Will You Be My Friend? Check Yes or No

On Sunday I watched a father and son eat lunch. The father was on his cell phone for most of their meal, while the son ate in silence. I found this odd because usually I see younger people on their cells while the older people are sitting there in silence, but more than finding it odd I found it sad and representative of our technologically-obsessed culture. So attached are we to our gadgets that portability is a must. We must be available at all times, to all people. We must have wireless internet access and internet and music on our phones, even TVs in our cars. We must update our Twitter and our Facebook daily, if not hourly, so everyone knows what we’re doing or thinking. Of course, the irony of all of this is that while we’re seemingly so connected to each other, we couldn’t be more isolated. We neglect real relationships for cyber ones, preferring a text or email over a phone call, a phone call instead of face-to-face interaction. It’s just easier that way. Right?

I have found myself trapped in some of the scenarios I’ve just described, and it’s only lately that I’ve realized that I’ve allowed myself to hide behind my online presence. I’m more comfortable baring my soul on a blog post or in a facebook post than I am in real life. The online me is the selective version of me, and so the online me is safe, protected. And I’ve allowed myself to believe that I’m cultivating and maintaining friendships because I know what my friends are all up to thanks to the wonders of social networking, and yet how often have I actually called them up to find out? In person communication isn’t always possible, but I know I can do better than exchanging facebook messages.

The truth is, I don’t know how to make friends anymore. It was so easy in college and mostly easy in grad school because I was constantly thrown together with people in the same stage of life as I. I lived with these people, went to classes with them, shared meals with them, goofed off with them, and so it was natural that relationships would develop. Now, however, I am an adult, and I am not “forced” into interacting with others on a daily basis, and I am floundering. I wasn’t bothered by my lack of new friendships when I first got married because I was content to spend every hour of the day with my husband, and I still treasure our relationship and his presence, but my girlie soul longs for female companionship, too. I don’t even have any close friends at the church I’ve been a member of for a year and a half. How sad is that? There are women at church that I have shared passing conversations with, but I have never managed to muster enough courage to get to know them better by inviting any of them out to lunch or to the park or even to Target. (And now I sound like a guy who’s trying to get up enough courage to ask a girl out. Awesome.) I suppose deep down I am afraid of being rejected, and so I don’t say anything. I’m good at that, it seems.

Part of me (a rather large part) didn’t want to write this post because I am aware of how completely lame I am, but I am putting it out there in the hopes that I am not alone in feeling this way. (Plus, it’s late at night and it’s possible my judgment is impaired.) Does anyone else struggle with cultivating friendships? I welcome any and all suggestions/thoughts.

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21 thoughts on “Will You Be My Friend? Check Yes or No

  1. Agreed. Technology overwhelms me sometimes…in a very bad way. If used properly, it can be so good- it can actually help us have better relationships with individuals who may be farther away. The problem with that is then we usually spend less time with the people who are close…

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  2. i have this problem too! i'm always so much more comfortable writing to people than going up and talking to people–i hardly Ever have the courage to ask a girl to go hang out with me. i guess its because i'm a lot more confident in my writing than my talking! and with all the moving bryan and i have done in the past few years, all of my close friends are people that i keep in contact with via the web, and i'm so grateful for their friendships, but its not the same as actual hang-out-time.

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  3. I am so with you. I cried last weekend because I felt lonely, even though I'd been places all weekend. How sad is that? My DH essentially said what you said, and I agreed whole-heartedly. It's so easy b/t the busyness of life and fear of real intimacy to “hide.”

    I've decided that I have to step out of my comfort zone a bit more. We're “pursuing” another couple for friendship, and hopefully the ability to share more than “How are you?” and “What did you do last weekend?”

    I've been in Raleigh for the last 3 years, but all of my BFF's are in another city. It's so HARD to start that work all over again. But I need to work on cultivating relationships with people where I can drop in/they can drop in… and I feel like I can ask for help or a shoulder to cry on.

    But it's risky and hard. I fear rejection, and I question my own worth. “Will they like me?” “Maybe they'll think I'm weird.”

    And then the other part that I struggle with is… often I have to do all the pursuing, the invites out, dinner, etc. That leaves me feeling worn out and not very loved. But I'm taking the risks anyway. I'm too much of a relational person to stay as I am.

    Good luck as you strive to put yourself out there a bit more. Keep us posted. Andrea http://www.isaacandandrea.blogspot.com

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  4. I totally understand! I was so lonely when I moved here, because I had never “made” friends – just been thrown with people and became friends thru proximity.
    God was so good, and gradually brought people into my life, thru work and church and even an online video game, that now I have several amazing in-person friends. God is faithful like that, I think. ~ L

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  5. I just stumbled upon your blog, but just let me tell you that you are not alone! I can so relate to how you're feeling and was actually just talking to my husband about this the other day.

