Hey, kind readers, thanks for all of your feedback on yesterday’s post about friendship and jealousy. You all gave me a lot to think about, and the BEST part was finding out I’m not alone in having difficulty becoming a member of a group of friends. It’s important to think about it, and I realize I do it a lot. I even wrote that “friend” is my favorite word back in May!
A couple of comments made me think about WHY some of us have this issue. My son’s partner realizes she has some issues being in groups, thanks to her autism symptoms, which make forming friendships difficult for her, but make her value her real friends even more (I am happy she is MY friend!). She’s not alone. Many of us note that forming friendships is hard due to personality challenges. Some of us are shy; others aren’t great at (or fond of) the kind of bonding but non-substantive conversations that lead to deeper friendships. [Insert your own reasons here.]
A neighbor texted me wondering if people even realize I want to be their friend. I found that amusing/ironic, since this was someone I want to be friends with and have no idea if they realize it. The point was that sometimes people appear to others as if they have some kind of boundary or other presentation that makes them appear to want to keep their distance. Aha! That was an insight to me. Maybe people misinterpret my “resting hermit face” for not wanting to socialize. And maybe I misinterpret others, too!
Anita and I had a good talk about barriers to friendship as well. She noted that I always appear to be so busy that potential friends might think I’d have no time for more people in my life. I like to think I make time for my friends (right Mandi and Kathleen and Mike(s) and Martha?), but I know sometimes I let things lapse, despite good intentions. (And judging from this paragraph, I have at LEAST 6 real-life friends, so I’m not so inept after all).
She also pointed out that my subtle hints about wanting to join in may not get through (oh, you are going to a distillery? I love that kind of thing). One part of my Southern passive-aggressive upbringing I just can’t shake is that I always ask for things VERY indirectly. Curse you, fear of rejection!
Anita gave two examples where she just butted in and directly asked to join in. One led to her marriage and one led to a life-long friendship. That works for her. I’d need to overcome that fear of rejection, but as Anita pointed out, people rarely just say “no.”
One thing that brought me back to reality was when Cathy commented on yesterday’s post that sometimes you finally get in a group and realize you didn’t want to be there in the first place. That gave me a chuckle. Then she pointed out that it might be easier to just be friends with some of the individuals. I realize I have done that in the past and expanded my social circle.
I do want to note that a lot of people just don’t want a large social circle. Some prefer a small number of intimate friends and relegate others to acquaintances they aren’t all that close to, but like just fine. That sounds like my husband, and probably me much of the time. But I enjoy my groups (book club, animal welfare, Master Naturalists, Friends of LLL) a lot, too. Hmm.
Being in between extroverted and introverted, I think I waver about my preferences. I’m fascinated by people and how different they all are, yet I also get all worn out from too much people-ing. So, if even I don’t know what kinds of friendships I want and how many, how can I expect other people to figure it out (or care)?
As it always seems to happen, I come to the same conclusion. I’m fine even if I’m different from others, and I need to give everyone else a break, too. We all have issues. We do NOT know what’s going on in other people’s heads (unless we somehow have managed to become close friends with them, which seems pretty unlikely after all the barriers I’ve become aware of!).
I think I’ve exhausted this topic, but I am very interested in hearing what you all have to say. Feel free to comment here, so others can join the conversation. But don’t worry, I love the Facebook conversations, texts, and personal interactions that result from my stream-of-consciousness ramblings. I think we all learn a lot, so thanks!