Friendship dating

Find some friends with this hot new trend. Photo courtesy of Helena Lopes 


When they first arrive at college, many people struggle to find friends because they expect friendships to form immediately. Like love at first sight, we often want friendships to suddenly appear in our first conversation with an acquaintance, but that doesn’t make sense. How can you be best friends with someone you barely know? 

We have access to more potential friendships on campus now than we will for the rest of our lives. Never again will we be surrounded by 5,000 strangers within a similar age range and with one significant similarity — school. This is an opportunity, and I think we should all seize it. The friendship pool is massive, so let’s go swimming.

A platonic date is a perfect introduction to a friendship. In the same way that you would ask someone you’re romantically interested in on a friend date, you can ask someone you’re platonically interested in on a friend date. Friendship dates are the hottest new trend this year.

If you like someone’s vibe in class, or if they’re a friend of a friend and you know you’d get along swimmingly, go for it. Ask them out. Go on a friend date. 

Cate Howard, a sophomore health sciences major, has initiated many a friendship via friend dates. She appreciates the sense of agency and structure that friend dating provides when it seems that everyone else finds themselves stumbling into their soon-to-be best friend without even trying.

“[Friend dates] allow you to skip all of the coincidental things that have to happen for people to become friends,” Howard said. “There’s so much luck involved in [becoming friends] that if you think you’re going to vibe with someone, you might as well just do it and get the ball rolling.”

You might be a bit concerned about the awkwardness of this venture. Hanging out with people you don’t know all too well can be a bit nerve-wracking. What will you talk about? What if there are awkward silences? What if it sucks?

To assuage the most dramatic of these fears, I will say that if you can find it in yourself to ask someone on a friend date and they say yes, then they are probably very open people to say yes to such a thing. Therefore, the date can’t possibly be that bad if it’s with someone open to making a new friend. But how do you even ask someone on a friend date? 

Kyndal Sagarsee is a junior strategic communication major who, together with her roommates, initiated a friend date at the beginning of the semester with five Butler students they had a “friend crush” on. Sagarsee certainly has experience in successfully initiating friendship dates, and she had some helpful tips for gathering the courage to ask friends out.

“[My roommates and I] thought of it as flattery,” Sagarsee said. “We thought if someone were to send us a message and say, ‘Hey, we seem like we’d all get along, and we want to be friends with you,’ I’d be like, ‘Oh my God, yeah.’ Even if the actual execution of the new friend party doesn’t happen, at least we shot our shots.”

Most average folk would not reject such a flattering offer as friendship. Wanting to be friends with someone means you see them as interesting or worthy of attention. This alone is a compliment. Even if you were rejected, how could anyone respond to such a compliment with anything but kindness? Know that even if things don’t pan out, your potential date would probably decline politely. If politeness is the worst-case scenario, then the risk of asking someone out is certainly worth the possible reward of friendship.

After someone says yes to you, they are in an equally as vulnerable position as you are, so it’s just as much on them to make the date fun as it is on you. On top of that, you are both likely in similar stages of life. At the bare minimum, you could bond over this factor. 

Sagarsee agrees that the vulnerability of the situation creates a good experience. 

“[Friend dates are] not awkward at all, because everyone’s kind of going through similar things,” Sagarsee said. “You can find something you have in common.”

Sagarsee is correct here. An expert friendship dater herself, she knows that college is the optimal time to start up new friendships because the success rate is very high. We are already united because we are in the same stage in life. So if you ever make it to a friendship date and get nervous, just know you can at least chat about classes or internships or clubs — you certainly have something in common there.

The most crucial step of all to guarantee a successful outcome in the friendship dating scene is to follow up if you enjoy your time with them. 

Macy Cansdale is a junior youth and community development major who regularly initiates friendship dates. She claims to have found many of her now close friends through this method. She boldly asks to hang out with her peers whose vibes and energy match hers. Cansdale is sure to follow up with her dates; it’s likely part of the reason she can count many of her now close friends as successful friendship dating stories.

“I think an important part of [friendship dates] is keeping up with it,” Cansdale said. “That’s a key part because you don’t want to just initiate a friendship with a nice person if you’re not going to [keep doing] anything. You should follow up.”

This is sealing the deal of a friendship. Why even gather up the courage to ask someone to hang out if you aren’t going to pursue that friendship? We form bonds with people we see regularly, so consistency is a great way to deepen a friendship. Don’t ghost your friend date.

Ultimately, friendship dates are great practice for the future. One day, we will all graduate and likely participate in the workforce. Many Butler students will move to different cities or countries and have to start from scratch trying to find friends. It will probably feel like your first year of college all over again, but without the endless pool of potential friends to choose from.

Howard finds that the practice of friend dating is extremely valuable because it teaches social skills we will all need in the future. 

“I think this is the adultified version of how to make friends,” Howard said. “You’re not going to find your best friend through luck once you’re working. It’s going to take effort in a different way than it would in high school or grade school or something like that.”

Howard is right. So many people often seem to find their best friend by luck. But if that’s not you, then why not take matters into your own hands? You don’t have to have the exact same schedule as someone to become best friends. You don’t have to be roommates or in the same fraternity. You just need to ask them to hang out. This is the only thing separating many people from potential friendships.

So if you start practicing these habits now, you’ll be a professional friendship dater by the time you need it most.


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