    We moved to a new city last year and it has been so hard to make new friends because I miss my old friends so much!
    I to am uncomfortable with taking initiative and making plans to get together with people that I don't know very well, but I've found that once I get out of my comfort zone and do it a few times it gets a lot easier! Keep in mind that maybe that other person your so afraid to initiate a friendship with might want to invite YOU out for that cup of coffee but has the same problem with feeling shy and embarassed that you do.
    Also, know and believe that you have a lot to offer others. Not only do you need a friend, but they might to, so not only could a new friend be a blessing to you, but you can be a blessing to someone else as well!
    God created us for relationships and I am so grateful for the wonderful people that He's put into my life through the different seasons that I've walked though. I am confident that God will meet you as you step out of your comfort zone….so go muster up that courage and see what He does!

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  6. It's WAY hard for me. Growing up close to my two sisters, and having the same best friends since I was in elementary school, it was really rough moving 1400 miles away from them all 3 years ago, and no, I still don't have 'replacements' for them, not that I want replacements, but it would be nice to have a buddy that you don't have to feel too self-conscious about asking them to hang out for a few hours. πŸ™‚ I know exactly what you're feeling. I think it gets easier when you let go of expectations. Once I quit expecting people to befriend me, I realized that people were being friendly, it just didn't measure up to the familiarity I have with those closest to me, but it takes years to get to that point. πŸ™‚ Anyway, you're certainly not alone friend.

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  7. i am so totally here as well–it's hard to meet new people when you aren't always being introduced to them in classes or organized functions and all that stuff. and since i live in a college town, all the friends that i make here seem to move away! boo.

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  8. I keep up with everyone via Facebook and blogs so much that I rarely even talk to friends anymore, even lifelong ones. I'm just so busy trying to make my wife happy that I don't think about calling people up.

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  9. I'm so totally with you on this one. Just last week I mentioned in one of my blogs that I have no friends outside of the online version because I've dedicated all my life to my family and kids. At least I do have this as a release when needed. Now that the kids have grown up, sometimes Facebook is the only way I really know what they are up to (I have a lot of step kids)….

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  10. erin – I'm late in commenting on this (as usual) but I just wanted to chime in and say I totally understand what you are saying.

    Even though I'm older than you, it's so easy to get sucked into the internet world, that you feel like you have friends, when you really might not. Does that make sense?

    Thanks for sharing this. It gives me a lot to think about.

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  11. I was thinking the same thing! I miss my friends from college, but we've all drifted apart. And now in a new city it's so hard to meet girls to be friends with….I wish I knew how, and I feel lame whenever I say something about it to anyone. But it's lonely! Let me know if you come up with a solution!

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  12. You are totally not lame! There are tons and tons of people in similar situations. Myself included. I recently flew 2000 miles away to see a friend from online – it was a blast. We had just as much fun in person as we do online. However, making friends in this area? Seems impossible!

    I wish I could offer some advice, but Im no good at making new friends either. If I ever figure out an amazing secret, I will be sure to share it!

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  13. You are definitely not alone in your feelings, Erin!! I made friends in college, too, and some afterwards. But we moved right before my daughter was born three years ago, and I became a SAHM. Since I don't regularly get out and about, I don't interact with people other than my own family very much at all – and I miss it! But I've become very shy, and have a hard time thinking about asking people to hang out. What a silly conundrum.

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  14. You are not lame, because if you are, that means I'm lame, too. And I don't think I am. I think. Anyway, I can certainly relate. I moved away from my hometown and besides a select few folks from church, I don't have any friends here. And it's been that way for almost 10 years. I keep up with friends back home via Facebook, but I never call anybody up to talk, it's always thru status updates or comments. I always have my BlackBerry in my hand or in my pocket, and as soon as it beeps or vibrates, I can't wait to see who it is or read what it says. I'm trying very hard to ween myself from it. But it's hard. My wife and I have decided that the problem is with us and we're the only ones who can change it. So, we're going to make ourselves socialize with people…*gasp* face to face. With my stepson in band now, and my daughter at the age now of getting into more school activities, I think that'll help us meet new people and hopefully become more sociable. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to tweet about this. Blessings to you and yours!

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  15. Ugh. I used to be so good at making friends. Now it is hard. People my age are often steps ahead of me now being married, and with children even, and I am finding we have less and less in common. They tell cute stories or complain about something their husband and/or child did and I enjoy hearing them, but I cannot truly understand them since I have neither a husband nor a child.
    Technology has only made it harder. I have these interactions with people who I knew only in passing in college, and now on facebook we leave messages for each other several times a week. However, should I come across this person 'in person' I wouldn't feel as though I could be as candid.
    Friendship takes a lot of TLC and people seem to have so little time anymore…

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  16. Erin, I totally sympathize. Living in Croatia was the first year I was out of grad school (since college of course), and it was really hard for me to make friends. I was really busy, and I fortunately just wanted to talk to my boyfriend all the time, but at the same time I really missed having a female support network. It makes me really nervous that, especially with the language difficulties, i'll really have a hard time making friends when I move back. Imagine going to a party full of strangers all chattering in a language you don't understand!

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  17. Pingback: Never Unfriended: A Book Review and Giveaway! | One Honest Mess

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