Who’s Your Friend?

Some of you have a lot of friends. I can tell because you write about them regularly on your blogs. You might be telling us about the weekend activities you shared like WIGSF, or it might just be the way you interact with them which indicates you have some sort of relationship, like my wife with her pals.

Most of you have friends. And outside lives to share with them.

I’m not of that ilk, however. I’m cut from far different leather than most of you. Some of you will find me “weird” or “different” — “unusual” at best – and that’s fine. Others will sympathize with me. Others will see themselves in me.

But I don’t have any friends outside of cyberspace. Not really.

When I was a boy, I had friends from school. Most of them lived more than walking distance from my house. Those who lived around me polarized into cliques when school started and summer friends became autumn enemies or winter cold shoulders. I met a few kids in relative walking distance from my house and those friendships could be nurtured a little. Then my family moved out of our old neighborhood, established with kids and settled residents, and into a new neighborhood. Shortly thereafter, I went to a new school. After that, nothing was the same.

The Catholic school kids I met seemed nice. They seemed like quality people. They weren’t. Having money to send kids to a parochial school didn’t make them better people, only better educated than the teeming filthy dirt-children of the California public school system. (At that time, among the worst in the nation; I’m not sure that’s changed much.) They were only schoolyard friends for the most part. They had friendships forged long into their pasts – I mean, I joined them in sixth grade and they’d been in that school and chumming around since kindergarten or first grade, maybe longer. Several of them grew up near the school and they lived there until the newer developments uptown called their parents to bigger homes, nicer homes, more affluent (-appearing) homes. So they had their cliques well established.

They sort of let me in for a while. I continued trying to be friends with them – one lived only a short walk from me until I moved away in 1991 – through high school. Blindly loyal, I stick by people until it becomes painfully, blatantly obvious I’m being stupid, which takes more extreme measures in some cases than in others. I stuck with them despite some of the mistreatment I got. (As an example: I was the most popular of the “crowd” when I got my driver’s license months before the next one of their clan; once I wasn’t the only one able to drive, I stopped getting invitations to join them on the weekends and such. But I was too stupid to figure it out until much, much later. Oh, and also, they lied about it.)

I have one friend, still living to my knowledge, whom I’ve known from birth, literally. My mother used to hold him atop her stomach while she was pregnant with me. He’s a year, a month and a day older than I am. He was a good friend, but distance and absence wreak havoc on relationships. I lost touch with him permanently when I moved to Illinois. A few phone calls, but the last of those occurred in … what? 2001? Something like that? It’s been a long, long time. It’s okay; I wouldn’t want him to see me this way anyhow.

I’ve had a few “friends” from various jobs I’ve held, but like school friends, they’re only situational. Movement shifts things. I don’t have any friends now except those with whom I can maintain contact over the Internet – via their blog or mine or email. Sad, but true. And my poor ability to keep in touch with people doesn’t help. Most of my friends end up putting forth the lion’s share of effort in that regard, I’m sad to say.

How about you? Where do the bulk of your friendships lie? Where did you meet most of your friends? How good are you at keeping in touch?

Sound off, then have a great weekend. 🙂


All original content © 2010 DarcKnyt
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11 thoughts on “Who’s Your Friend?

  1. I don’t actually have friends either. I just have a bunch of people whom I insult and abuse repeatedly. You know what I mean? Eh fatso.

    Oh, sure. I know what you mean. It’s nice to have that sort of symbiotic relationship with someone, ain’t it, Greaseball?

    • I know what you mean.

      Knyt, I don’t get it. You say that the friends you had, you have trouble keeping in touch with. Isn’t that one of the great things about the internet? Doesn’t it help us keep in touch with friends for cheap even when they live far away? That is how WIGSF and I keep in touch with Columbia and if Metro used his email more than that is how I would have kept in touch with him.

