It’s hard to make friends, especially when you’re trying. Friendship is a lot like romance, and all the stupid clichés applied to love can work here too – especially the one about it coming when you’re not looking for it. You can tell I’m about to get serious here, because I didn’t even pause to make the outstanding joke about the dangers of coming when you’re not looking.
I’ve gone through long periods of my life without any close friends, and I know how much it sucks. It’s difficult to break into a circle of people who are already close, and when you add a heaping bucket of social anxiety to the mix, it’s surprising that some people can end up forging friendships at all.
If anything, I’m living proof that it can be done. I had a few friends in Calgary, but certainly no one close. Fast forward a few years to Vancouver – there’s a dozen people that immediately come to mind when I think “friend!”, and I adore them and love spending time with them (and hope they feel the same way about me). I didn’t actively sit down and say “okay, I’m going to make some friends now” – but I did, and they are awesome.
Sometimes you have to feel people out to get a good sense of the kind of person they are. I’ve been lucky – my initial instinct of “invite everyone to come out and play” has only bitten me in the ass once or twice, and it hasn’t done much to dampen my natural exuberance. I live to have fun, and I want to share the good times with as many people as I can reach. Honestly, I’m incredibly shy by nature but once I open up, there’s no stopping me. I try to be generous with everything I have to give – love, time, boobs – and it really, really gets under my skin when I’m accused of something otherwise.
I don’t normally like to drag dirty laundry of this nature out for all to see, but I’m upset and need to get something off my ample chest so you get a bit of backstory:
Last week I had made a reservation for 10 people to go to the Irish Heather and enjoy a fancy meal. I figured seating for 10 would be enough, but I both miscalculated AND let my standard MO of “invite everyone!” overrule the headcount. As a result, my 10 seats were snapped up quickly, and there were others that still needed inviting.
Maybe I should have just increased the reservation myself, but I decided to gently love two birds with one hug and instead Facebook the event so I could a) remind those coming under my 10 seats, and b) inform additional people I wanted to invite so they could make the necessary arrangements. I didn’t need to do this: if I was content with just my 9 closest friends, I would have emailed them all and left it at that. I didn’t want others to feel left out though, so I went out of my way to invite and inform so they could come along.
Apparently, that wasn’t good enough.
Drama exploded all over the place, and it got in my hair and my eyes and on my clothes. People were furious and hurt that they weren’t in my Top Ten, causing vivid flashbacks to MySpace and high school. Messages were flung across every medium available, and passive aggressive statements came flying in like Missile Command. “It’s funny that people are amused by my hurt feelings; that sure says ‘friendship’” “Feelings are bad! Friendship should only ever be fun!” “My bad for thinking we were friends AT ALL” “I demand respect! I have feelings! I’m a human boy, just like you!!” “it’s so hard to make friends. They want superficial or they already have too many “friends” and no room for more.”
Seeing as I was just getting to KNOW this person, the thinly veiled attacks about how I’m a terrible friend and horrible person are a little over the top. I hate confrontation as much as anyone, but sometimes things get so crazy that Something Must Be Done – and that’s where I am right now. I’m not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but here’s my advice on how to make friends in a handy bullet point format:
- Being on the outskirts of several overlapping social circles does not automatically elevate anyone to friend status
- There is nothing wrong or inappropriate with spending time with someone in various settings to see if you click as friends
- Sometimes that click doesn’t happen for various reasons
- Name calling and passive aggressiveness is a surefire way to make people want to stay far away from you
- Friendship does not “only = fun” – but when a friendship is just starting to be formed, it is far too early to be dropping drama bombs and causing trouble
- .. because it’s easier to just walk away than figure out the eggshells you have to avoid so feelings won’t be hurt
- Friendship is a two-way street – you don’t get to (and shouldn’t have to) dictate HOW someone will be your friend, and if they don’t respond to your attacks and comments with “oh gee my bad, NOW I want to spend a lot of time with you because this sure is fun” you really shouldn’t be surprised
- I am an extremely welcoming person, and it takes a LOT to make me shut the door – but see above re: easier to walk away
- If you’ve got a protected Twitter feed and @ reply someone who doesn’t follow you, they won’t see your messages aimed at them
- Yes, I like to have fun – it’s my only goal in life. Maybe it’s superficial, but I’m not the one sitting at home sobbing into my keyboard because no one wants to play with me; I’m out having FUN
- Friends support each other through good times and bad
- Casual acquaintances do not have to do either
- There is no limit to the number of friends any one person can have, but it’s just common sense that some will be closer than others
- I like Diet Coke
This turned out longer than I intended it to, and my hands are very cold. All I’m trying to say is that all friendships had to start from somewhere, and if you just be yourself, the relationships will make themselves known. Declaring yourself an instant friend and then running amok because people don’t respond to your passive aggressive comments and/or don’t behave the way you deem they should is the fastest, bestest way to ensure that people choose NOT to include you in things and instead discuss amongst themselves the levels of crazy being sprayed all over the place.
I tried, and you declared it to be not good enough. You’re not my mother, so I am done.