The New Friend Stage

I got my first serious boyfriend my sophomore year in highschool.    He became a part of my family, an integral part of my every day life.  After several months, I knew it would last forever.

We broke up two years later.

I remember when I tried to date new people afterwards what a struggle it was having to start all over with a new relationship again.  I didn’t want to start over.  I wanted to pick up where I’d left off with my last relationship  – minus the heartbreak part and back to the happily ever after.

It took me a few false starts to realize I had to start over.  There was no avoiding the new relationship stage – with all of the insecurities and awkwardness and doubts.  It wasn’t until I learned to accept those uncertainties that I was finally able to let go and enjoy getting into a new relationship.

It seems friendships are similar to romance, in that way.

It’s been a long time since I had to make new friends.  I mean, yes, when I lived in Iowa I made new friends besides the people I’d known since high school.  But they were add-ons, supplemental to an existing social circle.

It’s easier to make new friends when you know you have the security of old friends.

I don’t have that comfort zone now.  Now, in Florida, I’m making new friends without a safety net.  And it’s strange to see how god awful frightening it can be.

I’m afraid to be the over zealous friend who invites you to a party you don’t want to go to.

I’m afraid to be the needy girlfriend who invites you to a gathering that’s uncomfortably intimate.  Maybe we’re just group friends and not girlfriends.

I’m afraid to appear too eager or excited.

I’m afraid to demand too much of your time.

I’m afraid, ultimately, that you’ll get to know me better and realize I am freaking crazy and way too much work to be friends with.  And then we’ll have those awkward phone calls with you making excuses and trying to be polite and me trying desperately to pretend that it’s no big deal.

I’m afraid to need you more than you need me.

So, I don’t call.  I wait to be asked instead of asking.  I accept instead of offer.  And I look for signs that you’re losing interest so that I can back off quickly before it gets uncomfortable.

And I wish that it was easier.  I wish that I could pick off where I left off – confident and secure in the knowledge that I know exactly how you feel about me, even if I act like a moron from time to time.

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