First, the excitement of meeting someone new. Then, the vulnerability as you connect. Finally, if you’re lucky, the endearing thought that this person might linger in your life for the remainder of it.
Sure, this could be the blueprint of a budding romance, but more often than not, it’s the thrill of a new friendship. And the truth is that they aren’t that different.
There’s the nervousness of getting to know someone, gradually unpacking who they are and — when the honeymoon phase wears off — putting in the work when it’s not as exciting as it used to be. Quality time, a.k.a. friendship dates, foster those relationships, just as romantic ones do with a significant other.
Investing time is how we communicate to friends that we care about them, said Danielle Syslo, a marriage and family therapist who also offers friendship counseling.
“Trust is an essential building block for intimacy. That’s something that takes time. It’s putting the effort and the practice of it to continually show up and open up. It’s making yourself available to your friendships,” she said. “I think it’s really important to carve out time and keep our commitments we make.”
Though schedules are tough to navigate, taking initiative to reach out shows our friends their value to us, she added.
Finding new friends can sometimes feel like dating, and often it’s just as time-consuming. Feeling nervous is normal when hanging out with a new friend one-on-one for the first time.
Once friendships start, they must be sustained. Syslo recommends cultivating curiosity.
“It’s taking time to get genuinely curious about what’s going on in our friends’ lives. It’s asking questions, it’s checking in and checking in not just once or twice but making that a consistent thing,” Syslo said. “Part of this process is being open and sharing personal verbal feelings or experiences. The benefit is this not only allows us to be more bonded, but it communicates to my friend the level of trust.”
L.A. County can feel congested with flakes, so when you find the right friend, it’s important to make an effort to develop the relationship.
Whether they’re a best pal in the making or a platonic soulmate, whisk your friend off on a date to one of these spots. And unlike real dating, you’re less likely to get ghosted after.
This story is part of a limited series exploring friendship in Los Angeles, from the superficial to the fulfilling.