How Adults Make Friends

DSCN4284I’m starting to become alarmed by the suspicion that I don’t have any friends.

This is quite a shocking thought to me and probably to anyone who knows me. When it comes to friends and socializing, I take after my dad. I can make friends with (almost) anyone. Lots of people know me from lots of circles and most of them like or at least neutrally appreciate me. And in all truth, these are not just acquaintances. I could easily name at least twenty-five people with whom I’d describe our relationship as trusting, open and supportive, and I can for sure name at least 12 who either know everything about me, or with whom I would feel fairly comfortable sharing everything about me.

So how does this kid not have any friends?

Lately for school I’ve been learning about attachment. In recovery conversations, I’ve been talking about vulnerability, intimacy and consistency. I’m coming to learn that a truly intimate relationship requires deep and thorough and consistent emotional investment, which means talking about good things and hard things and all the times I’m feeling anxious, sad and angry. Intimacy requires a balance of peak experience conversations and common every day conversations. As two people engage in these conversations over a long time on a consistent basis, they learn each other, start to mirror each other, and even their neural structure begins to adapt to the other one.

And by the way, all this can happen without sex.

I’m starting to become alarmed by my own role within the relationships that I have. For starters, I have so many of them. I can’t possibly invest the adequate levels of emotional, psychological and spiritual content required for true intimacy in twenty-five people spanning at least seven circles. There’s just not time and I don’t have the energy.

Beyond that, I have a habit. A pattern. Perhaps a lingering vestige of addiction. This creates an internal barrier to intimate relationships.

That pattern is that I prefer non-relational activities.

I like my work. I like my hobbies. I like having experiences. Now granted, hobbies can sometimes be shared…but my favorite one is writing which is largely solitary. And of course experiences can be an excellent context in which relationships can form…but the experience can also be a distraction and if the relationship never has moments where the people just…are…together…then the experiences are no longer helpful.

I need to shift my values and priorities and actively reach out for people instead of trying to fit as much work into a day as I can.

The other alarming variable is an external one. Except in a marriage, and barely even then, there is no concept of committed relationship. There’s no friends that commit to being with one another for years and years. They can commit to being friends, but they don’t commit to intentionally investing regular time. They don’t commit to not moving away. They don’t commit to not making closer friends.

And this brings up all my old fears about being rejected because I’m ultimately boring, useless, forgettable and not worth the time. My mind will twist things to say, if the only one who commits to me is the one who is legally bound to me, then what is my worth as a Human being?

I recognize that this manner of thinking is twisted and irrational. However, it’s quite potent and alarming.

All that to say, I am now officially beginning the process of re-evaluating my relationships. I hate to think of relationships in terms of resources, but I recognize I have only limited resources, so need to consider which relationships will pay the most dividends. Which ones will actually reciprocate. Which ones may even commit to me.

One day, heaven will be marked by having all the time I need for all the people I love so I can know and be with them unhindered completely.


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