A friendship conundrum
July 23, 2019 12:47 PM   Subscribe

I am very lucky to have a group of friends with whom I have stayed close for many years - well into my adulthood. While I see many of my peers lose their friendships in their late twenties and early thirties, we are still going strong, and I am very grateful for that. Nonetheless, we are all becoming more busy with careers and romantic relationships, and I find myself giving much more than I receive from the people dearest to me. I have grown bitter and resentful, and am not sure how to proceed further. More under the cut.

Apologies for the length. I am so torn over this that my feelings of despair are interfering with the rest of my life.

I have unusually close relationships with my friends, at least I have never seen such a level of connection in any other social circles I have been in. We all live nearby and spend a lot of time together doing both mundane every-day things and celebrating special occasions. It feels like a family unit and I have always cherished this aspect of my life especially because I have never been able to lean on my real family. We function well as a group while also maintaining one-on-one relationships.

Although there is less time for socializing, as there's just more going on with our lives, I still prioritize my friendships whenever I can. Sadly, I have ended up in a place where I initiate, plan, organize, reach out, check in, help out, invite and offer, but feel neglected in turn.

Part of the problem is that the majority of my friends live in the same house (in separate apartments), but I do not, and get excluded when socializing happens spontaneously in the shared courtyard. Another part is the fact that many of my friends free-lance part-time, while I have a very demanding job putting in 50 hours a week and am not available for unplanned events and can not stay out late during the work week. Our lifestyles are different, but I wish my friends with more flexibility and free time would take my schedule into consideration and would adapt to my schedule where possible. Usually it is the other way around.

Meeting my friends makes me very happy, so I put in the effort necessary to make it happen. I suspect that as a result my friends think of me as a person who just does that, and expect it to happen without doing it in return. I feel taken for granted, unappreciated and see little reciprocity. I am willing to plan my life around these friendships, but my friends put themselves first and are unwilling to make small sacrifices in the name of the relationship.

Nothing wrong with that in itself. People and their needs, communication styles and priorities differ. I have read a lot of related questions here, and there seems to be two different approaches when a lack of balance appears in friendships.
One way to go about this (often suggested) is to give without expecting anything in return. I have tried to just pick activities that I like myself, plan them and see who is available to join. But it gets so exhausting, knowing that if I don't have the energy to put in the work, I will not get invited to an event and have the pleasure to simply arrive and enjoy. After a while, I get exhausted and frustrated, or - if I stop reaching out - lonely. I try not to keep a score, expect nothing and be pleasantly surprised when by some miracle a nice get-together happens. I know that there's a risk of Doing The Thing Nobody Asked Me To Do, but it gets really really difficult.

I have tried speaking up - saying that I feel neglected and that I would appreciate some effort in return, or that I really look forward to the party, but that I just do not have the energy to plan it once again. Sometimes a friend will say that they just can not fulfill my expectations, or that planning things is too hard for them, or they are spontaneous beings, or they'll say they'll try to be better but revert to their old selves after two weeks. I know it is near impossible to change my friends - they are who they are. I can work on my attitude, but there is only so much I can change about myself.

The other approach is to demand equality and not settle for less. This path would mean asking once more for my needs to be met, and if nothing changes, search for new friends. As I am so used to this level of connection, the thought itself of abandoning my friends fills me with sadness and guilt. An extra twist is the fact that I live in a conservative country, and these are the few progressive, like-minded people I have ever met. But continuing as before, giving and not receiving in return, makes me angry and bitter, and I don't even like myself anymore.

One of these friends is an exception and is supportive, proactive and all I could wish for, and this is the closest relationship I have amongst the group, but she is leaving the country for good in a couple of weeks, which is probably fueling my fear and sadness. The rest of my friends do, of course, fall within a spectrum of how much work they are willing to put in the relationship. Here I see a clear divide between genders, the men putting in almost no effort at all, and I feel incredibly conflicted about it. Through their inaction and lack of initiative my guy friends have hurt and disappointed me the most, and I have a hard time accepting that this might well be a trend I will have to face time and again in my slightly backwards community. I so do not want to live in a world where friendships with men are a sisyphean task.

