Thursday, July 23, 2015

I'd like to be your friend, not just an acquaintance

Milestone birthdays tend to bring out a lot of emotion and thought. Some dread them, others embrace them, many ignore them.

For me, turning 50 was not a dreadful thing. I actually think turning 51 will be more difficult. What it did do was make me more contemplative of my life. One area I've been dwelling on a bit is Friendships.

Over the decades people have gotten more and more distant and a lot less civil to each other. One of my favorite movies is Gone With the Wind and I always think to the scene where Rhett and Scarlet are pushing Baby Blue's pram down the sidewalk. Each time they pass someone Rhett tips his hat and they all greet each other — "Good morning, Mrs. Meade." "Good morning, Captain Butler". Even into the 60s and a bit into the 70s people would greet each other at work every morning.



These days it's both a me-me-me society as well as being deeply immersed in technology. No more hand written letters when a short email or Facebook nudge will do. So much for cherishing long distance phone calls because they cost so much money. Now we carry our phones with us and can call anywhere in the world in an instant.

All this leads to distance and lessens the number of deep, developed friendships in favor of acquaintances. While driving Uber in SF (which I started so I could socialize more on the weekends) I met a man from Rhodesia who had moved to London and was just finishing up an 18 month job in San Francisco. His next move was to Ireland and he was on his way to say goodbye to friends he had made while here. He commented that he felt that during his stay here he had really only made acquaintances. It seemed that in SF people were very friendly and happy to add another friend to their large keychain filled of friendships, but in actuality, it was very superficial acquaintances that they were making, not deep, developed friendships. People knew him, but none bothered to KNOW him.

That's how I've felt about my 'friends' in Sacramento. Sure I have a large circle of people I know now, but hardly any of them have gotten to know me better or me them.

I know it's a 2-way street. I can't put the blame completely on others because I have to make the effort too. I have to extend the invitations. I have to listen to them and ask questions to get to know them more deeply than what restaurants are their favorites right now.

That's why I've tried recently to reach out to some people and invite them to happy hour or to dinner so that I can get to know them more. And I'm hoping that if I extend the invitation to others, they will be willing to learn more about me as I learn more about them.

I'm terribly guilty of tuning out of conversations and I'm making a real effort to stay "in" the conversation instead of just glazing over. 

I could have another 30 to 50 years to go and they will go a lot faster than the last 50. Sadly, during these next 50 years many people will disappear just from the sad fact of dying. All the more reason to develop friendships that are meaningful and to cherish to the end. 

Social website for making friends (women only) is SocialJane.com

More on this topic:

Why It's Hard To Make Friends As An Adult, According to Reddit



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