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On Friendships

December 30, 2010

Earlier this month, I read this post about friendships on Maura’s 36×37 blog. In it, she says:

“I think about friendship a lot. When you’re young, it comes so easily. You both like Barbies. You both like Batman. You both like to roll from the top of the hill to the bottom, fist-bump over your mom’s chocolate cupcakes, and spin out together on your Big Wheels.

Then it’s not easy anymore. She flirts with your boyfriend. He’d rather play basketball than ride bikes across the lawn. She talks about you behind your back, and it smarts. Suddenly, your friends are jerks.”

friends, boys, friendship

Photo courtesy of Paul Swee

Maura goes on to discuss how difficult it can be to find real, sustaining friendships as an adult. Her post got me thinking about my friendships.

This past year, with the breakup and the cancelled wedding, I learned who my real and true friends are. I’ve had people come through for me in ways I never could have imagined. In fact, there were friends that came through for me when I knew (guiltily) that I had probably failed to come through for them in the past (but you better know that I vow to be a better friend in the future). There were late night phone calls, emotional searches for a new apartment, moments of sobbing about everything that had happened and nothing at all, a trip to the beach to celebrate my unwedding day and even quite a few laughs. Through the hard times and the successes, I never once felt alone. I missed my ex and the life I had been building, but even in all of that loss, I found something very special: enduring and wonderful friendships that I had taken for granted.

Why had I taken my friends for granted? I still don’t know how it happened. I was just so content with my ex fiancée (who I considered to be my best friend), that I didn’t put the effort into my friendships that I should have. I was there for my friends – to a point. I was interested in their lives – but often only if it meant I could share with them something that was going on in my life. I began to care so much about what my ex fiancée thought of my friends that it clouded what I thought of them. And, I was so content in my relationship and with my circle of friends that I stopped working to cultivate new friendships.

I don’t want to mislead you; I also had some friends let me down this past year. There were friends to whom I reached out and begged for their support during my breakup, only for them to somehow make my breakup about them, or not return calls or e-mails. I’m not talking about acquaintances here; I’m talking about longtime friends upon who I was convinced I could rely. For months I agonized over the loss of these friendships, wondering how these individuals could have let me down in such a way when I needed them the very most. And then something happened: I began to let it go. I realized how blessed I am for the friends who were there for me, and vowed to stop tormenting myself about the failed friendships. And, I’m still working on completely letting go.

The other day, a reader of the blog contacted me and asked if I would go out for brunch with her and two of her friends while she was visiting Richmond. I had never met a random reader before. When I told my sister that I was nervous, she said, “Oh, are you nervous she’s going to go all Misery on you?” Umm, no. I was nervous she wouldn’t like me in person the way she liked me on the blog! Now, I was nervous she wouldn’t like me and I would also end up a statistic. Awesome.

After agonizing over what to wear (I would have had an easier time dressing for a first date!) and hating myself for drinking too much at my company holiday party the night before, I met these three women for brunch.

It turns out, my nerves were completely unnecessary. These girls were smart, pretty, funny as hell and God, even normal. Do you know how hard it is to find normal female friends these days?! At brunch, they mentioned that they were going out for drinks that night, and invited me to join them.

Well let me tell you this, there was no way in hell I was going to join the brunch girls for drinks. I was sure that I had already outstayed my welcome, and that they were just making the offer to be friendly. I figured we’d had a fun brunch and that would be it.

Later that night, I was at a not-so-fun party when I received a text message from the brunch girls, asking me if I wanted to go out. At that very moment, I realized that I was being ridiculous. I have been begging (no, seriously, begging and trying to bribe) my current friends to go out with me. However, my close girlfriends aren’t the most rowdy bunch. We go to house parties, frequent small bars in the suburbs of Richmond and have drinks at Uno’s. But a night on the town in Richmond? That doesn’t happen too often. For me, those nights usually only occur when I’m on a date or going out with my coworker friends.

I was being ridiculous. I had been begging for my girlfriends to go out with me, and then when the brunch girls asked me to go out, I was saying no. I was saying no because I wasn’t sure if they really wanted me there; because, frankly, I’m not sure what to do when you build new friendships (it’s been so long!); and because I was so used to my life, and Lord knows I hate change.

