Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Friendship Deficit Disorder??

Perhaps it's not THIS bad...Source
I am operating in friendship deficit. I'm not looking for sympathy or to place blame necessarily because I know, deep down, I am just as guilty as the next person for letting my friendships atrophy. But as I find myself well into the second quarter of the year and I reflect on the same promise I make every year ("Make time for friends."), I wonder if it's time to redefine what friendship means to me and to change my expectations.
I went a very, very long time without T.V. Well, I owned one but only used it for exercise DVD's or an occasional movie. So, when I moved in with my boyfriend, who not only had a 40" Vizio Gallevia but also Directv and about a bajillion channels, I found myself mesmerized and totally addicted to several shows, one of them being Sex and the City. After all, what girl doesn't love to watch a group of close knit friends make there way in New York City, right?
Being inundated with the advertising and images from the media has changed our perception of reality. We know that, as women, we place higher expectations and pressures on ourselves to be thinner, more fashionable and successful because that is what is being shown to us in the media as acceptable, normal and desirable. But lately I've been wondering if my {not so} secret love affair with Sex and the City reruns, and it's predecessor, Friends, has led me to place impossible expectations on my personal friendships.
Although I feel light years away from my deepest, darkest depression, I still have my days when I feel lonely, and perhaps even socially stunted. I've always been introverted, often mistaken for stuck-up, and have had very few female friends. Having been a military brat I still find it hard to make and maintain long-term relationships but it has not dampened my desire for them. Enter Sex and the City and a handful of new friends.
I envisioned us having lunches together or even just coffee or cocktails. I thought for sure, this time, I would have someone to go shopping with who could tell me if an outfit looked good on me (finally I wouldn't have to walk out of the dressing room and ask some random stranger what they thought). I pictured us getting together to bake cookies during the holidays and sip sangria pool-side in the summer. We could share what I always thought were secrets about make-up application and hair styles and all of that 'girl stuff' I missed out when I was young and too busy being a tomboy. This was it!! I would no longer be the socially awkward girl who didn't want a birthday party, not because I didn't desire one, but because I didn't have any one to invite.
We tried, my handful of friends and I. We met for a few lunches while our other halves were at their weekly "guy's lunch", which had been a tradition for the past 10 years. But slowly our group disbanded. People got busy, kid's had needs and "other things" became the priority. After a few weeks our group emails included more and more "Sorry, can't make it. Billy's got a game." and "Jane's home sick from school, I'll have to pass." and "I'm exhausted from work, I don't have it in me to be social". I tried to reach out with messages and articles about how important female friendships are and how we deserve to have time to hang out with our friends. Sadly, I even tried to guilt them by saying that the guys have kept their lunch tradition alive for 10 years and we can't even do it for two months!! Nothing worked.
(I really don't mind dining alone, but you get the point) Source
 I attempted to do one on one get-togethers with various friends thinking that maybe it's just too hard for a group to pick a date and time that works for everyone. It lasted exactly one outing. It wasn't that we had a bad time. In every instance, whether it was the entire group or just two of us, we always had a great time. We laughed, vented, laughed some more and departed with hugs and "can't-wait-to-see-you-next-week". And I'm pretty sure it wasn't that they didn't like me (fingers crossed) and therefore just started to brush me off...we have spent time together (very sporadically) since the demise of our lunches and continued to enjoy each other's company. Yet I still feel unfulfilled, disappointed and slightly rejected. 
Now I'm no saint when it comes to friendship maintenance. I have missed just as many of my book club meetings as I've made. I've failed to attend any Pampered Chef, Miche Bag, or PartyLite shows that my friends have hosted. I've bailed on yoga dates with lame excuses (it was mostly just laziness and a mild case of feeling sorry for myself). And I have stopped asking, encouraging and badgering my friends into going out...this includes sending reminder after reminder of the 'dates' we do set, which most often ends in me staying home. 
So how is it that Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda managed to get together all the time, have real telephone conversations and maintain this tight sisterhood when I can't even get a friend to answer my text??
Oh, right, it's T.V.
But is that really it?? Am I really expecting too much from my friends based on how female friendships are portrayed on a television show? Or have we become a society that keeps ourselves so busy and over-extended that we no longer have a need for honest to goodness real friendships? I have a tiny blog...a spec in the microcosm of Blogger and Wordpress...yet there are many times I feel closer to my handful of "followers" and "tweeps" than I do the people that live 5 minutes from me, who I can hug and see and with whom I can actually share a bottle of wine! It's as if the world is suffering from A.D.H.D. and we can't possibly image sparing an hour to relax and shoot the shit with another real life person. It's become an imposition to set aside time, even once a month, to be somewhat selfish and prioritize a relationship outside of the home or work. My friendships have become a series of "Likes" and "Retweets" and I feel a void. 
"Face-to-face chatting is giving way to texting and messaging; people even prefer these electronic exchanges to, for instance, simply talking on a phone.Smaller circles of friends are being partially eclipsed by Facebook acquaintances routinely numbered in the hundreds. Amid these smaller trends, growing research suggests we could be entering a period of crisis for the entire concept of friendship. Where is all this leading modern-day society? Perhaps to a dark place, one where electronic stimuli slowly replace the joys of human contact." ~ Mark Vernon via USA Today
I know what you're going to say..."Easy for you, the childless one, to say, you don't have the same kind of responsibilities". But I do have responsibilities...I work outside of the home, I'm also my own housekeeper, laundromat and cook. Spending time with my husband is a priority, I take my exercise seriously often having to schedule time for marathon training and, even though my blog is small, I have a deep desire to write and share and it's a time-consuming priority to me.
We talk about making time for what's important (and no doubt about it, kids are important) but maybe what we really need to do is just flat out take time. Sometimes, the most therapeutic thing you can do is be selfish once in a while. Take a break from being a spouse, a mom, a worker, a blogger or an exerciser and rekindle those friendships that empower you. Then, when you return to your family, job or workout routine you will have even more to give.

1 comment:

  1. Oh man, do I hear you on this one. Texting is so much easier for me as the minute I put the phone to my ear, the kids need me for something and constantly interrupt. But I miss a good old fashioned lunch date or run date or drink date. Just to hang out and enjoy each other's company. And this is precisely why I like traveling for races. It's a break from the norm. The weekend is solely about running and spending time with fellow (running) friends (and I've yet to travel to a race that I didn't have friends who were running too). Soooo...YAY that you're coming out here next month to run! :) Can't wait!


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