Copyright

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Thursday, 14 January 2016

Will You Be My Friend?



Remember those carefree days of childhood when all you had to do was ask someone if they wanted to be your friend? I mean ask them straight out, whether you met them on the first day of school, on the playground or wherever? While they could say ‘no,’ of course, the resilience of childhood meant the sting of rejection didn’t last; you just moved on and asked someone else.

If only making friends were as simple for adults. But I guess we carry too much baggage for that and people probably would look at us funny if we came right out and asked if they would meet this need.

So how do you make friends? Most advice columnists would suggest that you start by looking in the right places. Do you like books? Join a book club. Are you spiritual? Get involved in a church, synagogue or temple. Enjoy sports? Find a group that engages in your preferred activity. These are all good ideas to get you started, but they don’t ensure that you’ll make friends.

I love my monthly book club. It’s a great group of women and it’s easy to get sidetracked from book discussion to what’s going on in our lives. I love my church; my pastors challenge me to grow spiritually and I’m involved in a weekly small group made up of people who love God and want to follow Him better. I’m not sporty – ‘nuf said. Of the dozen women I connect with in the month, there’s only one I get together with outside of the group context. But several of the women are already retired. Does this mean they’re just too busy for me? That we’re ships passing because we’re at different life stages?

I recently heard of a library offering a friendship program for those in their 20s. A spin-off of speed-dating, people would come together to quickly find out if there was common ground for building a friendship and take it from there. I was kind of disappointed it wasn’t for people in my age category. We need friends too, and it’s a false assumption that we already have them. Some of us have lost friends to moves, the busyness of life, misunderstandings, even death. For introverts, even the loss of one friend is significant.

What to do, what to do?

If someone asked me to be her friend, it might be an unusual strategy, but it just might work. Is it bad to say it would depend on the person? After all, the best friendships will be made on the basis of having something in common. Simply being human probably won’t be enough. We’re not on the playground anymore.

I think my starting strategy will be to look at the women I know are geographically close to me and with whom I have at least a passing acquaintance. There are one or two I’ve thought I could be friends with, given the opportunity. I think I’ll give them a call or fire off an e-mail and see if they’re interested in going out for coffee. Anyone else want to try this or think it might work? Is it bold?

I’ll report back on my success (or failure) next week. Stay tuned.

6 comments:

  1. So beautifully written, as always, and kind. It's hard to imagine someone like you would have trouble making friends at all but I think the reasons you state are accurate to us all. I've lost a couple of friends recently, one after a long struggle (I really liked her but she bugged me like crazy) and the other one who I was not as close to but did spend a lot of time with. I'm not quite sure where to turn to make a friend or two (and not just anyone, as you say, but people I really like hanging out with), but I'll keep your advice in mind as I go about my days.
    If you were nearby, I'd go for coffee with you. ;)
    - PJ

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    1. And I would go for coffee with you, PJ!

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  2. Someone asked me a few years ago to be her friend. At first, I avoided her. Finally, I told her that I had a lot going on in my life, and I did not want more friends. I felt bad about the situation. The problem was that from the first time she spoke to me, she seemed to want to be very involved in my life. She wanted to help me walk my dogs. No! I walk with my dogs. It's part of the way we bond. She wanted to help me edit books. No! Authors hire ME, and they expect to get me. I won't turn over their work to someone else. Besides, I'm an introvert. I like slow building, quiet friendships. I wish you well. I'm sure you'll find more friends, but please give friendships a chance to grow.

    Love,
    Janie

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  3. Of course, Janie! As an introvert, I can't imagine ever pushing myself on someone as this person did to you. Ugh.

    Thanks for sharing your story as a warning to readers. Wanting a friend does not mean clinging to people and suffocating/drowning them. That only pushes others away.

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  4. I'm thinking that since you call yourself an introvert, maybe you could write a little something about that, what it's perceived to mean and what it means to you. Positives and negatives, etc. Just riffing.
    pj

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    1. Thanks, PJ; you confirm what I've been thinking about :)

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