The kidney club won't have me as a member
June 28, 2011 11:24 AM   Subscribe

Reading this question made me realize that while I have friends, I have no "kidney club" friends or family. What can/should I do?

I have friends (though no close/capable family). But I don't have the kind of friends that can really give me the kind of selfless, sacrificing, "kidney donating" help I might need. I did once, but somehow due to time, death, and distance, my kidney club has disbanded.

This really hit home a while back when I was in a hard spot where I needed more than just Facebook or online friends cheering me on, or even people calling me on the phone to chat. I needed the actual, physical, (metaphorically speaking) kidney donation. When that was not forthcoming, I really had to scramble.

The problem is resolved, thankfully, but I realize that I have no safety net. All my friends are physically distant, have all they can do with their own families, or just not the kind of friends you ask for a kidney.

How do I make up for this? I really do NOT want to be the kind of person who makes friends with people for what they can offer me. It's also harder to make friends as one gets older. I'd like to make a closer, tighter net of meat-life friends, not just for the kidney club, but for its own sake.

I know all the conventional things to do to make friends - join a church, meet-ups, etc. and I am doing that. I know it's slow going, but I am hoping to make a few more in-person friends. Meanwhile, what can/should I do if I really need a kidney and there are no volunteers? Are there services I should look into buying if I am stranded - besides the obvious like pet-sitters and home care?

How did you re-weave your social safety net when you were older, not a parent, and don't want to be a user or an instrumental friend?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (18 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Join AAA auto club if you're in the US. Make sure you have the numbers to a taxi service in your phone.
posted by ghharr at 11:30 AM on June 28, 2011

first, get off the internet...

After that, same advice as finding someone to date.. Take up hobbies, do things you enjoy, volunteer, and you'll run into similarly minded folks. Meet your neighbors, have a beer over the fence with them, etc.
posted by k5.user at 11:34 AM on June 28, 2011

A church is a good outlet connecting to people with shared values or beliefs (note: I am not religious), if you're not religious at all, maybe a Unitarian Universalist church? They do lots of non-religious things/groups.

Volunteering. You'd probably make friends doing that. to join groups of things that interest you and befriend some people there.

I'm not clear if you actually need a kidney. You say "actual, physical (metaphorically speaking) kidney donation" which is.... contradictory......... I think you do not really need a kidney, but you find friends THEN do things for each other.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 11:36 AM on June 28, 2011

Searching for friends based on what they can offer you is off putting. Searching for friends for the express purpose of potential organ donation is detestable.

That said, the best way to make friends is through shared interests. Pick up a hobby you will enjoy that involves other people. Put this "kidney club" idea out of your head.
posted by axismundi at 11:37 AM on June 28, 2011

Be willing to offer that kidney, literally or otherwise, yourself. When you make friends, and they need something, make sure you're on that list to provide if you can. This is a good way to make good friends closer, and close friends will be there for you, too.
posted by katillathehun at 11:38 AM on June 28, 2011 [8 favorites]

Um...Don't worry that your social situation doesn't resemble a fictitious television scenario?
posted by Thorzdad at 11:43 AM on June 28, 2011 [8 favorites]

If we want to be cynical, the best way to encourage people to do you a favor is to have them do you a favor. Ben Franklin effect!

I'm giving the OP the benefit of the doubt that their brush with misfortune just rattled their sense of connection to a community. Because that's what you're lacking. Normally a monogamous partner and/or close community (church, volunteer group, family) are the primaries here, not really just 'friends' as you get older.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 11:43 AM on June 28, 2011

For me the challenge has been how to move from acquaintances to friends to truly close friends. The best solution I found was to realize that it takes time together to deepen a relationship. Make a list of all of the people that you know who have the potential of becoming a good friend. Then make a plan to connect with each of them in some way, ideally at least once a month. Don't neglect your distant friends - use facebook, phone calls or Skype to stay in touch regularly. Pick an activity (bowling the first Thursday of the month or a poker night) and regularly invite friends, potential friends and friends of friends. Set a goal of having lunch/drinks/coffee with someone at least once every week. I also started a weekly bridge group with the promise to teach anyone who wanted to join. !0 years later we have become true friends. I have another circle of friends where we are no longer in regular contact (our kids grew up) but various people have started a tradition of hosting a potluck on certain holiday and as a group there are at least 4-6 such potlucks a year. Combined with our past investment in the relationships, this is enough to keep things going.

The easiest way to make friends to when you have a group of people that are already committed to getting to together for some other reason. However, the harder but more durable option is to get in the habit of getting together because you choose to.
posted by metahawk at 11:46 AM on June 28, 2011 [3 favorites]

That comment made me a little wistful too, but honestly, donating a kidney is a high bar for young friendships. I'm trying to focus on expanding my "would bail each other out of jail" club first.
posted by deludingmyself at 12:09 PM on June 28, 2011 [8 favorites]

I have no "close circle of friends" as society defines them nowadays, no one I hang out with every day and no one I call on a regular basis and do buddy buddy things with... I move too often (as do my friends) to have that kind of relationship with any group of people. Also, I'm something of a loner. Most of my friends are distant friends -- people I've met and formed a bond with in various stages of my life (even after my 30's, age should not hinder friend-making abilities). We keep in touch through various mediums, but we keep in touch. There are some I consider "close" whom I've not seen in over a decade. I'm in my mid-forties by the way.

