ice cream sandwich and you end up talking to a cool guy or girl. You think, hey, I'd like to be friends with this person. You also think that might be a little strange since you've had a conversation for maybe 10 minutes with a complete stranger. Nonetheless, you like this person and you think you'd like to have them as a friend. You decide to ask them out on a friend date. But what do you say? That's what we're dealing with in this post.
Be Clear: This Is Not a DateAlthough we'd like to say that gender combinations have no effect on this situation, they do to some extent. A guy asking a guy to hang out is going to be a little different than a girl asking a girl for the same. It gets a little more complicated when you mix up the sexes, because there's a general assumption that spending time together translates to a date of the more romantic variety. It's important to be clear about your intentions, and since you'll be in the midst of a conversation before you, er, pop the question, you'll have an opportunity to express them. Therapist Roger S. Gil offers a few suggestions for handling this sort of situation:
[One] gender issue to consider is the "are they hitting on me" factor. If you're trying to befriend someone of the opposite sex, you might lead them to believe that you're hitting on them if you ask them to hang out outright. This is less common when trying to befriend someone of the same sex but it does happen so be mindful of the questions you ask (e.g. "Are you single?"). An implicit way of removing the "are they hitting on me" factor is to mention any significant other you may have. That way you're declaring your unavailability and implying that you're not looking for a mate…just a friend.
How to "Pick Up" a FriendYou're having a nice conversation but time is running thin. You want to see this person again, but you want them to know your interests are entirely platonic. Here's what you can say.
"Would you like to do __________ sometime?" or "I'm doing __________ later. Want to come with?"
Roger suggests you should "[a]void comments like, 'you seem pretty cool, we should hang out' unless you really just hit it off with the person. Such comments can weird people out. By keeping it about something else (e.g. not them but about a shared interest), you avoid them becoming defensive." Suggesting a common activity makes it easier for the person to be honest. Rejecting an activity is considerably easier than rejecting a person.
"Are you on Facebook?"
If you're feeling hesitant and not really sure if they want to hang out, you can always resort to the cushion of social media. Virtually everyone is on Facebook, so you know the answer you're going to get. You can exchange information, potentially even send a friend request right then and there, and continue talking with the aid of the internet. If you feel like you need more time to develop the friendship before the two of you start spending time together, this is an easy, simple way to do it.
"Do you want to hang out sometime? I'm not looking for a date, but I'd like to be friends."
Often times the best thing you can do is be straightforward and honest. Although this may put your potential friend on the defensive should they not want to spend any additional time with you, it's hard to fault a person for being clear and true. When I posed this question to friends and Lifehacker readers, this was the most common advice (not counting the many jokes and I Love You, Man references, of course).
How to Deal with the AftermathYou managed to ask the question, but now what? If they said yes, you have to move forward with the details. If they said no, you have another awkward situation to deal with. Here's how to handle both.
This post was illustrated by Dana Zemack. Check out more of her stick figure comics and follow her on Twitter.
A big thanks goes out to Roger S. Gil, M.A.M.F.T. for helping out with this post. You can follow Roger on Twitter and check out his podcast. Also, thank you to everyone who responded with their advice on Facebook and Google+!
You can follow Adam Dachis, the author of this post, on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook. Twitter's the best way to contact him, too.