Developing close friendships

Go down

Developing close friendships Empty Developing close friendships

Post by Mel on Fri Jan 23, 2015 12:37 pm

This is spinning off ElizaJane's thread, but I didn't want to hijack hers.

So, I relate a lot to what ElizaJane and caliseivy said in the thread linked to above about wondering if you should be socializing more but not really having the energy and/or enough desire to put the work in. The problem I run into is that I really do feel I'm missing something, but the something I'd like to have isn't a bunch of friends I see somewhat regularly, it's one or two close--"best"--friends I felt I could share just about everything with. I had that in high school, but those friendships were mainly based on proximity + reasonably close personality styles rather than having a lot in common, and we grew apart during our university years. I haven't had a really close friendship since then, and I often feel lonely for not having that. It particularly hit home a couple years ago when something pretty awful happened to me and my husband, and my parents were out of town, and I realized I had no one at all I felt comfortable turning to for support (I'm not even super close with my parents, but enough that I could have at least talked a little if they'd been around) except for my husband who wasn't in a great position since he was needing support too.

The problem is that while I'm totally willing and even enthusiastic about doing the work of maintaining one or two really close friendships, I find the thought of all the work required to establish said friendships incredibly daunting. Because first you have to meet lots of other people in order to end up connecting with someone who clicks with you enough and you find trustworthy enough that you'd want to get close with them, and who wants to do the same with you. But of course you can't determine that immediately--you need to do the work of slowly deepening the friendship and seeing how things go, and you may have to do that with dozens of people who you end up deciding you don't completely click with (or they decide they don't completely click with you). I've also always been the kind of person to go emotionally all in fairly fast--I generally knew I wanted to get serious with the boyfriends I've had within a few weeks of dating, for example. I can enjoy casual, "seeing each other around" type friendships and close friendships where I know I can count on the other person and am prepared to be there for anything they need me for, but I find the middle ground between the two very difficult to navigate emotionally, because I'm always worried about asking or giving more than the other person will end up being comfortable with, or expending a lot of energy and then feeling crappy because I realize the person isn't interested in returning the same. At my age it's also made more difficult by the fact that it seems most people I know already have their tight friendships and don't really have emotional room for more.

So, I've done the work of getting myself into a variety of social circles and getting to know a fairly broad range of people on a casual level. I was kind of hoping that proximity might lead to closer friendships just naturally developing the way they did when I was a kid/teen. But that hasn't really seemed to happen. And the few people I've felt I related to the best have been people who already have a tight inner social circle and don't seem to be looking for more than casual hang-outs. The process is additionally complicated by the fact that I had a few bad experiences as a teen with hitting it off with a friend and then glomming onto them more than they apparently wanted (see above about going all in quickly--I'm not talking about in a stalkerish way, of course, but, say, always going to sit next to them in class or during lunch hour, and after a while having something happen that made me realize they were annoyed by that and hadn't really wanted to talk with me that often, which felt really awful and embarrassing), so now I'm pretty cautious about assuming people actually want to hang out with me outside of public-ish events after I've extended one or two invites to something one-on-one or smaller group and they've declined, unless they follow up and follow through with invites of their own. But that hasn't gotten me very far and I'm starting to wonder if maybe I need to just accept that I'm going to have to do more of the pursuing since I'm more invested in finding closer friends than these people probably are. But then how do I judge when to stop pursuing/where the difference is between "I would like to hang out more but have trouble getting it organized" vs. "I don't really want to hang out that much and wish you would quit asking"? Razz

(Complicating factor #3 is that I seem to be very bad at judging enthusiasm when a person says something like, "This time doesn't work, but I'd love to some other time" and whether it's real vs. politeness unless they do concretely follow up later. e.g., Not that long ago I invited someone to a small group type get together, and she said she couldn't make it but thanked me at length for wanting to include her and said how much she wished she could come, which seemed a pretty clear sign that she was being more than just polite, so I said I was probably going to do another get together later on and asked if she wanted me to check with her when I had the details... and she never responded. Which I have trouble taking as meaning anything other than, "Actually, no, but I'm embarrassed to say so after I just acted as if I would want that." Embarassed And even on the off chance she just didn't have time to respond right away and then forgot--this was months ago--I'd have a really hard time feeling okay about asking her again unless she made some sort of overture toward me first. On a lesser scale I've had several people in the last couple years say things to me like, "You should totally do X with me!" and I will say, "That sounds great, my schedule's pretty flexible, just let me know when it's happening/you're able to!" and then they never follow up, and I feel awkward bringing it up again myself when we don't really have a dynamic established outside of the larger group. But maybe I should anyway?)

