In one of my favorite shows, Friends, there is a scene in the fourth season finale where we catch Chandler in bed and as Ross leaves the room, we see Monica pop up from under the covers, and one of TV’s greatest (and funniest) romances begins to take off.
For a long time, that was my ideal romance. It happened to me a few times in college (too many of my favorite stories from college start with an “I have feelings for you, Aaron!” followed by a “So…do you want to make out or something?” awkwardly asked by me.), but for some reason it’s never lasted (even with my great response to people laying their hearts on the line to me!). I’ve had friends that I’ve gone that direction with and we’ve left it on good terms, but I’ve also ruined some friendships in the same way.
And yet I’m constantly drawn to that TV idea of Monica and Chandler. I’m sure I’ve got friends who would happily date me, and I’m sure most people do, too. It’s just as we grow older and don’t have school to provide us with a constant stream of new friends, we get scared of taking something to a different place. We worry it’d ruin the friendship, or just think that despite our constant hanging out and ability to tolerate and even enjoy each other, a relationship wouldn’t work.
But really, who better to date than people we already know we can trust and enjoy? As Rosh Hashanah came this year, I made a list of about thirty people, male and female, I wanted to get closer with this year. I regularly add to the list, and I also reach out to the people on the list for hanging out on my quieter nights (typically Thursday night dinners a friend and I put together). This is pretty much my biggest goal of the year socially, to grow not just the breadth of my network but also the depth of my relationships.
Growing friendships in Dallas has been something I’ve enjoyed over the years as I’ve rekindled friendships from Hebrew School and just learned to see people in new ways. We know faces, but getting to know real people takes some work. Sometimes when I try to open people up at events they get a little too open (telling me when they lost their virginity, exposing their long-hidden racism, etc.), but overall I love getting to know the faces around me when I go out. So next time you go to a big Jewish event, don’t just think “oh great, them again”, try to find something new about those same old faces around you. You might just find your Monica or Chandler has been in front of you all along.