So, dear mefites, what should I do? Do I cultivate kindness and selflessness in how I treat my friends, or do I abandon what feels like family to maybe never have a friendship as close as this? Can I think my way out of this? Is there another way I can look at my situation? Have you been in my shoes? Is this just a part of growing up and I will be yet another friendless adult, and should make my peace with it? Is this just depression sneaking up on me?

FWIW, I have been in therapy and on AD, although not right now, but it has not helped with this problem. I am a people-pleaser by nature, anxiously attached, hate conflict and have codependency issues from my relatives.

Any advice would be very appreciated.
posted by luminary to Human Relations (25 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't have any advice for you, but I wanted to let you know I am going through a similar thing and I feel for you. I've always been a planner in my relationships and it sucks. I've been resentful because of this a lot. I look forward to any advice people give to you. You don't deserve this. Also, memail me if you want to talk.
posted by starlybri at 12:58 PM on July 23, 2019 [4 favorites]


As I have gotten older, I have relied a lot more on the idea of activities that fall on an already set schedule. I have a book club that meets every six weeks and we schedule it out at the beginning of the year with each person hosting at a different time. I also have a regular Sunday am yoga class and then breakfast which I invite a friend to come when she wants. Other activities happen around birthdays and stuff, but the scheduled stuff means I don't always have to put in some kind of special effort.

Would this work for you? Like a set once a month meetup at a set place you like? That way you've got the plan but don't feel like you have to make the plan anew each time?
posted by vunder at 1:12 PM on July 23, 2019 [14 favorites]


Err. I'm sorry this is so painful for you, but I am sitting herre wondering if it really needs to be?

the majority of my friends live in the same house (in separate apartments), but I do not, and get excluded when socializing happens spontaneously in the shared courtyard.

They are not excluding you. They're... being housemates? They literally live together and are enjoying a spontaneous gathering.

Sometimes a friend will say that they just can not fulfill my expectations, or that planning things is too hard for them, or they are spontaneous beings, or they'll say they'll try to be better but revert to their old selves after two weeks.

If your expectations are so high that making a plan you find suitable is literally "exhausting and frustrating" I have to wonder what exactly you're planning. Can you be more descriptive?

I'm sorry, I really am not trying to diminish your distress. I'm pretty sure you can reframe this, though.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:17 PM on July 23, 2019 [10 favorites]


I was just thinking it sounds like you have anxious attachment (as I do) because this causes you so much anxiety. The only advice I can offer is to practice accepting the situation as it is and cultivate other friendships or things to do that keep you busy and fulfilled outside this group. You've tried the approaches already and your friends aren't going to change. It sounds like you won't be able to find new ones easily where you are.

Yes, we should expect more from the people we enjoy, but if they don't reciprocate after we've asked, you can either move on (which sounds too lonely in your situation) or accept it as is and put more energy into self-care and personal goals and projects. Stop using friends to validate your life. Make your life great on your own!

Are you in this place permanently? If you know you're moving in X amount of time just take this as a fleeting experience. Easier said than done, I know.
posted by jj's.mama at 1:20 PM on July 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


It sounds like you have other friend groups, but this one was particularly cherished? I use the past tense because it sounds like it's starting to not work for you any more in the way it used to. This is fine, you don't have to burn bridges, but if you're frustrated with them, then it's time to take a step back.

If you can move into an apartment in their house, that's the most obvious thing to get in on their scene. Does that sound appealing or are your schedules/lifestyles going to be in conflict?

As I move into my later 30s, friend hangouts tend to be 1:1 or me plus a couple. Having a friend group who all hangs out together regularly is less of a thing (schedules, interpersonal dynamics, sometimes who can afford what). How do you feel about focusing on the friendships you value individually / where there is reciprocity? "Planning things is too hard for me" frankly translates to "it's not important and I might get a better offer," in my experience. Once might mean "I'm overwhelmed," but it sounds like this is ongoing.

