A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I had picked up this book from the library and was looking forward to getting into it:
It's a part-research-based, part-anecdotal tale of one woman's search for friends in a new city. It's fascinating. The author puts herself out there and tries meeting new people in as many ways as possible- friends of friends, a want ad, friend finding services, you name it. I'm not quite done with it but her research states that people with good friends on all different levels (BFF, casual friend, acquaintance, etc.) are generally happier and healthier.
Personally, I have a hard time making friends. I do not do well with people I don't know: I am verbally clumsy and very awkward and say stupid things. I embarrass easily so when I start speaking my face turns red. I am not good at idle conversation, so if we run out of things to talk about, I am most likely not going to be the one that comes up with a new topic. It's horrible. It's not that I don't want to be social and meet new people and have a large group of friends; I like being social- I'm just not good at it.
As of right now I can think of one oldest and dearest friend, two friends from high school that we still get together with occasionally, and some more recent mommy-friends that I've met through Gus (though I don't even know if I can count them as friends yet) on my short list. And it is a very short list, as you can see. I didn't have a huge group of friends in high school, I mostly commuted in college, which makes those dormitory bonds non-existent, and I don't go out of my way to interact with new people. Add in kids and a house, and we don't exactly have time to go out of our way to try and make friends. And it's hard to find people to be friends with. You can't just walk up to someone in the store and ask them to get coffee. Plus, as the author of the book points out, if you're trying to make friends and are too eager you look stalker-like, but if you don't put yourself out there, it's not like people are just going to come and find you either.
So it gets me thinking. How many people do you have that you consider friends? Are they new or old ones? How do you meet new friends? Are you someone who puts themselves out there easily or are you more clumsy and awkward and shy like me?
One think I have realized, however, is that it can be easier to make friends online. My normally bumbling ways are eased by the ability to respond after I've been given a chance to process and think about what the person's said. My face doesn't turn red because no one's looking at me. If the conversation dies, it's ok because both people can get up and go do other things without awkward silence. It pretty much erases the face-to-face issues. The problem with this type of interaction, though, is it doesn't give you the face time you apparently need to get that healthier, happier quota. The closer to real-life interaction, the better. I sometimes wonder if it would be fun to Skype with people I've met online, or would it be better to keep the status quo? When do you take online friendship to another level? Is it safe? How do you ask without looking like a stalker? It's like chatting with an acquaintance and then asking if they want to get coffee, but you're not sure if you're at the coffee-friend level yet. How confusing can you get??
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this because I really find it to be such an interesting topic- maybe because I am not plentiful in friends and would like more. I don't feel particularly lonely, but sometimes it would be nice to have someone to hang out with without having to make a whole huge plan. Anyone else feel the same?