Tuesday, January 17, 2012

2012 Intention: Friendship

"Friends are like...the icing on the cupcake of life, the hot fudge on the sundae, the whipped cream on the hot chocolate!" (me, after one two many glasses of wine circa 2010).

[I was going to incorporate this into my "Self" post, but it seemed a big enough topic to tackle on its own. Thus, you will have to suffer through one more (really, this is the last one!) "Intention".]

When I sit back and survey my life---what I've got, what I'm aiming for, and what is missing---the one area I find sorely lacking is friendship. One of the suckiest things I've noticed about my transition to "adulthood" is the waning presence of friends in my life. I know this is not universal, but it seems fairly common. In many ways, it's my fault entirely. As I added new priorities to my life, something had to give. I just didn't always have the time or energy for long catch-up calls with distant friends, and it was (and IS) hard to orchestrate outings and activities that would help me make or grow closer to local pals. I figured it was an organic part of life, but I didn't realize how much I miss and need the companionship and support of a truly close friend.

Whether its giggling incomprehensibly over an inside joke, or talking--really talking--about the deep & dark, there is nothing as satisfying and comforting as time with a real "kindred spirit". Yes, in many ways G is my best friend. I want to talk to him about things, and I enjoy his company tremendously (duh!). But we have many different interests and truly distinct ways of thinking---there are some things I want to discuss or do that he has absolutely zero interest in (and vice versa). I think it is beneficial--even crucial--to a marriage for both parties to have other people to talk to and hang out with, so that the burden for companionship isn't solely on the spouse. (and someone to turn to when your troubles happen to be ABOUT your spouse!)

There have been many times over the past few years that I've craved an evening of wine & gossip or wished for a shopping companion on a Sunday afternoon. It's not that I have no friends---I have a few really close friends from work (but we don't hang out much on the weekends due to geography and circumstances) and G & I have some couple friends that we occasionally meet for a meal or drinks. But I don't have a best friend, and I could certainly use more friends.

I'm trying to bump up friend time on my priorities list this year. I miss my kids terribly at work, but a night away once every couple of weeks isn't going to scar any of us. I want to try to plan one social outing each weekend, too, whether as a couple, a family, or on my own. I've found this blog so so eye-opening in the exploration of friendship---why its important (with research to back it up!) and how to go about making more friends [I recently got the book, too, and need to read it!] I would like to actively set about on a "friend search", but honestly, not sure that I've got the energy for it now, so I'll focus on growing the relationships I do have, and if new ones happen to come along---I'll definitely take advantage of the opportunity.

Because life can be pretty lonely when you're going through it alone.


  1. Wow, what a GREAT topic. I think for working people (women especially), as you get older and farther away from school it gets harder to make friends for all the reasons you describe. At the same time, friendship is unbelievably important, and I agree that it's important for a healthy marriage that you have friends outside the marriage whom you can confide in.

    My main problems are time (who has any of that?), and that I am picky (which is probably not a terrible thing since who wants to hang out with people who make us feel bad). Also, women can be cliquey and mean which bothers me greatly. I have some close friends, but not as many as I'd like.

    In part, I blame moving from Chicago when I was 29 to go to med school. It was hard to start over making new friends with a bunch of 22 year olds fresh out of college (many of whom are lovely people -- don't get me wrong -- they were just at a very different stage of life than I was). I've tried to make friends with some of the fellows in my PhD department who are around my age and life stage, but either they suck, *I* suck (totally possible), or the medical hierarchy is such that it makes friendship across levels really difficult to do. For me anyway.

    Wow, again -- what a great topic. I think someone posted on this over at Mothers in Medicine a while back (Anesthesioboist??). If you haven't read her post already, you might find it interesting.

    1. I'm with you...busy & picky. And the busier I get, the pickier I am about who I spend my time with. But I know there are LOTS of women out there that aren't cliquey and mean...its just a matter of finding them & then having the courage to reach out. I think there are many reasons people find themselves without friends---moving to a new city, moving on in life, etc... but basically I think that as we get older, we just have difficulty finding the time/energy to make it happen, regardless of circumstance.

    2. It's also true that the cliquey and mean behavior that is so common in high school really decreases as women get older -- for most people anyway. It's really just an excuse, since you're right, there are plenty of people who aren't that way. It comes down to time in the end. And effort.

  2. Absolutely! Friends really do make life better but, as you know, good, meaningful friendships require time (from both parties) and that is so hard to come by for most adults. Motherhood makes things even more complicated, especially for working moms who are stretched so incredibly thin to begin with.

    I think that it is easier to maintain strong friendships when you manage to overlap them with other parts of your life like work or kids or whatever.

    Another really good strategy that has made all of the difference to me with my mom friends has been to make regular appointments like Sunday brunches with the kids or a Tues evening beer or whatever works for you. Life being what it is means that they will never happen every week but they are more likely to happen often enough to cultivate a real bond (not to mention to avoid forcing you to expend the seemingly endless amounts of energy necessary to make plans). Of course, step one is to find people that you bond with enough that you want to see them regularly.

    It does take time but I totally agree with you that it is worth it.

    ps It's slowmamma - Blogger just doesn't like me these days.

    1. LOVE the idea about appointments...also nice to have something to look forward to every week (ish). But yes, step one has to happen first :)

  3. Oh, me tooooo. I sort of imagined that friends would fall from teh sky the moment I had a child, but so far, nope. My really close friends are fewer and fewer every day it seems, and while I know there must be awesome people out there, I just feel at a loss when it comes to hunting them down. Plus I'm all shy and don't really like leaving the house... Anyway, I think it's a really great goal and maybe you can show me how it's done!

  4. I go through "dry spells" with friends ... sometimes I don't have any, it seems. And then I recommit myself, and I marvel at the amazing support I have in those friendships. It's hard work ... but friendships can be the foundation that help you meet all of the other goals you've listed so far!

  5. Me too. I have lots of acquaintances, and they're great, but at the moment, I have no close friends with whom I can truly be myself. I'm not really shy, but I'm awfully afraid of rejection, and the friend search might involve rejection (so I stick my head in the sand and feel sad about it).

    Love slowmamma's idea of appointments. Makes sense. Maybe I'll get my head out of the sand and see what's around...