It takes time to build a friendship to the point where you both feel at ease having a conversation. Until then, you need to get to know each other, and that involves many things, including hanging out together, talking about things, and seeing what you have in common. In the beginning, it can be hard to chat with someone you don't know very well, especially if you schedule long friendship dates where you both are put into situations where you don't feel particularly comfortable.
The way to get around that is with a coffee date or two. Coffee dates have been used by Internet daters for years as a safe way to connect with someone they have only met though online interaction. But those trying to start a new friendship with someone can benefit just as much from them.
Find the Right Place
Coffee dates are so called because very often people meet in a coffee shop. But they can be in any place that shares some of these characteristics:
- Is centrally located between the two people meeting.
- Has a lot of foot traffic, with people frequently coming and going.
- Is a place where it's easy to find a seat.
- Allows for conversation.
- Has enough activity that will naturally spark conversation if the meet up seems to have lulled.
- Offers something inexpensive to eat or drink.
These characteristics help you feel comfortable meeting (and sometimes, waiting for) your new friend, and also allow you to converse in a more natural way.
Schedule the Time
The great thing about coffee dates is that you schedule the time you'll arrive and leave in advance. This helps remove any awkwardness of a meet up going long and two new friends unsure whether they should stay or do something else afterward. Instead, you tell someone you will meet them at a certain time, and that you have to leave in about an hour.
Prepare for Your Meet Up
Before you leave the house, make sure you're prepared for the meet up. This includes:
- Directions to the coffee shop.
- Cell phone.
- Topics in mind for small talk.
- An idea of what you'd like to know about your new friend.
Always be prepared to arrive and leave by yourself, pay for your own coffee, and find out more about your friend. If you find that you two click, great! That's what coffee dates are all about. If not, you can end the meet up with less drama by just reminding them that you have to go (as you previously discussed when you set up the coffee date). Then, exchange emails or phone numbers, and make a promise to follow up.
Leave the Meet Up
When you've ended the meet up, make sure to leave by yourself. This is especially important if you are seeing someone you met or corresponded with online, or with someone that your friend introduced to you but you haven't spent any time with.
It might seem silly to take precautions when it comes to meeting friends (after all, it's not exactly the same as meeting a romantic date), but it will make you feel more comfortable and is a smarter overall way to introduce new people into your life. When you feel more comfortable, you'll be more willing to chat with someone new that you meet again.
It's important to follow up in some way after the original meet up. Perhaps you and your new friend really clicked, and you can't wait to see them again and spend more time together. You can plan to do something more involved and fun and take another step in getting to know your friend.
If you didn't click, however, it's still important to connect after the meet up. No one likes to feel that they aren't liked, so if you do not plan to see the person again, simply send them an email telling them it was nice to meet them. End the email by saying something like, "Perhaps we'll connect again sometime."
Be aware that sometimes it will take you meeting someone a few times to decide if you really want to be friends or not. So before you write someone off as "not friend potential," make sure you've given them a chance. If need be, meet them again for coffee a few times in order to see if you might be able to forge a new friendship.