Friends without benefits

Schroedingers CatSchroedingers Cat Shipmate, Waving not Drowning Host
So I totally get the nature of this board, but I want to know how to meet people not for a romantic/sexual relationship, just how you make new friends?

I used ot have friends. I still have some, but I don't know how to make more of them, how to have more friends - people who sort of get me, but who I can meet in person (rather than just on line).

For me, this is the most important side of relationships. Not to dismiss romance, but to say that there is more to life.
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Comments

  • Totally agree friendship is a relationship.

    I know how to get to meet people in a new environment - get involved in things, offer to help and make yourself useful. The bit I find harder from there is making those acquaintances into friends. Or is it that we should only expect to have a handful of friends?
  • I think that friendships will either grow naturally, or stop at a place comfortable to one or the other party, maybe meeting up occasionally.

    To push it or to try to hurry it is a mistake. We need to be wary of others who do that too. Another thing to be wary of, especially when we are openly Christian, is someone who doesn't want a two way relationship as much as they want a carer.

    When we go out and join in with activities we are interested in, regularly, we are more likely to meet like minded people.
  • Raptor Eye wrote: »
    I think that friendships will either grow naturally, or stop at a place comfortable to one or the other party, maybe meeting up occasionally.

    To push it or to try to hurry it is a mistake. We need to be wary of others who do that too. Another thing to be wary of, especially when we are openly Christian, is someone who doesn't want a two way relationship as much as they want a carer.

    When we go out and join in with activities we are interested in, regularly, we are more likely to meet like minded people.

    It's not so much a matter of pushing it or hurrying it but starting in the first place. You can't hurry something that doesn't even exist.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    I don’t think friendships do necessarily grow naturally for everyone. For instance, in childhood and adolescence and young adulthood, people often kind of have ready-made friends at school and university and such, or at least are in environments where they are thrown together with a lot of people their age, so they don’t necessarily learn friendship skills. If they then as an adult move away somewhere new, it can be hard to make friends - even for very socially-adept people, and especially as people get older, and so people their age are often married and settled and not looking for friends the way young adults are. It does seem to be about finding groups to join, often nowadays online groups, or groups that you learn about online, like the meetup site.

    Once you get to the point of meeting people, where you’re in a group and have found people you get on with, then whether or not friendships come from that is about friendship skill, which not everyone has, but you can learn about. For some people it does come naturally, so they may be using these skills automatically without self-awareness of what they’re doing, but it doesn’t come naturally for everyone. For me, it doesn’t, and the few close friendships I’ve had in my life have been with socially-skilled people who took quite a pro-active approach to making friends - including taking it slowly, so being deliberate about friend-making doesn’t necessarily mean rushing or forcing.
  • CaissaCaissa Shipmate
    I suppose this all hinges on how one defines "friends". I developed many close relationships in my youth that could be described as life-long friendships. as an adult, my circle of acquaintances has grown and the meaning of friendship has probably changed for me. Those who i call friends are people I see less often and spend less time with. So what is a "friend"?
  • EutychusEutychus Admin
    edited February 7
    Goodness. I agree with @Caissa.

    [ETA and once again, there's a CS Lewis quote for this :hushed:]
  • Schroedingers CatSchroedingers Cat Shipmate, Waving not Drowning Host
    I suppose I would define "friends" - at least as a starting point - as people whom I meet through one channel (work, church, pole dancing class or whatever) but who stay in touch outside that connection (or after that has lapsed).
  • I suppose I would define "friends" - at least as a starting point - as people whom I meet through one channel (work, church, pole dancing class or whatever) but who stay in touch outside that connection (or after that has lapsed).

    I think that is certainly a sine qua non.
  • I've found I have to do a lot of the keeping in touch with those people I really got on with in various environments, because when you move on it's too easy to lose contact.
  • I treasure my longest friends because I don’t feel the need to explain myself. Most go back to when we were 14, and through them the circle has grown. At least one is on the Ship.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    I agree with Curiosity killed. If you get on with someone in an environment where you see each other regularly, like a workplace or a place of study, the friendship doesn’t require much effort, because you are just there, doing things together anyway, so having a chat, having a coffee, etc., all extends quite easily from that. But once you are no longer in the same environment, it is very easy to lose contact unless you make an effort.

    Facebook of course means you can now at least superficially stay in touch - even if you never interact, you have a way to maintain contact and see what each other is up to. But equally Facebook can confuse the ‘friends’ thing, as people often add as ‘friends’ everyone within a certain environment, when in reality they’re only close to a couple, so won’t stay in touch with most when they’ve moved on.