Hangouts also tend to be pretty straightforward - a meal, a show (everyone gets their own ticket), a boardgame. Larger hangouts are more "I'm having a party and inviting everyone I want to see" or "everyone I know who enjoys $activity". This looks like birthday and holiday parties, plus activity-focused events a few times a year. You'll catch people from the wider group yearly or so, as they're available. This also helps you to incorporate new friends into your existing circle.
posted by momus_window at 1:24 PM on July 23, 2019 [9 favorites]


While I see many of my peers lose their friendships in their late twenties and early thirties, we are still going strong

Well you are still going strong in any case. I think you're finding out you're not immune from friends drifting apart. Just wait until they start having kids.

Is this just a part of growing up and I will be yet another friendless adult, and should make my peace with it?

That seems like pretty catastrophic thinking. You can make new friends as older ones drift away.

Is this just depression sneaking up on me?

The dire outlook for the future does sound like it.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:31 PM on July 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


Is it possible for you to move into the same house as the rest of your friends? If you did, would you find the difference in your responsibilities frustrating? E.g., do they party at 1 a.m. when you have to be up for work at 6 a.m., do they do weekday brunches that you'd never be able to attend because their freelance schedules are busy on the weekend, etc.

I ask because I think for some people, including some of my very dear friends, out of sight is out of mind and that's just the way they are. No amount of boundary setting, asking for reciprocity, making peace with settling for less will heal the grief you feel over being (however unintentionally) excluded or not prioritized. And it is grief, for those of us that view our friends as family, it can be really really difficult to handle when relationship dynamics begin to change, and it's okay to view it as something serious that's happening and not feel like it's something stupid you're worried about. I do think that cultivating additional friends, so that you have less emotional weight attached to this group, would be helpful. Doing that helped me get enough distance to be able to see which friendships were still serving me and needed attention, versus which ones had never been very reciprocal and that I could let go of with love.

I so do not want to live in a world where friendships with men are a sisyphean task.

And, unfortunately, this? Has been 100% my experience no matter how much effort I put in. The friendships I have had with men all relied on my willingness to perform the entirety of the emotional labor, to serve as an unpaid therapist, and to accept all requests/invites with no expectation that the same would be done for me in return. Letting go of these friendships was really hard for me, because I loved my male friends! But they weren't actually that great of friends to me. (probably not the same for everyone, YMMV, don't @ me!)
posted by stellaluna at 1:34 PM on July 23, 2019 [14 favorites]


Seconding what vunder said; my wife and I are almost the only two people in our circle of friends and relatives who do not have children, and I have come to accept the fact that if I want to see people I generally have to schedule events/meetups, no matter how informal, several days if not weeks in advance. I have a guys night out coming up in mid-August that I think we scheduled in late June. It sucks, but the alternative is never seeing a lot of people I know, ever. That, to some extent, is just middle age (exacerbated in my case by living in a large city which is difficult to get around in). I still don't like it, but I've tried to move on to making the most of it, meeting new people and being thankful for the friendships I still have rather than mourning the loss of what was. I also try to remind myself that I don't know the full extent of the demands and pressures others have placed upon them and their time.

That said, don't put up with shabby treatment from others in the name of maintaining a friendship the other person doesn't seem to respect or be willing to put work into. I've, sadly and reluctantly, had to give up on a few people - some of whom were once very close friends - over the years because they never reached out to me and/or constantly canceled plans we'd made, which past a certain point made me feel devalued.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:36 PM on July 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


I understand that the house-mate situation is not meant as exclusion, I just wish my friends would remember to invite me when a courtyard hang-out happens. I would gladly participate if I was aware.

