Potential Friend Stalking

I have a crush. A friend crush, to be precise – aka a girl I think is pretty cool with high friendship potential but don’t know very well. We first met a few months ago – she lives down the hall from me, and we met at the elevators one morning soon after she moved in. She was super friendly and introduced herself right away, which is nice because people in my building aren’t super chatty. I quickly noted a common J Crew affection, and after some small talk in the elevator we parted ways to head to work. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why, but I knew I wanted to get to know her.

I spotted her again a few weeks later and noticed that she leaves earlier than I do – both times we’d met, I was heading to work early for some reason. After that, I made an effort to leave early in hopes of striking up a friendship. Unfortunately, we both travel for work so I don’t see her often, making it awkward to transition from friendly neighbors to bffs.

Frustrated and unsure of how to take casual elevator chat to the next level, I asked friends for advice. I was surprised to hear that Potential Friend Stalking (PFS for sort) is a common issue that I don’t think we talk about enough.

I received the following suggestions:

  • Chat her up about her favorite TV shows and use my US TV hookup (a hot commodity in Canada) as an excuse to invite her over. I wondered if being neighbors was enough to mitigate the potential awkwardness of inviting someone I barely know into my apartment, and sought additional input. 
  • Mention a nearby bar/restaurant I’ve been wanting to check out, and ask her if she wants to go after work sometime. Ok, definite option there. 
  • A friend’s husband offered a slightly different approach and suggested finding out when she usually gets home from work. On a day when she looks particularly stressed ask her if she wants to go for a drink. Slightly aggressive, and I like it.

I also heard some success stories that inspired me to make more of an effort:

  • One friend wanted to get to know a coworker, so she started noting the other person’s caffeination schedule and timed her Starbucks runs accordingly.
  • Another was fairly new to a job and having a rough day, and in a state of frustration asked/demanded colleagues to go have a drink with her.
  • My favorite came from a friend who had just started business school. After the first few weeks she’d scoped out a some high potential friend targets and managed to get to know them all a bit individually through classes and school events. The clincher was that she actually was able to orchestrate having all of these individual new friends over to her apartment at the same time, and they’ve since established a solid group with open acknowledgement of my friend’s targeting prowess.

I was amazed. We all talk about how it’s hard to make friends as adults, but I had no idea that this level of strategy was required! I returned from holiday travels resolving to implement the bff plan, and on Tuesday morning I finally got my shot. I heard a door open at the end of the hall, and it was her! I tried not to stare as she walked toward the elevators, and instead stared at the maintenance guy working a few doors down. Once she was within an acceptable range, I smiled, said hello and…

…completely froze like an idiot. After staring awkwardly and failing to strike up a conversation, I played with my phone until the packed elevator arrived and we both crammed in on opposite sides. Apparently I’m playing hard to get? I shot a few glances her way on the way down, and we exchanged an eye roll over our shared frustration with our constantly broken elevators, and that was that. A rare opportunity lost.

I’m hopeful that we will meet again soon, and next time I’ll be prepared with some conversation starters.

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