Cara Delevingne is never short of pals [Getty]
Unless you're the type of person who recruits besties like Taylor Swift does boyfriends - or, if by some fluke, you are Cara Delevingne (and well done if you are) - then you're probably aware that making new friends as an adult is hard. Like, really hard.
It was a Sunday morning when I realised that I needed to get out and get proactive about friend dating. I'd moved to London a couple of months before, leaving all my mates up north. Following a particularly uneventful Saturday night in, during which I had cried alone watching Good Will Hunting and drank my corner shop out of Pinot Grigio, I woke up next to plate of half eaten chicken nuggets and clutching a hot water bottle shaped like an owl (Clive, since you asked). There's a certain clarity of mind you get with the realisation that you had an entire drunk conversation with what is essentially a child’s heating aid.
At school, friendship groups were formed on basis of what sport you played or how many KitKat chunkies you could eat in one go. And at Uni, getting a new set of mates was as easy as spotting a well worn pair of Dr Martens and hovering by them – or at least being a beer-pong hero.
But in your mid-twenties, whilst in the throes of trying to forge a semi-successful career out of a slim pool of opportunities (shout out to the bankers, cheers guys) and also sleep, eat and prevent your home from looking quite so post-apocalyptic it's hard enough to maintain existing friendships. Add in to the mix that you've moved to a new area for this so-called career and it's easy to find yourself a bit on your tod.
I've learned that there are certain sensitive areas of negotiation in adult-friending: 1) the phone number swap. Equivalent to the first kiss in dating terms and almost always as awkward; 2) the conspicuously named Facebook 'friend request' which carries little weight in terms of whether you're real mates yet, but does allow you to stalk the shit out of them so you can drop a few 'common interest' topics in next time you meet to seal the deal; 3) toilet humour. Never, ever be the first to bring up poo etiquette.
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By far the most important one, is never make a substantial move too soon. When it comes to romantically dating, I’m usually pretty easy going – something I can only attribute to the fact that I am entirely the opposite when it comes to friends. I am of the unfortunate disposition whereby I can meet a new friend, introduce myself and have our first three holidays planned out in my head an hour later. I’ve caught myself imagining what someone might say as my maid-of-honour at my wedding when we’re not even through our first bottle of wine. It’s a disease, I’m certain of it.
Kind of like the time I’d been sharing email banter with a new writer for months – we’d bonded over a mutual love for puns, and we’d even been out for a drink on occasion after work. After much deliberation, I tried to make the crucial transition from ‘work mate’ to ‘weekend mate’. ‘Do you, er, fancy going for a drink on Saturday?’ I said. I knew it was a mistake as soon as the words left my lips. Silence. Oh God. ‘Actually, I’m a bit busy this weekend,’ she replied, eventually. ‘Sorry.’ She looked at me like I was the girl who blurts out ‘I love you’ on the third date, only with less empathy.
Thankfully, a couple of years after moving down, things are a bit better. It doesn’t get any easier – especially when, like me, you have the charisma of Iain Duncan Smith with a hangover, but at least some friendships have paid off and, actually, I feel pretty lucky to have some brilliant mates down here. And if things take a turn for the worse again, at least I know Clive’s always about for a brew.