Superficial Friendships: How to Change Shallow Friendships

Superficial Friendships: How to Change Shallow Friendships

Today’s question is from an introverted woman who is unsatisfied with her superficial friendships. She feels she lacks deep friendships in her life, despite many acquaintances and social activities. What should she do when she feels like she only has shallow relationships?

Do you have a question for Nina? Use our anonymous form. You can read Nina’s answers to past questions here.

shallow friendships

Dear Nina,

During the years after college, I drifted away from most of my friends from that time. Since then I’ve worked in several places, pursued hobbies, had a child, and met other moms. After separating from my child’s father, I’ve put work into a new social life. I keep in touch with my colleagues, and I’m active in my religious community. I really love those activities, and I don’t do them just to meet people.

Still, I hardly have any close friends. I have nice acquaintances, and my social life is interesting as long as I show up. As soon as I don’t, due to holidays, work, whatever, it easily happens that I don’t talk to anyone for a week or more.

I know that a deep friendship is something rare, and that relationships develop slowly, especially at an age close to 50. Also, I like doing things on my own, I don’t need company all the time. Still I’m getting slightly desperate, because I seem unable to get beyond other people’s C-list. (A term I learned from this column!) It seems that other moms at school quickly become close. For example, other families from the group we joined for a canoeing trip exchanged phone numbers. For the record, I did exchange contact information with a nice family. We planned to meet, but it didn’t work out. After that, I wrote two e-mails, got no answer, and that was it. That’s pretty much how it goes all the time.

Is something wrong with me? Probably not. I’m an introvert, sometimes I seem unfriendly at first sight. Still, I’m not anti-social. I’m able to establish contact. I can both talk and listen, I’m fun (if I may say so myself!), and people like me in general. Still, when I reach out a little more, I find there are limits. I get nervous when my kid suggests we invite people for New Year’s Eve or other occasions. On days like that I literally can’t invite anyone – everybody already has plans. I’ve almost stopped planning birthday parties for myself, although I love to do this. I’m just infinitely tired of people’s explanations about why they can’t come. When I need someone to look after the flowers during holidays, or when I’m sick and could use some help, things get complicated. (To be fair, I have to say that so far I’ve always found someone. It mostly felt awkward though and very different from when I was younger and my friends and I could call one another any time.)

In your column and elsewhere so many people complain about imbalance in relationships, loneliness, and breaking up with a best friend. Sometimes I ask myself: Where do all those people live? I only seem to meet people who are perfectly happy and completely uninterested in new friends.

I’m grateful for the many fulfilling things and friendly people in my life. Still there are feelings of loneliness and of losing courage to try for deeper and less shallow friendships. I’d be very grateful to hear your opinion and your readers’ opinions,

Too Many Shallow Friendships

 

Dear Too Many Shallow Friendships,

To quote Winston Churchill, never, never, never give up. I believe those words apply strongly here. I could end the advice on that point, however, there are some details to attend to as well.

Let’s get something straight. The social life you’ve created should bring you significant pride. You’re right that it takes time and energy to make close, deep friendships. But it also takes time, energy, and skill to keep up with acquaintances and to stay involved in hobbies and other activities outside of work and home, especially after a separation.

In the short run, it’s easier to stay home and binge watch Game of Thrones on Netflix and enjoy that introverted side of your personality. I want to applaud you for getting out there to achieve your desired goal of making A-list friends. In fact, I believe making close friends is not too different from dating for a significant other. The only difference is that in the case of close friends, maybe you’ll end up with two or three instead of one particular life partner. (That said, even just one close friend is great.) I do want to say that I disagree with your statement that deep friendships are rare. I’d say they’re special, but not rare. There’s a difference.

Don’t Make Assumptions

With only your letter to draw on, I’m guessing that you’re making major assumptions about other people’s lives that are exacerbating your feelings of inadequacy in the friendship department. I also wonder if you have an unrealistic view of what a close friendship looks like and are therefore chasing something that does not exist. You might be closer to your goal than you think!

You said, “I have nice acquaintances, and my social life is interesting as long as I show up. As soon as I don’t, due to holidays, work, whatever, it easily happens that I don’t talk to anyone for a week or more.”