    I’m not sure there’s an overall definition for friendship, beyond something quite vague, as different friendships can be quite different, because people are all so different, and friendship chemistry can be so different. In my mind, I divide (quite vaguely) between general friends and close friends. The close friends are those you are more likely to stay in touch over time when you’re in different environments, but that doesn’t mean none of the others were friends at the time.

    I’d also say ‘close friend’ doesn’t simply mean a friend you share personal stuff with. Some people share personal stuff with everyone. Some people are very reserved with everyone. To me it’s also about a kind of commitment - you care about the other person and they care about you, and you want to be in each other’s lives. You enjoy each other’s company in some way.
  • Schroedingers CatSchroedingers Cat Shipmate, Waving not Drowning Host
    mousethief wrote: »
    I suppose I would define "friends" - at least as a starting point - as people whom I meet through one channel (work, church, pole dancing class or whatever) but who stay in touch outside that connection (or after that has lapsed).

    I think that is certainly a sine qua non.

    It is intended to mean that it is people you keep in touch of because you like each other, rather than because you happen to share a location or hobby. There are a couple of people from work who I keep in touch with outside work (and one I currently work with who I will keeep up with beyond work, I think).

    It is in particular in a church context, that people I thought were friends at church drop me once I move on. It is very difficult to tell who will stay friends. Which is why it is a useful distinction, I think.
  • I was in Japan last year, and unexpectedly ran in to an old friend, who I hadn't seen for more than a decade. So we had dinner together. We don't have plans to be on the same continent in the near future, and don't exchange letters or anything. But if he's in the area, he has a place to stay if he needs one. Are we friends? I think so...
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    Yes, some friends aren't so good at keeping in touch, but when you do see them again, even after many years of no contact, nothing has changed and you are still friends.
  • At this moment, I'm sitting opposite a friend I've had since we met at the age of 6. (My family moved in two doors down from her family.) We eventually moved to another city, but Jean and I stayed friends.

    Sometimes it would be a couple of years before we connected (pre-internet), but we always picked up right where we left off. She lives halfway across the country, but is here to take care of me as I deal with major illness, for the second time in several months.

    That's real friendship.

  • Rossweisse wrote: »
    At this moment, I'm sitting opposite a friend I've had since we met at the age of 6. (My family moved in two doors down from her family.) We eventually moved to another city, but Jean and I stayed friends.

    Sometimes it would be a couple of years before we connected (pre-internet), but we always picked up right where we left off. She lives halfway across the country, but is here to take care of me as I deal with major illness, for the second time in several months.

    That's real friendship.

    I am sincerely happy for you that you have this. I am jealous also, because I do not.
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    I have two friends who I love dearly and spend the occasional weekend with, which I always look forward to.

    But I’m glad they don’t live next door as they are hard work! Their enthusiasm for life tires me out - and that takes some doing, as I’m quite an enthusiast myself.
  • balaambalaam Shipmate
    I love being with people who are enthusiastic for life...

    ...as long as I only have to watch.
  • Boogie wrote: »
    I have two friends who I love dearly and spend the occasional weekend with, which I always look forward to.

    But I’m glad they don’t live next door as they are hard work! Their enthusiasm for life tires me out - and that takes some doing, as I’m quite an enthusiast myself.

    Are you actually friends with two incarnations of Tigger? I must confess to being exhausted by the very thought.
  • anoesisanoesis Shipmate
    This is a very interesting thread - I can identify with a lot of what's being said here. In particular, about the difficulty of moving past the 'acquaintance' stage. I really do not know how you do this. (Yes, I am socially inept, but not to the point where people won't interact with me.) I just never really know how to read what someone else's level of interest in this relationship might be, and thus to know whether it's appropriate for me to try and move it forward.

    The background context, right now, is that I have kids at primary (elementary) school, who also play sport and musical instruments and various other cultural pursuits. So I have the opportunity (or repeated opportunities) to have short-duration conversations with a large number of (usually) women who are at a similar age and stage to myself, and have children with similar interests. You'd think this would be a ripe ground for forming relationships, but I haven't found it so. One person, I have met for coffee a few times, always at my suggestion, but she's never turned me down. Another, we (myself and my husband) went out a couple of times with her and her husband, but when I invited them to dinner, she turned me down. Don't know what to make of that.

