The Problem With Making Friends as an Adult
So, we have new neighbours in the street.
Actually, we don’t: they haven’t moved in yet, but we’ve seen them a few times now, viewing the house and hanging around outside it (It’s just this second occurred to me that they could just be thinking about burgling it or something, and not new neighbours at all? Now I feel like maybe this is the start of a horror movie, or a fast-paced drama at the very least. God, I hope so!), and we’ve seen them do this because every time they’ve come round I’ve been hiding behind the blinds in the office going, “QUICK, TERRY! It’s those people back again! Maybe they’re going to actually buy it, this time?” Because that’s what happens to you when you live in a small village: the everyday actions of your neighbours become intensely interesting, and in our case these new neighbours are particularly interesting, because the house they’re buying has been empty for almost a year now.
(No, it’s not an ‘International Man of Mystery’ type situation, unfortunately, as much as I know you would enjoy that, and I would, too. I mean, it would make this post a LOT more interesting if it was, but it’s actually just your standard, “Property Market Kind of Slow” situation, and that’s not NEARLY as entertaining, is it?)
(This isn’t the house on our street that’s haunted, by the way. That’s a DIFFERENT empty house. You can see why new neighbours are exciting to us, can’t you?)
Anyway, the new neighbours are a young-ish looking couple: probably younger than us, although: a) You can never really tell, can you? and b) I always do this thing where I forget what age I am, so I awkward try to insert myself into social groups that don’t really want me. Like, if I went to a wedding, or something, I’d feel like I should be sitting with all the teens and early-twenties people, because that’s the age I am in my head, but when I tried to talk to them, they’d be looking at me, thinking, “Why are you even talking to us? Aren’t you, like, OLD or something?” And I AM “like old” or something. But that’s not the point of this post. There IS a point to this post, I promise: I’m just hoping that if I keep on typing for long enough, I’ll remember what it is…
Oh yeah! New neighbours! Who are a young couple, and in my mind, Terry and I are ALSO a young(ish) couple, so as soon as I realised that these people were moving in (these poor, poor people, who have NO IDEA what they’re getting into…), I immediately started to entertain this little daydream in which the four of us – and maybe some other friends from the street – become BFFs, and we’re constantly in and out of each other’s houses, being Godparents to each other’s children, and that kind of thing. And there’s also this coffee shop we hang out in all the time, and we have, like, our own special couch there, and no one else gets to sit there, because that’s OUR place.
So, yeah, this whole thing is pretty much totally based on me watching way too many episodes of Friends lately, and also this new (to us) show we’ve been watching called Happy Endings. Which is ALSO about a group of 30-s0mething friends, who all hang out in each other’ houses all the time, and are basically like family to each other. A few nights ago, we were watching this show, and I turned to Terry.
“Why don’t WE have a group of friends like that?” I said.
“Er, we DO?” said Terry. “We saw some of them yesterday, remember?”
And, of course, we DO have friends – and some very good ones, too. But I feel like the older you get, the harder it gets to keep in touch with people. Some of you move away, some of you have kids, some of you get jobs that occupy every waking second, or have other reasons why you’re not around as much. Before you know it, you’re only seeing each other every so often, and every single meet-up has to be arranged with military precision, only to be cancelled at the last minute, because something ALWAYS comes up. So you have friends, but you don’t have Friends. Or, at least, I don’t. And it occurred to me recently that I haven’t really had that since university: since we were all living within a few minutes of each other, and had no real obligations other than to hang out all the time and come up with excuses why we weren’t working on that essay that was supposed to be handed in tomorrow.
I miss that type of friendship.
After university, my group kind of fell apart. My best friend moved back to the south of England, and the rest of us scattered to different parts of the country. I came back home, and I was really the only one who did, so until I met Terry I was a little bit adrift, really. Now most of the friends we have are “couple friends”, and they’re great, but as I said, they all have families, and jobs, and other responsibilities which make it hard to meet up regularly. There’s no hanging out at coffee shops, for instance, and no popping in and out of each other’s houses a few times a day. Like on TV, you know?
“You would hate that,” pointed out Terry when I presented him with this revelation. “You’d be all, ‘OMG, why do people just turn up without notice?” And then you’d freak out because people were in your house and you hadn’t cleaned it, or you weren’t wearing mascara or something.”
And he’s right. If people started treating my house as if it was their own, I probably WOULDN’T think, “How great: it’s just like being on an American TV sitcom!” I’d think, “Why are they always in MY house? Don’t they have a home of their own to go to?” And if I was hanging out in cafes every day, just THINK how much money I’d have to spend on coffee! Also, we don’t even HAVE a coffee shop in the village. We just have a post office, and we couldn’t really hang out there, on account of the fact that the people who run that post office hate everybody. Literally every single person who goes into their post office. (They also hate sending mail, which is honestly a bit of a nuisance, but that’s another issue altogether.)
As Terry pointed out, my inherent anti-socialness (yes, spellcheck, it IS a word. Because I said so.) is very much at odds with this dawning realisation that I don’t have many really close friendships in my life right now. The kind of friendships where you know EVERYTHING about each other, and are always dancing around your bedrooms together, braiding each other’s hair, and… wait, that’s childhood friendships I’m thinking about, isn’t it? Can you tell I’ve been out of the game a while, here?
And therein lies the problem: having been out of the ‘friends’ game for a while, I’m not really sure how to get back into it (Or even if I really WANT to, if I’m totally honest: I’m so much of a loner that most of the time I’m quite happy with the status quo: it’s only ever now and then I find myself thinking, ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if life was like an American sitcom?”). Working from home doesn’t help in this respect, and neither does living in a small village. (Neither does being horribly anti-social, and REALLY not a ‘people person’, seeing as we’re on the subject) It’s not like I’m going to make friends at work, and I’m probably not going to make them while I’m out walking the dog, either. (Actually, I DID once make a friend while I was walking the dog. He was in his 70s, and everyone else in the street describes him as ‘a bit creepy’, but even so…) I know most people would suggest joining clubs or something, but my ‘shy introvert’ status makes my blood run cold at the very thought of those kind of shennanigans, and even if I DID force myself to go to some of the blogger events I’m always being invited to and turning down, the fact that I live in the exact middle of nowhere would inevitably mean that any friends I DID make at them would STILL have to be the kind of friends I only saw occasionally, because they live so far away.
Which I suspect is possibly how MOST adult friendships work, now I come to think of it? Is it? I mean, even Friends itself came to an end when Monica and Chandler had kids and moved to the suburbs: maybe that’s just the way it goes in real life, too?
What do you think? How do you make friends as an adult? Ideally without having to join the local bridge club or something…
(There isn’t a local bridge club, by the way. Again, it’s just the Post Office.)