This is a perfect example of you feeling inadequate over something that is true for most people. The only person I speak to on the phone regularly is my sister-in-law, and I have a good amount of close, deep friendships with women both in and out of town. Even when it comes to my close friends in town, we can easily go weeks or a month or more without speaking on the phone or seeing each other in person. I know this is true for my friends and their other friends, too. If you focus on quantity of time over quality, I think you’ll always feel like you have shallow friendships. The depth of a friendship cannot be measured in minutes together or minutes on the phone.

The Only One With Superficial Friendships?

You then said, “It seems to me that other moms at school quickly become close.” How do you know that the banter you’re witnessing in the hallway or pickup line at school is anything more than very friendly acquaintances happy to see each other? Even if what you’re seeing is an example good friends interacting, it does not mean that these people would call each other to water the plants or to help when someone in the household is sick. (We’ll come back to flowers and sick calls later.)

You also said, “Other families from the group we joined for a canoeing trip exchanged phone numbers.” Again, how could you possibly know that their attempts to make plans ended any differently than yours with that one family? Or maybe they got together once or twice then never again. You cannot presume to know what happened after the numbers were exchanged. I wouldn’t take it personally that it didn’t work out to get together with that one family. Most people suck at follow through with new people. It’s a bummer and it’s frustrating, but it’s not personal. They don’t even know you!

Your situation is likely better than you think. You even pointed out that while it was hard to find someone to help you with the flowers or the few times you’ve needed extra hands around, you did find friends to come over eventually.

When To Ask For Help

While we’re on the topic of watering flowers, I think it’s worth mentioning that when it comes to things like watering flowers or bringing in the garbage cans, I’m not likely to ask a friend unless she lives next door or across the street. If I didn’t want to ask a neighbor for that favor, I would pay a high school kid in the neighborhood a few bucks a day to do the chore while we’re gone. I do think it’s healthy to be careful and reasonable about how much you expect from your friends.

As you said of some of your friends, “As soon as I reach out to them a little more, I find there are limits.” That is true and very normal. There are always limits because friends are not family. Friends may be “like family” in the best case scenarios, but they are not family. There are limits to what you can expect from other people who also have kids, or jobs, or homes they’re maintaining.

I think you have to differentiate between asking for help in times of real need and asking for help with the flowers. I would drop anything to drive a friend to chemo or help in an emergency. Helping water the plants for anyone other than a neighbor? I would have no problem saying I have too much going on that week. I don’t think that makes me a bad friend.

Too Many Shallow Friendships, you said many true and important statements in your letter that you simply have to allow yourself to believe with conviction. Yes, it takes time to make close and less superficial friends. Yes, you have to keep trying. Yes, you have to both talk and listen. (Remember you want to listen twice as much as you talk. I have to constantly remind myself to be quiet. You may be usurping more time on your topics than you realize.)

Your Superficial Friends Don’t Have Perfect Lives Either

Now I’m going to be the one to make a big assumption. Of all the details you provided in your letter, the following comment is probably the biggest issue standing between your satisfaction with your friendships and not. “I only seem to meet people who are perfectly happy.”

Losing Courage, that is simply not possible. There is not one person who gets a pass on periods of unhappiness. The people we love get sick. They die. We get sick. We suffer from mental illness or live with someone who does. We feel lonely. We feel unsuccessful, unattractive, and unloveable. We cannot afford necessities. We cannot afford luxuries and suffer from envy or forget the difference between necessities and luxuries. We cannot have children. Our children drive us crazy. We are in unhappy marriages. We are desperate to get married.

The possibilities for unhappiness are endless. The happiest among us focus on the better pieces of our lives, but that does not mean we do not suffer or have problems. Either you are living in an exceptional place (not likely) or you are painting the people you come across with a wide brush of sparkly sheen.

The Ground Rules

Now, some ground rules as you continue “dating” for a few closer friends while still enjoying and appreciating your acquaintances.

  • As we discussed, twice as much listening as talking. Twice as much!
  • Be open-minded. Join new groups. Look outside of work, your kid’s school, and your religious community if those three areas are not working.
  • Don’t try too hard. If the chemistry is not there, keep looking. Plenty of fish in the sea as they say.
  • Act worthy of those deep friendships you desire because you are worthy. Get those questionable assumptions out of the way, and I think it will put you back on the right road.