Anyone have any tips on navigating a situation like this, or even just one specific part of it? I feel like in some ways dating was so much easier than friending, even though I struggled with that too, because at least there are clearer avenues for finding people looking for similar levels of intimacy and checking where the person was at emotionally once you were seeing each other. Razz
Mel
Mel
Roving Moderator

Posts : 317
Reputation : 182
Join date : 2014-09-24

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Developing close friendships Empty Re: Developing close friendships

Post by The Wisp on Fri Jan 23, 2015 1:17 pm

I can relate to this soooo much Mel. I also am mostly interested in a few close friends rather than a wider circle of not-as-close friends, I don't have either, and I also feel like the process is incredibly daunting, though I haven't been able to find the energy to go out nearly as much as you seem to have.

At my age it's also made more difficult by the fact that it seems most people I know already have their tight friendships and don't really have emotional room for more.

I'm obviously way younger than you, but I feel the exact same way about my situation. Most people in college seem to have their solid group of friends by the time their sophomores or juniors and aren't looking for much else.

The process is additionally complicated by the fact that I had a few bad experiences as a teen with hitting it off with a friend and then glomming onto them more than they apparently wanted

This has happened to me a lot, and it makes me afraid of expressing that I enjoy being around people.
The Wisp
The Wisp

Posts : 896
Reputation : 198
Join date : 2014-10-01

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Developing close friendships Empty Re: Developing close friendships

Post by Autumnflame on Fri Jan 23, 2015 1:52 pm

Sadly, I do not, as this is something I struggle with a bit myself. (I'm generally all right at developing hanging-out-acquaintances and invite-as-part-of-an-accepted-group friendships, but close friendships where you'll just go over to chat and hang out or go to for emotional support? I think I've had like... two, maybe three in the last ten years, and one of those was online.)

In general, though, I suspect Captain Awkward's guidelines for contacting people you're interested in carries through for platonic interactions as well as romantic - twice, and no more. No harm in inquiring, even if you suspect it was more polite than genuine; maybe limit it to just once if they shade more toward the far side of "making polite noises." I definitely have a few wider-acquaintance/friend pool-group of friends that made those noises, but based on what I know of them, it was a genuine feeling; they just were busy and forgetful, and it wasn't enough of a priority to them to make a concerted effort (which it wasn't for me, either; I think for both of us it was more of a "nice to have, would be cool if it happened but also fine if it didn't").
Autumnflame
Autumnflame

Posts : 181
Reputation : 55
Join date : 2014-10-03

View user profile http://priscillakim.carbonmade.com

Back to top Go down

Developing close friendships Empty Re: Developing close friendships

Post by Guest on Fri Jan 23, 2015 3:01 pm

This is a really good post. I have often had this reaction to dating advice, too (not to hijack) because a lot of it seems to read, "Go out and meet lots of people, and they'll know single men and will introduce you!" And I think, "But that many friends is EXHAUSTING."

I'm not sure if this makes sense, but... part of it may just be deciding, "Yes, this person," before you know for sure. I mean, I had that person in HS, and in college. And in both cases, it wasn't a difficult struggle to look for and pursue a best friend. In college especially, it was, "This department has 30ish people in it that I see a lot, and you fall in with one of them, and then you are best friends and the relationship deepens."

I wonder if we are searching too much for perfection in these things. My grandmother's best friend was her next-door neighbor, because of proximity. My middle school best friend was the other girl my age on my street. My HS best friend was the girl who was in both my church youth group and my HS classes. My mom's college best friend was her assigned roommate.

