Here’s an unfortunate little truism, taken from a study recently published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships: “It is not possible to have friends without first making friends.”

Look, I’m very much in favor of having friends. I even have some myself! It’s just that the making friends part — the ambiguous zone between meeting someone new and comfortably calling them a friend — is, if we’re all being honest, kind of awful: the small talk, the worrying about coming off as either too needy or too disinterested, the pretending not to size each other up while really sizing each other up. There’s a reason everyone likes to complain about how much dating sucks, and yet we rarely talk about how forging new friendships is just another variation of the same awkward dance. It’s like when people say they wish they could skip straight to the comfortable Netflix-and-sweatpants stage of a relationships; the earliest days of a new friendship would be so much nicer if you could bypass conversations about siblings and alma maters and go right into being able to carry on a G-chat conversation that consists mostly of the word “ugh” back and forth.