My final piece of advice: If you truly feel that you are unable to connect beyond the surface or that all of your continued efforts are not yielding good results (fewer shallow friendships), I encourage you to ask someone who knows you well to tell you honestly how you are coming off with other people. Perhaps a sibling-in-law, a cousin, a coworker, or someone who has known you for years who will not be afraid to tell you the truth. You have to assure this person that you will not turn on him or her if you don’t like what you hear.

Thank you for trusting me with your question. Readers, what did I miss? Have you been in this situation of feeling like you have too many shallow friendships? Please add your thoughts in the comments.

Good luck,

Nina

 

 

FULL RES - Badzin-03 copy-1Nina is a contributing writer for Tcjewfolk.com, Kveller.com, and Great New Books. Her essays have appeared regularly at Brain, Child Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Jewish Daily Forward, and have been syndicated in The Times of Israel as well as Jewish newspapers across the country. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and four children. Contact her on Twitter @ninabadzin and on her blog.

 

36 comments

  1. Donna Trump says:

    I think you did a good job of answering this question, Nina. Personally, I know I have to remind myself that a LOT of what happens around me has actually nothing to do with me–hard to imagine, but true! Having made a number of new friendships, many with women much younger than me, later in life (as they say) I would only second your suggestion that Losing Courage look outside the three arenas of work, her child’s school, and religious organizations, for potential new friendships.What does she love? What new or much longed-for activity can she start, now? When you love what you’re doing, people see it and are attracted to it. Great column, Nina!
    Donna Trump recently posted…Fearless GraceMy Profile

    • Nina says:

      Thanks so much, Donna! I like your point about even thinking about what she loves or WOULD love to do and going from there. Maybe something entirely new?
      Nina recently posted…Shallow FriendsMy Profile

      • A True friend says:

        Hi Nina,
        After reading Losing Courage’s post and your response, I felt you gave her good tips. However, I feel that I can relate somewhat to Losing Courage. Although I’ve been blessed to be, for the most part, self sufficient and I don’t require a lot of assistance from my friends, I do expect reciprocation in kind from my close friends, which includes initiating contact and getting together sometimes as well as regular contact (approximately 2 or 3 times a month, via phone and one of those times in person), and assisting if needed, if they can. This is for my close friends. I realize that there are different levels of friendly relations, but I only refer to my close friends as friends. Others are people I am friendly with and I see and talk to them whenever and we are cordial and helpful at those times. It’s in kind because it’s not tic for tac, but true friends act from the heart, and to much is given, much is required holds true. Not tic for tac or counting, but there must be balance for a healthy friendship. Perhaps due to the instant nature of our times, people think they are too busy to reciprocate true friendship and as a result people get hurt, fall prey to human nature, and feel used or experience a feeling of shallowness. The intent may not be to use, but some people tend to make time for getting their needs met through the help of a true friend, and to receive the benefits of having a true friend, but not for reciprocation in kind. Therefore people who are true friends must carefully be on guard as they seek friendshios. A true friend may not be rare, but is as a precious jewel that should be valued.
        ATrue Friend

  2. losing courage says:

    Dear Nina, just looked in here and found my question AND such a long and thoughtful answer – thanks a lot! I’m going to read and think about it many more times.

    I’d like to “correct” one thing in my writing: “Perfectly happy” was supposed to mean “happy with his/her social life”. I don’t assume that everyone except me is perfectly happy, or that no one has problems except me. I know very well that this is not the case at all.

    Thanks again – for the answer and for the graet column! 🙂

    • Nina says:

      Losing Courage! We so rarely hear from the people asking questions so thanks so much for commenting here. And thank you again for trusting me with your question. I’m sorry I misunderstood your intention with that one point. But I think my answer still stands, because we still can’t assume that others are happy with their friends. I receive plenty of questions for people who feel they’ve outgrown their friends or worry that their friends are moving on. There are so many scenarios possible that to ever assume to know where others stand with their friends or significant others or family is assuming too much. We never know what goes on behind closed doors, or behind Facebook, or behind anything, really. Do I sound like a broken record yet? 😉
      Nina recently posted…Shallow FriendsMy Profile

    • A True friend says:

