Is it common for people to compartmentalize their friends and not introduce their friends to each other?
August 17, 2012 6:55 AM   Subscribe

Is it common for people to compartmentalize their friends and not introduce their friends to each other?

So I have this friend, let's call her S. We've known each other for two years now. When we first met and starting to hang out, I thought we have the potential of being close friends because we seem to share a lot in common and she's a really nice person. But as we start to hang out more, some of the stuff she does, or rather, does not do, is starting to bug me more and more. For example, I'm the one who usually initiates contact and invites her out. She usually says yes to my invites, but she doesn't reciprocate and do the same. Sometimes I invite her to hang out one-on-one, but other times when I organize group activities that include my other friends, or if a friend of mine organize a big group thing, I'd invite her too and introduce her to my other friends.

In contrast, she has never introduced me to any of her friends. As far as I know, she doesn't have any social anxiety issues or is painfully shy. She's friendly and social when she's at my social events or my friend's social events. I know she has other local friends because I see pictures of her hanging out with them on facebook, both in more intimate friend gatherings and larger group activities. But I have never met any of them in-person because she has never brought any of her friends to events I invited her to and she has never suggested that I get together with her and her friends or invited me to hang out with them. She also doesn't bring her friends up in our conversation. For example, My partner and I adopted a dog recently. She loves dogs and has played with our dog when she came over to our house and cooed over him. I have mentioned that I would love to schedule doggie playdates when we talked about dogs. It's obvious from facebook pictures and comments that one of her close friends has a dog of similar size to our dog, but she never even mentioned the fact that one of her friends has a dog when we talked about doggie related things.

When I brought this up with my partner, he thought it was odd too that S has never introduced me to her friends. We both have other friends that we hang out with who would introduce us to their friends.

The thing is, S reminded me strongly of a former close friend L. When L and I were close, we used to chat on the phone almost everyday. But L has also never introduced me to any of her other local friends and I was also the person who was initiating most of the contact. Eventually I got tired of the unevenness of our friendship and stopped contacting L, and our friendship dropped off. L sent me a wedding invite out of the blue when she got married last year after we stopped contact for several years. Shortly afterwards, I randomly found out from a mutual friend that she was dating during the years when we were close, except L has never mentioned anything about her dating life to me even though we did chat about dating and men quite a bit. It left an odd feeling in my mouth that L never felt comfortable enough to share her personal life with me even when we used to chat almost everyday, including dating related topics, but she shared them with someone she's not as close to (I say this because mutual friend was not invited to her wedding and I was and we live in the same state, so it wasn't as mutual friend has to travel more for the wedding or anything. Mutual friend also has more $ than me, so she actually has more resources to spend) and honestly, I was really surprised when I got her wedding invite.

Now S is behaving very similarly to L, I'm not sure what to make of it. My partner thinks S is not introducing to me to hang out with her friends because she either doesn't like me as much as I thought she did or she doesn't want to get closer to me. But if S doesn't like me that much, why does she say yes to my invites? I feel that this behavior is really odd and the fact that she doesn't reciprocate makes me not to want to make the effort anymore. Is this behavior normal? Do you have good friends that you cherish but you only hang out on a one-on-one basis, but you would not introduce to your other friends? Is S only hanging out with me because she wants something from me (S often asks me for advice/help on stuff)?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (52 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Is it common? Certainly. I have friends who have friends with whom I have never interacted and probably never will. People who are my friends have never met some of my other friends and due to the fact that I don't throw parties, may never meet them. There's all sorts of reasons for compartmentalization. What if, for instance, S's friends are all horrible drama addicts, and she knows that, and is fine with that (as many people are) but doesn't want you involved in that whole thing. What if they're all BFFs from elementary school and are total dicks to anyone who tries to get in on their circle? What if, what if, what if. There are dozens of plausible scenarios to not let friend circles meet and some may even be altruistic.

At the end of the day, though, if you feel like she's not reciprocating enough, you can always mention it. However saying "HEY WHY HAVEN'T I MET YOUR FRIENDS?" to anyone but a person you are dating will almost certainly come off as sort of weird and clingy. If the absence is as conspicuous as you paint it, she certainly knows what she's doing, which means she's got her reasons.
posted by griphus at 7:02 AM on August 17, 2012 [14 favorites]

Oh, one last thing, maybe she doesn't like her friends. I know more than one person well embedded into a social group, the members of which they cannot stand. Why they keep hanging out with these people is beyond me, but it's happened often enough (with different people) for me to say that this is definitely a thing that happens.
posted by griphus at 7:03 AM on August 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

Basically what griphus said.

Also, depending on interests, you might not have anything at all in common with those friends. I have a whole set of UU friends who have literally nothing in common with the friends I've met via dating/going out. Getting them together would be painful for me because the conversation would be:

"So, TYRR, how awesome was that sermon?"
*third person sits in confused silence*
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:07 AM on August 17, 2012 [4 favorites]

Do you have good friends that you cherish but you only hang out on a one-on-one basis, but you would not introduce to your other friends?