Once I realized all this, I stopped saying no. I met them on a frigid night in Richmond for drinks. I even parallel parked(ish). We ended up going to a members-only after-hours club at 2 a.m., when I didn’t know such places even existed. It was slightly sketchy, but it was fun.

And when I arrived home around 5 a.m., I washed off my makeup, donned my pajamas and wondered how I could have possibly thought about saying no to going out that night. Saying no was like saying no to the possibility of new friendships, of new experiences. I’m not saying that any of these girls are going to be my best friend soul mate, and that in 40 years we’ll end up being the Golden Girls of Richmond. But I’m saying that in 2011, hell in the waning days of 2010, I’m going to be more open to new friends and new experiences. And I strive to be the kind of friend that I was fortunate enough to have this year. And wouldn’t you know, I’m going out with two of the brunch girls again tonight.

One more thing before I let you go. At the after-hours club, this song came on. The brunch girls and two of their guy friends seriously went to town singing it. I am of the belief that they rehearsed this, show choir style, to impress me and the other onlookers. Job well done, brunch girls. It was hilarious and I figured I’d share the song with you too. (It has some profane language, that’s why you have to click through to watch it. Probably NSFW.) 

Have you had similar struggles establishing new friendships as an adult? How do you recover when you feel like a friend has let you down? And this is crazy, but did you know there is a website where you can rent a friend?


34 Comments leave one →
  1. natasha permalink
    December 30, 2010 8:43 am

    Well, I was worried about ya 🙂 and that party was FUN – we all had a blast! I’m glad you are finally letting go of those loser friends. I’m proud of you!

    • December 30, 2010 11:12 am

      Haha, okay so the party wasn’t the worst thing in the world, but I’m not sure I’d call it fun :). Glad you had fun though…next time you need to come out with me!!

  2. December 30, 2010 8:44 am

    “I even parallel parked(ish).”—This is the highest compliment I could ever pay a friend. I parallel parked for you.

    I’m glad you had an awesome blogger meetup!

    I tend to get nervous about making new friends. I overthink everything! Am I oversharing? Am I being too quiet?

    • December 31, 2010 3:26 am

      Haha, I love “I parallel parked for you.” It is the biggest deal for me!!
      I am the same way with the overthinking… I just analyze every situation and then later I’m like damn, I should have said that, or I wonder what they thought about that? It’s so hard!! I really wish I could go back to middle school days and appreciate how easy you had it. You got assigned a class project with someone, you got along, and then suddenly you were hanging out after school. Simple!

  3. December 30, 2010 8:51 am

    Love it: “I even parallel parked(ish).” I parallel parked once for my drivers test and that was it! As for female friendships… I couldn’t agree more. I used to think that dating would be to key to boosting my social life but it’s really more girlfriends that I need, not more boys!

    • December 31, 2010 3:28 am

      Kat,
      They didn’t even teach me how to parallel park or test me on it for my driver’s exam. I got cheated!! I blame the state of Virginia 🙂
      But you are right on … it’s so easy to met guys, I think. And I am totally comfortable talking with them. It’s girls that I worry about the most – but it is girlfriends that I also NEED the most. I sense a New Year’s resolution(ish) coming on…for both of us!

  4. brunch girl permalink
    December 30, 2010 9:02 am

    We had tons of fun meeting you too and were glad you could join us on what turned out to be a rather adventurous night! I so agree with your comment about making new friends, it’s super hard, especially in a town where lots of people still seem to hang with their high school friends. But, we’re glad we met you and looking forward to hanging out again!

    • December 31, 2010 3:29 am

      Haha, love that you commented as “brunch girl.” I had a blast! Thanks to you guys for inviting me out and for giving me the adventure! I look forward to your next musical performance… I expect show hands. 🙂

  5. December 30, 2010 9:30 am

    i completely agree with you that establishing friendships is difficult later in life. i’ve been fortunate enough to have found friends through my last job… even surpassing lifelong friends i’ve had from before who disappeared into thin air.

    i don’t have many friends, but the ones i do, i cherish wholeheartedly.

