Why Can’t We Be Friends?

As I reflect back on my 31.9167 years of my life, I can easily segment different parts into “chapters.” The chapters begin with some sort of transition. One of the most defining transitions occurred right before high school for me.

It was the day I announced to my parents that I desired to go to a private Christian school for high school. We were eating dinner and I had been contemplating it for awhile so why not bring it up? I am not sure I recognized it at that moment, but it would require much from all of us. For them – lots of money; for me – leaving an already familiar and safe surrounding to be stretched beyond what was my normal. But I mentioned it and things got rolling and before I knew it I found myself in an uneasy situation – attending a new school being a quiet, shy, introvert, freshman girl.

I was nervous the first day of school and wondered if I would make any friends. When my mom tells this story, she says that she dropped me off at school that first day and said “remember to get a friend, be a friend.” I actually don’t recall that particular piece of advice, but that doesn’t really surprise me. Other than a few moments, I pretty much completely wiped away the memory of the first half of my freshman year. The reason for this is because I remember it being a pretty lonely time. I remember watching my classmates around me, not really knowing where I belonged. I managed to survive a few months until I think the loneliness got the best of me and I couldn’t manage to hold my tears in any longer. I remember dismissing myself from lunch a bit early and running into the girls restroom. Another freshman girl in my class came in shortly after and asked why I was crying. I shared with her my desire to have friends and she listened. I can’t quite remember how things all played out, but that girl that listened that day in the bathroom is still one of my best friends today đŸ™‚

I also remember that a month or so after the bathroom incident, I received a note in my locker. Again, I don’t quite remember what the note said, but it ended with the simple statement of “I hope you come to the next basketball game.” Still to this day, I have no idea who wrote that letter, but I remember the way it made me feel. It made me feel noticed. And it made me feel that someone (even though I didn’t know who) desired to be around me.

It’s been over 16 years since those two incidents happened in my life and I would be lying if at times I said that I didn’t still feel like crying in the girls restroom every once and awhile. In fact, I will hesitantly admit, even now, it would be nice to receive a letter declaring that someone notices me. My age has doubled since then, and I still have that same desire of searching and yearning for true friendships in my life.

A part of me actually feels like this season of my life may very well trump the 9th grade difficulty of making friends. But I probably say that because I am living it out right now. I know how my 9th grade year ended up and the countless number of really great friendships I made in high school. But right now I am still sitting in the unknown of my future.

I don’t want to discount the fact that I have many people in my life that love me. I really do remind myself of these blessings often. In fact, if I got married tomorrow, I know exactly who I would call to be my bridesmaids. But as we grow up and people create families of their own, that becomes the number one priority in their life, as it should be. I am just currently missing that.

Therefore, I can easily fall into the trap of feeling left behind. In fact, I have to capture that thought often and throw it out of my mind. It eventually comes back, and I dismiss it again. And then it comes back…it’s an endless cycle to say the least. But I am trying to combat that lie every time it enters into a little crevice of my brain.

A few days ago, I was praying.  And I realized as I prayed that I am okay waiting for the family that I hope to have one day. I will wait as long as God calls me to. I know it will be worth it. “But,” I asked God the other day, “Can you at least give me some close friends during this season as I wait?”

But finding friends, and I mean like close friends in adulthood is extremely hard. Can I get an amen?!

Here are four reasons why I seem to have so much trouble.

(1) We are all very busy. Our jobs keep us busy. Our families keep us busy. Our ministries keep us busy. Many people can barely maintain the friendships they already have, yet alone make and establish new ones.

(2) And if we are blessed enough to meet new people, a friendship usually has to stem from some kind of common bond. For me, it is harder to relate to my friends with kids because I am not a mama yet and I don’t face the same challenges and rewards that they do. On the other hand, many people don’t know what it feels like to be in their 30s and single.

(3) In the realization of desiring friends, I have tried to make an effort to gain a few new friends and each time I do, I tend to wonder if people are hanging out with me out of obligation. I can only reach out to people so often, until I eventually stop trying. But I realize, like with most things, the key is persistence and vulnerability. I just don’t like the idea of begging for friends. Which is why I debated for days whether or not to actually post these particular thoughts at all.

(4) Because most singles around my age have a desire to get married, I think it is natural to meet someone of the opposite sex and briefly wonder if there could be romantic compatibility. So therefore stating you want to be friends with someone, pretty much puts them in “the friend zone.” Which most people would consider a downgrade, if you will.

