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No New Friends

I’m not sure what the dating world has been like for you. But I compare it to traversing a desert — one with plenty of hidden landmines.

Aerin Spruill

That’s just my thought process looking back at how (until now) I’ve had a tendency to ignore all the signs with regards to the person I was interested in. But when you add friends into the mix, dating can be like a battlefield, and the landmines increase exponentially.

Let me explain.

In college, I hung out with a group of more than 10 friends on a regular basis. We were inseparable. We held each other through our bullshit heartbreaks, laughed in the face of danger (read: bullshit relationships) and watched each other grow beyond the madness.

Believe it or not, we’re still friends to this day. From birthdays to weddings, we’ve managed to keep our shit together after a decade of friendship. How crazy is that?

These days, however, it’s hard to find true friendships like that. Especially when you’re talking about a group of friends that size.

I’ve seen it time and time again. While dating in and of itself can be challenging in the Queen City — and yes, I’m drawing a distinction between dating In the sticks (rural) versus Charlotte (the city), what distinction that is I’ll let you decide — throwing in additional people can complicate the process even further.

Why, you ask? Well, for one, you don’t necessarily choose all of your friends these days. Maybe your boyfriend or girlfriend already had a group of friends to hang out with. Maybe your coworker had preexisting associates. Whatever the case may be, you’ll look psycho if you try to dictate who those new friends hang out with, so you often just deal with people you’re not that fond of.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a “plastic mean girl.” But I do tend to tread the fine lines between, “You can’t sit with us,” “Thank you, next,” and “No new friends.” So when the friends of friends come around, I’m not the best person for introductions. My fake, customer service voice will come out in a heartbeat!

I chuckle thinking about how a friend of mine invited me out for a “girls’ night” this past weekend. Cringe. She knew when she asked me it wasn’t going to happen but like a good friend, she did it anyway.

What’s wrong with a girls’ night? Oh nothing, I just don’t discriminate anymore when it comes to the demographic of a larger friend group. I know from experience that a large group of people trying to go out together for the sake of an outing usually ends up being counterproductive. And when you’re not super close with everyone involved, it can be anything from boring to a nightmare.

Secondly, it’s every man or woman for him or herself. When you don’t know your friends that well, it’s a dog eat dog world. Yes, your “friend” — aka acquaintance — may laugh at your jokes from time to time, but that doesn’t mean they care about whether or not it works out between you and your Tinder date.

In fact, they may just try to make a space for themselves. After all, when someone who’s a catch is hard to come by, everybody turns into a squirrel looking for a nut, no pun intended.

Thirdly, speaking of Mean Girls, high school drama is alive and well. I may not be a math whiz, but when you’re talking proportions, the percentage of dramatic people definitely increases along with the number of people in your group. From gossip to smartass remarks to cheating to full-on fist fights, anything is possible when you consider how little you know a random group of friends.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve managed to stumble upon my fair share of friend groups that have worked out. They weren’t easy or drama-free, but they’ve managed to last. I’m just saying, as an only child who leans toward not meeting new people, I’m not opposed to the idea of kidnapping my boo and escaping to a remote island in the middle of nowhere just so I can make sure no one gets in the way.

I know I sound pessimistic and immature, I’m cool with that. But tell me, which do you prefer? A small, inner circle or a large group of friends?

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