I thought it might be useful to conduct interviews on the subject of friendship and am going to aim for the last Thursday of each month. These will be regular people just like you and me and I hope we can learn something from one another.
My first interview is with Darla, a Facebook friend who grew up on the same street as my husband. The two of us have never met in person (her mom was at my bridal shower), but when I looked for interviewees, Dar was one of the first people to jump at the offer.
Darla is married and has one daughter.
Here’s the script of our conversation:
Thanks for agreeing to do this, Darla. I really appreciate it.
S: For the record, are you an introvert or extrovert? Introverts can have a harder time making friends.
D: I would consider myself mostly an introvert but can be outgoing amongst those I feel close or comfortable with.
S: Actually, I can totally identify with that. Once people get to know me they find out I’m not as ‘quiet’ as their initial impression may have led them to believe.
Other than your introversion, Darla, what is your biggest challenge to developing new friendships?
D: Getting out and making time for myself to see friends.
S: That can be hard, especially when you’re working outside the home. Do you have an established circle of friends that you get together with, or are you more in the market for new ones?
D: I have some established friends, have lost touch with a lot, but am always looking to meet new ones.
S: What is your approach to finding new friends and has your approach been successful? You may have heard I’m looking for new friends too and am open to suggestions on how to meet them.
D: I generally chat with people when I'm out (use to be at dance a lot) and starting up a conversation has been somewhat successful depending on where I met them (again dance was a very social place). Or make friends with people I meet through friends.
S: I’ve heard of people making friends through other friends. I’d be curious to know if other blog readers find this a good way. I guess I’m always worried about the possibility of jealousy or competition, like you might be seen as ‘stealing’ your friends’ friends, instead of both of you expanding your circle. Of course, good friends shouldn’t really think that way. What’s your definition of a good friend?
D: A good friend is someone who you can go for long periods of time without seeing but still feel like you just saw them and is a good listener/good sharer. One who would help you if you needed help.
S: I definitely have friends like that; I just wish we could see each other more often.
D: Ideally I would love to see my friends once a week, even just for a short chat at Tim Hortons. But, for me once a month for a longer period would also be satisfying and the most doable.
S: By your own definition, do you think you are a good friend to others?
D: Sometimes yes I'm a good friend but I tend to let hubby/daughter activities take up too much of my time and don't take the "me time" I need in order to see my friends. I can go months without seeing a friend but would go out of my way to help if they called me up. I keep in touch with friends via FB and email if I don't physically see them.
S: I think women are like that, and while it’s understandable that we should put our families’ needs at the top of our list, we shouldn’t put ourselves at the very bottom.
D: I’ve learned that over the years and know that I HAVE to have my “me time.”
S: Wise indeed!
You mentioned earlier that a good friend is someone who would help you if you needed help. Can you think of any friends you could call at 2 a.m. and know that they would be there for you?
D: I don't think I would ever call a friend at 2am but I'd probably call my sister. I would feel that I would inconvenience them.
S: I feel the same way. Unfortunately, I don’t have any siblings to call on and no other family in town.
Do you have any favourite activities to do with friends?
D: I enjoy a lunch date and having a comfortable place to sit and chat. One of my favourite friends doesn't drive so relies on public transportation. I pick her up and we go for lunch then either back to her house or my hotel (if I'm staying in town). We usually spend a few hours catching up.
Other times, I'll have my husband take the kids (hers and mine) and my friend and I just hang out and chat at home.
Someone mentioned a book club recently and since I love reading I'm thinking that might be an enjoyable activity, too!
S: I love my book club – that was an instance of bringing neighbours together and then adding some friends into the mix. We have room for more members; it’s too bad you don’t live close enough – it would be great to have you join us.
D: One of these days, I’d love to meet you at a Tim Hortons, at least!
Just a few last questions. Hopefully readers are hanging in there with us!
What does your ideal friendship look like and do you feel you’re pretty intentional about making and keeping friends?
D: An ideal friendship would be comfortable and joyful, no matter what activities are involved. One that could be maintained with little effort just because it would be so simple. And, by simple I mean - pick up the phone, send an email or text and bang you have plans to meet up.
As for intentions, my intentions may be good but, as I said, I let other things take over my life. My intention this year is to be more proactive in keeping in touch.
S: I’ve found that you need to attach your intentions to action. One of my intentions for this year is to do a better job of remembering friends’ special occasions – birthdays, etc. So I have it on my calendar at the beginning of each month to write out the cards and then to put them in the mail at the appropriate time.
On another track, can a friendship run its course? How do you know when it's time to move on?
D: I believe that friendships can run their course. Sometimes there are just changes in life that push friends apart. I think when you don't get a response to a call or email or if you see that person in passing and they brush you off, it's time to move on.
S: What's the worst thing a friend could do to you?
D: Probably lie or avoid you because they owe you money.
S: Loaning money is definitely tricky. I’ve loaned money in the past, but I’ve learned it’s not a great idea. And of course, honesty is a key in friendship!
So how do you deal with conflict when it arises?
D: Usually argue or have a disagreement then not talk for awhile then after cooling off, apologize if needed and talk and hope that that friend reciprocates.
S: Apologies are so important in any relationship and I know some people who have a really hard time with that.
I don’t want to take up any more of your time, so let’s wrap this up with a final question.
What is your best advice on the subject of friendship?
D: Be willing to be flexible and understanding.
S: That is great advice! Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts on friendship. It also helped me to get to know you a little bit better. If you ever move out this way...
And now, dear readers, if you’d care to chime in (and I hope you do!), please leave a comment below. Darla and I would love to hear from you!