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I admit I need help making and maintaining friendships

(15 Posts)
HooNose Sat 08-Mar-14 19:01:40

Can anyone offer any advice please? Not on how to meet new people but on how to make friends with people and maintain those friendships. I was good at this as a child, then, as a teen, it started to become harder. I remember one friend saying I was hard to get to know but worth knowing in the end. Then, in my 20s and 30s I suffered a series of really unpleasant experiences at the hands of 'friends' which totally knocked my confidence so that now, in my 40s, I practically go out of my way to avoid making friends for fear of similar rejection.

Recently, I have made some new friends, which is great, but they are long distance relationships and so, in a way, not the real thing iyswim. I want to make local friends but I feel I have pushed everyone locally away. I also see my children struggle to make friends and feel in some way to blame for this.

I want this situation to stop. So please, tell me, the next time someone crosses my path in life, how do I go about making friends and maintaining that friendship? I really don't want to end up a lonely old woman and I can't stand seeing my children missing out either.

BTW, I am not using my usual name here as I have even messed up relationships with Mners I have met blush

britney92 Sat 08-Mar-14 19:14:29

Oh dear honey are you sure your not taking things to heart to much. Friendships can be hard to maintain and you do have to work at them sometimes. I'm sure if you speak to somebody at your DC's school they'll be able to offer them more support in friendship development. As for you isn't there any local clubs or places you could volunteer at to meet new people and begin to form some friendships

HooNose Sat 08-Mar-14 19:21:24

Thanks for replying. My children are a bit older than that - secondary school age. When the oldest was having problems, the school was not really on the ball so I have no faith in that approach now, even if my children would let me say anything.

As for me, it is not where to meet people that I am uncertain about, it is how to make that initial approach. I find it virtually impossible now to initiate any degree of social contact with anyone, though I do respond positively if someone approaches me. Maybe there are others out there like me who could share some tips with me?

sonjadog Sat 08-Mar-14 19:27:11

What are you doing at present? Where do you think you are going wrong?

I would suggest finding an activity that you know you have in common with people, like a running club or a choir, or whatever you fancy. Then you already know you have something to build a friendship on. Then when you go, smile, make eye contact, make general chitchat for a while. If there is someone you get on with well, ask them if they'd like to go and do something with you (take a coffee? go for a walk? something else you have in common?).

Start off there and see. Don't be too intense at the start and don't hound people with text messages.

HooNose Sat 08-Mar-14 20:21:14

If there is someone you get on with well, ask them if they'd like to go and do something with you (take a coffee? go for a walk? something else you have in common?). Start off there and see. Don't be too intense at the start and don't hound people with text messages.

Yes, that is definitely something I find difficult (asking people to do something with me). I fear the rejection so badly that I prefer a sort of self imposed rejection ie not asking them at all.

And yes, not being too intense is a hard one too. I am an intense person so although I know I have to hold off, I find that hard to do. I think that is why I have more success, initially, making friends over the internet because I can control that intensity more easily.

At least I don't hound people with text messages or anything else! My usual approach is to avoid eye contact, speak as little as possible, and feign an indifference to everything so it won't look like I am trying to be friends in case I am rejected.

I realise I am not - am I allowed to say 'normal' here without offending anyone? No offence intended anyway. How do you know when to ask people for a coffee, say. How do you deal with someone saying 'no thanks' or saying yes and then backing out later?

something2say Sat 08-Mar-14 20:25:06

I'd advise trying to chat more with strangers. The local shop, the neighbours, people you come across in your travels. Open up your social skills a bit at a time x

nerofiend Sat 08-Mar-14 20:46:34

Ah what can I say OP? I used to make friends easily in my early and late twenties, and never gave making friends a lot of thought. But now I'm forty and after realising that a lot of those people I befriended were not real friends, and having had some nasty experiences with female friends, I wouldn't know what to advise anymore.

I used to be myself, open, trusting, always smiling, have a sense of humour, expressed my opinions freely. Now I'm more careful, watch myself more in what I say, have lost a lot of confidence initiating contact with people. I've been unlucky to have crossed paths with narcissists, gossips, manipulators and just plain fake people.

Making friends involves the huge risk that those people you befriend might let you down. I guess not caring too much about it if that happens and enjoying the good times together is a recipe to make and keep friends.

eddielizzard Sat 08-Mar-14 20:55:03

ok well, i'm not 'normal' either and over the years have learnt a couple of things.

first is to never force things. if you don't feel comfortable doing it, don't. wait until you DO feel comfortable. so for someone else they might feel comfortable saying to someone 'let's go for a coffee'. never worked for me because i didn't feel comfortable.

so making friends takes me a lot longer than most i'd say but i do get there in the end.

secondly do you think you're trying to please people and say what you think they want to hear? if so, i think you should stop that too. just be yourself, be honest, in a kind way and you'll be fine. i found that i'd try to anticipate what people wanted to hear and try to please them. doesn't work because what comes across is that i'm not really being 'me'.

since i've consciously stopped trying to please people, my friendships have gotten stronger and i've got new friends too. not what i was expecting at all. i was always so busy trying to be amenable that it was just annoying.

what happens when you 'mess up relationships'? how do things go wrong?