All the time! I think this is pretty normal. Plenty of my friends don't really mingle their friend groups. It makes sense to me. How do you know they will get along? On one occasion, two close friends of mine who didn't know each other very well took a deep dislike to each other which was a bit uncomfortable - although they were mature enough about it.

I have had big get-togethers where I have mingled different friend-groups but I don't do it often, because I like to be able to have quality time with my separate friends. Also, I act differently with different groups of friends. I have one group whom I like to have deep philosophical debates with. Another group who are from my country of origin so we talk in our mother tongue and have a lot of cultural things in common. Another group whom I like to sit and watch trashy TV with. I don't choose to mingle them often because I'm not sure which 'me' I'm supposed to be when all the groups are together!

So that's just a couple reason why a reasonably well-adjusted person doesn't choose to mix his/her friend-groups. I expect this is just how S rolls. I'm not sure there's some deep-seated, sinister reason why she won't introduce you to her other friends. I certainly wouldn't assume she 'wants something from you'.
posted by Ziggy500 at 7:07 AM on August 17, 2012 [19 favorites]

Is it common for people to compartmentalize their friends and not introduce their friends to each other?

Yes, it is. Happens all the time.

There's usually three main reasons why people do that:
- maybe she just doesn't think you'll gel that well with her friends, even though she likes you herself.
- Or maybe she knows that her group of friends don't behave in an inclusive way when new people are introduced.
- Or maybe she just happens to like spending one-on-one time with you.

The whole not-reciprocating thing is a separate issue. Either she's not invested in your friendship, or she's in the habit of not being socially proactive despite being invested in your friendship, or she's overwhelmed and disorganized. One or the others.
posted by Kololo at 7:09 AM on August 17, 2012 [5 favorites]

My partner thinks S is not introducing to me to hang out with her friends because she either doesn't like me as much as I thought she did or she doesn't want to get closer to me.

I can give you insight into why I don't always introduce my friends. I have a selfish and jealous streak, and I don't want to share. Period. I love my friends, but I also love having friends and a life outside of the primary group.
posted by peacrow at 7:09 AM on August 17, 2012 [5 favorites]

Oh, and the other thing about established friend groups is that they are often groups with shared history, jokes, etc. Inviting people who will just be confused and left out doesn't sound fun for anyone.

You also seem a little bit too expectant in terms of your friend hooking you up with other friends. I have a friend who is constantly trying to get me to go on a baby playdate with people who don't live near me, who I don't know. I have no desire to ride the subway for 2 hours to hang out with someone I've never even met, and I never will want to do it. Instead of my friend asking me first, she invites the other people first so I have to basically say "no, that's never going to happen, sorry". That seems like I'm rejecting them and I doubt it feels great for them. I find it really thoughtless that she puts me in the situation of disappointing someone I've never even met!

You and someone else having a dog doesn't mean that other person is interested in meeting you or your dog, and that's not your friend's fault.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:11 AM on August 17, 2012 [7 favorites]

There are two things going on here: one is that she doesn't reciprocate in terms of inviting you to do stuff, the other is that she hasn't introduced you to her friends.

I have lots of friends who don't know each other. I have friends whose friends I have never met or heard very much about. As griphus pointed out (and, on preview, others), this is not unusual and there can be myriad reasons for this. I wouldn't sweat it. (I also would stop with so much Facebook observations about her friends and their dogs and such, maybe it's just me but that comes across as a little odd.)

However. If I had a friend who was ready to hang out when I invited her, but never asked me to do anything... yeah, that would bum me out and make me question whether or not there was a real friendship there.
posted by Specklet at 7:11 AM on August 17, 2012

For all you know, her friend's dog hates other dogs. I think you can't expect her to be your ticket to a whole new group of possible friends. When you have big parties, you can always suggest that she bring someone, but really, if you like her, I'd suggest that you enjoy her company and look for other ways to meet more people with dogs.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:13 AM on August 17, 2012

Do you have good friends that you cherish but you only hang out on a one-on-one basis, but you would not introduce to your other friends?

There is nothing abnormal about any of this. I've got groups of friends that I don't really mix, not because I don't like them or because they wouldn't get along but just because I can't be bothered to do it really.

I've got friends from high school that I've never introduced to my friends from work or my diving buddies. I've also got a few friends that I'll occasionally call and invite to things but that never do the reciprocal, that's just the way they are. I also have friends that will call me to do things a few times a year that I've never invited to meet other friends. Not every friendship works exactly the same way.

I don't think this is something worth getting worked up over either way.
posted by atrazine at 7:14 AM on August 17, 2012

Yeah, you should probably hide her on Facebook. There used to be a strong social convention that you never told people about events to which they were not invited. Facebook destroys that and it causes a lot of hurt feelings and a sense of exclusion. Why do that to yourself?
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:14 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I guess I am going against the grain - I think what you describe is odd.
It is true that people do compartmentalize groups of friends. That happens, that is natural.

But what you are describing is something else.
only hang out on a one-on-one basis, but you would not introduce to your other friends?

I have groups of friends in different compartments, but I do not go out of my way to insure they are not introduced to each other. I just see them in different circles of my life.

