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Confused about friendships

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  • #65511
    sandy
    Participant

    My entire adult life (I’m 38), I’ve had tight relationships with all my friends. Never had a falling out, never had an enemy. I used to be very social and got along with everyone. I was also brought up in a culture where you never show people you disagree with them ,so it was even cheery and cordial with those I really didn’t care for. As I got older, I made fewer friends, but the ones I did were golden.

    Since moving back to my small hometown ,where I had few friends, I’ve had a very difficult time finding like-minded folks. The one good childhood friend I had and I even ended up going our separate ways due to her saying I wasn’t a good enough friend (she was driving me crazy at the time and I needed space). This was a first. A month later a good long-distance friend who I hadn’t known for too many years stopped talking to me, I’m assuming hurt because I didn’t go visit her as planned.

    The “friends” in my life at this point (all friends from classes that I’m taking) are very flaky, selfish, and don’t share my interests, and when I think about it, aren’t people I would ever have been friends with in the past. They’re all nice people, but I think the hardest part about hanging out with them is their lack of sense of community and taking care of others… It’s difficult to explain.

    I’m looking for some outsider input on my thoughts surrounding this… In being less choosy with friends, have I opened myself up to people who aren’t worthy of friendship? Am I being presented with this to help me learn about myself and the world (I always feel kind of depressed after hanging out with them and my outlook on the world has become more grim because of their selfish actions). Is this reflective of me and my inability to accept others? Should I go back to my ways of being choosy when it comes to friends?

    I find it odd that I’m suddenly surrounded by somewhat sketchy people (who seem nice on the outside) and I’m really thinking this is a lesson for me to learn. But I also want to give myself some credit and not feel guilty for wanting to cut these people out of my life. It’s not my style.

    #65515
    Chad
    Participant

    To me it sounds like you arent the type of person who takes much away from shallow or casual interactions. You much prefer deeper meaningful connections? You probably do this, because you know the type of person you are, what you’re capable of giving, and its generally a lot of time, effort and consideration for the people you consider close to you. However, you simply are not going to show this side of yourself to any person fresh off the street, without putting them through the test, to show they deserve you in their life. As much as you may want them in yours. Did I get anywhere close?

    I suppose the best thing I could give that remotely lives in the neighborhood of advice would be, simply do not expect much out of people. However don’t allow yourself to become embittered because you feel you can rely on no one. I’ll assume that since you’re going back to college? the people/classmates are much younger than you. “flaky, selfish” and generally shallow seems to be the mold they are cutting people from these days. Not to say EVERYONE, but the majority of the ones that lay on the surface generally all shares these qualities. I would also suggest taking a little responsibility for your predicament and using the resources available to you due to the nature of your academic affiliations to seek out some people who may be more suited for friendship. Adult student groups? getting involved in a volunteer project? civic organizations such a united way, kiwanis. I generally find if you involve yourself in things that require people to commit their time and effort to something and give of themselves. These are the type of people you might click with.

    Best of luck

    #65517
    sandy
    Participant

    Thanks for taking the time to write, Chad. You’ve pointed out some interesting things for me to ponder, namely finding like-minded folks through community groups and volunteer projects (I love to volunteer! –haven’t been able to find any opportunities-yet!), and understanding where I’m coming from, which helps me to see my situation without feeling guilty or like a bad person.

    Unfortunately my school, if you can still call it that, is made up of 8 students. And yes, most of them are younger than me. Im studying oriental medicine, which seems to attract a certain type of person. Given the situation, it would probably be best for me to find other friends and acquaintances through the avenues you suggested. 🙂

    Thanks for writing and understanding my situation. Your advice is golden and gives my heart hope!

    #65548
    Inky
    Participant

    Hi Sandy,

    I’ve noticed that when you’re young, everyone’s pretty much the same. Everyone has the aura of a shiny happy puppy LOL. But then as we get older everyone gets a little “long in the tooth” and their individual personalities really come to the forefront. Or they stop being “nice” and will cast you loose if you don’t dovetail with their agenda all the time.

    I don’t spend mental energy thinking about friendships. I’m not pessimistic, I just have an “it is what it is” attitude. Everyone has their own lives and won’t easily expand their individual Universe sometimes. And if you can meet someone from the neighborhood, class or organization who won’t drift away once they’re out of the neighborhood and once class and the cause is over, then they are golden. But you can’t ask for it, it’s like Kismet, a great gift you stumble upon.

