Cities can be scary places to make new friends. It can be hard enough just navigating between boroughs or through traffic, let alone forming bonds with people you may only have time to see once a week. Sure, texts and tweets help connect people in the modern world, but — similar to romantic relationships — you don’t want to come off as overbearing, clingy or “too” interested. So how do you solidify those friendships without alienating your would-be friends?
Let “Casual’s” Alex and his family of students teach you.
Played by Tommy Dewey on Hulu’s hit comedy, Alex has a way with people that’s hard to emulate, but not impossible. Below, we’ve collected a list of his techniques for meeting and sustaining relationships. But we’ve also broken down whether it’s a good idea for you to do the same, seeing as we’re not all as tall, handsome and inherently charming as the slick founder of the dating site Snooger.
Partake in Bar Trivia
The Dewey System: As a “field trip,” Alex, Leon and Laura decide to head to a local bar (fortunately for the underage Laura, the bouncer chooses to look the other way) and compete in the ancient art of the pub quiz. It isn’t quite the learning experience Alex was hoping for, but it does get them out of the house, and Leon even has some luck making a new sort of friend.
Would It Work? Do you feel awkward and nervous in social settings? A nice way to counterbalance that is with the structure that comes with a game experience. Pub quizzes might be the perfect scenario to get to know some new people in a casual environment, while also enjoying a beverage and showing off your knowledge of obscure musical artists. Choose the bar carefully, though, lest you might find yourself hanging with hipsters and/or college students.
Make “Friends” of Friends’ Friends
The Dewey System: After his sister brings home a one-night stand, Alex takes a liking to him and makes him waffles the morning-after. While Valerie is extremely uncomfortable about this, Alex persists and the two become best friends.
Would It Work? It could! One person’s mismatch is another’s perfect match, especially on a platonic level. Alex never fears sparking up conversations and seeing where they lead, and neither should you. Now, if it’s a substantial breakup — between your sibling and her boo — you may want to think twice. Otherwise, be open to everyone, no matter the introduction.
Host a BBQ
The Dewey System: In an effort to connect with is new boss, Alex throws a party to bond with co-workers, friends and, of course, the new boss. He may or may not have ulterior motives in hosting the shindig, but he nevertheless progressed his relationship with Jordan (Vincent Kartheiser).
Would It Work? Alex applied the system for less than traditional means, but that shouldn’t stop you from inviting a group of people you want to get closer to over for a meal — co-workers, friends of friends, family connections, anyone. Make sure you’re putting your best foot forward by cooking (or catering) an easy but delicious meal (like BBQ) that lets you schmooze with people during the party. Feel free to have your established friends (or sister and her daughter) stop by to help keep the party going. Alex knows the important part is the conversation in a friendly environment, and you should, too.
Don’t Even Think About the “Friend Zone”
The Dewey System: Alex summed this up perfectly in Season 2, Episode 3: “Don’t say ‘friend zone.’ It’s a gross term. It’s like there’s some dichotomy between romantic and non-romantic relationships, and someone categorically puts you in one or the other.” When you’re making friends, just focus on the bond itself rather than what kind of friend they’re going to be. Or, if you want to think about it like Alex likely does, just leave your options open in terms of who you may or may not sleep with.
Would It Work? It has to work. How would you feel if someone you just met already labeled you? “Oh, you’re my work friend.” “You’re my drinking friend.” “You’re my gossip friend.” “You’re my movie friend.” All of those may be ways for you to bond, but if you like someone — platonic or otherwise — one dimensionality should never be the goal.
Surround Yourself with Cool Fake Friends to Make Cool Real Friends
The Dewey System: In an effort to help Valerie get close with Jennifer (Katie Aselton), Alex arranged for he and a few friends to go out with his sister at a bar they thought Jennifer would be visiting. The plan was for his tattooed friend (et all) to look like Valerie’s friend(s) in order to make Jennifer think she had cool friends. Guess what? It worked.
Would It Work? As complicated as this sounds, it’s actually a great idea if you have a friend with friends to help you out. That may be tricky if you moved to a big city alone, but even if you go out with co-workers or find another easy invite that surrounds you with diverse, interesting people, you might be able to leverage that into new friendships on-the-scene.
New episodes of “Casual” premiere every Tuesday on Hulu.