    Mostly, I don't feel the lack - I'm an introvert, and not a big sharer, anyway. I like company, but I don't need it. But I do sometimes wonder, such as when I find out that the other people from my writing group all meet each other for coffee in between times - do I smell, or something?

  • Could it be that as an introvert you're projecting a self-sufficiency or a lack of interest in other people? It's something I'm not good at either.
  • anoesisanoesis Shipmate
    It could be. I have learned that I can't always wait for other people to make approaches, I have to be prepared to do that myself. But when I either get knocked back, or get no reciprocity following - it's not that I get offended. It's more that I figure this person has enough friends already and I should piss off and not keeping hanging off them.
  • PuzzlerPuzzler Shipmate
    I have always had quite a lot of acquaintances that I am friends with, through choirs, work, shared interests etc, but would not perhaps list as friends, if that makes sense.
    Having moved house about five years ago, I have a long Christmas card list of people I want to keep up with, and we write more than just a name in a card. These are my long term friends, and if we met up, we would pick up where we left off.
    It is local people that I am less sure about. Are we friends, or just have something in common? When we lose that, is there still a friendship? Probably not, sadly.
    I have one friend from my school days, but we only meet once a year. I would prefer maybe three or four times a year. Last year I renewed contact with another school friend and we met and had a lovely time, with lots in common, but have not made any more plans to meet. Why not?
    I guess I should take some responsibility. Maybe my week is too full to have enough space to fit in another regular meeting, but once in six weeks would be do-able..
  • There's one thing about having a deadly debilitating disease: You really find out who your friends are. I have been amazed by some of the people who have stepped forward to help me in various ways. Several acquaintances have become good friends in the process.

  • I struggle with friendships. School was a horrific experience for me and I never really learned the art of friend making. People from uni onwards wanted to make friends and I did not how to react, and honestly caused quite a bit of bother. Some gluttons for punishment remain friends.

    I lost 2 good friends when I had a major mental health meltdown and cut off contact because I didn't want them worrying. I recently tracked them down via the web, wrote to them, and apologised.

    It is tough to remain in touch and meet. People seem busier than ever. Letter writing disappeared with email and email seems to have disappeared with Facebook (in general). Phone calls are now SMSes or WhatsApp chats. I'm guilty.

    I have made acquaintances as an adult through work, study and shared interests (such as bushwalking [hiking] or language classes). Some of these have become friendships -- I consider myself blessed. It is tough.
  • Climacus wrote: »
    Letter writing disappeared with email and email seems to have disappeared with Facebook (in general).

    I'm about 6 months in to a sporadic email exchange with an old friend, which was kicked off by our meeting last summer after a long time apart. We're consciously trying to do it like letters - long messages with periods of at least a fortnight, sometimes a month, between each reply. It stops burn-out, means you have time to work up something to say, allows one to recommend books or whatever and makes a meaningful response to such possible beyond a simple 'thanks, must look into that'. I recommend it.
  • CaissaCaissa Shipmate
    FB is my main way of staying in touch with "friends" from past chapters of my life. As a student, I studied in Saint John, Fredericton, Ottawa, London, Toronto and then back to Fredericton. Met may people over those thirteen years. As well, my current career (25 years) had 3 years spent in Sackville ( years 5-7).
  • anoesisanoesis Shipmate
    Update! The one who will have coffee with me but never instigate anything, instigated something! We talked for about an hour, and near the end, she said, 'This has been good, I've been feeling really isolated lately, since [son has developed a chronic illness].'
    So, there you go. Actual, rather than theoretical, confirmation, that others also feel isolated.
  • There's quite a bit of research showing that people are feeling lonely and isolated generally.
  • RossweisseRossweisse Shipmate
    Our screens may seem to connect us, but not in the most satisfying ways.
  • ClimacusClimacus Shipmate
    Some highlights (lowlights?) from a BBC Radio 4 survey with 55,000 respondents:

    [*] 40% of 16 to 24-year-olds who took part told us they often or very often feel lonely (though they make the point as this was online and self-selecting they may have attracted more lonely people)
    [*] 33% of people who completed the survey told us they often or very often feel lonely, 42% said they rarely or never feel lonely
    [*] More women reported feeling shame about feeling lonely than men. We also found that feelings of shame about loneliness go down with age and yet older people say they are more likely to conceal their loneliness than younger people
    [*] People who feel lonely have on average lower levels of trust in others
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