If you've ever seen I Love You, Man -- the hilarious comedy starring Jason Segel and Paul Rudd defining a "bromance," or tight platonic relationship between two men -- you know it's not easy for a guy to just up and find a best male buddy. A wingman, if you will. Similarly, I've always wondered to myself upon moving to a new city where and how I would end up making close girlfriends. You can't just snap your fingers and suddenly have a Rachel, Phoebe and Monica to call your own. Friendships just have to happen over time ... organically, right?
But there's no denying that whether you're a newbie in town (like I was) or socially awkward (like Paul Rudd's character in ILYM), getting a little help could make the whole process of platonic friend-finding at least a little less intimidating. That's why Anna Battiloro started a social networking website called WingMENandWOMEN.com, devoted to being the buddy-finding equivalent of say, PlentyofFish.com.
She explained her inspiration for WingMENandWOMEN.com to The Stir exclusively ...
Most of my friends either live far away or are married and raising young children. Being single and new to my neighborhood, I was left without a go-to person to enjoy nightlife with on the weekends. I found myself wishing there was some kind of website that would make it easy for me to find other women in my neighborhood to hang with on the weekends.
But looking for a fellow single lady to go clubbing with isn't the only excuse to look for a Wing, Anna explains. You can use the site to find golf partners, someone to train with for a 5K, or another SAHM (Stay at Home Mom) for a playdate.
I definitely see Anna's concept as filling a void, because no one goes on dating sites to find a genuine buddy ... (unless you're inserting a word that begins with "F" in front of "buddy"). And friending strangers on Facebook is a little creepy, right?
Anna explained Facebook-like features on her site, which, unlike Facebook, is actually devoted to meeting people you don't already know ...
We leveraged the "friend request" functionality that most people are familiar with by creating "Wing Requests" as an initial way to make a connection. You can private message other users to find out more about them and schedule a time and place to meet up to really get the friendship going. We also provide an event feature called "Flock Events," so users can create public or private events for lots of "Wings" to get together and "Join the Flock," so to speak!
There are elements of MeetUp.com on the site, too, but Anna says her site allows users to get really specific about what they're looking for in a friend, so they will definitely share common interests. Plus, in their profiles, they answer thoughtful questions like "What makes me a good Wing," so the connections are more eHarmony than Craigslist. (Yeah, when it comes to meeting people online, a little built-in quality control is always helpful!)
If you think about it, only several years go, meeting someone you would date or even end up marrying ONLINE was rare. But so much has changed in regards to the taboo surrounding finding love online, I wouldn't be surprised if cultivating friendships online became the next big thing. Being that we could all do well to make more connections, I'm definitely psyched for Anna's site to take flight (pun intended!).
Have you or would you look for platonic friends online?
Image via lululemon athletica/Flickr