What you are describing seems to be a conscious effort by your friend to not introduce your to her other groups of friends. That is weird to me.
posted by Flood at 7:17 AM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yep lots of people keep separate buckets of friends and some people are just not social organizers at heart.
Do you enjoy this person's company?
Do they contribute to the conversation?
Then they are good guests to invite to group outings.

Do you trust them to keep your confidences.?
Will they help you out of a tough spot?
Then they are good close friends.

Do you see how someone could fit one, but not both criteria?
The most common grouping is work friends and social friends, of course...
posted by calgirl at 7:18 AM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't tend to be this way (I mix my friends rather freely), but I have several friends who do it. Sometimes they do it because they think we won't like the other friends, sometimes they do it because they think their other friends won't like us, other times it's because they act very differently in that friend group than with me/our friend group and that is awkward for them. I wouldn't necessarily hold that against them. However, I also have some friends whom are almost always up for hanging out with me if I invite them, but never invite me to things, and after awhile, that gets irksome for me and as a result I tend to stop hanging out with them as much because I just don't feel they value my friendship enough. I think having a little discussion with your friend about how you'd like her to do the inviting sometimes, might be in order, but I wouldn't stress over the not meeting her friends.
posted by katers890 at 7:19 AM on August 17, 2012

I have some really dorktastic hobbies, as does my husband. People from those hobby groups really like to talk about that particular interest, and have their own inside jokes. It's not like I'm emarrassed to admit I have these friends, or embarrassed to admit I'm just like them in the right context, yet I don't go around introducing these people to each other. They'd probably get along okay, but I'd feel like I was masterminding some charter-schools bussing system or something - not conducive to my relaxing and having a good time.

That said, my *closest* friends span those boundaries. For the first couple of years after we moved here, we'd throw a party and invite just my husband's friends, or just our hobby1 friends or just our hobby2 friends, or just my coworkers. In part, that's because of hte number of people who fit in one living room, but it's also for sanity's sake. Now, though, there are my favorite people from each of those groups, and when we throw a party for hobby1, we invite husband's best buds, my best coworker, and our best friends of hobby2. I will say, this is not only from being emotionally-close friends, these are also (coincidence??) our nearest-neighbors in town of those groups.

Have you considered asking her? "Hey, S, do your friends with the yellow dog live in this part of town?" "How was your weekend? ... Oh, cool, they sound like nice people!" "I want to see X movie, a group would be fun, anybody you'd like to invite, too?" "hey, I saw your snowshoeing photos on Facebook - where was that? Do you guys go every winter?" You're not trying to invite yourself along, just to demonstrate that you're interested in her and the rest of her life, you're interested in the kind of things she and her other friends do, and to get her thinking of you and them at the same time.

That said, don't be pushy. She sounds a bit odd about stuff like that; I'd try not to take it personally. It's her issue, and it's not about you. She's not hiding you from them any more than she's hiding them from you.
posted by aimedwander at 7:34 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have a group of close friends I have known since...well...pre-school for some of them. The newcomer came in 4th grade. (35++ yrs ago). I would not really think to introduce a newer friend to them because it would not be good for that new friend. We would shut her out. We talk in shorthand, talk about remember when, etc. It would be awkward and a waste of time for a new person to break into the group.

I have, introduced one or two of my childhood group to my local friends. That works. For long-time friends, I think it is better to introduce one or two of them into a group of newer friends than to introduce a new friend into a group dynamic so well established.

I think while it is odd that she has not at least said something about it, I do not think it odd that she acts that way. There could be plenty of good reason.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:39 AM on August 17, 2012

If you have eclectic interests and pursuits, yes. Each group of friends and acquaintances I have have a way of thinking and way of life that are so divergent that it'll only lead to major awkward social moments if I were to mix them together at, say, a dinner party.

Also, it may be that she's simply a very private person and doesn't feel the need to mesh together all the people she's connected with. For some of us, it's just easier to maintain relationships if we keep people in different "buckets."
posted by Anima Mundi at 7:41 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I am one of those "hey if I am having a party I will invite all my friends and hope they get along with each other" people. As I've gotten older I've realized that other people, some, are not like that at all. They'll have a party and invite one set of people or go to a thing and go with another set. It's just a social style and one that I've had to sort of teach myself to get used to (or, alternately, get more friends that are like me if it bugs me). What really helped for me was having good friends who were like that and actually talking to them about it "Hey how come you didn't tell me you were having a BBQ" "We we decided to just make it a kid party and capped it at about twenty people, but we'd love to have you over for dinner..." or something like that.

I am friendly with a lot of different people for different reasons and if I'm being completely honest not all my friends do get along with each other and there is some social grace in being able to have events where people are more likely to have a good time [i.e. with a guest list that is more up their alley]. This is not like one friend being picky about people but like "These sorts of friends like beer and watching the game. These sorts of friends like cooking a big dinner and talking about NPR"

In my world, however, the "my friend has a friend with a dog" thing is sort of not something I'd do. Like I get it and I understand your feelings but asking a friend to arrange hangout time with you and their other friend would be something outside of my own personal comfort level.

