Wednesday, August 3, 2011

On Friendships

Have you missed me?

I've been kind of hibernating a lot lately. Re-evaluating friendships/non-romantic relationships/who I am and where I'm at. All that deep mumbo jumbo that tends to require a lot of alone time. I've been half-assedly doing this for a couple of years now, but I'm now starting to be way more selfish than ever before with my time and energy. I am the kind of person who knows a huge number of people and am always meeting more - I've reached the point where I can rarely go to any event in this city without seeing at least one person I know -  but I have very few people I actually consider friends. I'd like to change that, but I'm about on par with a basement-dwelling super-nerd when it comes to talking to women.

I want to have female friends, and I know women who are delightful and I would love to be friends with them, but I totally, abjectly fail at actually accomplishing this. No, really, I am a pasty-faced, acne-ridden, terrified teenage nerdling boy on the inside. If we're emailing, I'm fine (although I probably will stick my e-foot in my e-mouth a few times). In person, though, I flounder. It's very strange - I'm completely intimidated by other women, women who seem to have their shit together, either as a whole or at least just as a female. Put me with a dude or group of dudes, I'm a-okay. I'm not scared of dudes, despite the number of guys who have hurt me, lied to me, cheated on me, etc. When things don't work out with a female friend (because I feel friendships, much like romantic relationships, can sometimes just not work out despite a promising beginning), I retreat, scared to try again. How do other women understand things like hair, makeup, fashion, shoes, so inherently? Because I do not, and I don't even care enough to try. And I often feel like a failure as a woman for that.

Anyone else like that? I can't help wondering why getting hurt by a female friend is so much harder for me to deal with and recover from than getting hurt by a romantic partner. Girls I end up being close to are girls who reach out to me, who are open with me, who generally make all the moves to generate & further the friendship, at least until I'm coaxed out of my shell.

This is the first time in well over a decade that I have lived somewhere long enough to forge deep, long-term friendships with people "in real life" (rather than over the interwebz), and I'm finding that I'm just not very good at it, at all. I do still have friends I met when I was a teen, but that was before I was scared of it all, honestly, and those interactions are now web-based since I don't live near them anymore. Maybe (very likely) I just don't know what I'm doing. Ah, the effects of being raised a military brat. Are there studies on this, perhaps? Military brats having a hard time making lasting friendships, forging true connections, etc? Or am I just lacking certain emotional capabilities that are wholly unrelated to my upbringing?


  1. I've lived in basically one place my whole life, with a stable family structure and all that traditional stuff, and I still have a hard time with female friendships. Maybe it's that I went to an all-girls' high school and got used to not worrying about what guys thought of me, because there were none around?

    I've been thinking about getting better about this, too.

    So -- want to go to a park with the puppy and I some sunny day in the next couple weeks? :)

  2. Sooo...yeah...this was kind of a downer post, but only because it hit so close to home. FWIW, I am not a military brat at all, but my mom is, so maybe she passed the awkwardness on to me.

    You even have an edge on me because you are at least able to make acquaintances with some success. I don't make friends very well, and when I do, I can't keep them. My problem is my unbelievably low self-esteem, coupled with social anxiety/inneptitude, with a dollop of being worried that I'll inconvenience or bother someone.

    Say what? Yes, I am worried that by calling someone, or unloading my problems on them, or initiating plans that I will be "bothering" them or intruding on them or something. I NEVER call people because for some screwed up reason I have it in my head that if they want to talk, they'll call me and I would feel so bad for bothering them if they are busy. Bask in the glow of my social-retardation, and feel warmed that you're not quite this bad.

  3. I want to be better friends! Of course, I tend to have zero free time because of school, but still. Friends! Because I think you're awesome.

    I know that you're not alone in being intimidated by other women; I've heard that from a lot of women - especially when I tell them I went to a women's college. I am just the opposite. I've always found it easy to connect with women, but I struggle a lot with guys. I'm doing much better these days than I have in the past, but most of my good guy friends are the boyfriends/husbands of my close female friends. I'm completely intimidated by the idea of hanging out with most guys. Dating guys also causes me great anxiety, and one bad first date can set me back months, and a failed relationship will make me decide to never date again, which is why I'm perpetually single. I actually wish that I could borrow some of your comfort with the opposite sex. Maybe we can trade.

    Also, things like hair, makeup, fashion, etc, don't come inherently. It's not part of our DNA. My mom made me start practicing with makeup when I was 11 (granted, I thought it was fun, but still, it's a little weird when you think about it), so I'm pretty good with it. I'm a complete failure with hair. If my hair looks cute at any given moment, it's because Megan is a hair genius and cuts it in a way that requires little to no effort on my part. When I worked at Nordstrom, it was a job requirement (yep, *requirement*) that I was "fashion forward," and we were expected to read Vogue and Us Weekly because trends change so quickly. Now I'm pretty happy when I can just wear jeans and a t-shirt.

  4. Me too, BobGinger. You're an excellent person, sometimes I regret being this way and not trying harder while you were closer. :)

    The phone is pretty much the devil. I have a framed copy of the Oatmeal's "10 Reasons to Avoid Talking on the Phone" in my office here.

  5. Dear Internet Friend:

    I must, of course, pitch in! IMHO!:

    Female friendships feel more weighty because they are hard-earned. Biologically (and I'm sure I'm oversimplifying and entering into questionably weird territory here) women have arranged themselves into social hierarchy and aggressive behavior diffused into back-talking and social undercutting (the way civilized men have diffused their aggression into...sports...and bar fights. Or emo music. Whatever, you get the point). It's easy to feel, as a female, that it's not so hard to befriend men because you always have the sex card in between you. And if that's not there, you have androgynous simplicity in your favor. With women (who tend to have much more finely tuned communicative sensitivity) the stakes are higher. And while it's not impossible to have platonic, fulfilling relationships with men...I'd venture a guess that this is the trend. And if you're the one female with highly tuned communicative sensitivity in a room full of men who operate more openly on an at-face-value frequency, you can relax, as far as socializing goes.

    Hair, makeup, shoes and fashion are all very nice, fun things. They are, however, on par with celebrity gossip sites and Us Weekly magazine: diverting, but not substantial. If your smooth mastery of these subjects are what's keeping you from the arms of a female doesn't sound very fulfilling anyways. So fear not. Just put your pants on facing the right direction, and I think you've got the basics covered! (zipper in front).

    This makes me sound like a breezy expert. I suffer wildly from social anxiety, all the time! There are a number of things it can come from...por ejemplo, early childhood development, lots of moving (I changed schools a lot to be in the nerd program), etc.

    Right there with you! I too am working on lovin' muhself and letting the rest fall into place. This is an era of self-reflection, I think. It's like being at the gym: you might look a little douchey, but pretty much everyone else there feels the same way.


  6. PS: Female friends should be able to talk to each other about their BMs. Just saying.