      Hi Losing Courage,
      Be encouraged! Although I’ve been blessed to be, for the most part, self sufficient and I don’t require a lot of assistance from my friends, I do expect reciprocation in kind from my close friends, which includes initiating contact and getting together sometimes as well as regular contact (approximately 2 or 3 times a month, via phone and one of those times in person), and assisting if needed, if they can. This is for my close friends. I realize that there are different levels of friendly relations, but I only refer to my close friends as friends. Others are people I am friendly with and I see and talk to them whenever and we are cordial and helpful at those times. It’s in kind because it’s not tic for tac, but true friends act from the heart, and to much is given, much is required holds true. Not tic for tac or counting, but there must be balance for a healthy friendship. This is important for the mutual feeling of comradery and welcomness between friends. Perhaps due to the instant nature of our times, people think they are too busy to reciprocate true friendship and as a result people get hurt, fall prey to human nature, and feel used or experience a feeling of shallowness. The intent may not be to use, but some people tend to make time for getting their needs met through the help of a true friend, and to receive the benefits of having a true friend, but not for reciprocation in kind. Therefore people who are true friends must carefully be on guard as they seek friendships. A true friend may not be rare, but is as a precious jewel that should be valued. True friends should be celebrated and not tolerated. Feel free to share an email for contact in your search for friends.
      ATrue Friend

  3. susie q says:

    Losing Courage, I’m right there with you! I too feel that if I don’t call I’d never have plans (in fact, I know it). With specific people, I’ve had to reframe it according to Nina’s husband’s philosophy that friendship is like tennis: the women weren’t hitting the ball back, so I chose to look for another game!

    I actually did tell a friend that I felt I was socially awkward and she disagreed, so you never do know how you are appearing to others. I do think that I am unsure in myself because I’ve not had great friendship experiences since moving states, and perhaps that nervousness shows through.

    I am glad I work outside the home, where I get along well with my co-workers and can be social and get out of my head for 40 hours a week!

    If you live in Minnesota, we can be friends ;)!

    • Nina says:

      Susie Q, Bryan would be so thrilled that you remembered his advice. He’s mentioned it to me a few more times. (He sometimes reads my drafts.) But I was worried to be too repetitive. I’m glad you brought it up. Thank you.

      Also– you might not have been trying to make a point about working 40 hours a week, but there IS something to staying busy and getting out of your head. And I’m also glad to hear you consulted a friend about your particular situation. Making friends, especially close ones, really takes time.
      Nina recently posted…Shallow FriendsMy Profile

  4. Cindy says:

    Hi Nina – thanks for sharing this great advice. I have worked at reframing how I think about friendships as an adult, and your comments about not speaking to friends for a few weeks or months was a great reminder. I think we tend to long for the types of friendships we had when we were young – when we were in school or college and more likely to see each other everyday or several times a week. That is just no longer possible once we become adults for all sorts of reasons – family, work, civic engagement, etc.; we are juggling a lot more activities and responsibilities now. I try to touch base with my friends at least once a month, and to invite them to events that I know we will both enjoy (this seems to work well). I wish that I still had good friends from my younger years because then there would be an established intimacy, but because of multiple moves, that has not been possible for me. Regardless, I value the friendships I do have and try to make the most of them.

    • Nina says:

      Cindy,

      That was an awesome and complete comment that I want to copy/paste/quote for another answer some time. What you said about “established intimacy” is really insightful. I think we do try to fast forward and either rush that intimacy or think we don’t need it. I have so much to say on that, but this could easily become a pages-long response so I’ll cut myself off here.
      Nina recently posted…Shallow FriendsMy Profile

  5. Dana says:

    Thank you Nina for answering a question (in such a thorough and thoughtful way) that echoes MANY feelings I also have about friendship. Losing Courage, I can relate to this very well. In many ways I feel as you do, that others seem to appear to make and maintain friendships with more ease, that their social lives appear (important to remember that “appear” is not necessarily reality) more fulfilling and rich than my own. However, Nina made some great points (as always!) and one that struck me the deepest was this:

    “The depth of a friendship cannot be measured in minutes together or minutes on the phone.”

    YES! This actually makes me feel better because I do have some friends who I don’t see or speak with on a regular basis, but when we do find time to connect it is with a depth for which I am grateful. I still would like to work on building my in-person network of friendships, but I think maintaining realistic expectations, as Nina suggests, is crucial.