This is all different, however, from her not reciprocating. That would be something that would imply more strongly to me that maybe she's agreeable to hanging out with you but doesn't really want to put in the effort on her own. I'd also think a little bit about S and L, it may be that you are choosing friendships not based on reciprocity or whatever and it might be a good idea to make that a higher level thing to base friendships on. Life's too short to just have friends that bug you.
posted by jessamyn at 7:46 AM on August 17, 2012 [4 favorites]

Seriously seconding the idea that she might be shielding you from things by not introducing you. I have some friends that I love dearly but would no more introduce to unsuspecting normal people than I'd take them to meet my deeply disturbed family members.
posted by winna at 7:49 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think the idea that 2 of MY friends would automatically BE friends is one of those pernicious social fallacies. Now, there's friends I have introduced because I genuinely thought they would be friends and had a lot in common. And likewise, there's friends of friends that I have made friends with because we have a lot in common or similar senses of humor. However, there's friends of mine that I would not introduce to normal people without warning, as much as I dearly love them and we'd take a bullet for each other. And there's friends of mine that I'd keep in their group and not bring the wife or anyone else to meet just because all we're going to do is bitch about work and it's extremely boring if you don't do what we do. And there's friends where we're all within our own Circles of Trust and are extremely close and introducing an "outsider" to that dynamic would just make things weird.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:52 AM on August 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

Also, this is textbook Geek Social Fallacy #4.
posted by griphus at 7:59 AM on August 17, 2012 [12 favorites]

Yeah, people can be weird about their friend groups.

Also, she could just be kinda lazy. The social dynamic can be just tricky enough that she doesn't want to bother -- I know a lot of women like that. They just don't want to deal with it and they want things to be easy. If y'all are adults with jobs and various demands on your time, the logistics might be too much for her to handle.

I am not a strong social organizer by any means, but I make a sincere effort to do so in my life, and my female friends seem to really appreciate it. I am friendly and outgoing, but it takes effort to mix the friends up and think of ways to establish connections.

That said, I highly value my one-and-one time with friends.
posted by stowaway at 7:59 AM on August 17, 2012

A lot of the people I have been friends with were introverts or they simply shared a LOT with me, more than was normal for them. I am not an introvert. These situations leave me with really poor guidelines for what I can and cannot say about someone who has shared very freely with me. So, generally speaking, I just try to keep my damn mouth shut and assume everything was said "in confidence". I have been badly burned by trying to intro two friends or by people who knew way the hell too much about me without ever having met me trying to shove their way into my life.

I am extremely chatty/social and folks who know me fairly casually, like cashiers at the grocery store, who have started talking to me like I am their Best Friend are pretty shocked when they meet my asocial sons who don't want to hear their life story in the thirty seconds it takes to ring up the groceries. They are even more weirded out when I protect my sons from their inappropriate expectations and insert myself between the two parties intead of shoving my kids at them and insisting my kids be sociable.

There is a saying: "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." There is no saying about the friend of my friend is my friend. At best, that makes you acquaintances.

I am still trying to figure out the social introductions thing. I have had so many really terrible experiences with it that I am pretty gunshy. I have started warning people that my sons are not like me and won't necessarily want to talk to you just because you are my friend. I have favorited and bookmarked this discussion because it is an area I am actively trying to work on.

Maybe your friend has some sort of similar issue and is just trying to avoid having things blow up in her face. Plus, I just don't get that assumption about treating friends like a resource you can mine for more friends. That tends to assume a degree of homogeneity that probably isn't true for anyone except the most closed, racist/sexist/somethingist groups. Anyone halfway healthy is very likely to have a diverse set of friends and to thus be friends with folks who would not get along and may even actively dislike each other.
posted by Michele in California at 8:29 AM on August 17, 2012

I don't know. I'm always excited to introduce my friends to each other. I love to make new connections and I find that some of my friends go off and have separate friendships of their own. That's so neat!

If I'm not introducing you, that means I don't think very much of a particular group, as Ghostride the Whip said, you probably don't want to sit around while I talk shop with my work buddies.

I throw house parties and in fact, next week I will be at a big vacation condo in the mountains with a butt-load of people. Some of whom have never met each other. While they're all weridos like me, I'm sure that they'll all like each other because I'm only friendly with neato-mosquito people.

I'd re-evaluate a friendship where I'm someone's guilty pleasure, or embarrassment or whatever it is. But I'd come right out and say, "I've noticed that you've enjoyed being introduced to my friends, any reason you don't think I'd like your friends?"

I once asked a friend, "How come you never want to fix me up with your dude friends?" She replied, "I don't think the guys I know would 'get' you." Good enough. Now I know.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:32 AM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

Thinking all your friends would get along is one of the points in the Geek Fallacy write up.

I've made that mistake. Really funny when the pothead asks the friend who's a cop if they want to go out and blaze a joint! (It was not funny.)
posted by Dynex at 8:41 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I could have written this Ask Mefi a few years ago. I had a friend (actually, a couple - J&R) who I hung out with on occasion. I was new in town and they were friends-of-a-friend from my old town. I really wanted to get to know people, and I was glad to at least have them in town. They're a lot of fun and we always had a great time hanging out.