Regarding my expectations around planning - it's not that the plans are so elaborate, but more of a case of feeling like I do not have any friends unless I actively reach out. If I don't initiate, we don't meet. If I don't carve out time when it suits my friends, we won't see each other. If I won't call to check in, we won't talk.

Moving in the same house or moving away are not possible for me right now.

Re-reading my question I do see sort of a doomsday vibe, so I'll consider booking an appointment with my therapist.

Thank you for your suggestions and answers so far.
posted by luminary at 1:42 PM on July 23, 2019


I am willing to plan my life around these friendships, but my friends put themselves first and are unwilling to make small sacrifices in the name of the relationship.

I don't think this sounds like a good and healthy idea. I think this would perpetuate the resentment you are feeling.

First, in regards to the living situation: is there a way you can live closer or even in that same building? It seems like your friends value the spontaneous gatherings and you'd be welcome; they aren't trying to exclude you. Or can you get a sense of when these gatherings happening and pop by?

Do I cultivate kindness and selflessness in how I treat my friends, or do I abandon what feels like family to maybe never have a friendship as close as this? Can I think my way out of this? Is there another way I can look at my situation? Have you been in my shoes? Is this just a part of growing up and I will be yet another friendless adult, and should make my peace with it?

There's some all-or-nothing thinking here. Like, you have to accept the status quo or be a friendless adult? It seems like you are particularly stressed about the friendships you have with the men in the group, so I would try to focus on the women, even if you're not as close with them. Assuming you are all cis, straight people, and you are a woman, then the friendships with women will be easier to maintain once people start coupling up and pairing off. And coupling up and pairing off is going to start happening more and more, I suspect, either within the group or, more likely, with folks outside of the group.

I have a friend in his early 30s who has lived with housemates his entire adult life. He's recently had a few folks move out and it seems different now to find new housemates... what was easy and fine and normal for folks in their 20s becomes less common as people marry and have kids. So some of this is about people changing the way they live as the age.

But also, can you try to pursue some other friendships, particularly with women outside of this group?
posted by bluedaisy at 1:44 PM on July 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


It sucks. It sucks so many butts. I found out yesterday my best friend (lol I guess), who I work with and can turn my head and see, got a promotion at work a few WEEKS ago and how did I find out? Through LinkedIn where he posted it 4 days ago. That's the level of friendship he can offer me, I guess. It hurts me to my soul that I wasn't a person to share an achievement with, and I'm trying not to catastrophize that I'm such a shitty worthless human being I should die. Not healthy! No one should be able to make me feel literally humanless so yeah, maybe that's depression which your post does have a shade of. My point of this paragraph is that even when we're working on things, it's easy to internalize actions as rejections and criticisms even when they aren't. All too easy for some people (I am one of them).

I'm muddling through that, but what extreme grief has taught me over the past few months is I don't want to have people half-assing their friendship to me when it's convenient for them or for me to feel these feelings where I'm the one who somehow let someone down in a way I'm completely unaware of. If they won't even share something that they literally posted on social media 4 days ago with me, it's time to end it.

Luckily, I do have friends and a girlfriend who engage, and we are mutually excellent to each other. I will focus on them.

(I am a 35 year old man with both female and male friends if that matters.)
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 1:52 PM on July 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


Is this just a part of growing up and I will be yet another friendless adult, and should make my peace with it? Is this just depression sneaking up on me?

I can't say if it's depression, but it's definitely a bit of black and white thinking. Even if you end up losing touch with all these friends, that doesn't mean you'll be a "friendless adult" - there are always new people to meet, and it's normal as you go through different stages of life to form relationships that fit. Incidentally, it may be that in a few years some or all of these friends will be living elsewhere, working regular hours, parenting, or what have you, and their friendship style might shift to being more like yours is now. These are things that change a lot.