      Ah, young Bob, remember you are about fifteen (15) years YOUNGER than my wife and I! That means you grew UP with the Internet and the availability of electronic communication. I fell out of touch with many of the people I’ve mentioned before the advent of and ready access to the Internet, and while it would SEEM to make communication easier, it often doesn’t. When I’m online, there are a lot of things I have to do. I also have a family to care for and spend time with. Communication isn’t as easy as it sounds, even with the electronic age. So while you have a good point, it’s not always a valid one. In this case, I wouldn’t even know how to find those people again, even with the Internet, and by now, lives are so different, it wouldn’t matter even if I could find them. They don’t want to hear from me anyway, because as I said in the post they were never really friends to begin with.

      Does that help you understand?

      • I was talking more about the people from work and the guy you last talked to in 2001. People I assume you were still friends with in the last 10 years which is the electronic age.

        Interestingly, I suspected this. There’s nothing I can do when people at work don’t show interest in having relationships outside work. I can’t force anyone to give me their email address or phone number. Until my last job in 2008, I always asked for contact information from people I thought of as “friends” from work places. For a week, maybe two, we email back and forth. Then the responses stop. The guy I’ve been friends with since birth? Well, he was something of a Luddite and didn’t have a computer when I last saw him. He’d tried to get on the web, but just couldn’t get the hang of computers. Hated ’em. So last time I talked to him, he wasn’t on the Internet himself. Again, not much I can do there, and like I mentioned in the post, there are mitigating circumstances around contacting him. So … meh.

  2. I don’t have many outside friends either. My friends tend to be people who are aggressive in their wish to spend time with me, always have. I don’t like to impose my company on people so I tend to let too much time go by between visits, and of course then it seems like I don’t want to spend time with them. This used to bother me. It doesn’t anymore. Of course, having this fragrance problem makes it a big production to visit with people, so I prefer the Internet where nobody smells like anything. Or rather, I get to imagine what they smell like. 🙂

    Well, let me help you here sweetie: I STINK. Ask anyone. 😉 We sound a lot alike in how we’re bad correspondents, but for different reasons. Interesting how different causality can lead to identical results, isn’t it?

  3. I was, what we referred to in my school, as a floater. I didn’t specifically have a “clique”, there was one group I mainly socialized with when out of class (the smokers, the badasses, the ones doing drugs and drinking while at school), but because of the classes I took, I spent a lot of time with another group (smart girls, in smart classes, taking advanced this and advanced that, who didn’t really fall into a “clique”, either). Other than that though, I had no problems hanging out and talking with the jocks, or the losers, or the popular kids, or the geeks, or whomever. I didn’t really fit in anywhere, but honestly, I was well liked, and I could “float” wherever.

    The only reason high school was rough for me was my own fault. I made it difficult. I kept my distance from everyone, never wanting to get too close. I was a very angry/angsty teenager, full of hate, assumed everyone would wrong me or hurt me in some way… I set my self up for a standard, which I continued to uphold in my senior years. I was the smoker/goth/heathen kid… I guess that likeness of myself in school would now be called an “emo-kid”.

    I spent time with others, but I wouldn’t have trusted them. None of them ever knew what was going on in my home life, because I wouldn’t talk about it. I dated a guy for two years in high school, and it never should have made it beyond 6 months, but I wasn’t willing to discuss my problems, or our problems with anyone.

    The only person I still keep in touch with from high school, is a guy who I met in grade 9, and he dropped out the same year, we then went to college together a few years later (he went to get his grade 12), and there is rarely a day go by that I don’t speak to him. He comes to visit Matthew and I for a couple days at a time, and it’s great, he’s like a brother to me.

    I went to college, and I decided on the drive there for my first day, that I wasn’t going to be “the old me” anymore. I wanted to have real friends, and relationships. I became more honest, and open with my life, and for the first time in my life, I had real friends. Ones I trusted, and truly cared about, and they’re still my friends five years later. We don’t see each other all the time because we’ve moved to different towns, or provinces, but we keep in touch, an email up date every week or so, and a phone call whenever the timing is right.

    My closest friend though, in the whole entire world, and still is to this day, I met when I was 14… on ICQ. When I was in school, I found people I met online more my speed, more interesting, and I felt like I didn’t need to fill this idea that I was “the smoker/goth/heathen” kid… I didn’t even smoke, or do drugs, or drink in school! We’ve never met, but he’s my rock, and I know, I’ve been his over the last 10 years, too. We speak, usually, daily, and if not, every couple of days.

