“Ah, this is why I have no friends!” is something I say often. When, for instance, I blurt out my true opinion about my boyfriend’s clothing choices, or after I spend five days in a row in my pajamas watching Lord of The Rings, the extended version with all the behind-the-scenes footage, for the tenth time.
But the reason for my lack of friends goes deeper than my brutal honesty or my occasional obsessive compulsive behavior.
(I don’t want to sound completely pathetic here, I do have a few friends. But I can count them on one hand. Maybe even on a hand with a finger or two missing. And weeks or months or years will often pass between visits.)
I don’t count my boyfriend as a friend. I have a wonderful, truly romantic relationship with him, we enjoy each others company and have a lot in common. But there are certain things you can not and should not talk about with your lover. Don’t talk about wrinkles and unwanted hair and sagging skin when you want to maintain your sexual attractiveness with another human. Don’t complain about unfinished chores or bad habits if you want that other person to occasionally surprise you with flowers.
I also don’t count my family as friends. All of my siblings (there are four of them) really do enjoy my company as much as I enjoy theirs. We have a better sibling-relationship than most children from large families have. I also have my parents and my step-parents and a huge collection of aunts and uncles and cousins to rely on when I need the help or companionship of other people. But they didn’t choose to have me as a relative. It is nice that they like me, but more importantly, they love me unconditionally. It requires little or no effort on my part to maintain the relationship.
So laziness and a comfortable romantic relationship is one part of the problem. The other part is this confusing, uneven, self-confidence problem.
A part of me thinks very highly of myself and can rattle off a list of strengths and accomplishments instantly. I started writing that list – but deleted it, because I am also humble. =) But seriously – I have a good brain and a good body and I am proud of the things I have accomplished thus far in my life. I try to be kind and generous. I really care about other people and how they feel. When I ask you how you are, I really do want to know. I can ignore my own wants, needs and opinions to just listen and respond to another person’s thoughts.
But here is the confusing part: I have a really hard time calling a person I’ve known for years and asking them to go somewhere or do something with me. It makes me very uncomfortable. Fear of rejection maybe? Or of putting the other person in an uncomfortable position? Of being an unwanted burden? I’m not sure. If they call me to invite me to join them, I want to make up excuses and stay hidden in my house. But if they press the matter, I will say yes. When I go, I invariably have a good time.
In essence, I want the other person to do all the work of the friendship. While I will always answer the phone when they call and I will always be an attentive listener, I won’t pick up the phone to call them. I want someone else to make all the arrangements and just tell me when and where to show up.
When I use the word friend, this is the sort of relationship I am looking for.
Which means I don’t have a lot of friends.
My siblings live far away and I don’t want my entire social life to revolve around my boyfriend.
I need to figure out this friend thing. The sooner the better.