Friday, March 25, 2016

HOW TO GET A SOCIAL LIFE WHEN YOU DON'T HAVE ONE! THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FRIENDLY and FRIENDS

Missy,

I'm too alone.  I need friends.  Most of mine have gotten married and have children.  They just aren't available like they used to be.  My job takes a lot out of me.  How do I make friends and get a social life going?

Megan
San Diego

Hi Megan,

I feel for you.

First think about the things you really enjoy doing.  Make a list.  Then put these activities in two columns.  The things you do alone.  The things you cannot do alone.  You like to read alone?  Why not join a book group at the library?  You like to paint alone?  What about going to art gallery openings?  You like to play tennis?  Can you take a class or join a club?  Is there a cause that you are truly interested in?  What about some volunteer work - minimal?  (With the Presidential election coming, you might want to volunteer some time for a candidate of your choice.)  Take each of your interests and think about where and how you can indulge yourself where you're going to meet other people who like to do what you like to do.

The first truth about having a social life is that you yourself have to INVITE people to be your guest, go places with you.  As a woman, the first thing to do is make a woman friend that you can go places with, but men can be great friends too.  It's just that some men still think that if a woman does the asking, then she is chasing them or after them for sex and it can get confusing, even go all wrong.  (I myself have had the experience of asking a man I met who seemed to have common interests with me along to the museum only to discover his ego all blown out to other men about it.  He also then waited for me to make another invitations to him, urging me to do so when he saw me around, which I did not.)

If someone invites you, then it's your turn to invite them next.  Again, focus on what you might have in common when it comes to things that you can go and do.  Don't get caught up in the long phone conversations - sharing - as a substitute for actually getting together with another person. 

You can't be lazy about letting someone else do all the work of keeping a connection going.  However, I personally never ask someone to do something with me more than 3 times in a row and then if they don't reciprocate, I let it be.  People are busy. So am I.  What you're really going for is a friendship where you take turns with the invitations because that's indicative that the other person is also taking responsibility for having a friendship, that they want it.

For friends who have gotten married and had children and are rarely available, keep up by inviting them to a party, or let them know that you don't mind going along once in a while when they do child-activities.  (Help out with their children's birthday party.  Don't get stuck being the unpaid, on-call, baby sitter.)

So the first time I get together with someone new I usually suggest meeting for coffee or lunch.  Inexpensive - a couple hours of time, including the commute.  I try to find some common ground, some things that they like to do that I like to do too, while we are talking.  Be aware that, though some people like to, when you are just getting to know someone, it is not time to reveal all your personal problems.  (Trust takes time and you can be perceived to be a person who is desperate or who needs therapy.) 

I'm often open to going places with people that I might not be my first choice, just for the adventure of it, unless it sounds like a truly bad idea.  For instance, I'm not much into sports, but I've gone to ball games - and enjoyed myself.  The excitement of the crowd was easy to pick up on and even if I never understand the game, it's fun to people watch.

When someone asks me to a party, because I don't like loud, crowded parties, I will ask them what kind of party they are having before giving a commitment.  But I count the invitation either way and if I say I will be there, I will be - though I don't always stay for the duration.

The second truth is that in this life we meet many people and most of them we can be friendly with but few become real friends.  Being friendly means being superficially nice - after all you have nothing in particular against a person unless they become an enemy - right?  You have manners - right?  For instance you can be friendly to business associates without assuming that they are actually friends.  You can be nice to people you have very little in common with.  But when someone is mean, cutting, presumptuous, and talks to you without respect, or is willing to indulge in gossip...  be careful.  Gossips are very lazy about actually making friends and often whatever you say to them will soon be repeated - even exaggerated.  You'll have no personal business left.

What is a real friend?  Someone who genuinely likes you, can relate to you, and will be there for you when you're winning and when you're loosing.

Missy

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