After several YEARS of hanging out with Just Them, dropping hints that I'd like to be introduced to their wider circle of friends and be invited to their fun get-togethers...I got nowhere. They never once invited me along. From what I could glean, I wasn't so different from their other friends that it would have been weird. They either never took the hint or decided not to include me in their other, much larger, and much cooler world.

In addition, I was starting to feel like I was the one that was always reaching out to them: inviting them out, calling them, etc. When we were together we all had a great time. But I felt like I was doing the lion's share of the work.

So, one day I decided that "THIS IS IT". I went over to their place to hang out and do some recording (they're musicians) and made a point of saying, "Give me a call sometime!" and stressing that I'd like to see them again. And then I waited. And waited. And waited. Stubbornly I waited for THEM to call. And they never did. A year went by and I didn't hear boo from them. I moved away and didn't hear boo from them then, either.

I'm sad that we stopped hanging out. Despite the unevenness of the relationship, we all had a blast together. I kind of wish I hadn't been such a petulant child about THEM needing to call ME. In the end, all I got out of the whole situation was a smug, self-righteous feeling that I WAS RIGHT...and two fewer friends. I wish I'd just called them and accepted that, no, the relationship wasn't perfect. But it was better than nothing at all.
posted by Elly Vortex at 8:42 AM on August 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

Do you have good friends that you cherish but you only hang out on a one-on-one basis, but you would not introduce to your other friends?

Yes. Almost all of my friends. Not because I'm strictly trying to exclude them from meeting one another. I introduce people if they're at the same party or such. I just don't organize group things of my own. I find them too tiring to organize. If I'm invited to a group thing I often leave early when I'm tired. Putting one together myself is too much like "work", not enough like "enjoyable socializing". I enjoy company and see people frequently; I just do so almost exclusively one-on-one.
posted by ead at 9:16 AM on August 17, 2012

I think I am the kind of person your friend is, and for me, I feel like my different groups of friends bring out (sometimes very) different parts of my personality. I have some light social anxiety for what it's worth (and your friend might too--I don't think anyone I know really knows how much I fake being comfortable sometimes) and the idea of bringing different friends together STRESSES ME OUT. It's like putting characters from one movie into another movie--where does that leave me? How do *I* act (which movie am I in)?? Also, the idea of my friends not liking each other (even though I know, rationally, that this is very unlikely) is very upsetting for me and is something I'd rather just avoid. Oh and like someone said above, I'm also a little jealous/selfish and don't like to share. But I also keep my life pretty compartmentalized in general....when I'm with my family, it's family time--I was never really one to bring friends over for dinner; I also keep my social life and work life completely separate; etc. (that might be something to look at with your friend to see if she does this separating in other areas, not just with friends). Not saying any of this isn't a little nutty, just adding one more perspective...
posted by lovableiago at 9:23 AM on August 17, 2012 [5 favorites]

Absolutely. This is the primary reason I don't do anything on Facebook. I have various circles of friends and relatives, and some circles really should never cross paths.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:27 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Is this behavior normal?
I think the compartmentalization is kind of common, actually, particularly in adulthood.

The thing is that you have the expectation of her and you having the kind of friendship that she is demonstrating she isn't interested in. We can conjecture all day long about why she has compartmentalized your friendship and what it means, but if it really bothers you and you find it that odd, why stay friends with her (even if it's "normal" to her/some people)?

I am also kind of wondering if you are not as close to these women as you think you are.
posted by sm1tten at 9:28 AM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yes, it's normal. It doesn't have to be that way, but an awful lot of people seem to lack the social skills necessary to meet new people.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:36 AM on August 17, 2012

I think this question is really odd. Maybe your friend feels like you're treating her not as a friend, but as a stepping stone to more friends? The dog thing is bizarre to me. She's not your social broker - I think it's a strange expectation that she would facilitate some dog playdate between two people who have never met.

I have several close friends - they all have dozens of friends whom I don't know and that's just . . . life. How could a person possibly ever meet all the friends of their friends? This stuff works best when it comes organically.
posted by peep at 9:46 AM on August 17, 2012 [6 favorites]

I'm reminded of this question from a couple of months ago... The poster there wanted to hang out with her friend one-on-one, but her friend kept bringing other friends along! Some people just prefer to mostly do one-on-one things.

The other thing is you can be more explicit, "friends of friends are welcome" or whatever, and see if she does then. Some people feel like it's imposing unless it was on the invitation.
posted by anaelith at 9:53 AM on August 17, 2012

I'm sad that we stopped hanging out. Despite the unevenness of the relationship, we all had a blast together. I kind of wish I hadn't been such a petulant child about THEM needing to call ME. In the end, all I got out of the whole situation was a smug, self-righteous feeling that I WAS RIGHT...and two fewer friends. I wish I'd just called them and accepted that, no, the relationship wasn't perfect. But it was better than nothing at all.

