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Difficulty making connections

(4 Posts)
DistanceCall Sun 01-Jan-17 20:51:28

Apologies for the rambling. I'm 40 and am in a relationship with a man who has children, but I don't. Although we don't live together, I am very happy with him, have a wonderful relationship with my parents, and adore my niece and nephew (who live abroad). I also have a sort of older woman mentor with whom I talk on a regular basis, whom I love very much (and I know she feels similarly about me). I'm intelligent, educated, and I think that a nice and kind person overall.

The thing is, I've always had problems making friends. I was very badly bullied in school and was very close to my parents, so was always happiest with them. My parents are not terribly social people either, and I'm rather introverted, so I never really had a very good idea of what being friends with people is like, or how you go about making them.

I have made acquaintances over the years - in university and graduate school, and through my work - and like some of the people I know very much, but most of them are not near me now, and in any case I don't feel we have been close enough or have the kind of shared experiences to be described as friends.

At risk of sounding morbid, since I turned 40 I have been thinking that if I died now very few people would come to my funeral or be sad. It's not only a matter of feeling alone - it's also a matter of knowing that your life has impact on others, that others care for you. When my maternal grandmother died, so many people came to the hospital and to her funeral, because they cared for her and liked her. My paternal grandmother, who was a narcissistic bitch, died alone - not even the daughter who lived with her would bother to spend the night with her. I'm terrified of something like that happening to me. I worry that all the people I love will be gone before me, and I'll die alone, with no one near me.

I'm not looking for particularly intense relationships. But I would like to get to know interesting people with whom I get along, for whom I care and who care for me.

I would be very grateful for any advice or comments if anyone has been in a similar situation. Thanks in advance!

helpimitchy Sun 01-Jan-17 21:53:14

Mm, tricky one.

Some people have lots of friends and acquaintances, but never really connect on a particularly deep level. Some people really need others around them and will tolerate poor treatment just so they have people in their lives. Just because someone is social doesn't mean that their life has more meaning or that they'll have good experiences.

Introverts tend to go for quality over quantity, and people can often disappoint when it comes to friendship. You should value your life experience for yourself and not worry about others.

I have aspergers and any friends I have had, bar two older friends, have ended up either bullying me or exploiting me. I don't have one friend now. Chances are there'll only be the two dcs when I die as dh is older than me. I'm arranging to have a direct cremation as there is no way I'd want a funeral. I accept that I can't make connections and that's okay.

If you do want to make friends then I guess you'll have to get out there and do hobbies or clubs or something, but if you carry solitude in your heart then, chances are, you still won't connect. Not everybody does.

I'd really like to meet some nice, kind, intelligent people, but it's never going to happen. I appreciate how lonely and difficult this is. Online interaction is as good as it gets.

Heebiejeebies77 Sun 01-Jan-17 22:34:59

My closest friends are mostly people I have met through work (different jobs over the years). Like you, I am not a friend collector - I like to hang out with people I actually connect with. Whenever I haven't done that, the relationship always ends, sometimes quite abruptly as I can't take 'fake' friendships.

Never ignore your positive instincts about someone - if you have a good feeling about a person, make an effort to engage. It seems to me that there are more people in your life than you think - what about some of the people you class as acquaintances? Are you able to get in touch with some of the closer ones (location wise) and see if they want to do something fun together? Or even just send a quick email to find out what has been going on with them.

The biggest thing is to work out whether you enjoy doing things with others, or spending time just talking, whether you prefer one to ones or groups. Sometimes, an introvert, for example, may paradoxically prefer a group situation to a one on one, because it can be less emotionally intense. It seems obvious, but I don't think it's something that people think about much. If you are looking to make new connections you need to work out what kind of environment you want to do that in and how you prefer to function within that environment.
The most important thing is not to feel bad about being quiet or an introvert. Everything seems to be geared towards people being really chatty and social as 'normal', but it's ok to be quiet and take your time. It took me ages to believe that - I used to put on a big social front, because I thought I was abnormal and not like other women (in particular). It was wearing. People respond to those who are genuine, which is something that you definitely sound from your post and I think that is attractive to others. Maybe you just don't notice that people want to get to know you!

What do you do for a living? Is there someone there you think could become a good friend? Just start chatting about little things - funny stuff or news stories you've read in the paper/online, a good film you've watched. Chit chat should never be underestimated because it's through small talk that you can work out who is on the same page as you about the bigger things. For example, like most people I don't mind a gossip or celebrity chat, but if it is ALL I have in common with someone, they will never be a friend.

You must be better at making connections with people than you think, as you have a partner and maintaining good close relationships with family is a similar thing to having friends. Not everyone wants to connect with their family. Think about the things you enjoy talking about and doing, the things that really bring you a sense of happiness. If you follow those things, then you'll find good friends.

DistanceCall Sun 01-Jan-17 23:37:53

help, Heebie, thank you so much for taking the time to answer - I really appreciate it.

The thing about being an introvert (as you no doubt know) is that you enjoy/need to be on your own on a regular basis - but that doesn't mean that you don't want (good) company or that you don't feel lonely sometimes. And that can be hard to work with.

I agree with both of you in that the way forward is possibly to go deeper into my own interests, see who I click with, and not be shy about trying to make contact. Also, that relationships that aren't genuine aren't really worth it. Quality over quantity, definitely.

I work as a translator, although I am starting a consultancy business with my partner, which will hopefully lead to more interesting work and contacts. I'm also interested in documentary films - I don't really know what to do about it, but will be taking an introductory weekend course on video filming with a digital camera this month. It's taken me a long time to decide to take it, because I felt so silly, and I think perhaps my difficulties making friends have to do with that - the ingrained feeling that I am being ridiculous. So being more shameless is probably a good resolution for this year!

Thanks again. It's very good to know that other people understand this, and you've really given me food for thought. Have a great 2017!

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