So, I was talking with my therapist the other day about how I feel like I make friends easily, but they have the tendency to disappear. She said it might have to do with my intensity, and I recognized that for a truth right away. I do have a predilection for being loud, gregarious, spirited, energetic, etc. In short, I tend to overwhelm people, especially when I am first getting to know them. I realize my personality is over-the-top, and I think most people tend to enjoy that at first, which is why I make friends rather easily. But then, after a while, I think it’s probably tiring to keep up with me and my Energizer Bunny personality, so they drift away. And here I was blaming them for it when it was me all along. Isn’t that always the way? My therapist also said that maybe I need to re-evaluate what I expect from a friendship so I’m not over-sharing and making people flee (my words, not hers). I agree, so like with everything else, I will post my expectations here. Someone I would consider a friend is:
1. Willing and able to go toe-to-toe with me when I’m in zany mode, or at least willing and able to tolerate me when I’m in that mode. You see, if someone can get past that part, I do have other levels to my personality that shine through at times. And of course I’m also proud of my personality, so it can’t be a disgruntled tolerance. That’s not real tolerance. It would actually be a bonus if they could appreciate the quirkyness. It’s tough to find people who aren’t quirky who appreciate the quirkyness, though.
2. Ready to be spontaneous, because while I love making and keeping plans, I also like to be surprised, and to be surprising. Getting little gifts and doing little things for my friends “just because” is one of my joys. The problem is when the friend feels like they have to reciprocate. If they just wanted to spontaneously do something for me, or get me something, that’s fine. But I think animosity builds up when they think they are beholden because I got them something or did something for them.
3. Available to spend “just chillin'” time with me on occasion. And here’s where the disconnect starts, according to my therapist. While I consider “on occasion” to be at least once a week, it seems that most others think it means something more amorphous, so if I didn’t see them for six months, that was cool and acceptable. But for me, six months is an eternity. I mean, they’re friends for a reason. I want to spend time with them. I don’t know if I could get on board with the six month thing. I guess I subscribe to the theory of making time for things that are important to you, and I can’t reconcile that much time between.
4. Ready to communicate. Now, I don’t mean we have to be in constant contact, but even a text message here and there is better than absolute silence. Or if I send a text message to a friend, I like to get some kind of response, even if it’s a short one, or even a generic one. I guess I just like contact of some kind. Maybe I’m old-school with my idea of a friend in this way, but I would think in this information age, with phones at our fingertips, why not? I will sometimes send short quotes of the day to my friends just to brighten their worlds.
5. Willing and able to talk about serious issues. Sometimes we all need a chance to vent, and I think friends are there for you when you need that. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re a burden on your friend because you’re always talking about how your life sucks, or something else depressing in your world. But that’s what friends are for, to be there for us, in the good times and the bad. So, that means share all your positive things as well. That way you won’t feel guilty (even though you shouldn’t anyway) when you unburden yourself.
6. Willing and able to give the support needed. We all need to vent (see: 5), but sometimes that’s all we need, someone who will listen to us, and let us get it out. Other times, though, we are looking for advice. And what is a friend better at than giving advice? Because they know us, they know our tendencies, and they know how our minds work. That’s why we talk to them about our issues in the first place. So, when we need advice, they are there with that sound knowledge we are looking for.
I definitely realize, after typing up that list, that I am asking for a lot from a friend, and so many people these days are looking for something a lot more loosely defined when it comes to friendships. In fact, what I see so many people calling friendships look to me a lot like just acquaintances. See, it IS all in the way we define the essence of friendship, and I’m glad I came up with my definition so I can refer to it when seeking new friends. If you don’t already know yours, you should come up with your own definition too, so you’re not devastated when you find people who don’t fit the bill. That’s okay. There are other friends for you out there.