Eh, he/she is not my type, but I could be their friend.

In fact, the whole “I still want to be your friend,” is the most common “rejection” line that men probably get from uninterested women. I’ve said it a lot, I hate to admit it. But I think at the time, I really believed that I wanted to be their friend. But I am sure on the receiving end, the sting of rejection cancels out the giddiness of earning a new friend. And who can blame them? I would feel the exact same way.

I’ve actually given advice to people that when they hear a woman mutter the word friend, it means she is not interested. I had a few disagree when I posted the inquiry to my facebook page several months ago.

Okay Facebook World: I don’t normally do this, but I am asking for your opinion on something and I think it might benefit a few people.

If a man met a woman and asked her out and her response was:

“Sure, but I need to be honest with you first. I’m not interested in a relationship because I’m trying to heal from my past relationship, however I would love to develop a friendship with you.”

What does that REALLY mean?
A) Thank you for the compliment of asking me out but I am not interested in dating you, I just don’t want to come out and tell you that because I don’t want to hurt your feelings.
B) I want to be your friend first and then eventually it could turn into something more.
Or if you can come up with your own interpretation, I’d love to hear it! I am really hoping to hear from both guys and girls on this topic (all ages too! Maybe that will make a difference?)

I originally posted that to prove my point to a friend, that the answer was A. But after over thirty responses it was really about 50/50.

Here was my follow up comment.

That was a fun experiment! It is almost 50/50, so the lesson from this all is that the statement I quoted above is vague and unclear. Technically all of you are correct because it is your interpretation, probably based on prior experience with a similar statement. If the guy doesn’t pursue the girl after that statement (whether romantically or in a friendship), she has to be okay with that and if the guy does pursue her but then she never becomes romantically interested in him and eventually dates someone else, he has to be okay with that as well. The lesson I am also taking away from this is that the girl should probably be more clear about what she really means (whichever way it is) and the guy should be okay with asking some follow up questions if he wants a clearer answer to not be confused. Just my thoughts after reading all of your comments. Thanks for playing!

So, since that little experiment, I have wondered a few things. Firstly, in my desire to make new and deep friends at this stage in my life, I wonder if I reach out to someone of the opposite sex, if it will feel like I am pursuing a romantic relationship to him. And after a recent experience, I have a strong desire to be pursued romantically and not to be the pursuer, so I wouldn’t want him to get the wrong idea. Secondly, if I tell a guy that I desire to begin a friendship with him, will that make him feel “less worthy” because I went straight to friendship?

I am actually recanting on my above answer of A. Instead of looking at friendship as a downgrade, why can’t it just be the beginning of “something” and anything that stems from that just be the “upgrade?”

Okay, so back to that “recent experience.” In December, I was chatting with a guy I connected with on a dating app.

Side note: After a few days of chatting, I am ready for the guy to ask me out, but it doesn’t always happen that soon. So most conversations die off before a date ever transpires.

But with this particular person, we will call him Andre, the conversation was always unique and engaging. Despite the usual questions of “what do you like to do for fun?” or “how was your day?” (I won’t hold it against him), all of the other conversations with him on the app held my attention almost daily.

One evening I sent him this message, “Guess what? Do you want to know how nerdy I am? I am playing scrabble against the computer on my phone. And losing often.

His response: “What! I am doing the same thing! Haha! But I am winning because I secretly hate to lose, so it is on the easy level.”

I thought that was really cute that we had that in common.

After a few days of talking on the app, I brought up the whole “friend issue.”

I did a horrible job of explaining myself through text but I was trying to explain to him my desire for friendships. Besides playing scrabble, we had a couple of other things in common, so I thought we could be great friends. But again, I was nervous that even bringing up the word friend would make him cringe. However, he wasn’t asking me out and it had been almost a week! I just remember enjoying his company through text and thinking that if our first date was like most of my other recent dates, we would probably never see one another again. So why not make sure that doesn’t happen and establish a friendship instead?

His response was “I can see how starting off as friends would be less pressure but then it can be difficult to know how or when to make the move from friend to romantic also. So I guess there is no easy answer.”

“At this age though, it shouldn’t be difficult,” I responded to Andre. I was referring to the idea of communicating to a friend that you were interested romantically to see if there was a chance to move it past friendship level.

He wrote back and said “You’re right that it shouldn’t be and I guess if the connection is strong enough, then it would evolve naturally. I think at this age we are less self conscious.”