I think proximity and the decision to be friends with this person is the most important thing.

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Developing close friendships Empty Re: Developing close friendships

Post by Caffeinated on Fri Jan 23, 2015 4:39 pm

ElizaJane wrote:
I'm not sure if this makes sense, but... part of it may just be deciding, "Yes, this person," before you know for sure.  I mean, I had that person in HS, and in college.  And in both cases, it wasn't a difficult struggle to look for and pursue a best friend.  In college especially, it was, "This department has 30ish people in it that I see a lot, and you fall in with one of them, and then you are best friends and the relationship deepens."

I wonder if we are searching too much for perfection in these things.  My grandmother's best friend was her next-door neighbor, because of proximity.  My middle school best friend was the other girl my age on my street.  My HS best friend was the girl who was in both my church youth group and my HS classes.  My mom's college best friend was her assigned roommate.

I think proximity and the decision to be friends with this person is the most important thing.

Yes. I think too much screening and filtering and looking for perfection is not a good thing in finding friends. A little bit, as in making sure you're not hanging out with someone who is just a big jerk or treats you in a mean way, that's good. But beyond that, someone who you enjoy being around and who has the time to be your friend is most of what's required to develop a friendship.
Caffeinated
Caffeinated

Posts : 455
Reputation : 273
Join date : 2014-12-08

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Developing close friendships Empty Re: Developing close friendships

Post by Enail on Sat Jan 24, 2015 2:00 pm

I have this problem too. I'm usually alright with making casual friendships, even long-lasting casual ones. But I'm really bad at turning them into emotionally close ones, probably because I'm terrible at talk-about-my-feelings-ing and the like - even when what I'm saying is very personal and emotional, the way I say it somehow seems to give the impression it's not. Or maybe it's just that the other person doesn't want that kind of interaction and I'm not picking up on that (I'm usually pretty good at reading small cues like that, I think, though).

In university and a little while after, I found that doing ordinary-life stuff like cooking together was a really good way to turn a fairly well-established friendship into a 'friends like family' one, where you can be more comfortable together and rely on each other for things, without having to be the one to somehow level up the conversation. But that doesn't seem to work very well with the standard 'this is how real adults do friendship in my part of the world' format, because people my age seem to feel like they have to be a host and be "on" if they're having someone over, instead of just hanging out casually in the kitchen and such. It just doesn't seem to translate well to a more comfortable friendship. And I think it requires a certain amount of physical proximity to be able to develop that casual feel that, ironically, is characteristic of closer friendships.

I do think, though, that a lot of adults are actually looking to make some close friends. Almost everyone I've talked to about friendship at some point confesses that they wish they had a really close friend, so I think the situation there is actually better than it seems in some ways. But even with all these people who do want close friends, everyone's got other things going on and limited social energy to spend on people who maybe could be close friends but aren't yet and maybe don't want to be. So it kind of works out to the same thing, it seems.

One thing that you might be able to put to work for you, Mel - I noticed that when my sister had young kids, they actually seemed to act as a comfortablel-izer, that it was easier to move casual friendships with other parents to a greater level of closeness and relying on each other. Maybe because it is more of a norm to ask the mom or dad you see at the playground regularly to exchange babysitting and the like, and that translates into other markers of close friendship?
Enail
Enail
Admin

Posts : 3997
Reputation : 2214
Join date : 2014-09-22

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Developing close friendships Empty Re: Developing close friendships

Post by Mel on Sat Jan 24, 2015 5:18 pm

I'm sorry to hear others have struggled with the same thing, though it's also nice to know I'm not alone. Razz Thanks for the commiseration!

I do generally follow the "twice and no more" guideline when I'm reaching out to other people. I have more trouble figuring out where a reasonable stopping line is in those cases when technically the other person extended the invite but then never made it totally concrete. I really don't like the idea of putting someone on the spot if they didn't mean the invite literally or changed their mind. (Obviously there are some cases when it's clearly okay to say, "Hey, so when is that X you mentioned happening?" but there are other times when because of the framing/situation it feels more intrusive to push.)

