It's hard to make friends after college.
It's so easy when you're in school-- you see the same people every day for weeks, and so you can gradually transition from, "Can I borrow a pencil?" to "How was your weekend?" to "Want to get lunch [at the dining hall]?" and so on. Eventually, you are BFFs who can't exist without each other. That is just the way it goes, and that whole progression takes about 2.4 seconds.
Ok, sometimes it takes somewhat longer than that, but it is a very natural series of interactions.
Not so, after college.
Post-college, making friends becomes (1) a challenge and (2) surprisingly stressful. I think the mind games (at least that I play with myself) are every bit as intense as the dating-related mind games. Hoping someone will want to be your friend is even more stressful, I think. After all, if someone doesn't want to date you... fair enough. Maybe the person is not single, or maybe not looking for a relationship. But if someone doesn't want to be your friend? No way around that-- that's personal.
No one says, "Oh, no, you seem great. It's just... I have a friend already, you know?"
If you extend an offer of friendship and are declined, well, that just kind of sucks.
So the dance is very intricate, in order to avoid exactly that scenario. At some point in the "casual" conversations, it is possible to begin to glean if maybe this other person might possibly be interested in a friendship. Maybe.
Then, cautiously, you can extend an invitation to take your friendship a step farther. Coffee, perhaps. A drink? Lunch, if you are daring.
Hold your breath in anticipation, but try to look super relaxed. Maybe, even if she turns you down, it's just because she's busy.
Or maybe because she hates you and never wants to spend time with you ever no matter what. That is an equally likely possibility.
The level of energy that can go into this is immense.
Want to go get a cup of coffee as long as we both shall live?*
*Many thanks to Twirl for her way of phrasing this. I laughed for about half an hour, and continue to chuckle whenever I think of this. So awkward. So. True.