I’ve never been one to make friends very easily. I’m not a social butterfly and I tend to feel very awkward around people that don’t already know me. I’m always wondering if I said the wrong thing, did the wrong thing, or if I’m just too boring of a person for someone new to be bothered enough to want to hang out with me again. At the same time that I’m worried about my inadequacies, I’m also picky about who I’d want to be around. I can’t be bothered with people that are overly happy and bubbly or always embroiled in drama. For a friendship with me, picky eaters who don’t love wine need not apply. You would think that given these limitations I’d be happy with the fact that I don’t have many friends but instead I feel lonely quite often and long for meaningful friendships with people who live close enough to hang out with on a whim.
I have moved around a lot as an adult so the vast majority of my friendships are with people who I rarely even get to see, and the older we get, jobs and responsibilities and children keep us from being able to make the time for each other like we used to. Each year 4 of my best friends and I used to get together for a girls trip. We all lived in different locations so it was great to set aside that time for each other and have fun and cut loose for some debauchery or relaxation. It’s been years since we’ve had a trip and as we have added 2 husbands, 4 babies, multiple job changes and countless responsibilities amongst the 5 of us, there’s also nothing planned on the horizon. It’s been far too long since we’ve been kicked out of a nightclub, fallen down in the street together or just enjoyed a simple meal in each other’s company.
While my closest friends continue to live spread out across multiple states, I crave connections with people local to me. I’d love to be able to get together with “the girls” on random Friday night to catch a chick flick, or have a spa day after brunch some Sunday, or just vent about life face to face with people who get me. It’s doesn’t even have to take that much effort. We can just hang out at home while our children play in the background.
I’ve made one good friend since I’ve lived in my current location but I need a solid little group of at least 3-4. I’ve got to be able to spread my neediness around a bit. As an adult, making friends is so awkward. I now know what it’s like to be a guy trying to meet women and get dates.
You spot a woman who seems to have the qualities you’re looking for. She seems nice. She seems like your kind of person. Oh look, she’s funny too. What can I say to spark up a conversation that could lead to us having dinner sometime soon? Come on self, say something witty. Stop staring at her while you think of something to say, you’re making it weird. Wait, don’t be too dismissive or she’ll think you’re not interested.
This is everything happening in my head and I’m not even trying to have sex with her! I met a girl who seemed nice at my prenatal yoga class. Each week our spots were next to each other and we chatted about pregnancy and I contemplated how I was going to turn this into a budding friendship before we each had our babies and were no longer in class together. It seemed like fate when we ran into each other at Target! Too bad I was all awkward and weird and probably scared the crap out of her. After exchanging pleasantries, asking if we would be at the next class and a brief mention of how many weeks along we were now, I lingered a bit too long with no words coming out of my mouth. In my head I was arguing with myself. Ask her if she wants to get some lunch sometime. No, she might think that’s a bit much. Well how else do you think you’ll be friends if you don’t do something outside of yoga class? In the briefest of moments I saw the look of “what the hell” on her face and we ended with “OK see you in class Thursday.” She was not in class on Thursday. I never saw her again. I was kind of relieved and yet bummed that I didn’t get a chance to redeem myself. Of course before Thursday I had practiced what I would say so I could come off like a normal human being but that’s now several hours of practice down the drain.
I also tried a Meetup group. About 15 people had RSVP’d to attend so I figured I’d have a decent time finding at least someone I could hang out with regularly. By the time of the event the RSVP list dropped to a grand total of 3 people, including me. One was a single, childless, 23 year old woman. Another was 30 year old single, childless man. We had nothing in common. I need to be with other adults I can relate to. I need to find my tribe. I don’t think what I’m looking for is too much…
- No health nuts. I like food. All food. I can’t enjoy a meal with someone who is constantly commenting on the calories in my taco or how bad red meat is for me. Take your kale chips and GTFO.
- Have your shit together… but not TOO much. I’m far from perfect, but I can’t tolerate someone who is in a constant hell of their own making because they’re just a fuck-up. We all have our moments, but we also have to recognize our failures and get it together for the next round. A perpetual downward spiral and crumbling of someone’s life is torture to witness and I will not let someone else’s mess bring me down with them. If I’m in my boat and I see someone drowning, I’m going to reach out my hand to pull them up, but I’m not jumping in the water too. I’ve got too many passengers in my boat depending on me. Also, please don’t highlight my imperfections by having all of your ducks so neatly in a row all the time. Plus, perfect people bore me. What the hell would we ever talk about if it wasn’t for the mishaps and misadventures of life?! And of course our kids can’t play together if they’ve never known what it’s like for you to have made them a struggle lunch using hot dog buns with peanut butter and jelly because you ran out of bread again. My kids could learn they’re being shortchanged in the mommy preparedness department and no one wants that.
- A healthy appreciation for booze. An ideal candidate is someone that the casual onlooker may mistake for a person on their way to mild alcoholism but her game face is ready for adulting the moment we’re done blowing off steam. Day drinking is preferable. I’m older and have responsibilities. I need to be back home and sober in time to get the kids clothes ready for tomorrow and get a decent nights sleep. None of this out-all-night crap. I’m too old and tired for that.
- No naturally skinny chicks with high metabolisms. I can’t hang out with someone who eats like crap but still stays lithe and fit without any effort. I’ll end up eating what I see them eating and forget we are not cut from the same cloth. I’ll be wondering what the hell happened to my waistline while you shrug and order more mozzarella sticks for the table. If we are going to sit on our asses and eat pizza sometimes we BOTH need to feel shame together. Maybe we can encourage each other to make it to the gym in the morning. But not too early please. All this cheese is making me sleepy.
- Doing nothing must be an acceptable activity. A friend of mine has to be equally down for going places and doing things as they are for sitting on the couch watching TV. Binge watching “Say Yes to the Dress” is in fact an activity. Doing nothing is oftentimes my plans for the day. We can do nothing together. My favorite people are the ones who travel all the way from another state to visit me and have absolutely no desire to go anywhere or do anything other than hang out at my house. The reality is, we are such good friends that we don’t need the distraction of busy-ness to enjoy each other’s company. Just being in the same room provides laughter, entertainment, connection and memories.
I miss my friends. I miss my connections to other people as a day-to-day staple of life. It doesn’t help that I also work from home full time so I’m isolated. I wish I had the courage of my 8 year old to just walk up to people and ask if they want to be friends, although I don’t think adults like that very much. I would. I once had a great friendship form with someone who said “what are you doing today?” And when I responded “going home” she said “ok I’ll come too!” What can I say, I admire boldness. Then we both moved away again after a couple of years. So here I am. Looking for my own flock of seagulls. Again.