When’s the last time you made a new friend? How about just being cool with a stranger you didn’t know? That long? I bet if we were to ask a man that question, he’d be able to name some cool person he met not that long ago because for some reason whenever I’m out, it always seems men are able to click instantly while women are buried in their cell phones or begrudgingly engaging new people.
I had to deal with this personally last weekend while at a three-day event. No one really wanted to be there in the first place so I knew this wasn’t going to be a let’s exchange numbers and sing kumbaya by the campfire kind of deal—which was only exaggerated by the fact that we were staying in hotel rooms with strangers—but somehow I still knew the men would be able to cope in this situation better than the women. And I was right.
Considering I’ve grown increasingly introverted over time, I dreaded having a roommate who would try to talk my ear off from dawn to dusk. Instead, I was greeted by a girl who barely even looked up from the desk she was sitting at to say hello when I entered the room. I sort of laughed to myself because I thought, she’s worse than me, but as we sat in dead silence filling out questionnaires and miscellaneous information to bring back to our orientation minutes later, I thought, this is awkward. Eventually I figured I should know the name of the person who’d be all up in my personal space for 72 hours so I asked her what hers was and she said it plainly as I proceeded to volunteer mine since she didn’t ask, and then I left the room.
We were the only two women in our particular group and at orientation I had already noticed some of the guys were beginning to socialize. I predicted that by the time the session was over they’d be outside grabbing cigarettes and sharing stories together, and that’s exactly what happened. I don’t know if my bunk buddy was mad I didn’t smoke and she couldn’t get a smoking room or what but the only interaction we had besides exchanging names was her asking me whether I needed the alarm clock plugged in or not.
By the next day’s sessions, my roommate had annoyed me with comments she made during discussions so I was no longer interested in trying to be friends or even cool. And though I recognized there were some fundamental differences about us that made our contact a little awkward, I’ve always tried to figure out why most women just can’t seem to instantly click the way guys do.
In some ways I think some of the ease has to do with the things men bond over. When it comes to sports, they pretty much all like them and have an opinion about it so it’s an easy topic to open up the flood gates and create an ally or at least someone to talk trash to. As far as playing sports, when men need an extra man for the team they really could care less about anything more than the guy having two hands and two feet that can run and catch whatever ball is being tossed around. If he’s good, great. If he sucks, they probably wont invite him back again, but it’s hardly personal. Even in the gym, men spot each other or subtly try to outdo one another on machines which often lends itself to conversation. The only convo I recall having at the gym was an older white woman trying to explain to me why she loves the ladies from the “Real Housewives of Atlanta” as I tirelessly panted on the elliptical. Not a good time.
But it’s not like women don’t share similar interests too. Maybe they’re just so broad that we rather keep to ourselves rather than risk saying the wrong thing about someone’s hair, clothes, lifestyle, etc. because you never know what those trigger points might be. And pardon the broad assumption, but I also think when women get together we have a tendency to either gossip (not necessarily maliciously), vent, or talk about men, and those just aren’t things you do with random women—unless you want to be that girl, and you all probably have someone like that in mind right now.
The thing is, most of us know how to network, and even how to flirt, but for some reason befriending other ladies is hardly second nature for most women it seems. In an article for Sister 2 Sister, Chelsea Boone laid out a good tip for women to learn how to make nice more often than not and I’m going to try to keep it in mind for the future the next time I see myself slacking on the friend end. She said:
“The key [to making friends] is not to assume that you won’t get along with any other woman you meet and immediately count her as an enemy. Instead, view every female you meet as a potential ally.”
Can’t go wrong with that.
Do you make friends easily? Do you think men seem to be better at it than women?
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