However, if any of my friends needs anything at any time (even a kidney) and I'm able to give it to them, they know they can call me. If any one of my friends or family knocks on my door in the middle of the night, even if I haven't seen or heard from them in ten years, they know they have a place to stay, at least for the night. The same goes with my friends. I have no qualms about calling any of them in my time of need both close and afar.

That's what friends are for - and distance should not hamper that. That's what makes them friends.

I guess what I'm saying (to answer your question) is that friends are not made. Friends happen. Friends are those people whom you connect with and who connect with you. Sure, go to church and public functions to find people to connect with but don't make the mistake of thinking proximity = closeness. I've personally seen "close circles" dry up and blow away in the wind during someone's time of need.
posted by patheral at 12:10 PM on June 28, 2011 [4 favorites]

The "Kidney Club" answer was interesting, in that it highlights an approach to friendships very different from mine.

The person who posted that answer seems to have a very Calvinist approach to friendship: "You're out until you're in." "Folks who have failed a key test or have yet to pass the test to get into the kidney club" are Not In. People who, among other things, are adjudged to "have decent morals (i.e., consonant with my moral structure...)" are In.

Which is fine; everyone's got their own criteria for friendship. But if I knew that someone was silently judging me or my morality, or awarding me points based on their perception of whether I passed or failed a number of tests determined by them, I might find it creepy and might well not be their friend.

(Obviously we all make judgements. Mean to waitstaff or sales staff? Racist jokes or sexist catcalling? Unkind to animals? I shan't be having that sort over to tea.)

With me, I think, you tend to be "in until you're out." That is, I like you unless you've given me a reason not to. I think this attitude is one reason I make friends so easily. (I'm crap at keeping in touch, but that's another story.) I came to my particular UK subcultural scene knowing one person; now I know a whole bunch of people within that scene, and have a small number who are basically family. This happens easily when you send out I-like-you vibes-- people find themselves liking you back.

Obviously there's a world of distance between "do I like this person?" and "do I trust this person?". I think that the "Kidney Club" answerer was trying to address that. Following my "in until you're out" philosophy has, of course, gotten me hurt and let down a few times-- but I think it's worth it for the times when neither happened.

tl;dr: Be the kind of friend you want to have. In your case, that means: treat other people with liking, and sometimes give your trust where a sensible person would tell you it's inadvisable. In this short life, what else will keep you amused?
posted by Pallas Athena at 1:26 PM on June 28, 2011 [5 favorites]

I think a lot of adults struggle with this same thing. My "kidney club" would include 2 friends from high school, an older guy I met when a teenager, my brother, and my wife.

I think the important thing is to find a social hobby. I grew up playing table-top games and RPGs. We had a store we hung out at. This is where I met 3 of those people above, and many more people I am still friends with today.

Actually, come to think of it, I highly recommend gaming. Not online gaming - there's no interaction. Find a table-top game store in your area, get over your stigmas ("OMG these people are nerds") and play some games. If anything, you'll make some temporary friends.

And come to GenCon in Indianapolis!
posted by phrakture at 3:15 PM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

These kinds of friends are nice to have, but they aren't a requirement of being a Fully Normal and Complete Human. Figure out a way to be as happy as you can with what you have, and you'll likely find you will discover all the friends you could want.
posted by gjc at 4:02 PM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think your expectations of friendship are too high. You may well find yourself making plenty of friends if you stop expecting them to be people who'll put their life on the line for you.
posted by Decani at 4:53 PM on June 28, 2011

This sort of thing is what family is for. Besides, you don't know what your friends are willing to do for you until you actually get in that situation.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:13 PM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Nothing solidifies a friendship like helping people. If someone you know is painting their house, offer to help. Their washing machine breaks down? let them do laundry at your place. they are working long hours? make them dinner, or pack them a homemade lunch. Not only will you be remembered for the kindness you show, but you also end up spending more time together while you are getting the jobs done. I'm always happy to do nice things for my friends; just recently I needed help getting my house ready to sell, and one day I had a gang of 9 people helping me clean, which was awesome.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 5:58 PM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's hard and I feel the same way sometimes although I take it down many levels and just call it 'helping you move' friends. I have lifelong friends but I live in a different country so obviously our lives are different now and we are much less close (many of them still live in same town, share kids the same age, etc etc). I have friends here, good friends I would say, but still just on a social get together on weekends and 'talk about life' kind of level. My family also lives elsewhere. And I'm over 30. Geez, now I am worried!!

I think what happens is that if you need people, they will often (I hope) step up, and that more casual friendships can deepen over time with repeated exposure and connections. And let's be honest, I think most people end up partnered up and that person is sort of their bedrock/kidney source. I don't have that yet, but I sure hope to in the future.

Just keep trying to meet new people and spend time with the people you are already close to. What else can you really do?? (or maybe we are both missing the point and that is why we are both not currently in the kidney club!)
posted by bquarters at 6:54 PM on June 28, 2011

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