Some people call it chemistry. Others use the term first impressions. But scores of women have told me that they can sense immediately whether or not they are going to "click" with another woman. It's much like the romantic notion of "love at first sight." This, too, is the basic premise behind "speed-friending."
Shasta Nelson, a relationships and transitions life coach from the San Francisco Bay area of California, is organizing speed-friending events in cities across the country to help women meet new friends, a process that is akin to that of speed-dating, which gained popularity almost two decades ago. Nelson is the founder of www.GirlfriendCircles.com (GFC), an online community whose goal is to help women connect face-to-face, and form self-affirming and joyful friendships. The group is rapidly expanding to include participants from San Jose, Portland, Seattle, Chicago and New York City. Speed-friending is the latest addition to the GFC portfolio.
The events are designed to be easy and comfortable. Small groups of women mingle before they meet at an assigned table for four, speak a few minutes about a question put before them, and move on to three new tables to repeat the process, enabling them to meet at least 12 potential friends over the course of the evening.
Sad but true: The large majority of female friendships come to an end. So women need to replenish their inventory from time to time. This is particularly true when our lives veer in a different or unexpected direction and circumstances that once brought us together are no longer there to make them stick---for example, upon graduation, a geographical move, a change in a job or career, or a change in marital status.
Every woman attending is there for the same expressed purpose: to make new female friends. "We aren't big fans of small awkward talk, handing out business cards, or shaking hands through big crowds," she says. "It just takes too much energy and is often unfulfilling. But the other extreme of simply going online and browsing profiles can be pretty artificial and then you're left having to go out on a one-on-one, like a date! No thanks!"
GirlfriendCircle's first live speed-friending event is planned for Thursday, September 17th in the Bay area (more info here) as part of National Women's Friendship Month. Nelson believes that the evening will be a success in terms of the seeding of new friendships: "The joy of speed-friending, as opposed to speed-dating, is that you're not there with the pressure to find that 'perfect one.'"
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Irene S. Levine, PhD is a freelance journalist and author. She holds an appointment as a professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine and her book about female friendships, Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend will be published by Overlook Press on September 20, 2009. She also blogs about female friendships at The Friendship Blog.
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