I guess people and needs differ, but I think you did the right thing. Friends (real friends) are people with whom you have a tight-knit set of obligations and connections to... and because of the responsibilities involved in that, I wouldn't want to maintain a friendship with someone that I know ultimately doesn't care that much about me. Not that I wouldn't want to hang out with them, but they'd be in the category of "will put on the invite list when having a party" rather than "will make a special effort to hang out with one-on-one."

But then again, it depends how much value S adds to your life. Maybe you get more out of the friendship with S than S gets out of it with you, and if you would rather not let that go, despite the imbalance, then it is worthwhile for you to continue keeping up the friendship with S. But I think you should be aware of "where you stand" in S's life. Maintain the friendship and let it enrich your life and provide enjoyment to you, but don't expect her to "be there" for you when the shit hits the fan.

As far as letting the social circles intersect-- I like having parties and inviting a bunch of people out to brunch for big get-togethers and letting disparate friends of mine meet. If you and your friends don't have this instinct, then it's not going to happen. If you want to meet more people, develop a friendship with someone who's more of an "organizer" and social hub.
posted by deanc at 10:10 AM on August 17, 2012

Introducing friends to friends requires a certain level of endorsement and association. I have friends who I like just fine, but for whatever reason, (awkwardness, neediness, etc), I do not want to introduce them to certain friends and have their personality and presence tied to me in that way. I reserve that kind of association for boyfriends, best friends, and people I really click with.

I have had needy (even if they don't think they are coming across as such) friends who want to tag along in other areas of my life, and I have to draw boundaries so that they don't attach themselves to me and be present in my life more than I can handle.

Maybe it sounds mean, but it is just a different level of friendship. Its just hte fact that you want to hang out and be closer to her than she wants to be with you. After a certain amount of over closeness I just find myself irrationally annoyed and wanting to get away and like to be able to control my contact.
posted by cakebatter at 10:16 AM on August 17, 2012

I think I could be S. In fact I thought you might be writing about me, until you got to the part about the dog -- none of my closeish friends have dogs. I have a friend who seems a bit like you. I use "seems" because I'm not sure you feel the same way that she does, but we'll see. My friend seems very concerned with numbers. How many friends does she have? How many people come to her party? She is more concerned with quantity than quality. I want to be friends with someone who likes me. Period. Full stop. I don't want to be friends with someone who wants to use me to set up doggy playdates -- to generate more friends to add to her bench. If my company alone isn't good enough, then we don't need to hang out.

This is not to say that I never mix my friend groups; I don't do it too often, as it's always a lot of work coordinating events, and that's not my forte. So I do it if it happens organically, and if it's easy, and if I'm comfortable (and not being used just for my connections).
posted by bluefly at 10:39 AM on August 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

This post confused me some, because all of my friends act the way you're describing. I've introduced my friends to one another when I invite them to go places, but unless I'm the one organizing things (either one on one or in a group) not a single one of them ever contacts me. I experimented with this by spending three weeks routinely chatting, hanging out, etc with my friends, then not contacting them at all for another three. I didn't get a single call, text, facebook message, etc asking if I wanted to hang out, though when I resumed contact some of them talked about things they had done together.

Maybe I'm just not someone people want to hang out with in general, but that's my experience: That everyone acts the way you're describing. Thus, surely there's nothing odd about it as far as I'm aware.
posted by Urban Winter at 10:51 AM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

She seems to be a bit over the top with this, but you can either respect how she is, or ask bluntly to meet her friends, because "you love meeting new people, and are sure she has great taste in people." She hangs out with you, right?

Actually, I hang with friends of all different personalities and beliefs, and have learned to gauge who I introduce. I have a few I don't mention to each other, as they are absolutely cheese and chalk, or oil and water, if you prefer.
posted by BlueHorse at 11:57 AM on August 17, 2012

Yeah, I also came here to note Geek Social Fallacy #4. Everyone doesn't have to be friends with everyone else, and having a dog doesn't mean you should automatically be introduced to a friend of a friend who has a dog. It does sound like there's also maybe some difference between your level of interest in this friend and her level of interest in you, but that's a separate issue.
posted by limeonaire at 12:11 PM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would say it's very common. My grad school friends don't want to hear about how sore my shoulder and ankle are, and (most of) my volleyball friends would be bored to death if I talked about math.

I have some grad school friends who insist that all of their friends should be friends, and, as the common geek fallacies page predicts, it leads to way tooo many people at restaurants and really, really awkward parties. I've learned to gauge the number of people invited and plan my own attendance accordingly.
posted by MidsizeBlowfish at 2:05 PM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Several times in my youth I introduced my two best friends to one another. Exactly that many times I got to watch as those two friends became best friends and began making plans and having good times without me. Never again. I can't tell you how much that hurts. Yes, I'm glad I created these beautiful friendships, but for whatever reason I'm just the kind of person who ends up being excluded when that kind of situation arises.