    Friends can be a funny thing. I learned in college that life is too short to waste your time on people who only cause stress and headaches in your life. The friends in my life, I try to make an effort to email, or send a message, or a quick ring whenever I can, because frankly, life is too short to forget to say hello, or goodbye.

    Wow, that’s a lot of thought on friendships Onyx. It’s interesting to hear you talk about “floating” between cliques. I did this too, but never got close to anyone. I think I’m just wired that way. After high school, while everyone else made yearbook-autograph promises to “call me!” or “stay in touch!”, I just shrugged and realized I’d most likely never see any of them again. I am, and have almost always been, a realist in this way. So I wasn’t popular then (and didn’t fit in) and still am not now (and don’t fit in). Some things never change. At your age, I tried being open and honest with my life and people. And being open and honest about who I am and my life only invited attacks to vulnerable areas I exposed to people who weren’t very friendly to me (which is how I found out they weren’t). This is why I do NOT do this today. 😉 (Except with my spouse, of course. Heh.) But I’m glad you feel you have lasting friendships in which you can invest yourself. 🙂

  4. I too was a floater, had friends in different cliques and I liked it that way. Now I have fewer friends, but they are good quality ones.

    I’m bad at keeping in touch, but I agree with what Bob said, the internet does make it easier. I was also born before and grew up without the internet, but I’ve found people and they’ve found me and it’s nice to be in touch with most of them.

    So, Darc…are you happy with the way this is? In your post, you keep referring to ‘sadly that’s how it is,’ which would indicate that you’re not happy about your situation. Not that you shouldn’t be, I’m just curious.

    The post isn’t really about being happy or unhappy, V.R. It’s about being the way it is. I used the term “sadly” because I think most “normal” people would feel this is sad (in a pathetic sort of way, not a tear-jerking sort of way). It may change at some point, but for now, I’m a hermit, and I’m content with that. I don’t know if having “friends” would be any “better” than not having them. It certainly is less work emotionally.

    For example, my sister has no friends (save me) and no significant other, (save her dog) and she says she’s perfectly content. She’s 52 and at this point says she wouldn’t dream of changing a thing. It’s not right or wrong obviously, it’s just how she is and she’s happy.

    I’ve never really thought it was about how many friends a person has anyway…rather the *quality* of them.

    I guess I don’t know how to judge the “quality” of a person’s friendship. Most folks give what they can to a relationship. I find I have little to give most times. I think having relationships which are deeper might be more difficult in a lot of ways, so I can see how your sister views the world. My worldview might be similar.

  5. I have friends I work with, but when they leave I don’t extend much effort to keep in touch unless it’s through cyberspace.

    Most of the “friends” through work I have are of that situational variety I spoke of in the post. Outside work they have another life they live, and I do too, so there’s no connection aside from the workplace. When the workplace is removed from the equation, the friendship has no situational environment to survive in. Result: Even cyberspace can’t help it.

    I have 4 real life friends I do keep in touch with, but our contact is very limited.

    I would say Tiffany is my best friend, but I see her maybe twice a year. Our conversations consist of text messages and snide comments on Facebook. She lives a stone’s throw from me.

    Amber is my oldest friend from back in my college days. I see her a few times a year and we actually talk on the phone.

    I see Sherri several times a week since she sells my drug of choice (coffee) otherwise I wouldn’t see her that often either.

    Lee works out of town so I see him when he’s here and when he’s gone we send random emails and messages on facebook.

    I’m not much of a friend person. Friends want things from you emotionally and I don’t have it to give. I have dogs to take care of my companionship needs and my job is being friendly with people. On my downtime I like to be alone. Cyberspace allows me to “meet” people on my own terms, learn things from them, and share funny stories, but they can’t drain me emotionally.

    Amen to that! I certainly know how you feel there. I’m an introvert too.