HooNose Sat 08-Mar-14 21:19:41

Oh lots of good points.

something2say - yes, I will try that. I am naturally shy and usually do everything I can to avoid conversations with strangers, but I am aware I have taken that too far. That is definitely something I can work on - thanks.

nerofiend - I relate to almost all you say in your post. I am not sure how to go about not caring if friendships break down, but I have definitely told myself to try and live for the good times. I am not sure I am as nice as you. I have definitely been betrayed a number of times and those times have really wounded me psychologically when it comes to making new friendships, but there have also been friendships that have just petered out and I can't help wondering if I was to blame for those.

eddielizzard - thanks for your insights. Yes I do say things or act in a way that I think will please people. I started doing this to try and be friends with them because I fear my personality is too strong for most people. I wish I could be more myself, but I know that self is not always a very easy person. Is it still ok to be myself then? I feel not...

How do I mess up relationships? (let me count the ways!)
Actually, you know what? I am not exactly sure.
I think people tire of me blush
Maybe I talk too much? I think I 'overshare' blush
Or don't ask the right questions?
Or don't ring/text/make contact enough. I don't like initiating things for fear of rejection so I suppose other people stop initiating things with me.

And yes, I do sometimes get embroiled in friendships I don't feel comfortable in because they are based on a 'false me' and you are right, they are very annoying!

britney92 Sat 08-Mar-14 21:23:06

Try contacting your local children's centre as they have courses on confidence building and they now support people with children up to 16/18 I think

Pippilangstrompe Sat 08-Mar-14 21:27:33

I think you should start by practising making contact with other people. Smile, make eye contact and try to respond to chat when you meet people in every day life. It will get easier with practise even though it will feel odd and unnatural at first.

When you feel you manage that, then find a group with common interests and start participating. Don't worry about making and maintaining friendships as yet. Start with the small stuff and build on that when you feel you can manage more.

Roussette Sat 08-Mar-14 21:52:04

Personally... I'd advise filling your life with lots of things so that friends aren't the be all and end all. Then you have certain things to fall back on. I don't have a huge group of friends at all - I'm sure some people find me most irritating but my real friends (they are few) accept me for what I am.

I think you should be very low key about those you meet who could be possible friends. Throw out a few casual invites - coffee, lunch, etc but don't feel snubbed if it comes to nothing. Then when you do make a fun and friendly connection with another female, do not invest in it to the detriment of all your other activities. Easy come easy go sort of thing...

And neofriend I have been there and know what you mean. That's why I am trying to say to Hoonose not to invest too much into the people that come and go in our lives - people are bloody peculiar!

WWOOWW Sun 09-Mar-14 08:57:54

Hoo

Just wanted to say that you shouldn't take knock backs personally - it may not be about you !!

I have friends, i also work full time, am just finishing a degree and have kids. I genuinely do not have time for new friends. The new person might be the loveliest person in the world - but right now i would back away from forming a relationship.

eddielizzard Sun 09-Mar-14 09:25:12

yes it IS ok to be yourself! no-one else can do it.

look at it this way - not being yourself isn't really working for you is it?

it's not your responsibility to decide for other people whether they like you or not. you're not giving them a chance if you're not yourself or trying to tone yourself down. a strong personality is a good thing.

i think you need to work on your self esteem. you're saying that people won't like you if you're yourself. how do you know? why would that be? why do you think you're lesser than others? you're not you know and you have to find that out for yourself.

little by little stop doing those things that you feel aren't 'you'.

start by observing yourself and noticing what you're doing that you realise is you trying to be other than yourself. then slowly start stopping that impulse. see what happens.

you'll realise that by being absolutely honest in who you are will develop deeper relationships. i sound like a self-help book.

i'm going through this journey myself and it's amazing!

FunkyBoldRibena Sun 09-Mar-14 09:39:57

You need to look at the Onion Theory - also called Social Penetration theory.

Basically, you start with light stuff, weather, traffic, stuff going on around you at the time. If you still get on you move slowly through to hobbies, likes, dislikes, a bit of light family stuff. If you still get on you can go deeper and deeper until you get to what can be termed a friendship where you trust each other completely.

You can meet people in all sorts of places; I met my current business partner and all round top banana friend at a course we were running that I went on as work shadowing. Another, at a college course. Another - through a forum and we first met to go foraging and have stayed friends ever since.

If you don't have some sort of mutual interests/likes/dislikes then it can be hard to make friends...so scout round places that will have people that will like the same sort of things as you and it gives you a head start.

If you want the bumpf:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_penetration_theory

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