It's okay to realize current friendships aren't giving you what you need. If it's possible it can help not to take this personally (sometimes it's not possible, but I mean that personal resentment isn't a great feeling to actually cultivate). People give what they can give, and you have to make peace with whatever that level is, whether by accepting the friendship in that form or stepping back from it. Maybe one day they'll be able to give more, and maybe not. In the meantime, work on making some additional friends (at all different age levels, if you can). See if there are ways to meet up that work for both your current friends and you (maybe a spontaneous 'hey, want to meet up for dinner?' is something you could do once in a while after work). Maybe they'd be open to having you just drop by when you're in the mood. Maybe you'd enjoy having a standing open house on Saturday afternoons at your place (or whatever). Try things, but remember that even if you can't find a good spot between your needs and theirs, there's no reason to decide you're going to have some bleak friendless future. There are too many other scenarios, and new ones keep developing all the time.
posted by trig at 1:55 PM on July 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


For this: I just wish my friends would remember to invite me when a courtyard hang-out happens. I would gladly participate if I was aware.

What if you go to one person privately and ask them to text you next time a courtyard event comes up? Play up what a great time it is as a group and a reason as to how much you enjoy their individual presence, also maybe you'll bring a six-pack or whatever works for your group. Then what if you do that personal request to each person in the group, privately without the others knowing you did it?

I don't know, I just wonder if your current method is causing group-think to take over: "I'm sure Someone will do it so I don't have to." But if each person thinks they are a specially selected individual reporter, maybe one of them will follow through.
posted by CathyG at 1:55 PM on July 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


I agree that friends never initiating is definitely kind of shitty. I also agree that you would benefit from cultivating new friendships. I also agree that men can be shitty friends.

But have you considered also learning to enjoy your alone time more? I also used to have large groups of friends that were like family. I still have a great group of friends now that get together when our schedules/lives allow. But the older I get, as my friends move away/get married/have kids/have more professional obligations/etc, I find that I enjoy having the extra time to myself to read, to go for walks, to get shit done. Can you reframe your time away from your friends as getting to spend valuable time with yourself?
posted by greta simone at 2:00 PM on July 23, 2019 [6 favorites]


I live in an area where it takes a ton of logistics and weeks of planning just to have lunch on a Saturday, and I find ongoing socialization sorta works if you deploy a hardcore Lowest Hanging Fruit protocol. In short, if this was me, I'd literally say, "Can we hang out in your courtyard at DAY and TIME? I will bring ice cream! You don't even have to put shoes on!!" Don't try to get them to all leave the house and go to The Cool Thing, just take advantage of the situation and go to where the rest of them are.

During that event, see if you can have a group conversation about this stuff. Explain that you miss them and like seeing them and are willing to come to them (it sounds like this is true, you are willing to do that). Tell them that also, like, you'd also love a last-minute text when they're hanging out if it's possible to include you, and absolve them in advance of any responsibility if they send the text but then it turns out the gathering is winding down.

Like, I think you're battling multiple vectors: they're prone to homebodiness, people get busier and have less social motivation as they get older, and current times are extra anxiety-laden and awful for at least half the population. It's not as easy as it used to be, for a ton of reasons, pretty much all of which have nothing to do with you personally but are exhausting to battle anyway.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:03 PM on July 23, 2019 [7 favorites]


I hear you. I am also the planner in my (otherwise really great) circle of friends, and there are times it gets me down that if I don't plan it, it doesn't happen. I've also tried just not planning anything to see if anyone else will step up, and unfortunately, they just don't. When I re-engage and throw something out there, everyone is thrilled, so I know it's not that they secretly don't want to hang out. It's weird and it can suck, but ... I've learned to embrace it. If I want to hang out with them, I have to plan it, and if that's the price for hanging out with them, then I'll pay it when I feel like it and not when I don't. It's taken me a while to get to this place, though, and I say that as someone who genuinely enjoys planning stuff. So my advice to you is to see if you can reframe and get to a similar place. When you don't have energy to plan, that's OK, take some time for yourself. When you do, great, party up!