    • December 31, 2010 3:30 am

      Mrs. JYW: You ARE lucky to have found friends at your last job! I have a hard time with friends from work – I think they are really good friends, but it often happens that we lose the connection when we no longer work together. I think what you said here is important – cherish the friends you do have. I have some amazing friends, so I definitely don’t think it’s quanity over quality.

  6. December 30, 2010 10:13 am

    I won’t speak for others, but my main issue is that upon hitting adulthood, I’ve had to worry so much about work and school and I’ve even forgone dating for ages until recently. Some of us, our adult lives may tend to take on too many responsibilities (whether by choice or not) too quickly and we neglect to take care of ourselves. This includes building or maintaining relationships with others. For some of us it’s economic or personal survival, for others they are caught up in whatever else. But like you, that’s something I will work on in 2011, rebuilding and building friendships with others.

    • December 31, 2010 3:31 am

      OneFoot: I think you make a really good point. You get so busy and wrapped up in your life that it’s hard to put the time that you need into building new and sustaining your friendships. I think it’s a great thing to work on in 2011…we’ll be doing it together!

  7. December 30, 2010 11:12 am

    Aw. Thanks for the blog shout-out, Catherine. That was very nice of you.

    I’m so glad you said yes to a night out on the town with new friends. I know it’s really hard to take a step like that. I’m like you, I usually shy away from it, then end up forcing myself somehow with knots in my stomach. But more often than not, I have a great time, and walk away from the night so happy I gave a new opportunity a try. It sounds like you had the same experience.

    So I’m with you. Here’s to 2011. May the very best be in store for you. 🙂

    • December 31, 2010 3:32 am

      No problem! I loved everything you wrote and totally agreed.
      I’m glad a I went too….sometimes I’m just such a homebody and I love sitting in my PJs, watching TV and reading blogs. It’s good to force myself out of my comfort zone, and I’m definitely hoping to do more of that next year. Happy New Year!

  8. Just Saying permalink
    December 30, 2010 12:27 pm

    LOVE THIS POST!

    From a previous blog, I learned that some of your blog-o-sphere family cross over into real life and become great friends. Why?

    Cos they read your most offkilter thoughts and still support you.
    I’ve crossed many blogging friends over to msn/facebook and in person. Shit I’d been invited to a wedding in Austrailia by a blogger. Had I been able to afford the short notice, I would have gone. That was 5 years ago, and we’re still friends.

    Congrats to you for stepping out of your comfort zone and letting new experiences in. One that could end with real friends.

    Of course not all will but you’ll learn from those ones.

    So happy for you!

    • December 31, 2010 3:34 am

      Just Saying:
      Thank you! Good point – if someone still wants to meet me after reading the mess that is this blog, then they definitely know what they are getting into 🙂 I gotta say, when I started the blog, I NEVER thought I could possibly build new friendships out of it. I’m happy about the possibility!!

      PS: I think it’s AWESOME you got invited to Australia for a fellow blogger’s wedding. That’s too fun. Hopefully next time something similar happens it will be a little more attainable for you to attend 🙂

  9. December 30, 2010 1:16 pm

    Maybe that’s why I have no friends. I like to roll from the bottom of the hill up. I mean, come on, who likes to take the easy route?

    It’s funny what you say about friends you meet from blogging, though. Some of the people who know the most about the goings-on in my life right now are people I’ve met through blogging (whether my own or others).

    I guess we really do have a “community,” don’t we? 🙂

    • December 31, 2010 3:36 am

      Dennis, you are right, some of the “strangers” that read my blog know more about my life than my family or friends!! And, because I’m seeking people online that have had similar experiences or care about similar things as I do, I already have that bond/commonality with them. This community we have here is friggin’ amazing… I didn’t really know it was possible, but I really do feel supported (dare I say it, sorta loved) by you guys. Thanks so much!!

  10. December 30, 2010 6:20 pm

    Some of my most lasting friendships have come from the place where I used to blog. I’ve met a handful of people in real life from there, and – well – that includes my girlfriend! I’m living proof that good things can happen when you step outside your comfort zone. I hope 2011 brings you lots more fun – and friendships.