You have no idea what this woman's friendship history looks like.
posted by town of cats at 2:11 PM on August 17, 2012 [4 favorites]

I do not assume that my friend A will like my friend B (and vice versa), because I typically enjoy my friend A's company for different reasons than my friend B. However, once in a blue moon I will mix friends together, if there's something in common between the two (such as friend A and friend B both wanting to attend the same show.) Most (but not all) of my friends are the same way. The common-interest pair-ups sometimes lead to them becoming friends, but it's not a "make-all-friends-meet" situation; it's a thoughtful consideration that two people with something in common might find they like each other.

On the other hand, those friends I have that work really hard to mix all their friends together at all times tend also to be the friends I view as somewhat "on" and shallow, because their social behavior seems oriented more towards having lots of people around them than about interacting with their friends in a direct way. As a result, they tend to throw great parties, but as more people (who have nothing in common) get invited to those parties, the parties get annoying and boring and crowded and I end up skipping them in favor of the more intimate get-togethers.
posted by davejay at 2:12 PM on August 17, 2012

Side note: when friends fight, and decide they never want to be friends again, it is really good to be the "I think of you as independent people, not as members of a friendship group" person, because then you get to keep on being friends with all the people who won't speak to each other.
posted by davejay at 2:14 PM on August 17, 2012

another side note: those "get all the friends together" people in my life tend to be people I won't see independently of their large parties, because they're really not that interesting or engaging to me independently. Possibly their tendency to get large groups together is a reflection of that being the way they interact with people more effectively.
posted by davejay at 2:15 PM on August 17, 2012

I keep my friend groups somewhat separate. One reason is a difference in ages and personality. I have a group of older and more mature friends as well as young and wild friends, and I don't think they would mix very well.

If you really want to meet her other friends then if she ever talks about them you could offhandedly say they sound cool and you want to meet them sometime. But nothing more intense than that I'd say. I say that sometimes. She may have no idea you are affected by this.

The not initiating thing... Thats a tricky one. Do you ever pull back to see what she does? I have a couple friends like's nothing personal they are just busy and it's nothing against me. If I drop back for a while they contact me.
posted by christiehawk at 2:57 PM on August 17, 2012

As far as not initiating, I am generally a non initiator. I frequently get lots and lots of negative feedback when I try to initiate things, like I have just suggested raping and murdering their favorite pet. I do not know why that is because I am generally trying to be polite, helpful, friendly and so on.

So, I find it generally works better for me to let others take the lead. I can then accommodate them or politely decline and I don't wind up with yet another name added to a long list of people who hate me and will never forgive me for so long as I live for mysterious reasons which are beyond my ability to fathom.

I have tried to become an initiator. I am not shy. I don't mind being the initiator who reaches out to others. But I do very much mind the high number of deep scars from stupidly trying to do that. I apparently do it Rong. Very, very, very Rong. And when I ask what I am doing Rong, I get yet more crap off of people for trying to correct the error of my ways. So leaving it mostly up to other people to come to me when they happen to feel like it is my general default.

Maybe your friend has some similar issue.
posted by Michele in California at 3:29 PM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I NEVER mix my friends. For some reason it makes me feel really weird to do so - like I know each of them from different places and they know different "versions" of me and if I put them in the same place the universe would explode or something. I also have no idea who would like who or who wouldn't, and if they didn't like each other they wouldn't tell me because I'm friends with everyone and who wants to say to someone "I don't like your other friends"? I'm fine with other people mixing their groups of friends - if they're comfortable with it I'm perfectly happy to go along. But in my own life, I keep them separate - I've even had two best friends at the same time who had never met.

And honestly... they're HER friends. I mean, it's nice when people can get along and make new friends, etc., but if she doesn't want to introduce them to other friends, for whatever reason, it's totally her prerogative. And it likely has almost nothing to do with you personally.
posted by dithmer at 3:33 PM on August 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

In Seinfeld, having groups of friends/acquaintances mix was known as "worlds colliding."
posted by dhens at 4:56 PM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

I could definitely be your friend, thinking about how someone would view my behavior in the context of a friendship.

Here what goes through my mind when I act the way your friend acts...

1. I don't initiate stuff with friends very often, really, because I'm not great at planning. Socially engineering meetings between people doesn't come naturally to me. I go with the flow and rely on friends like you to make the effort!

2nding this comment upthread:
Also, she could just be kinda lazy. The social dynamic can be just tricky enough that she doesn't want to bother -- I know a lot of women like that. They just don't want to deal with it and they want things to be easy. If y'all are adults with jobs and various demands on your time, the logistics might be too much for her to handle.

2. It's so much easier and less overwhelming to interact with people one-on-one due to the intensity of my focus on people. If I'm with you, I'm giving you my full attention, being accommodating and sensitive to you and pouring positive energy into our interaction, recalling what you've said and what you like, molding myself a bit to your expectations in a way. Is your friend very optimistic and supportive of you, or does she act polite and distant? I can't be polite and distant with people I consider close friends. Group situations are more awkward and uncomfortable, honestly. Too many people to keep track of.

3. It's kind of an out-of-sight, out-of-mind situation, with whomever is asking me for my attention being the one who gets it. Having a wide range of friends and not being all that organized with my free time makes me hard to pin down. Months might go by between our meetings or phone conversations, but then it's like we never missed a beat.

