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The Friendship Dilemma.

April 14, 2009

To be honest, I don’t have many friends. Despite my bubbly, evervescent personality during diabetes meet-ups, I’m typically very shy and hesitant around people I don’t know. Some people interpret that as bitchy, which only makes things more difficult. Growing up, I never had a lot of friends. In elementary school, I had one best friend. In middle school, we incorporated two more girls, which included K. Then in high school, a split high school campus during freshman and sophomore year threw my friendship squad out of alignment. It was difficult and I spent many a lunch alone or trying to squeeze myself into the popular girls table. When one girl I’d known since kindergarten asked me if I was new, I knew that my chances of becoming BFFs with the popular kids was slim to none.

During sophomore year, I became classroom friends with Julia. Julia and I sat next to each other, whispered during class and gave our English teacher hell. At the start of junior year, I meekly asked if I could eat lunch with her. She said yes.

Julia was the glue that held our social circle together. She probably wouldn’t like me saying that, but I think it’s true. I’m not a social butterfly and I’m not much of an organizer, actually. I want to be, but it takes a lot of work and effort and I end up being terribly afraid no one will come. While our entire group, which was a nice mix of boys and girls, liked each other, Julia was sort of the ringleader in planning our weekend activities, which included a healthy dose of costume parties, late nights at the diner drinking milkshakes, and trips to downtown Portland once we secured our driver’s licenses. There was the usual high school drama, but it was never very persistent and all it really did was make things interesting.

College was different. My emotional ups and downs in college were about as chaotic and frequent as my blood sugars. I spent the entire time trying to integrate myself into some kind of group – first, with OSPIRG, the environmentally-friendly vegan hippies (which my penchant for chocolate and chicken really couldn’t tolerate); there was Campus Crusade for Christ, my foray into the Christian community as a newbie follower in Chris, which also didn’t go very well due to my constant questioning and complete and total fear of evangelism (it’s difficult to teach something that you’re still learning about); and finally there was Annie, my college best friend who I met when we lived in the same boarding house together. Annie and I were very similar, and we spent much of junior year together.

It didn’t last long. I had boy troubles, and coupled with an intense dislike of the town in which we lived in, I decided to spend a term in Portland. It all but ended that friendship. When I returned for Spring, Annie had moved onto a new group. They included me on activities but they were always Annie’s friends, I just happened to hang out with them.

I thought moving to the East Coast was going to solve a lot of my problems. Big city, lots of people, right? But I ended up living in a small suburban Jersey town where most of the people were thirtysomethings with children. I was lucky that I did know people with diabetes in NYC, which gave me some sense of community. But I spent many weekends alone during my first year here, struggling to find a way to meet people. The convenient thing about school is that you are friends by proximity. The campus traps you, but in the real world, co-workers can commute over large distances.

I joined meet-ups. They helped. But no best friends. A few random meet-ups, church outings and babysitting jobs filled up my weekends, but still, most of my time was alone. It wasn’t until I joined OKCupid and began dating Erik in December that I have consistently been with and done something on the weekends.

This might sound strange, but now that I’m in a relationship, I feel even more desperate to have girl friends. I am attending a couple weddings this summer, and with that come thoughts of my own wedding – namely, who, if anyone, would be in my wedding party. Is it possible to find a husband but not a maid of honor?

This past weekend, I went to a meet-up of girls who live in my town. They were nice girls; most of them are older than me. Erik asked me if any seemed “friend-worthy” but I think it’s too soon to tell. I certainly want to go to more meet-ups with them, see if anything happened.

I used to feel an anxiety about falling in love with someone, holding hands, kissing, spending time together. Now I’m feeling an anxiety about finding someone to hang out with, go shopping together, talk about boyfriends and parents and all the things I can’t blog about! Erik is good for most things, but alas, he is not a girl. Not that I’m complaining. I like his boyness.

My blog readers came through with flying colors with the recommendation to join OKCupid last fall, so I’m wondering if you will also be able to help me expand my social circle. It’s nice to know that I have so many good friends across the country, but I’d also like some friends in my own backyard. I’d like to meet girls who are my age and share my interests, not just my disease.

