just remember that people might tease you, especially if you go over the top. While I’m not saying that’s a reason to stop, I am saying that you don’t want to get carried away and should make a game plan so you know what you’re willing to reveal about yourself before you get into the heat of the moment. If you want your crush to be a secret, don’t do these things, because someone’s likely to catch on.
Drop some hints
If you’re ready to go even further and make it super clear that you’d like to go out with this person, you can start dropping some subtle- or not-so-subtle- hints to let them know how you feel. ‘Hey, I’m seeing a movie tonight and I’d really like you there to cuddle with’ while you wink is way more obvious (lol) than ‘You doing anything tonight? I’d really like it if we could hang out, just the two of us.’- although both will probably get the message across. This can be a super tricky zone, and just know: your crush is pretty obvious at this point to everyone involved, and you don’t want to make a fool of yourself. I certainly would never say the first line or wink at anyone, but maybe you would if you’re super flirty- the point is, don’t push yourself to do or say anything you wouldn’t usually do. And note; the bolder, more obvious you are, the more exact the person will have to be in their answer, and if they don’t feel the same, it could make it even more difficult on the two of you. I would definitely have an idea that they do, indeed, feel the same for you before you try this. And it’s up to you whether you approach them in a group or alone. Just make sure you’re ok with the entire group seeing you flirt with this person if you go that route, and that you don’t make the person uncomfortable no matter how you go about it.
So yeah. Becoming friends with someone- or especially something more- can be super tricky if you’re shy, or just don’t know how to go about it. Just remember to treat everyone with respect and kindness, and not to push anyone to do anything they don’t want to, or make them uncomfortable. Unfortunately, not everyone that you want to hang with wants to hang with you, and not everyone you crush on feels the same way. But that’s ok, because the more you try to be social, the more people you meet and try to get to know, the better chance you have of meeting your new best friend, or scoring a date with an amazing girl or guy.
And if you’re a girl who wants to skip all the games and guesses and just ask that guy out, Barista Mia just wrote a post on that, so check hers out.
Image: Leo Hidalgo