Getting you to open up is like squeezing blood from a turnip
May 30, 2013 11:19 AM Subscribe
In addition to wanting to make new connections who are the oversharing, vulnerability exposing type (see previous askme questions) I would also like to improve (increase) the amount of friendship intimacy with my current set of friends. It's failing miserably, even with those friends I've had for years and I can't help wonder if I'm doing something wrong, or if my views on what's appropriate and desirable are off.
posted by TestamentToGrace to Human Relations (98 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
I have many friends who seem by almost all objective accounts to like me. They willingly hang out with me whenever I invite them, they go on trips with me, they show up whenever I call when it's really important (like during the death of my father, or if i desperately need a ride somewhere and my car isn't available), they buy me presents for birthdays and holidays, etc. But rarely, RARELY do *any* of my friends call, email, or drop by to invite me to do anything! I am almost always the planning initiator and it drives me nuts. I feel it's really unbalanced. I've done the little self-pity party "tests" of not reaching out just to see how long it takes before they notice and reach out to me and what i've discovered again and again is that it will take weeks or sometimes longer before even one of my friends will finally reach out to me to ask where did i disappear to. It's a sinking terrible feeling that you could disappear and nobody would really seem to notice.
Additionally (even with my best friend) getting people to share their inside emotional state is like pulling teeth. Even when i try to go slow and do the i share a little, now its your turn and you share a little routine, they rarely want to share. My best friend and i at this point have a one way accountability relationship in that i tell her most everything that i'm wrestling with and she tells me almost nothing. This is not how I'd like it, but I seem powerless to change it. I didn't find out she was planning a baby until she dropped it into casual conversation with a whole group of people at once. I didn't find out she was going out of town for a new job stint until she mentioned it on FB to everyone. And I've gotten the same treatment from almost all of my other friends. I feel like i am not truly in anyone's inner circle, i'm never the first to know, and i'm rarely trusted with the most intimate secrets. It really really hurts b/c to me that is what friendship (especially best friendship) is all about.
If I sit down and remind a particular friend that I consider emotional sharing and initiating activity to be a key part of friendship, then for a time they will put in more effort to do both. But it's pretty short lived and pretty soon it goes back to the way it was where I am sharing/initiating and they are not.
Today in a fit of passive aggressive angst I posted on FB that instead of stressing over unbalanced friendships and intimacies i am going to just stop worrying about it and just dial back my investment to match that of the other person (i.e. you don't share your deep secrets and big news with me, and i don't share with you). Well several of my friends 'liked' my post on FB, including my best friend! Of course that wasn't the desired outcome at all, I was rather hoping they would step up and say, so sorry, i will share more and initiate more.
How much emotional sharing, secret telling, big news sharing is considered healthy and standard between close female friends? Am I just expecting too much? Do I just need to find different friends? How could I (an extrovert) have attracted so many introverts as friends? Is it common to have one friend doing most of the initiating and i'm just putting imagined norms on behavior that i shouldn't that are creating unrealistic expectations?
Finally, for details on my friendships- what kind of people they are and where i've made them- most of my friends have come from folks who joined the meetup groups I was organizing, some come from church, and some come from other social events or friend of friends. I've got a healthy mix of liberals and conservatives, a blend of friends who share my religious views and those who don't, and a mix of male, female, married, single, and DINK friends. I can't identify any unifying factor to most of them except that they all tend to be introverted. I draw introverts to me apparently.