Help me learn how to maintain friendships?
November 5, 2012 12:31 PM Subscribe
I am a good friend, I meet loads of interesting people, but I am terrible at maintaining friendships. Help me not end up alone, on my couch, eating out of a tuna can every night wondering what happened to all my friends.
posted by amoeba to Human Relations (17 answers total) 107 users marked this as a favorite
I am not an introvert. I like people, I'm social, I'm a great manager and a good friend when I'm face-to-face with people, but I have a hard time ginning up the energy to do the work it takes to maintain friendships. When people need me, I'm there. When I need them, or just want to socialize, I shrivel into a ball on my couch and watch the entire run of "Homeland." When we're not in contact, it's easy for me to fall out of contact
— I won't call people to hang out, because I would feel kind of crushed by any rejection, even if they're busy with common things like work, or prior plans.
— I never just "call people up" to chat.
— I drop off the radar, don't write people back, don't answer their calls. Eventually I do so weeks or months after they contact me, with lots of apologies.
— I let my best friendship sink into oblivion because I was terrified I had been a bad friend by waiting so long to contact her. "Overdue Library Book" syndrome sank in (where every day that passes makes the penalty seem greater, and therefore increases my need to avoid contact) and now it's been two years and I fear she must hate me, or at least disrespect me.
— I only arrange plans a week or two in advance. I don't know how to build friendships where you can just call them up and make spontaneous plans, so if I don't have advance plans, I'm SOL.
— I have a wrongheaded/ingrained belief like people will only like me for "transactional" reasons: they think I can help, they want advice, they want the things I can do for them, but don't necessarily care about me as a person.
— Professionally, I have a really hard time with accepting mentors. I am in a field where mentorship is really important. I have made some big career moves and a few senior managers were like: why didn't you talk to me!?!? I could have totally helped you with that. And I shrugged and was embarrassed. I felt like this is part of the same problem. I don't reach out.
— Outside of intimate relationships, I'm afraid of needing other people and being beholden to them. This is not a problem with my significant other. (And I usually date people who are great at maintaining friendships, with built-in social circles). I am happy to be beholden to them! But it's scary to think of all those obligations toward a big cast of characters.
— I have a hard time saying no to people. (Ah, crap. Source issue. Clearly, writing this is helping me figure some of this out).
— But when I do keep ontop of my friends and contacts, I end up overscheduled with drinks and lunches every single day, and have no "me time" and so I retreat and flake, and end up alone all the time.
I've known people who spend an hour on the phone every day, dialing around, chatting up people. I know others who maintain a "friend circle" where everyone goes to the same bars 3x a week and they all just see each other constantly. I am good at using social media to let people know I'm thinking about them, which is fairly low maintenance, but not good quality contact.
And there are social butterflies, but how do they get it all done? How can I set up things so I am doing better at keeping up with friendships — not just being a friend, but maintaining friendships? Are there any hacks/tricks that can help?