    #65562
    sandy
    Participant

    That’s an interesting perspective, Inky. Thank you for sharing it. It does seem to be the case… Guess I’m kind of in denial about getting older and I’m not really seeing things for what they are. But it’s true. A lot of these folks have been through tough times and maybe they’ve come out the other end with the attitude of putting themselves and their needs first. Or maybe they were always like that. Either way, that makes sense and I like your thoughts on how those good, tried and true friends are great gifts that you can’t ask for.

    Wish we could all stay young at heart. Your words have brought my attention to this and it’s something I’ll remember to work on myself — to try and not get “too long in the tooth”. 🙂 And ill take chads advice and not expect too much out of others. That’s a difficult one!

    #65601
    Kirsten
    Participant

    Hi Sandy :)!!

    Right, so two friends have cut contact with you because they feel you are ‘not a good friend’, they feel hurt and uncared for – and now you are feeling shitty about being surrounded by people you consider selfish or sketchy? In some way, are they not mirroring back to you something about how you are as a friend? And that you yourself should provide more love and care. Not to say, that these friends who have broken away from you are angels who can do not wrong, I am sure they have been bad friends in their own way as well but I think this is signifying to you something about yourself and how you behave in relationships.

    In my own experience. I have had a friend who to me has been constantly critical, to the point where I don’t want to be friends with this person. But the problems in that relationship, I also seen are my own as well. I have sometimes ‘ganged up’ on her sarcastically in front of others and behaved unkindly. So that says something about me as a friend and I need to take responsibility. If we want to attract better friendships, we have to be more worthy friends ourselves. We have to take responsibility for the ways in which we are a shitty friend.

    I learned to see how I was a shitty friend and how I had been unfair to my friend, and how this had contributed to the rebound of her critical behavior. If a friendship consists of love, kindness and trust; then all these issues would not arise. We have to grow love rather than just receive or take it and both people are responsible for creating the environment in which love and trust can grow. Stop expecting these perfect friends who will bring you happiness and kinds of great things, while massively underestimating what you need to give. It’s so important to give; genuine love and kindness brings it back. Personally in personal relationships, I have struggled with some resentment, anger and unfulfillment; but recently I have started to do loving kindness meditations; which have been really amazing. As a result, I feel more love for myself (so need less form others), but most importantly, I can REALLY give people love, which was lacking because of the focus on my ego/self – as in before, I focused on my wants and needs being met and the resentment and pain and anger when they weren’t. But I mean why do I deserve masses of love and fun for no reason other than that I am ‘awesome’? Why should I get them when I can only minimally give them?

    You have to balance the ego, self-drives with a focus for loving kindness on others or you will be unfulfilled in relationships. Loving kindness meditation helps us to bring up a store of love to give, and makes us way more open and likely to receive that love back.

    We need to use meditation to see where we go wrong and act the bad friend in our relationships; we will see he rebounding effects on our life far more easily and be willing to change and humble ourselves. Sitting, insight meditation is a great tool into understanding relationships.

    As well as taking responsibility for yourself, you shouldn’t bother with friends like this, if you feel that their behavior is not changeable and negatively effects you. I have a group of friends, who are pretty fun, but they constantly bitch about one another, and by being that group I am less happy and become more bitchy myself. So I have to take responsibility for myself, and know I deserve loving, respectful friends. If they aren’t in that environment; can you need reach out to other environments until you find good, caring friends? Like when I was growing up, none of my friends were in my home town – they were a couple of towns away… I think it’s about keeping in mind what you deserve and what you want in your life, as well as taking responsibility for your own behavior.

    This is a great talk on the topic :);

    Even if you aren’t a Buddhist, the essence of the talk is if you keep the company of bad friends, you become less peaceful, less happy and your character and it’s nobility suffers (which ultimately is a very strong basis of your self and your happiness).

    Good luck 🙂

    #65602
    Kirsten
    Participant

    Also, just watching this video for myself and this totally reminded me of what you were saying about the lessons 🙂 you had to learn in the situation and ehcoes my thoughts up above 🙂

    Same teacher again, but she’s a good’un 🙂 :P!

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