21 Comments
  1. April 14, 2009 10:51 AM

    If you lived in Pittsburgh, I’d totally be your friend. Or if I lived closer to you, of course. I found most of my friends through work (I worked at a Christian camp during college) and I was lucky enough to live near some of my old coworkers. I’m also hoping to meet some people through this young adult group I’ve been attending at church.

    I’ve also used Craigslist to meet some people too. I met one girl who is absolutely fabulous. I’m not sure if she’ll end up in my wedding party, but we’re thinking about being roommates, which is nice. It takes some time, but if you put yourself out there (and I know that’s easier said than done), finding friends is a possibility. But it takes some patience, definitely.

    • April 16, 2009 2:41 PM

      I’ve looked at Craigslist some… but I haven’t really seen anyone in my area. Perhaps I should write my own post!

  2. Sarah S. permalink
    April 14, 2009 11:51 AM

    Oooh, that’s a toughie. I’ve had much the same problem myself. I’ve moved to another state and city semi-post-gradschool because that’s where my husband’s work is and it’s been hard trying to have friends here. I’ve met some nice people from work (at a community college) but doing anything fun together during the semester doesn’t seem likely.

    Frankly, high school and college friendships have been hard for me to maintain. In high school I got “dumped” by the group of friends I had because I was “too depressed” all the time due to getting dumped by a guy – as a result, my hs facebooking is virtually nonexistant. In college I knew a lot of folks, but I only had a couple of bosom buddies (what my mom always called “kindred spirits” a la Anne Shirley). Two of them I talked into being in my wedding party when the time came but school got in the way of staying in touch on my end (plus the multi-state Midwestern living). I did make friends in grad school but the dynamic was weird – lots of moms coming back for a degree, plus a handful of guys and girls in various stages of relationship disarray. The people I hung out with most have generally left the program or graduated.

    My most recent success was purely happenstance – I talked a local seller on etsy into meeting me at a Starbucks to deliver my order, and we wound up chatting for two or three hours. I guess the only thing I can say is: it won’t always be this difficult. Once you’ve been somewhere for more than a year, you get a sense for who’s got the time and who’s worth the time. Another thing that’s been helpful is finding things to do with my S.O. We learned how to swing dance (also a great place to make friends, still have some from that experience) and we now really enjoy going to local weekly dances when we get the chance. Are any of your boyfriend’s guy friends attached? Sometimes doing a “girls night out” with a group of folks who know each other by association can get things going nicely.

    No matter how the friendship thing goes, remember that current lack of friends is no indication of your friend-worthy-ness. Finding people to spend time with A) doesn’t happen overnight and B) is very dependent on things like chance. Just keep on being Allison and it’ll happen!🙂

    • April 16, 2009 2:42 PM

      My boyfriend is also not from this area. He moved here last summer. Most of his friends are from his church… But since he lives 30 miles away from me, socializing with his friends is tricky. One of his good friends is married, and we’ve had lunch with them, but I haven’t seen them with him since then.

  3. April 14, 2009 12:28 PM

    Most of my life I’ve had large circles of acquaintences, but few I could really call friends. Sometimes that’s enough — but not always. (You can tell by how I’ve not felt drawn to attending school reunions.) What has worked for me has been getting involved in groups of people with similar interests: STAR TREK fandom, Renaissance faires, costuming, computers, and right now various online diabetes-oriented groups. From the large groups where we all have something in common, there are usually opportunities for smaller groups to break out — and in those smaller groups, you find friends.

  4. April 14, 2009 1:31 PM

    If I lived in NY, we would be great friends. I know this because when you write posts like this one (and the one your wrote about love, pre-Erik), I feel like I’m reading my own mind. It’s scary.
    When I’m up in May, we’ll have to chat.
    My social circle consists of my former high school Spanish teacher, and 3 best friends, the closest of which lives 2 hours from me. Sigh.
    I’m not good w/ people. Which is funny, considering I have to deal with people on a regular basis w/ my job.

  5. April 14, 2009 8:11 PM

    I find what works well for me is to find something I love to do, or have an interest in (for example, triathlon) and do it, and to find a group of people that also enjoy doing that same thing. Then you are doing what you love to do with people who share your interests. I never really enjoyed going to activities designed just for people to get to know each other. I’d rather be doing something I enjoy, and meet people while I’m at it. I’m happier, more relaxed, and friendships just form naturally. And if I don’t meet people right away, at least I am enjoying myself.