  6. I have friends, but I tend to keep them at arm’s length. Therefore, I attract the kinds of friends that prefer to keep some distance in the relationship. I don’t yak on the phone to people on a regular basis, just once in a blue moon. I see most of my friends once every one or two months. I also have more one-on-one friendships rather than a group of friends who are all friends with each other. My one group of friends is a group that centres around a couple I’ve known since high school and university respectively. They manage that group of friends and make sure we all get together regularly. If they didn’t play social convenors, we’d all drift apart. I know that for a fact because when their baby was born we all didn’t hang out for almost a year, until our social convenors were ready to start arranging gatherings again. So I do have friends, but I’m not super-social, and I often have to remind myself to make an effort to keep in touch. It doesn’t always come naturally.

    I think this is where I am emotionally too. I like things close and intimate with a very, very small group of people. One or two, three at most. My preference is one very close friendship and a few close ones. The rest I would be happy to have as co-workers, acquaintances, etc. I think you summed up how I see friendship now very succinctly. 🙂

  7. Knyt

    Was listening to Colorful by Verve Pipe as I was reading the post…and it seemed to match. Loved this post, cause topics about social networks speak directly to why we blog and twitter and such. Some folks are just more comfortable interacting anonymously…some people’s blog are an extension of who they are as a person and some are characters they might make up….either way you are a great cyber friend……zman sends

    Thanks, Steve, it’s nice to hear those thoughts. Have a blessed and happy weekend.

  8. Since I’ve had a child and dedicated myself more seriously to writing and art, it has been more difficult to make friends. My best friends now have to be writers or moms, otherwise I just can’t find time to be a good friend. But I’ve had/have good friends. We may not speak every day, but they are amazing people and we care about each other. I’ve had a few people hurt me. I’ve had a lot of people support me.

    Bad experiences don’t seem to teach me much because I am always willing to give a friendship a chance. And I don’t demand much. My husband doesn’t really have friends either. We have different ideas/ definitions of friendship.

    I was unpopular in high school. Very much so. I had few friends. And only one have I stayed in touch with. We may talk once every six months or once a week. Because I left the country, we didn’t speak for 2 years. But when we talk, we have so much to say to each other.

    I don’t really expect my friends to understand me. One friend understands my writing life. Another my mothering life. Another my past. My friend from my past knows almost nothing of my writing life. I don’t tell her, but that just isn’t necessary. We care about each other. What more do I want from another human being?

    Granted, I’ve learned who I can count on and who maybe I shouldn’t ask much of. I love them anyway. I may be hurt again, but that won’t kill me.

    Probably not, true. It’s annoying as all get-out though, and I find I have less tolerance now for annoyances than I used to. I’m less apt to explain them too. This is probably why I don’t fawn on anyone anymore and don’t expect much from relationships. I do, however, think I could give more. I need to look into that, I suppose. But from a risk-reward ratio standpoint, I don’t know if anything except marriage and parenthood are worth it.

    • Well, friendship shouldn’t be fawning. Fawning implies falseness, doesn’t it? When my mom died, a friend cashed in her life insurance policy so that she could buy herself a $498. plane ticket so that she could fly home with me and I wouldn’t have to be alone on the flight.

      Another friend insisted I say yes to an offered art show–and now I actually sell my art in a store and online. That wouldn’t’ve happened without her.

      Friends add texture to my life. There is the friend who makes me laugh. There is the friend who makes me feel better about myself when I fail. My friends are great people. My friends are worth it. And at the risk of sounding silly, I’m worth it. I’m a good friend.

      But like I said before, my husband doesn’t have friends to speak of. My dad doesn’t have friends. Several friends of mine have husbands who don’t have many friends. Sometimes I wonder if it isn’t some kind of guy thing most of the time. I realize some women don’t have friends and some men do. I have a guy friend whose wife doesn’t have many friends at all. He has many.

      Anyway, if you’re satisfied with the way your life is, then what does it matter? I just like people. I find the majority of people are interesting and worth knowing if I take the time. That’s just my experience.

      True enough. I guess it doesn’t matter. It’s just an interesting topic of conversation and I like hearing from folks with different perspectives. Like yours, f’rinstance.

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