We agreed that we now both have better communication skills than in our younger days. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it could be problematic after all.

Anyway, a few days later, our communication was still constant and intriguing. At one point he said “I really like the way you are.” I was confused in regards to the context of his statement, so I asked him what he meant.

He said, “I like your personality and your look and that you have depth as a person – a little nerd and a little sporty. And this may sound like a weird thing to compliment a person on – but I like your nose. You are just an overall charming and beautiful woman.”

I think I laughed out loud about the nose comment. And what girl is not going to swoon over a compliment about how a man likes her personality AND her looks? Good answer Andre, good answer.

But, how much can you fully take in a compliment, when one hasn’t met you in person yet?! We were still texting through the dating app that next Friday night and I remember wondering why we weren’t having this conversation in person. It had been 6 days since our first message and he still hadn’t mentioned meeting me.

The next day, I couldn’t take it any longer and so I brought up meeting him. I asked him “How long does it take you to get to know someone before meeting them?”

His response: “I will meet you anytime you are ready – I could do later this week.”

Hmmm, that was easy. Although, I secretly hated that I had to be the one to mention it first. So then I began to wonder if that meant I was already perceiving him to be “more than friends.” Because if we were just friends, then should it matter who initiates hanging out? I already felt confused, but I didn’t care. At this point, I am just trying to go through open doors and hoping to find company when I do.

And I realize that I am kinda talking in circles here, but welcome to the inner workings of my mind.

The next week I was on Christmas break and we set up a lunch date meet up for Thursday.

However, after a few more days of chatting, neither one of us set the place and time for Thursday. So…Wednesday night rolls around and I asked him what he was thinking for Thursday. He didn’t respond and so I assumed that he was already in bed.

I was correct in my thinking because Thursday morning he affirmed that. But he also told me that he was not feeling well (hence the early bedtime) and wondered if we could reschedule our lunch. I told him that would be fine, but it would have to wait until I got back from a Florida vacation over Christmas.

We went a few days without talking until one of us broke the silence and said something. I don’t remember who it was (it was probably me and I was just hoping to forget), but I do remember telling him that I actually had missed talking with him. He told me he felt the same way. He asked what day I would get home from Florida and after telling him, I thought maybe the next message would be him setting up a time to meet. But he didn’t bring it up and I refused to.

Unfortunately, my refusal only lasted another couple of days because when I got home, I received a few more texts from him with no indication of rescheduling our lunch. So again, I couldn’t take it any longer. Ugh, I am so weak. I looked forward to his texts daily and at this point, I felt like I had too much invested to just stop communicating with him. But I REALLY did not want to go another week before meeting him.

So one night after I got back from Florida, we played Scrabble together through our phones. Guess who initiated that? It shouldn’t be hard.

Me: So glad we finally were able to play!

Andre: Me too đŸ™‚ Maybe now, I feel a little more real to you.

Me: I didn’t even think about that.

But now he had me wondering. Had we not met because he wasn’t even real?! The thought hadn’t crossed my mind, but what was taking him so long?!

Andre: It’s hard to beat a night with your company and brownies.

Me:Maybe playing a game in person could? Because then you could also share your brownies with me.

Andre: Yes! That would be very nice.

I waited. Come on Andre. Here is your chance to ask me out. Or schedule another lunch or SOMETHING.

Nothing came on his end…so (I really am embarrassed at admitting to how many times I did this)… I asked him if he was nervous to meet me. I was wondering if he was putting it off on purpose. We discussed that a bit, but finally set a lunch date meet up a few days later.

This time he picked a restaurant and a time. I got up that particular day, wore my new favorite shirt that I bought in Florida and arrived at the restaurant feeling pretty confident. I was excited to finally meet the man that I had been communicating with over the past two weeks. The man that made me smile and laugh just by reading his text messages.

20170223_201014

The meal was okay despite I ordered something I didn’t really care for and I almost choked on a piece of cheese that coated my throat.

Andre was nervous from the beginning and I tried my best to make him feel as comfortable as possible. I asked him a lot of questions about his job and the reason he moved to SC. He didn’t seem to get any less nervous though. At one point, I specifically remember wanting to touch his knee and reassure him that everything was going to be okay. I refrained from doing that though and instead choked on cheese. You would think that would make him feel a little less nervous, and maybe it did, because he managed to make a few jokes during our conversation, which I was happy about.

