On Friendship

One of the saddest parts of growing older is that the number of friends you have goes down after highschool. People simply disappear into their own lives and journeys, and it can be a long time before you start building up new friendships. If you’re a shy person, well, you might have to prepare for some tough years of loneliness. Combat some shyness by taking a deep breath, smile, listen to the person, ask questions, just talk politely- it gets easier.

Making friends at high school is often as easy as sharing some jokes with the person you’re allocated to sit next to. Classmates are easy to make friends with – you’ve got 24 people to choose from and after a while you find you have something in common with someone, you talk, you sit with one another, you have lunch together and suddenly a year later you’re best friends. I wonder if this kind of approach would work for the real world. Do you think if I just like, follow someone nice looking around they’ll eventually accept me and agree to hang out? Work is another place where you are thrown together and so end up having to converse together, and eventually (or quickly, if your workmates are cool cats) you might become more than workmates (real mates, wow!).

Perhaps if I take my hood down she will know I just want to get a coffee, play scrabble, have a chat, you know, that kind of non-violent non-murderous thing.
Perhaps if I take my hood down she will know I just want to get a coffee, play scrabble, have a chat, you know, that kind of non-violent non-murderous thing.

It’s actually making a friend for real that’s harder. Finding someone who you just ‘click with’ and want to spend time with in a non-romantic way that is more difficult to find. I read a magazine article once by a woman who took up the challenge of making a friend. She asked her current friends and workmates to set her up on friend dates to see if there was anyone she got along with really well. After meeting with multiple women, she ended up with (I think) 1 new friend. The others didn’t work out, but she was surprised to find that all of the people who agreed to help her did so with enthusiasm and well-wishes. Apparently, it’s common for women to find themselves a little lonely as they get older. I am really very fortunate to have a partner that doubles as a best-friend who’s fun to do stuff with.

This is what we all need.
This is what we all need. Except it’s hard when you’re a Chandler.

Maintaining friendships is also harder than it was in highschool, or at your job – you don’t see them everyday. You have to put in effort and time. It doesn’t matter if you’re tired because of pesky things like working six days a week, having family commitments, study… if you want to keep friendships healthy you have to be prepared to ring them up, and see them. This is something that I know, but aren’t very good at practicing. I have to work on it or else when I whine, “I have nooo friiiennnds” it will be really true. Sleepovers were my favourite past-time when I was younger, but there’s something less easy about them now – we all have more things to do than play the sims and eat chips, unfortunately. ‘We’ referring to my friends, I’m in my pajamas on a Friday eating chips and blogging.

 Ah, I know what I need to do! Lock a bunch of different people in a room with me for 8 hours and see where the fun takes us! Baring our tortured souls, smoking some dope, dancing to '80s soundtracks... perfect recipe.

Ah, I know what I need to do! Lock a bunch of different people in a room with me for 8 hours and see where the fun takes us! Baring our tortured souls, smoking some dope, dancing to ’80s soundtracks… perfect recipe.

Being a good friend, is also hard. Damn, I am not making friendship look good in this post, am I? But they are, really. Friends are the people who we can hang out in the sun with, vent to, talk with, see a different perspective of yourself from, see other lives in play by, laugh with, cry with, and simply not feel lonely with. We make friends because we’re social creatures. However, it is true that making and maintaining friendships and being a good one can be hard. Do I have any tips? Well, I think it helps to let your friends know that your door is always open for a chat, to always be there at their birthday parties, to let them know you haven’t forgotten them, to send them links or things that they are especially interested in and to always say thankyou when they do the same for you. The little things that show you listen and care, you know.

All this talk(..ing, to myself.) is to muse on one thing. What kind of friend am I? Probably – most likely not a very good one. Do I want to be a better one? Yep! Can I be a better one? Let’s hope so! I’m going to be the Leo to your Kate, mates. 

If all the work you put in fails, that’s just the course of nature. Friendships dry up. It’s inevitable for some. I read something once about how most female relationships begin with becoming as close as you possibly can be – you talk about everything, but they often end in silence. They can fizzle. I don’t know how to stop that from happening. It’s just life and people. I just know that the ones that don’t are special and deserve your extra consideration, and that there’s always someone out there who could possibly be your newest friend. I don’t know when I’ll meet my next one, but when I do, I hope it’s lovely. And that they like midoori, horror movies, walks and sarcastic comments on things currently happening. Man, we’re going to have a great time.

Semi Related Youtube Video: Be My Friend! 

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18 thoughts on “On Friendship

  1. Have you heard of Robin Dunbar’s work? I heard him talk a couple of years ago at the Edinburgh Science Festival, about friendships. I remember him saying that most people tend to make their life-long lasting friends in their late teens and early twenties. Largely because (if I’m remembering right) that’s a period when we have more independence and also more time to hang out with people of our choosing than when we were at school or when really get stuck into long working hours, child-rearing, caring for elderly parents, etc.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunbar's_number

    It was certainly true for me that I found it much harder to make friends when I moved in my thirties (on my own – I’ve seen many women successfully make friends through their young children when they move to a new place). I found it really hard, and still wish I had better friends nearby, though like you I’m lucky to have a bestfriendpartner.
    My closest friends are still mainly people I’ve known a long time.
    Re high school friends – many of these turn out to be fairly superficial friendships. My two stepsons talk of all their mates, yet I would bet good money that in five or ten years’ time they’ll be in touch with at most one or two of the guys they hung out with at lunchtime in their high school years. And not necessarily the ones they expected…a quarter century after leaving school, I still regularly see and talk to two people from my year, and I don’t think when I was 17 I’d have predicted it’d be either of them!

  2. Most ‘friendships’ in school and Uni are superficial, more acquaintances… at work it’s more about office politics, keeping the big dicks happy and their egos massaged… you’re better off with just a couple of really good friends you can share debates and lols with.

  3. Then, of course there is the “Facebook friend” where you can get all those lost high school friends, and more, back again! Facebook has kinda dissolved or diluted the meaning of the word friend, hasn’t it?
    Another great post, Jess. 🙂

  4. It honestly kills me that you (and it appears a lot of other people) found it so easy to make friends in high school. Not so for me. Ostracized for the majority of high school was the easy part for yours truly. But I agree with your point, that in the real world, friendships are different from high school ones. It’s like relationships in general. In high school you had a boyfriend for, what, a week? And then that was over, and you had another one. And the list went on. The ones who went steady for all four years were the rare ones, and staying friends after high school wasn’t too doable, if you know what I mean. But now, having solid friends who are there for you, and who aren’t transient, it’s a tough one. Great thought inducer.

    1. I didn’t mean to imply that I was amazingly popular haha, I simply got lucky – a nice school and didn’t get in the path of any bullies. So true about the relationships, too. Thank you, and good luck in your real life friendships 😉 If only they weren’t so tough to find.

      1. You got lucky. Ha ha. 🙂 Thanks for your response, Jess. I’m not bitter, believe me, but it’s even harder to maintain adult friendships than to get friends in the first place in high school.

  5. Great post! As a shy person myself with a small group of good friends, I get lonely sometimes, or feel like there’s something wrong with me because I’m not as outgoing. You have to step out of your comfort zone and take initiative, or try new things – just be pro-active about it – relationships don’t grow on trees 🙂
    There’s a site called girlfriend social for women looking for new friends. Unfortunately for me, the service is only available in some places, Israel not included.

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