    Thank you for asking the question, and thank you Nina for answering!
    Dana recently posted…9 Lessons My Mother Taught MeMy Profile

    • Nina says:

      Thank you for that compliment, Dana! If it makes you feel better, I often make plans to walk with close friends a month in advance because of how our schedules do NOT coordinate. It works though. We feel connected because we’re making the time to be together, even if it’s not as often as we’d both like. And then that hour walk is priceless– it’s worth more than 100 texts and emails combined. And I have this dynamic with several friends– really most of my close friends in town!
      Nina recently posted…Shallow FriendsMy Profile

  6. Amy says:

    I agree with your comments and one other thing that Losing Courage mentioned that was not brought up was her single status. I also feel that connections are harder because I don’t have a partner. Sometimes it’s just easier for folks to interact couple to couple. I shrug and move on, but I do feel left out of people’s social circles. Otherwise, the advice for LC is great for me too.

    • Nina says:

      Amy, That is a very point and I think that all the tips about making new friends can and should be applied to finding someone special. I think general loneliness can be a factor in expecting a bit too much from friends sometimes. It’s very natural!
      Nina recently posted…Shallow FriendsMy Profile

  7. Dana says:

    Great advice, Nina. I appreciate the many layers in your answers, because friendships are so complex. And much of it is perspective. Many of my closest friends are women who I may not speak to in weeks or months, but I still consider them my inner circle (as do they). If I defined “close friend” only by how often we spoke, I would have none. I hope Losing Courage keeps looking; she sounds like a wonderful friend to have.
    Dana recently posted…It’s all about perspectiveMy Profile

    • Nina says:

      So true about perspective. That one words explains a lot about how we feel– it’s much about how we choose to interpret others’ actions, which Donna wisely mentioned above, usually have nothing to do with us.
      Nina recently posted…Shallow FriendsMy Profile

  8. Joy says:

    As always, Nina, your perspective is amazing. You just have the gift of having such clarity and pointing out what most of us might have missed. It’s true that there could be a lot of assumptions made here and that Losing Courage could be closer to her goal than she thinks. I used to wonder about the same things….the moms that SEEM to hit it off in school, etc. You’re right. Who’s to say what they have is genuine or deep? And you’re right that Losing Courage is very courageous for putting herself out there. I hope she realizes she’s an inspiration to other introverts like me. THANK YOU, Nina, for sharing your wisdom as always!
    Joy recently posted…What I Know For Sure About MotherhoodMy Profile

  9. Dakota Nyght says:

    I have a lot of sympathy for your situation, Losing Courage, as I’ve gone through most of my life looking for those kind of deeper “best friend” style friendships, and missing the mark. Everyone’s friend bucket has always seemed full with no time or interest for me. I’ve also gone through the same self doubt, wondering what’s wrong with me.

    I ended up reframing my situation, as others have suggested above. I concentrated on what I bring to the equation – which is loyalty, deep conversation, a great deal of caring, and possible shared interests. (There’s probably more, but this is what I focused on.) After that, I let go of the situation and concentrated on being a good friend to the few I *did* have – texting regularly to check in, asking for dinner/coffee dates, and so on. I also started being bolder about asking “hey, would you be interested in going for coffee” and the like to people I was interested in.

    I’m happy to say that at this stage of my life I have three women that I consider close friends – one of them I’ve been friends with for 10+ years, but she went through some hard life stuff, and as I was there for her, we became closer, another friend I met through my son’s school (turns out her situation was very like mine) and another who I met through my art show, and we hit it off.

    I’m sorry to go on and on about my own situation, but I really feel that it was deciding to see myself as a valuable commodity that changed my situation – instead of being desperate for someone else’s friendship, I became more choosy. I think it’s easy to slip into the “what’s wrong with me” attitude, and if that’s what we project, then other people will think there’s something wrong with us!

    I hope this helps… good luck to you in your search!
    Dakota Nyght recently posted…Final Decision, Homeschool Versus Public KindergartenMy Profile

    • Nina says:

      This is such awesome advice, Dakota. I absolutely love the reframing and the recognition that you have much to bring to the table. I haven’t discussed it much in this column yet, but with the right question I will. I suppose this one would have worked . . . anyway, when I first moved to Minneapolis I also felt rejected and alone and had to make a conscious effort to actively make friends and to remember that I was (am) a good person and a great friend and to just focus on that and act like ME and to feel worthy. Eventually I built a very fulfilling social life, but it took years. Years! And your points about approaching the world with confidence and even being choosy as well are so important.
      Nina recently posted…Shallow FriendsMy Profile

  10. Justine says:

    Fabulous advice all around, and Losing Courage, you remind me of myself. My husband and I have moved every 2-4 years since we began dating almost 15 years ago, so I often am in the position of making new friends and have gotten much better at it over the years.

    Susie Q touched on my advice, which is to busy yourself helping your friends. I’ll quote Louie CK from his recent interview on Fresh Air (and I believe he was quoting a line from an old Spencer Tracy film): “It’s hard to be sad and helpful at the same time.” You might ask how you can be helpful if she hasn’t asked for your help; the trick is not to wait for her to ask. For example, pick a creative way she didn’t even know she needed help. I had to laugh out loud at Nina’s assessment of friendship to be like dating; how true! I’ve lived in my current town four years, and my best friend here is the closest friend I’ve made since college ended over a decade ago. My “secret” to that how that friendship became A-list is that I courted her. I met her on our daughters’ first day of preschool, and I knew immediately she was a special person I wanted to get to know better. Two months into knowing her, her birthday came around, so I made a plan (with her husband’s agreement to watch the kids) to surprise her with a pedicure date. The next year I surprised her again with a trip to a hotel for the weekend (how’s that for romance? ha!). I even used my husband’s travel points he’d built up to pay for the room so she would feel more willing to accept the offer. That trip has since become an annual one we take to celebrate both our birthdays.

    To speak to your question of asking for help, I also do routinely ask her for help. A therapist once told me this is a great way to bring someone into your inner circle (displaying vulnerability was how she put it), but I agree with Nina that you must pick the request for help carefully. Anything that I can pay a teenager to do or swap favors with a neighbor to do gets crossed off that list, and I always try to give out more favors than I take so I have something “in the bank.” I’m certain with a bit of reframing you’ll have a friendship you treasure soon enough. Good luck!
    Justine recently posted…a good woman is easy to findMy Profile

    • Nina says:

      Justine, excellent advice and analysis. I love your honesty about courting. Often times one person needs the friendship more than the other (new to town, etc.) I think the difference between becoming friends or not can simply be the recognition of that fact by the needier person. If that person can accept having to make more of the effort, then things can go smoothly. The trick is to recognize when there is truly not enough interest in the other side though. Then it’s time to move on.

      I agree about asking for help . . . for worthy needs. And loved Louise CK’s quote! So great!
      Nina recently posted…Shallow FriendsMy Profile

  11. Mary Pfeiffer says:

    A whole basketful of excellent advice above, making my two cents maybe superfluous, but here goes. Women in my life have taught me how to get and be a friend through their actions toward me.
    1)They initiate: an “acquaintance” has become a good friend since she–through email–started a monthly dinner group (2 newbies to me and 3 mutual friends).
    2)They touch base: a friend phones around to 5 of us daily–just to check in because we all live alone. If/when she misses a day I am reminded to worry about her, and I give her a call.
    3) They remember: another friend always emails or phones just before I leave on a trip, have some kind of special event, or approach a significant day.

    These approaches shame my lackadaisical/lazy self into realizing that those simple contacts can be the ones that invite the intimacy of true friendship.

  12. Great job answering this, Nina! As I was reading, Losing Courage’s beliefs about what is going on in others’ lives reminded me of how easy it is to imagine everyone else has a fascinating, fun-filled life, while ours is lacking. I agree that LC actually seems to be doing wonderfully well, and applaud you for pointing this out for her. She sounds like a single mom, and that’s a time-consuming job to do all by herself. I’m frankly amazed at how involved in her community she actually is. Brava, LC!
    As we get older and our lives are taken up with the work week and family and the upkeep lives require, the nature of friendships changes. It’s easy to lose touch with any people other than those we see every day. It can be so helpful to find and join groups who enjoy our same hobbies and interests, and get to know people who share them.

  13. Great advice, Nina (as always). LC, I am an introvert who looks just like an extrovert. I’m the one who is smiling, waving, talking to everyone seemingly effortlessly, and making plans to meet up. And for the most part, it is pretty effortless. But I need tons of alone time. It would be too much pressure for me to have to maintain a certain frequency to my interactions (and this is exacerbated by my stage in life where my kids need a lot from me). Anyway, I tend to choose people who have the same needs as I do – light, infrequent interactions. I also know who to talk to at church if I need help on a deeper level.

    It doesn’t mean the my way is the normal way and those who need more out of a friendship are wrong. Fortunately there are the perfect friends out there for each personality. But it sounds like some of the people you are describing are like me, which would make it their issue and not yours. In other words, there is nothing wrong with you. 🙂 Hope this all made sense.
    Jennie goutet recently posted…Church At Its BestMy Profile

  14. Nina – you’re so good at this… The first thing that came to my mind when reading this is just the realization of how difficult it IS to find truly deep relationships. I’ve always thought that a person was lucky if he/she had at least ONE deep, deep friendship connection in a lifetime. In examining my own relationships when moving to a new state, I think it was easier to make friends because I was single and my friends were single. When we moved within the state of Arizona, we moved to small town of couples – and I am part of a couple. There are so many circumstances that make friendship building such a difficult thing. I hope Losing Courage keeps trying!
    Melissa Crytzer Fry recently posted…Desert Bouquet IIIMy Profile

  15. Nina says:

    Wow Nina I couldn’t have answered better. It’s very true that sometimes we make quick assumptions about other people, how their lives are perfect or that they have strong bonds with one another. I remember making that assumption about someone once and how close she and her group of friends were. They would go on vacations together and they would do regular hang outs. Things I didn’t really do, especially since I don’t have a “group” of friends like she did. Then she admitted that she didn’t open up to her friends, and that shocked me. Because for me, my friendships are very open and I talk candidly and honestly with my friends about everything. Yet here was someone whom I assumed had that perfect relationship with others but it turned out they didn’t.

    I think it’s great advice for this person to keep putting herself out there without those assumptions. And yes, if it truly is an issue, ask an honest question about how she might appear to others.
    Nina recently posted…Craft Kit: Fun Lacing Activity for PreschoolersMy Profile

  16. Gail Freedman says:

    I really liked this topic and I think you were spot on with your response. I feel the same way as Losing Courage does some days. I look out at others and they seem to have it together, have the best social circle. Reality eventually kicks in and I realize I do have a couple close friends I can call on, but rarely see/speak to due to life’s daily duties. If I was single with only a job as my commitment, of course I’d have time for a phone calls, coffee, dinners, happy hours, walks, annual benefits, etc. When I do have time I prefer to spend it in solitude exercising either outside or in lifting/yoga. This period will pass and eventually I’ll have all the time in the world again to make friends. I plan on volunteering at a couple places I’m keen to meet other like minded people.

  17. Sarah says:

    Such a great question. Solid advice, Nina. I can relate to this in a lot of ways (as some other comments have said). And I also found this statement beautifully put: “The depth of a friendship cannot be measured in minutes together or minutes on the phone.” I have a few very good friends I can go weeks (months, if I’m honest) without meeting up with and, when we talk, it’s like no time has passed. As cliche as that is, it’s true. I feel closer to those friends than the ones I have a more consistent relationship with because of location.
    Sarah recently posted…You Don’t Write Me Love Notes…AnymoreMy Profile

  18. Pam says:

    Here’s a question for Losing Courage… When you get together with your friends, are you negative? Complaining often? Yes there’s a TON of value in just being yourself and letting your light shine un-self-consciously and that is really attractive to other people. And definitely self-censoring can get in the way of that.. But at the same time, if it’s true that the people you are seeking to befriend are not reciprocating, it might be worth stepping back and asking yourself to what degree you are negative and complaining. Personally, I try to surround myself with people who are at least as positive as I am, and who fill me up, rather than drain me (old friends going through hard times are an exception of course).
    Pam recently posted…Workout Wednesday Vol 21: The Shoes and Brews Collabeeration 5k with the Tom Tom Runner CardioMy Profile

  19. losing courage says:

    Hi – I’m reading here on a regular basis and would like to thank everyone for their comments, I’ve found them all interesting and helpful!

    Short comment on the last comment 😉 : Pam, I know exactly what kind of people you mean, I don’t like negativity and being drained either. For myself I can say that I hardly ever complain – if I do, only to people I know very well, and strictly within limits. In principle I’m a positive person – my letter probably didn’t show that. 😉

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