Sunday, 17 June 2007

Absent friends

A lot of women complain they can't find a suitable man - either they're stuck with a useless dickhead or they know a really bright, considerate guy who's giving them the brush-off.

Luckily I've fared pretty well with sexual relationships, but I have a similar problem when it comes to making friends - they're either liabilities or non-starters.

I really envy those people who have a wide circle of friends to give them support and encouragement at times of personal crisis or triumph. Right from my childhood I've never stumbled on the simple knack of forming deep and lasting friendships that go beyond the initial chatty bonhomie and light-hearted banter. There's a connective threshold I've never managed to cross.

I've tried often enough. Plenty of people have struck me as potential friends, people whose company would be rewarding and inspiring, but if we got together at all, too often it would be for weeks or months at best. Then inevitably something would go adrift, our meetings would lose their impetus and we would gradually lose touch.

On the few occasions when a friendship has lasted longer, the seeming friend's chronic unreliability, neediness or plain craziness has finally turned it sour.

I feel embarrassed and bemused that I lack this simple universal skill so routine to everyone else. It's discomforting when other people announce casually that they're "going out with friends" or they've "got a friend in a million", and I'm unable to reciprocate with my own happy tales of friendship. I always suspect they're secretly pitying me for my backward personality.

But no matter how much I watch other people effortlessly chattering to their friends, trying to work out how it's done, I'm left as baffled as ever by their social dexterity - like someone who's tone-deaf trying to understand music.

There it is, though, and I've learnt to be philosophical about my blind spot and to appreciate those gifts I do have. There are far worse traits than a failure to connect.

And at least I have one solid, enduring relationship that transcends friendship and gives so much extra meaning and significance to every aspect of my life. Jenny and I clicked instantly and we never looked back. A wee miracle.


  1. It gets more difficult as you get older and especially when you don't have kids, right? We move so much that I'm settling in a new place every few years trying to find friends. It can be exhausting and frustrating. My approach now is to meet people with low expectations. Then you can only be pleasantly surprised.
    Blogging helps, Nick.

  2. Social niceties as an introduction are usually a good indication that we won't turn out to be friends.

    The older I get the more I believe that if you're happy, then so what about anything else.

    Am sure there are people who spend a lifetime surrounded by 'friends' that they never connect with, but just acquire as a supposed reflection of how wonderful they are - using popularity as a weapon.

    I agree with medbh, but have found that I've moved from one who notices that people don't want to make new friends so much as they age, to the one who doesn't want to make so many new friends as I age. And I love it.

  3. Medbh - It doesn't seem to be age or lack of kids so much as just not meeting the right people at the right time. Yes maybe my expectations are too high - but I'm wary of getting in deep with the wrong person.

    Bell - Thanks for that - 'If you're happy, so what about anything else?' Yes I guess too many friends start to look like status symbols, but one or two bosom buddies would be nice (Sigh)

  4. Loads of different types of friends exist, some you trust with your life most you would be reluctant to tell your phone number at least you have found a special someone.

  5. I guess there're some people I would trust with my life, Flirty, even though I don't define them as 'friends'. Certainly plenty I wouldn't trust to do the right thing with my phone number.

  6. And Ii'm blessed with some wonderful kindred spirit friends and am seeking that soulmate. Go figure. *Sigh*
    Friends require ongoing care and maintenance, much like pets. And trust is a huge component, along with risk. And yes, I've been betrayed. Badly. Several times.
    But I would do it all over again.
    I'd say risk, Nick.
    What's the worst that can happen?
    What's the best?
    And somewhere in between is where you'll land.

  7. Flirty - you're just after my phone number, aren't you?

  8. Nothing wrong with high expectations I reckon. They got you Jenny didn't they :-)

  9. www - trust and risk, that's probably just what I don't do enough. I think I trusted people too much when I was younger and now I've overcompensated. I think also I'm intimidated by people who seem much smarter than me.

    con - very true! Think I'll hang on to those high expectations for the time being.

  10. Gorgeous hair. Who are those women?

  11. Oh hi there Annie. Yes fabulous hair, as you say. They're three Russian women from a blog called red october. It's a blog about the differences between Russia and USA. A bit iffy ideologically - Twisty it is not!!

  12. Annie - just catching up with your blog. "Friend-hunting is much trickier than man-hunting, because you can't lure them in with the false promise of sex at the end of the night." Nice one.

  13. Oh, okay, I thought they might have been your wife and children, for some bizarre reason.

    And thanks.

  14. My wife and children? What a great idea. Yes of course that's what they are - aren't they all just drop dead gorgeous? Actually we don't have any kids (see On Not Having Children 04.07) and Jennie's very shy about blogging her photo. Thus the filched trio.