    • December 31, 2010 3:37 am

      Mark, that’s interesting to hear that you’ve made friends (and even met a girlfriend) from your blog. Chef actually first contacted me because of the blog (but we had previously met). Happy New Year!! I see big things for you (and your writing) this year. And I just dusted off my crystal ball, so it’s pretty clear 🙂

  11. December 31, 2010 12:45 am

    Haha, that song is pretty much my theme song these days! I even blogged about it a couple of weeks ago. Making friends as an adult is so much work. You are always not sure how welcome you are. I always feel the way you do, that people are inviting me to be nice… But, I am totally an inviter, and always want people to come when I invite them. I am going to try harder in 2011 to come along with people when they invite me places 🙂 Thanks for another great post!

    • December 31, 2010 3:38 am

      Too funny! I’d only heard that song like once or twice when they broke into song. It was hilarious.

      I want to be more of an inviter this year too — I often wait to be invited somewhere, but why not do my part to make other people feel welcome too?

      Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

  12. December 31, 2010 5:08 am

    Thats great that you just went with it and ended up having a good time. I am so shy in person now a days that it’s impossible to make new friends- which is a bit of a downer when you’ve moved countries and don’t know anyone!

    I think its also hard to ‘meet’ people at this age… you can’t just talk to someone on the street, even starting to chat to someone in a bar is a bit odd. Getting started is near on impossible, let alone sustaining it!!

    Good luck in 2011 with friendships and everything else 🙂 xx

  13. Brunch Girl #2 permalink
    January 2, 2011 7:45 pm

    We had a blast meeting you, and are so glad you decided to join us for a rather entertaining evening. I’m sorry I couldn’t join you guys for part 2, but I will definitely let you know the next time I make it to town! Happy New Year, Catherine!

    • January 4, 2011 5:25 pm

      Happy New Year to you too! We missed you this last time, but we definitely need to catch up the next time you are in town. Can’t wait!

  14. January 3, 2011 9:03 am

    Awesome song!! This is the tune that got us onto the dance floor at the New Year’s party!

    • January 4, 2011 5:18 pm

      Haha, awesome! I am so removed from pop culture that this was only like the 2nd time I heard the song. LOL!

  15. BeneathTheSpinLight permalink
    January 3, 2011 3:37 pm

    Oh man, I love this song. Cee Lo Green was on the Colbert Report when this song first came out and he was so raw when he was talking about it. If you can find the clip, check it out.
    On a little bit of a heavier note, I grew up watching my friends sacrifice their friendships for relationships. When the relationship was over, they would come back for moral support from their friends (including me) until they could find another guy to make them happy. Then the cycle would start all over again. As much as I loved those friends, and as happy as I was that they had found someone that made them feel like a million bucks, it was frustrating to feel like a back-up plan if the boyfriend was busy or the relationship ended. I decided I wouldn’t ever let a relationship control my social life to that degree. I’m glad you realized that you allowed your relationship to color how you defined your friendships and are making an effort to change that aspect for your future relationships.
    Progress!
    xoxo

    • January 4, 2011 5:21 pm

      Beneath: Oh, I definitely want to check that clip out. Thanks.

      I have seen it too, and I have done it somewhat, sacrificing friendships for a relationship. I certainly don’t want to do it again, even a little. There’s only so many times that you can let your friends down and then expect them to be there for you when you need them. Your friends should NEVER feel like your backup plan. I’m sorry that you’ve had friends treat you that way, but hopefully they’ll learn their lesson. I know that I have!!

  16. January 21, 2011 3:12 pm

    I loved that story. I also find it challenging to meet other girl friends. I’ve met some of my favorite people online through blogs and other social media, and was so happy to read that it worked out for you in that instance too. I’m not a spontaneous person, so it’s always nice to have people who will text you last minute and ask you to go out for a wild night on the town!

    • January 21, 2011 3:30 pm

      H to the Izzo,
      I agree, it’s soooo hard to meet new girl friends. These were the first friends I’ve ever met through online (except online dating) – and it was great! I’m trying to be more open to this sort of thing. I’m not spontanteous at all either (sounds like we are kinda similar) so I definitely need fun friends who will be like, come on, let’s go out!! 2011 is the year I’m focusing on friendships – I really hope to build better friendships and meet new people. It’s exciting – you never know what could happen!

Trackbacks

  1. 10 Things I Learned in 2010 « Simply Solo: Single girl starting over – follow the journey
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