Thursday, April 02, 2009

friends, real and virtual

Beck wrote a post on friendship and posed the question, "Is it easier to make friends as an adult than as a child?" I started to leave a comment but realized it would be really long and border on hijacking her post, so I moved here instead....

A THOUSAND TIMES YES. I was painfully shy as a child/teenager. People who know me in real life now may not believe it...but some might. I've had friends tell me they thought I was a snob when they first met me because I seemed standoffish, but I'm not, really...that was just my inner 12 year old showing.

But it's still hard as an adult. I wonder how many friendships we lose out on too due to superficial judging. I've been very aware of this in myself lately. We recently made an unexpected visit to a park...not to meet anyone, it was a "we have to kill some time" kind of thing...and I found myself scanning the other mother's at the park and silently picking them apart. C'mon, man, don't judge me! I don't mean in an ugly sort of way, I just mean people-watching, sizing things up, watching them with their children and the way they interacted, assessing their clothes, their speech, and knowing that I would likely have far more in common with this mom.....


than with this one....

Not only is there the matter of finding someone you click with, there's the time constraints, on both sides, to deal with. Since we're not 12 years old anymore, we all have so much of our own stuff going on...and your expectations have to click too. There is a woman, a real life friend (no she doesn't read my blog, hehe...that would be really passive aggressive, huh?) that I just dearly love to spend time with and have been friends with for years. But we hardly see each other. She just doesn't seem to need to spend much time with people. An introvert, I guess. Or else she hates me and doesn't know how to tell me. Definitely one of the two. There have been times I've really needed a friend and have tried to lean on her more than she seemed to want, and my feelings were definitely twanged by that experience. This happened fairly early on in our friendship. We had been getting along famously, we had everything in the world in common, and then she just kind of pulled back. Around the same time a close family member was dying and I called her, twice, and she didn't return my phone calls. That really hurt. And soon after *that* she had a close family member dying (I know, aren't we tragic though?), and I tried so hard to be there for her and she made it pretty clear she didn't need that at all, and I thought, well, she's just introverted and private and not everyone feels the need for constant verbal diarrhea that I do, and I let it go, only to find out that she *did* need the support, she just was accepting it from EVERYONE ELSE WE KNEW. Like, literally, everyone else knew everything that was going on and was speaking to her on a regular basis but me. So, being the 12 year old that I am, I pulled back too. Maybe that's not fair. Maybe she had her own stuff going on at the time that had nothing to do with me. Maybe she was dealing with a death in the family and was a little too wrapped up in all of that than to worry about my inner 12 year old, but there it is. I felt burned again, and there were a couple of other instances that just made it clear that she probably didn't think we had as much in common as I did. And while we are still friends, and I do love her dearly, and she is really a very sweet woman, we will probably never be any closer than we currently are, because she doesn't seem to need that and I'm not willing to put myself out there to her like that again. And that makes me kinda sad. And the ironic thing is that sometimes when I do see her it feels like the tables have turned, that maybe she is feeling a bit neglected by *me*, which makes this all very exhausting and ironic and....

I did say that this was *easier* as an adult than it was as a kid, right? Ok, maybe *making* friends is easier as an adult, but *keeping* friends was definitely easier as a kid when a love for Cabbage Patch Kids was all you needed to bring you together.

4 comments:

carmelitemom said...

Hmmm...I would have to say it's harder for me...or maybe about the same since I am an introvert. I guess I find it harder since I tend to have preconceived notions of who would make a good friend. (kind of like your pics) Now that I am homeschooling, I am interested in forming friendships with other homeschooling moms. Unfortunately, most aren't Catholic so we don't seem to *click*. So far I have found a mom who I have become close friends with although we can't get together as much as we would like to. That's why I am sooo very grateful for some of the internet friendships I have formed : )

J.C. said...

Shy Mel? :) Wow, I would never guess from your blog! I would say it's about the same. Friendship is always somewhat complicated, though...and nowadays, time-consuming. I actually think I'm more introverted now than in high school. I realized later in life that hanging out with big extrovert-leader types then modified my behavior, and that I'm not really as outgoing as I thought. I was just competitive and achievement-oriented. As cheesy as it sounds, my husband is hands down my very best friend, and outside our families, our best friends are Catholic families. I can be friends with people very different from myself, but for very intimate friendships, the Catholic part ends up being fundamental. Now, internet friendship is still very mysterious to me. Sometimes, the combox feels like the cafeteria. Maybe it's a lack of internet social-savvy! If someone doesn't answer your question or comment, is it because they're busy homeschooling? (which is what I always assume! :)) or are you just imposing and not taking a hint! See, how high school never ends! Sorry about the situation with your friend. It is disappointing when someone doesn't reciprocate your affection, no matter how old we are!

mel said...

Oh no! Because cafeterias were the worst. Oh man, I have so many bad cafeteria memories...that and P.E.

I'm grateful for internet friendships too...if just for the fact that they dont' operate on "real time", so you can kind of step into a conversation, then step out when you need to, and then come back and pick it back up again.

Kelly said...

Internet friendships are easier for me to make & keep but I find "real life" friendships much, much harder to maintain these days, even when I manage to make them. Life with 6 kids and homeschooling and all our other challenges make it hard to keep and nurture friendships the way I want to. :(