Something I do think I need to get over, though, is feeling that if someone didn't follow through on an invite I should therefore see that as also a no to any invites from me. Because I'm sure sometimes people are just getting busy and forgetting (I just can't tell which times are which, so if I ask I'm risking the "putting them on the spot" thing), and that can give them an opportunity to show whether they are interested in hanging out without reminding them of somewhere they've dropped the ball.

I don't think I'm being *super* picky… My main criteria are that I enjoy interacting with the person and that we have at least a couple common interests to talk about/build activities around (the latter because the reason my old friendships fell apart was mainly that once we no longer had shared school experiences to talk about, we didn't have much to, like, get excited about together or that sort of thing, you know?). I haven't tried much because of the being intimidated by the thought of the effort thing, but with a few people I thought I was getting along with well things have cropped up that have made me realize they're not a good person for me to get close to (for various reasons from them having a social style that's likely to make me quite anxious if we were closer to them expressing overtly misogynist beliefs--and yes, that one was a woman *cringe* ), and some other people I've gotten the impression that while I'd be happy to "decide" on them, they aren't interested in anything deeper with me (though in some cases that may be mistaken, see paragraph above). The decision does have to be mutual, after all.

I have probably also let the idea that other people are likely to (or sound like they do) have "enough" friends already intimidate me more than it should. And I can recognize that I may at times be "pickier" than necessarily makes sense, as a defense mechanism (if I find a reason that I wouldn't really want to be good friends with them, then I don't have to care if they don't want to be good friends with me Razz ), and that's something else I'm trying to work on.

Enail, I like the cooking together idea. Something I'll keep in mind. I'm also hoping that the parent thing may lead to more social connections down the line. I'll admit I've been a little more wary socializing with other parents (who are otherwise strangers) than in other settings just because I've seen a lot of judgement get thrown around when it comes to parenting decisions (which tend to come up pretty quickly since the most obvious topic of conversation is what's going on with your kid). I am slowly getting more comfortable in those settings, though, and I'm sure it'll be even easier once the kid is old enough to start talking with people and really interacting himself. Smile

Thanks for all the thoughts shared so far! I'm starting to come up for a "socializing more" plan, can't implement it yet because my free time is swamped with work stuff, but hopefully soon. Feels good just having an idea of what to try.
Mel
Mel
Roving Moderator

Posts : 317
Reputation : 182
Join date : 2014-09-24

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Developing close friendships Empty Re: Developing close friendships

Post by Caffeinated on Sat Jan 24, 2015 6:08 pm

Enail wrote:
I noticed that when my sister had young kids, they actually seemed to act as a comfortablel-izer, that it was easier to move casual friendships with other parents to a greater level of closeness and relying on each other. Maybe because it is more of a norm to ask the mom or dad you see at the playground regularly to exchange babysitting and the like, and that translates into other markers of close friendship?

This is an interesting one. It appears to work that way for some parents, but for me, trying to socialize and be Mommy at the same time is nearly impossible. It's like it magnifies all my social anxieties tenfold. Part of that is having a shy child who (used to) cling to my leg if there were people around that he didn't know. Another part is that I'm not good at multitasking, especially when it's two or more difficult or attention-consuming things, and taking care of the kids and talking to new people qualify.

I do have one Mom friend that I specifically made since having kids and who also has a same age kid (as opposed to people I already knew from before who have also had kids, although the ones I'm closer to mostly live far away). She and I met via a Craigslist ad. She put an ad in the personals-strictly platonic section looking for a friend, and I responded, and we met up and got along well enough to do it again, and started meeting nearly every week for about a year, just hanging out and talking while our kids played. I've responded to a couple other Craigslist ads for friendship, but never had things go beyond the exchanging a couple emails stage.

Now that my oldest is in preschool, I'm feeling internal pressure to maybe be more social with the other parents there and try to set up play dates and stuff, but haven't managed to get past the fear and do anything about that yet.

Caffeinated
Caffeinated

Posts : 455
Reputation : 273
Join date : 2014-12-08

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Developing close friendships Empty Re: Developing close friendships

Post by Sponsored content


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

Back to top


 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum