I Can’t Figure Out If She Wants To Be Friends

I Can’t Figure Out If She Wants To Be Friends

In this month’s HerTake question, Nina answers a question about how to know if someone is interested in pursuing a friendship. Have you ever been confused about whether your efforts were appreciated by a potential new friend or if that person is simply trying to stay at the acquaintance level? We love that our community helps each other in the comments section. Please add your two cents!

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Dear Nina

For the love of everything good and decent please help me! I’m driving myself nuts over this situation. I’m never like this with my other friends, but this one woman has my head spinning. Are we friends or not? Sometimes I can’t tell.

Here’s the situation. I’ve struck up what I guess you could call a friendship, sort of, with a woman I’ll call Mindy. I’m so confused about what it is. I just can’t read Mindy at all. I only see her two nights a week, as she is my child’s dance instructor. We text back and forth throughout the week, mostly joking around about life. I admire her and she has told me the same. So great, mutual admiration, joking around—wonderful. However, when I see her in person, there’s virtually no acknowledgement of my existence if I don’t acknowledge her first.

Now, to be fair, Mindy doesn’t really acknowledge any of the parents first, but being a friend, I assumed she would at least say hello. And it’s pretty much the same with the texting. She seems to enjoy talking with me when we do talk through texts. She always responds right away and keeps the conversation going. However, when I’ve asked her to hang out in person, she always has an excuse not to. She says she doesn’t go out much, but she does have a close group of friends that gets together to drink every so often.

I wish I knew why Mindy is not open to hanging out with me. I’ve even, in a moment of weakness, asked her if I was being a pain by texting her and she said, “Absolutely not. Why would you ask me that?” I’m just not sure if I should keep pushing on with the relationship or not. It’s getting exhausting trying to figure Mindy out. And truthfully, it hurts that she’s not acknowledging me when I see her. I can’t figure out if she even wants to be friends.

Signed,

Can’t Figure Her Out

 

Dear Can’t Figure Her Out,

I don’t blame you for feeling confused about how to think of this friendship and for that I blame the texting. The friendly banter you and Mindy have established between your child’s dance lessons has blurred the line between acquaintance and real friend. Despite all other evidence suggesting that you and Mindy are “friendly,” but not deeper friends, the day-to-day catching up via text has superficially elevated an otherwise casual acquaintanceship.

Technology can help us keep in touch with our good friends, but it can also create a false foundation for a friendship. Just because it’s easy to keep in touch with texts and emails, it does not mean that a worthwhile relationship exists beyond the words on the screen. Every case is different. I have relationships with women I’ve met online who I will never meet in person, but the connection feels deep and real. How do I know? The efforts and sentiments are mutual. I think your awareness that you’re always initiating the texts is why you’re feeling uneasy about Mindy.

Should Mindy say hello to you and other parents when you all come in for class? Probably. I’m guessing she doesn’t fuss over you specifically because she’s in a professional role where she’s focusing on the students. I wouldn’t take that too personally or read too much into her lack of effort there. The fact that she rarely initiates the texts and seems uninterested in getting together is what tells me that Mindy is not interested in being more than “friendly.”

Please keep in mind that Mindy’s lack of interest may not be personal and that you have no idea what else is going on in Mindy’s life. Maybe one day she will initiate the conversations or she will include you with her friends. It’s impossible to predict. You have to decide if you’re willing to wait. I’m not saying you should or shouldn’t wait around for Mindy, but it would probably help your level of frustration to consider Mindy a “fun acquaintance” for now rather than one of your better friends or even a real potential for a close friend unless she does show interest in seeing outside of the texting context. If you ever decide that you’re tired of making the first contact, you can stop trying and see what happens. If the acquaintanceship disappears, then I would encourage you to put your efforts, even these casual texting efforts, elsewhere.

Despite everything I’ve said here, I don’t want this month’s column to devalue the role of a solid acquaintanceship because there’s much to appreciate about these types of friends. By “solid” I mean mutually satisfying and casual, which these friendships can be if we accept that not every relationship needs to reach best friend status or even good friend status. When I think of all the women I enjoy (truly enjoy) seeing at the gym, coming in and out of my kids’ schools, at our synagogue, or even catching up with on Facebook, I get a big smile on my face. I respect and like each one of those woman, but if I spent tons of time texting with them all and making plans to get together, I wouldn’t have time for anything else in my life. My days would be less joyful, however, without these daily run-ins with various women (and some men) I know in town. This was a slightly off-topic tangent from your question except to remind you that Mindy might become someone you enjoy talking to here and there and it doesn’t have to feel personal if it’s not something more.

I hope this helped!

Nina

 

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16 comments

  1. Allie says:

    I don’t get text friendships;). But think it’s a generational things, and I’m out of the loop, ha! There’s a younger mom in my life that seems much happier texting me than speaking with me. We have great banter over the keyboard and if emoji s are any indication -she loves me! But it’s so different in person.

    • Gail says:

      I don’t get text relationships either. In this particular case I’d say ‘not friends’, To me it’s more obvious? Again, it’s a generational thing. Good job Nina!!

  2. Caryn says:

    Completely agree with your answer Nina! You can’t underestimate the role a good acquaintance can have in your life. I think if the letter writer enjoys the text banter, then great. She might be over-thinking things a bit — and as the queen of over-thinking, I say that with empathy, not judgment!

  3. Paula says:

    Great advice as always Nina! And thanks for the appreciation of acquaintances! It made me think of several people I love to chat with. I’m always glad to see them, even if we aren’t close friends. 🙂

  4. Tamara says:

    I think you nailed it. Social media and text messaging just wasn’t around in the past, so I remember friendships being so different. Or there wasn’t this blurred area. I find myself confused a lot too.
    Tamara recently posted…Spring Cleaning With Bioré.My Profile

  5. Pam says:

    I completely agree with this advice. It sounds like the writer has so much going on her life- she doesn’t need to keep expending energy on a friendship that’s not mutual- no matter the reason, which we will probably never know.

  6. Jen says:

    Living and working together with a bunch of my friends — from casual to good ones — on a small kibbutz, we run into the occasional issue like this. I’ve found that people can be funny when it comes to their professional role, and why you might be friendly with someone “behind-the-scenes” things can change when you’re in a professional setting. Or the opposite — in the professional setting you get along great, but get into a social scene, and the dynamic shift. Honest conversation with the person is the best way to figure things out. Unless she likes the drama of not knowing.

  7. I like this column a lot, and always like your answers, Nina.

    And to CFHO,
    I think with this one, the alarm bells go off when she says – a bunch of my close friends get together for a drink every so often. It seems she doesn’t lump you into that. If I were in your shoes, I would text less often and save my energy for someone who also wants to spend time together in person to avoid feeling confused or – eventually – bitter.
    Jennie goutet recently posted…Online Shops: Etsy vs ShopifyMy Profile

  8. A terrific point, Nina, that not every friendship needs to be “best friend” status. I think it’s worthwhile to have friends in different levels of intensity. Acquaintances enrich my life immeasurably. The closeness of texting — having someone “interrupting” your life at various times can create that false intimacy. You’re no longer seeing this person at the office water cooler or passing when you walk your dogs. The person has access at all times, and maybe that’s what pushes the boundary.
    Jackie Cangro recently posted…Authorial Intrusion: Pantser vs. PlotterMy Profile

  9. This is great advice for all of us, especially the part at the end about learning to better appreciate a friendly acquaintance rather than trying to make it into more. As someone who naturally bonds (and wants to bond) deeply, it’s a good reminder to me that those casual friends are valuable too.
    Annie Neugebauer recently posted…The Case for Reading Fewer BooksMy Profile

  10. Such an astute observation about social media making ‘friendships’ seem more real than they might be. I’m reminded of my 15-year-old nephew (and his friends) who throw around the “love” word like it’s confetti — and usually after ONLY being online/social media acquaintances. He went on a first date and the conversation with the girl went like this… Her: It’s so weird talking to you face to face. Him: I know. One week later, they ‘break up’ and she says, “You don’t love me like you say you do.” Eeks!

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