Woe Is Me! “I Don’t Like Making Friends, but I Don’t Want to Be Alone. What Do I Do?”
Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.
“I don’t like making friends because I’ve learned the hard way that people don’t stay; they change. But I don’t like to be successful alone. I want someone by my side while I try to be successful. I’ve tried relationships but even that didn’t work out well. I know I’ve got the potential to be anything I want, but then I don’t feel like stepping up because then I’ll be achieving it alone. I would also rather talk about that person than my achievements because for me achieving the right person is more important than any materialistic achievement.”
— My One and Lonely
AJ: Hello, you. I completely understand that it’s difficult to make new friends, after having gone through experiences where people have changed, left for whatever reason. Once bitten, twice shy. Seeking a constant companion in the form of a relationship takes quite a bit of emotional investment, and if you have a hard time trusting people to be by your side, it will take time to materialize into something fruitful.
I’m not sure I understand by ‘achieving’ the right person, but that must put a lot of pressure on the other person. To be all those things you want the other person to be, which isn’t fair. Celebrating success with someone sounds wonderful, but to make that someone your achievement in life puts the onus of your happiness on that person, which isn’t sustainable. Or healthy. What you can do is give people the benefit of the doubt and have a little faith. Also, alcohol works wonders when it comes to making new friends. 🙂
LG: Dear Lonely, It’s no fun to feel like everyone has moved on and you’re left alone. That said, no one stays static forever. Have you ever considered you might be growing and changing, too? And that might be contributing as much as your friends’ evolutions to any altered relationships? People grow in different ways and at different speeds, and navigating all of that, especially over the long haul, takes a lot of hard work from both parties, whether it’s a friendship or a partnership. But that’s also what challenges us, helps us grow, and keeps relationships interesting. Imagine how boring it would be if we all stayed the same forever — like purgatorial high school. (Shudder.)
Some friends may not be worth the investment; others will be. For the ones who are, when it starts to get rocky or frustrating, have a conversation, ask what’s changed. And the ones who leave? They’re just an opportunity to meet new and better people. Of course, like anything in life, there’s an easier way, and no one would blame you if you wanted to give a Rent-a-Friend service a try. I suspect it might be even lonelier, though.
PP: People change. And leave. That’s just the way life goes. And I think that’s okay. It’s okay to have some people in your life only for some time to fulfill some role. So, I don’t think you should give up on making new friends. If you just unclench your fist and hold these friendships loosely, without the expectation of them always being there, letting them evolve naturally, you’ll see how they tend to strengthen with time.
I also think the idea of the ‘right person’ isn’t really true, you know? If you ask yourself where you’re getting this idea from, it’ll probably be all the books and movies about their being ‘the one’. But there just isn’t. Humanity doesn’t exist in a 1:1 ratio. Then when you find someone and try to force them into this mold of the perfect person, your biggest achievement — you will inevitably end up disappointed.
Besides, as AJ says, a person can’t be an achievement. They’re their own person, as are you. They’re human, they’re fallible, which is why it’s probably best if you don’t place your ultimate happiness on them. But your accolades, your hard work, your achievements — they’re yours. You’ve won them. They’ll always stay. Put stock in yourself. Look at it like this: Be your own happiness, and other people (friends or romantic relationships) can only add to or subtract from it.
RD: I think going into any relationship with a shit ton of expectations is only a recipe for that relationship not to work out — not because having expectations is a bad thing, but because expectations should be tailored to the person, and to the relationship. If you have a pre-set idea of what a friend is or should do (and we all have this idea thanks to pop culture) then you lose the opportunity to find someone who is uniquely tailored to your personality.
For example, I like to be left alone most of the time and think texts or calls from friends are a little tedious. Now if I make some friends who need or want constant attention from me, then we probably aren’t best matches. But that doesn’t mean someone who also likes to text or call constantly cannot be someone more suited to them. Mine is a benign example, but I’m 100% sure you’ll meet your kind of people out there somewhere. I get that the trying can also be emotionally and mentally exhausting — after all, how many people will you meet, and who will disappoint you, before you meet the right kind? I won’t advise you to fall headfirst into this search for friends, but with an open mind, if you engage with institutions wherein you might meet new people — a class, a hiking group, a favorite bar, or even online communities formed around your shared interest — according to the time and energy your schedule permits you, I think you might be surprised.
I’d suggest thinking of finding a person not as the ultimate goal, but as a process that’s there to be enjoyed — you might come across an amazing person who gets you through the tough times, or you might meet a string of shitty or unsuitable people you can one day laugh about with your friends in the future.
ADT: I get where you’re coming from because there’s no joy to life or to any form of achievement unless you’re sharing them … but how would you share them if you don’t open up? Rejection hurts, lost friendships hurt, lost relationships hurt, but it doesn’t change the good memories and joys you shared with those people. I think it’s those good moments that matter, not specifically the people, and sometimes you meet people you can share a lot of good moments with, which is kind of how friendship works.
Considering how massive our communities and our lifetimes are, you will never feel a dearth of people to share good moments with. Don’t lose hope when one leaves — mourn it, because it was good, but also remember that there will always be another who’s more than happy to share joy with you. All you have to do is set yourself free from the fear of rejection and let people in.
SM: Hi My One and Lonely, I think at some point all of us might have felt the way you’re feeling right now — Akon, you, me, and everyone we know. But the important thing here is to remember that people change because that’s just how life is, and you need to change with them. While wanting someone in your life is understandable, you also need to understand that ultimately we’re alone, and we need to engage with people and make friends in a way that we love and accept them for who they are, accept that they will change, and not center our lives around them, so that we follow our own path to success or failure or just existence.
It sounds like you might have had a few bad experiences with friends or/and in relationships. Don’t let that bring you down. Instead of putting the disappointment with making friends on other people changing, I think it’ll also be helpful to reflect and think about what you can do to have healthy and happy relationships, be it romantic or platonic.