    • April 16, 2009 2:43 PM

      That is a really good point, and it’s advice my father has given to me since day one. He’s always telling me to find some sort of third-party activity, which I guess is why I joined the meet-ups. I suppose I should be on the look-out for more activity groups, rather than socializing groups.

  6. Autumn permalink
    April 15, 2009 12:37 AM

    Allison-
    One of my dearest friends will be moving to the NY area around September. She’s got a lot of similiar interests. She’s a travel junkie, loves photography, likes to connect with others, she’s been to India and loves the food. I know she’d love to know someone in the area when she moves there. What do you think about a potential friend set up? Maybe you two could meet at an Indian resturant. And don’t worry, she’s used to all the diabetic jazz. Her and I became friends about a year after I was diagnosed.

    • April 16, 2009 2:44 PM

      LOL. Like a blind date but for friends! Sure, I’m down! Send her my email address and have her email me when she’s here.

  7. Autumn permalink
    April 15, 2009 12:49 AM

    Oh, just in case you want to check out her travel obession you can visit this blog that her and her boyfriend set up just for their current trip
    http://benandstackyhaveablog.blogspot.com/

  8. April 15, 2009 1:10 AM

    So totally understand the how do I plan a wedding when I don’t have a maid of honor concept. I asked a casual acquantance to stand up for me & Dave, and now, I don’t even know wwhere she lives or her phone # or email or anything. How awful is that!

    Hugs to you! Many blessings upon your head.

    Lori R

  9. April 15, 2009 1:11 AM

    I so wish I had answers for you. Your story of friendship pretty much follows the same path as mine – except I’m a little further down the path and since I’m not having kids, that’s just made my friendship issues a thousand times worse than I ever imagined they’d be. Although, things have improved since I joined the social club for people without children, but I’m still far from having a best friend. I had major issues getting my side of the wedding party together, and won’t get into the details because it actually embarrasses me, but that was really hard for me and haunts me 5 years after the fact. The whole thing is a very complicated, disheartening, depressing topic for me. I hope you find the friends you need, the ones you deserve, Allison.

    • April 16, 2009 2:45 PM

      Awww. That sucks! ::big hug:: Thanks for sharing, nonetheless. I appreciate the good wishes.

  10. April 16, 2009 12:06 PM

    I’m with you. I’ve always had a very small circle of friends. Growing up and moving all over the country pretty much ended all those friendships….natural growing apart. Now I’m out in th middle of nowhere, and it’s IMPOSSIBLE to meet anyone to hang out with. I try to remain content with my online friends…and I’m super happy with my hubby and kids. It’s enough…but like you, sometimes I wish I had a good girl friend to go out with from time to time.

  11. Erin permalink
    April 17, 2009 8:58 AM

    Try a hobby. Some ladies that I know started a stich and bitch. Through this we get to know each other and have some girl time.

  12. April 17, 2009 5:06 PM

    Reminds me of the female version of “I Love You, Man, a movie you should shee that sounds eerily similar to your potential situation. A romantic comedy for you and Erik, perhaps?

  13. April 17, 2009 5:07 PM

    Check out “I Love You “Man” here: http://www.iloveyouman.com/?gclid=CO7w2rz2-JkCFcZM5QodjgnBGQ

  14. April 18, 2009 8:42 PM

    Allison, I love that you wrote this post. It’s one I kinda don’t have the guts to write myself. My history with girls is weird. I had a small group of girl friends in middle school, which unraveled in the middle of high school. Typical passive-aggressive bitchiness. Then I formed a small circle of guy friends, mostly gay. In college, I was friends with a few guys and girls, but didn’t focus a lot (or nearly enough) time on being social.

    After college, I moved to NYC and got a job. I learned it really doesn’t get easier to make lasting friendships as an adult. I work a lot and tend to get chummy with a few co-workers, but I find it hard to inititate friend dates. The fact that I’m in a relationship also complicates things — I love the guy I’m dating and am confident that he is an all-around wonderful friend and lover, but I know it’s too much pressure for him to be pretty much the only person I spend my free time with.

    Sooo… Wanna plan a friend date?🙂

  15. April 23, 2009 4:24 PM

    If you figure out how to make more friends please let me know!!!! It is so difficult to make friends at this ad!

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