But I left the date, not really feeling like I knew the real him. I credited it to first date jitters and told myself that I would go out with him again if he asked, to see what he was like not nervous. Granted, hoping that on our second date, he would feel more comfortable.

I actually think it is quite endearing when a guy gets nervous on a date. It means he cares. But this was different than anything I’ve ever experienced. His teeth actually chattered a bit as he answered my questions and at times he looked at me like I was going to beat him up or something.

A few hours after I got home, he texted me and thanked me for meeting him for lunch. He told me that he was so nervous that he actually left his credit card at the restaurant and had to turn back around to go get it.

“Really? I couldn’t tell you were nervous at all!” I texted back.

Just kidding – I didn’t say that. I am not going to lie to the dude.

Instead, I told him that I was sorry that I didn’t catch that he left his card and I thanked him again for lunch.

We texted a bit throughout the week and then it stopped. And by this time, I decided that I desired to be pursued too much to keep initiating things with Andre. Yes, I know he was nervous and maybe he needed me to initiate one more time with him to show my interest. Maybe he got so used to me initiating before, that he was waiting on me now. But I couldn’t even tell if I did have an interest or not, so I didn’t know what to do. But I did realize that, nerves or not, I am going to need a man to pursue in such a way that I am not confused of his intentions. Sure, it will take a confident man to do this, but that is okay. I am already asking for a lot in regards to him being a man of God, so why not throw a confident pursuer in there as well! Ha!

Communicating and going out with Andre was a learning experience for me. It taught me to stop initiating and just sit back and let God work.

So in the meantime, I want to continue to find my contentment in my Savior alone – whether I am being pursued or not – whether I have close friendships in my life currently or not.

Although, I really am trying to work on the friend thing. Last week, I sat by a sweet and beautiful woman at Bible study and bravely asked her if she wanted to be my friend. I am sure I made it sound a bit more sophisticated sounding than a “Finding Nemo Valentine,” but maybe not. Regardless how it went down, we exchanged numbers.

So yesterday I randomly texted her to let her know I was praying for her and she invited me over to her house. She said that she already had two other women coming over and that I was welcome to join them. I kinda felt like I got a letter in my locker again! I told her I would be there. She went on to explain further that each woman was going to bring a note to share with someone else as an encouragement to start this next week. I decided to type up a few thoughts and truths about what I am currently learning about loneliness, thinking someone there might be experiencing something similar.

We spent the evening getting to know one another and munching on snacks. When it was time to leave, we all put our notes on the kitchen table. I explained that I wrote my letter about what I am learning in the midst of loneliness. “So if anyone is feeling lonely as well right now, maybe that letter is for you,” I declared to the other three women. Immediately the only married woman in the group reached for it and she said, “I think that is for me then.” I smiled and with a few tears welling up in my eyes, nodded at her.

We all need friends, whether we are married or single. And we all need to be reminded that we are CHERISHED by the One True King, whether we are married or single.

One of the quotes that I wrote in the letter was a quote that a mentor in my life recently shared with me after I was sharing with her about my inner struggle of battling the feeling of being alone.

“The road to holiness is narrow and steep and exceedingly lonely. There is no other road.”

So, when feelings of loneliness begin to creep up my insides, I will remember that I desire holiness in my life. Therefore if this is where God is calling me at this stage in my life, I will embrace it. It doesn’t mean I won’t cry or ask the Lord some questions in the meantime. And I think that is okay. I think that is only human of me to do.

But there is no other road for me right now. So I will continue to navigate it, in the best way that I know how.

steep-road

Thanks for going along on this journey with me, whether I am singing from the mountain tops or trudging throughout the valleys – I appreciate you reading, because, one thing is for sure, you will always see my heart.

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Why Can’t We Be Friends?

  1. Sandra says:

    Thank you SO much for sharing this. As a 40 year old single woman I relate to so much of what you say. I often wonder what is wrong with me that I am unable to “bag” a man and have very few friends. It is so reassuring and breaks the loneliness barrier to know that this experience is not unique to me!! I have tried thew internet dating thing and 99% of the men I have chatted to have faded out the picture without any mention of ever meeting. It seems people are happy to just have cyber friendships!! Really??? What is the point!!!
    Thank you for sharing and helping me realise I am more connected than I think!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing Sandra. We are on a similar journey and it certainly does help to know we aren’t the only one going through all of the different emotions that comes with singleness. Let’s believe together that the best is still yet to come and no matter what, we are loved so much by our Heavenly Father!

      Like

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