Now, in my case, they're not doing stuff without me, which I totally get would be really hurtful. Unfortunately, I don't think you have too many options here. Either you move in with them, or you understand that you're just not going to be able to be part of the spontaneous stuff for the most part. I think it's worth it to ask them to text you when they're hanging out, on the off chance that you can join, but don't be too disappointed if it doesn't happen as often as you'd like. There just isn't much you can do to 'compete' with the proximity of living spaces.

I do encourage you to discuss this with a therapist as well, because honestly, it will probably go downhill from here as people couple up and have kids. Friendships ebb and flow and require effort, and sometimes they fade while others appear. Learning to handle these friendship changes with grace and minimal pain is a worthwhile effort - I think it's something everyone experiences sooner or later in life. Good luck to you!
posted by widdershins at 2:08 PM on July 23, 2019 [4 favorites]


My guess is that the wonderful friend you are closest to and who's moving away is also the person most responsible for making the whole thing work, and that there's a good chance the group will fall apart when she goes no matter what you do.

So I think you should bide your time and be open to establishing individual friendships with one or two of the remaining people which may then be able to be subsumed into the group again if it's able to reconstitute itself.
posted by jamjam at 2:55 PM on July 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


I am very lucky to have a group of friends with whom I have stayed close for many years - well into my adulthood. While I see many of my peers lose their friendships in their late twenties and early thirties, we are still going strong, and I am very grateful for that.

In the bigger picture, I wonder if part of the problem you're having is that you've invested a ton of energy into thinking, "My friends and I are different! We've stayed close! We value our friendships individually and as a group! We made it when other friend groups didn't!"

And so then when reality doesn't align -- when they don't seem to value you as much as you value them -- it hurts doubly so because you've made these friendships so much a part of your social life and identity? Your job sounds very busy. Is that by choice or is that your career? I wonder if having such a challenging job has made it easier to stay focused on this one group of friends and not continue to develop other friendships.

New friends aren't less valuable or important or meaningful. Old friends are great, but you're not necessarily a better person when your friend group is long established. Sometimes developing new friends means finding folks whose current lifestyles and interests better align with our own.

I think you've gotten some really good suggestions here. I also think it might be healthy to step back some of your emotional investment in this group of people who don't seem to be returning the energy you are giving. It's also okay to grieve your friendship with the person who is moving. But this doesn't mean abandoning these folks. It means maybe trying to stay connected with them and connect with some new friends, too. Good luck.
posted by bluedaisy at 3:35 PM on July 23, 2019 [12 favorites]


You're getting some great advice here, but I'd also note that these friends will not all live in the same building forever. Someone will move in with their SO, someone will get married and have a baby, someone will decide she wants a giant dog, someone will get a new job and want to be closer to the office, someone will have a falling out with someone else and decide they need space. I would DEFINITELY NOT move into the building as a way to solve this issue, because I suspect that situation will devolve.

Friendships are cyclical, like everything else. This will probably have an upswing later (at least with a few of the women). But also: there are a lot of people in the world and you will make new friends over the course of your life!
posted by Countess Sandwich at 6:07 PM on July 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


Regarding my expectations around planning - it's not that the plans are so elaborate, but more of a case of feeling like I do not have any friends unless I actively reach out. If I don't initiate, we don't meet. If I don't carve out time when it suits my friends, we won't see each other. If I won't call to check in, we won't talk.

I know it's easier said than done, but you don't have to feel this way about it. it is both possible and just as reasonable to feel differently about this exact same situation. I am the planner in my group of friends. I plan parties. I plan group vacations. I plan book club. I book the table for games night. None of this happens if I don't do it. Nobody else picks up the ball. But... I don't see it as a referendum on how much my friends love me. If they didn't, they'd turn down the invitations to the parties, vacations, book club, and games night. But in fact they accept with pleasure or decline with genuine regret.