4. Someone up thread said that they didn't mix friends due to the huge diversity of their social circle. I can relate. Would you invite your youth group friends to hang out with the shopaholics you go clubbing with? Maybe that's what going on with her.

If you asked me to meet my friends, I'd be a little surprised, but totally down with it! That kind of thing just doesn't cross my mind. Try asking about her friends in a lighthearted, non accusatory manner. If she's a little socially lazy like I am, she probably wouldn't make the effort to hang out with you at all if she didn't consider you a close friend. You do, however, have every right to feel like she's not treating you well as a friend. Your feelings are important. If she's not meeting your expectations for friendship and it makes you feel bad, then perhaps it's better if you parted ways. Sometimes people just don't jive.

You might wanna read up on the cognitive functions of Introverted Feeling (Fi) and Extraverted Feeling (Fe). Jung's cognitive functions explain how we perceive information and make judgements about the world. Knowing whether your friend uses Fi or Fe more can go a long way towards understanding her actions.
posted by sunnychef88 at 6:19 PM on August 17, 2012

Frankly, I became exhausted just reading what must be only a fraction of your inner dialogue.

Just enjoy your friend for herself. Stop trying to lead her on into....a group thing! or a party! or a luncheon! or whatever else you seem to keep pushing on her.
Maybe you're the "let's get together and go shopping" type of friend or a "get a coffee and talk about 1 or 2 specific topics" kind of friend, but not the "She-is-squishy-and-she-is-mine-and-she-shall-be-my-squishy and I shall tell her everything that is deep and meaningful to me" friend. Maybe you're this last type -because-, from what I've read, you seem to push quite a bit. Pushing makes some people, like myself, draw back and feel uncomfortable.

I'm a compartmentalizer as well, and don't even like introducing my friends to my own parents. Because Friend A and I have this inside joke and we curse a lot. And Friend B is such a freakin' drama queen, and not many other people understand that he's putting on a show within a show.

Maybe her friends have little tics that she would feel awkward about your judging. Maybe you have some little tic that you're not aware of. Like the pushing? or something else.

Either way, just go with the flow. At this point, the more you press this, the more you'll feel wound up and the weirder she's going to feel.
posted by DisreputableDog at 10:04 PM on August 17, 2012

You have been given a tremendous amount of great info here, so I'll just throw in this weird point. I'm 36.

My four very dearest, most close, known since before birth as far as I'm concerned, adore, follow off a cliff best friends have either never met, or only once at some major shindig. They do, however, all know about each other and will ask about the others well-being much like friends ask about parents and siblings. They are my people. However..

In general, I am a pretty complex person (just like everyone else who has ever lived) and my varied interests mean that my friends are incredibly varied. (again, just like every human ever)

Think about your magazines, or TV, or favorite restaurants. They don't encompass everything you are, yet, you love or like them just the same. I love passionately baseball, wine, art, music, history, farming, steel fabrication, engines (gas/diesel/rotary whatever...they are so neat) nail polish, gardening, farming large scale (in my case grapes) knitting, cooking and playing my guitar. Plus, I have managed a restaurant, had my own house painting business, and I follow politics very closely and have borderline communist views on public policy So...

Who is going to like all my weird stuff?

Plus, in the two years since I have moved to the west coast, I still haven't made a friend here. I am weird? NY'ers are weird? Who knows, and while I work too much to care, I am clear about one thing. You like someone who likes you back? You trust them (and this is the issue right? ) You find you can trust someone, throw your full heart and weight into their life.

You cannot think all of your friends will like any or all of these things, and you can't expect them to possibly ever meet.

I hear about my friends friends ( I'm pretty sure I owe an apostrophe there, but I'm sleepy) enough that I care about them as they relate to my friends. I always ask on their progress and life, and think it entirely normal that I care for people I will never meet. As it turns out, ALL of my friends behave this way, caring to ask on the well-being of strangers because they knw it means something to me.

but jesus, please don't ever put all my friends in a room.

You have a friend who likes you. how great is that?

TLDR: compartments are awesome. don't be offended.
posted by metasav at 11:45 PM on August 17, 2012

TLDR: compartments are awesome. don't be offended.

Not for the OP, who sounds like she would like to meet more people. As I said, I think the solution here is to recategorize S as "person I will invite to parties" and cultivate other friends who are more interested in organizing social gatherings.

There's a lot of defense of S going on here, and it's not that S is a bad person, but rather someone who isn't really fulfilling the OP's needs, particularly when, already, S doesn't really seem that invested in the relationship outside of the OP's interest in maintaining it.

This sounds like an awfully mercenary thing to say, but if you're not getting out of the relationship what you want from it, and if S isn't really that invested in it (since she doesn't really contact you unless you initiate), obviously the time you spend with S could be used more effectively cultivating the kind of relationships you are more interested in (which sounds like ones that allow you to expand your social circle and ones where you are considered important enough to contact and have more than just a surface friendship with).
posted by deanc at 5:30 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

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