Today,with thanks to Siobhan, we’re discussing something we’ve touched on before at AOW. It’s the thorny issue of making friends as an adult – and incidentally, in my humble opinion, one of the very best things about this blog. We’re all here to talk to each other, and learn from each other, and the friendship comes naturally from that.
But what about if the person involved isn’t part of this community, and it’s not so easy? What if you’re a fully-grown adult still asking that question about whether the person you like is a friend, about whether you’ve crossed that boundary? Why is it so difficult to lay ourselves on the line and offer ourselves in friendship? What do we fear? Over to you, Siobhan:
I know AOW has written about this before, this issue of making friends as an adult. I’ve seen it in other places too and I have no idea how we do it. My parents I know made friends through church and us as kids but what if you have no kids or church? How do you make friends then?
I am so low in self confidence in this sphere and I doubt myself and others all the time. In work I know I know what I am doing and trust that others respect me, but if those work colleagues might be friends I get pretty lost. Are they just nice to me because we work together? When they said they wanted to go for coffee does that mean we are friends or not? Did they really mean it or were they just being polite? I always assume the latter and have almost certainly lost friends that way. Making friends terrifies me at work so normally I just do not bother. If someone seems friendly I back away until that is a ship that has sailed. I try to get out of the burgeoning friendship before they do. It is horribly self-defeating.
I am about to move to a new city, and though I know some people there we will have to make the leap from online to in real life friends and I find that scary too. When I wrote The Cult That Made Me Me I was writing about a group of friends I made where they were mostly internet friends first. From there I have some of my best friends and my husband, but the nerves were very much there and the fear that they were just being polite as they are a very polite and kind lot. But as I have been invited into confidences, invited to weddings and so on, I have gradually come to realise that these are my friends.
I am still scared though. I think I come on too strong as a friend but it is only because I am so excited! Is there such a thing as playing hard to get with friends? Do we really have to do all that nonsense? As adults can’t we just go back to the simple way it was when we were kids and we just said “Will you be my friend?” and then once that was answered in the affirmative just got on with being friends? Nowadays that seems creepy though – the child-like honesty too bald or too child like to be taken as a simple attempt at honesty. I’ve tried something like that and it was not entirely successful.
I know I am not alone in moving to a new place, or in feeling scared about how to make friends, or if I am leaving as many friends as I think I am so I am writing this to find out how other AOWettes have dealt with this, are dealing with it. Is it really this hard? Or do we make it hard by overthinking? Is it really that hard to meet people? Will you be my friend?