Is it possible your friends are socializing in a more casual, less intense way now and you are still using the friendship metrics of childhood and young adulthood?
posted by DarlingBri at 6:09 PM on July 23, 2019 [4 favorites]


It may be that they know you work 50 hours a week and can't stay up late and are afraid to bother you when you're so booked up. They may not want to invite you to hang out late when they know you need your rest. You don't always know what your friends are thinking. They may think they are being considerate of your limited time.

I confess to being a person who "doesn't want to bother other people" when I know they are busy or over scheduled. It didn't occur to me that those friends may feel neglected.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 7:42 PM on July 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


I got nothin' on the emotions but on the practical side, two suggestions:

1. Set up a standing date to do something with some or all of them, every Monday or every other Saturday or whatever. Then you don't have to keep re-planning. Whoever can make it is there and whoever can't make it won't be there, and over time you get to see lots of people lots of times.

2. Have gatherings in their home, see if you can hang out with one friend in the courtyard and then when the others wander by they might see you and decide to join in.
posted by Lady Li at 7:58 PM on July 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


Nthing that you are not alone. I have been through nearly this exact situation too. I did eventually drift (and move) away from some very close family-like friends from my 20s because as we got older, they never called or reached out to me, and our relationships became very one sided. I still consider them family, and much like some families, we see each other on special occasions and aren’t always in regular contact. It was a bit of bummer but that’s the way life goes sometimes. People change, friendships change, and close friendships that stand throughout time are pretty rare. It also doesn’t mean those friendships are distant forever - change means you might find yourself closer with people you once drifted from.
posted by gnutron at 4:09 AM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


Picking up on someone else’s mentioning black and white thinking - you’re painting this as if your only options are to keep trying with these guys, or to drop them entirely. There’s a third way which you haven’t included. Make some new friends as well as keeping these guys around, so you’re not totally emotionally dependent on them for your social life.

I know it might be easier said than done if you’re in an area where there aren’t many people like you, but things will, as others have said, definitely change as more people have kids and change again as their kids start growing, so you might as well start now trying to sow the seeds that will gradually grow some new firm friendships down the line that can cushion the impact of those changes. A book group, a sports club, a volunteering gig. It can take a while for these to grow into friendships but start now and they will.

You become less emotionally dependent on this group, and prepare yourself for any future changes - when your net is thrown wider, any one part of your social life going wrong doesn’t ruin it completely.

It might feel impossible if your job is so busy, but if you’re saving lots of energy by not having to stress about chasing cats to organise these guys, it might all even out.
posted by penguin pie at 2:01 PM on July 24, 2019 [2 favorites]


Can you just show up at their shared house? Like if they are generally around and you showed up with chips and salsa would they be up for hanging? Could you be an initiator of spontaneous courtyard hangs instead of doing more planned things?

Also, if they have a group chat for their house, could you get into it? Are they just shouting into physical space or are they doing the planning via text?

Because really - the beauty of living with friends is that it does make it easy to do spontaneous hanging out, and you aren't always necessarily knowing "OK this is going to be a 3 hour hang not a 20 minute catch up on the patio" in order to shoot someone a text. So, maybe making it low impact for them would help.

Honestly, yes you could do a lot of reframing for yourself as suggested above. You can also look at what's working for them currently and see if you can make yourself a part of that organically instead of it requiring effort. Because what they're doing now requires no effort, which means their headspace just isn't there for reaching out.

Also, if you could just once show up at the courtyard hang with tacos or whatever and make everyone's night or always be up for stopping for dessert to bring or whatever, you're a lot more likely to get remembered at the next one. I mean, as long as you're ok with a text that says "bring ice! and come hang out!"

You could also try and be more of the household friend unit by texting "Going to costco what do y'all need?" or whatever to them. Be a part of how that household functions and they're more likely to miss you in the courtyard.

I agree with everyone saying to set up a standing date. Be all "Bringing pizza Thursday night - who wants what? I'm picking up two pies."
posted by stoneweaver at 2:43 PM on July 27, 2019


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