I don’t know how to be a friend. TMI about Bumbazine

Zenster’s recent thread on learning to love oneself brought me to want to share something. I’m blaming this all on you Zenster. :slight_smile:

I don’t know how to be a friend.

Or maybe I don’t know how to make friends. I know I have friends, but these are people I’ve known for a long time. And still, I hold something back. I think it comes from a deep-seated fear that if people ever get to really know what a twisted individual I truly am they will be repulsed, and won’t want anything to do with me.
Of course, in recent years I’ve come to understand that I’m not the disgusting individual I was previously led to believe I was, but old habits, old defenses, are hard to discard. And so now, when people offer to be friendly, I accept it, but I don’t really open up to them, which I suppose leaves them feeling vaguely rejected. I don’t want to be this way, but I feel that I have to keep anybody new at arm’s length for a while, until I can get comfortable with them. Most people don’t have the patience for me to ‘warm up’ to them, and I can’t blame them for that.
Anyway, I’ve gone my whole life forcing myself to not need people, to be self-contained, and now that I’ve learned to like myself, I want other people to like me too, but I’m just not doing a very good job of it.
And yes, I am married. I never said I learned to like myself on my own. She talked me into it. But I think she despairs of ever making me into a social animal. Actually my joining the SDMB was a conscious decision on my part to try to become more social.

So – Have I explained myself? Do other people have this problem? How do you cope with it? Do you cope with it?

Mods – as always, if any member of your team……no wait, that’s something else…
ummmm. as always, if you feel this is in the wrong forum, please fling it in the correct direction, thanks.

I have the same sort of problem. I’m very reserved in real life, on top of what I suspect is an emotional/mental condition that periodically throws me into “It’s too hard to maintain” mode on just about all non-essential activities, so not only does it take me either a very long time or a very intimate living arrangement (i.e., roommate, dorm life) to really make friends, but when the time comes to separate, move away, or lose constant touch, the relationships tend to dissolve fairly quickly.

I’m not proud of it, but I can honestly say that I speak to old friends from high school, college, or Job Corps…um, never, really. Maybe once every couple of years I’ll run into someone from then, and have a five-minute conversation consisting mostly of shallow surface small talk. And then my entire social scene from that era sinks beneath the waves again.

I spend way too much time online to compensate for this. I’m not as reserved in print as I am in person, so it’s easier for me to be outgoing. And especially with message boards and newsgroups, it’s “at my convenience” friendships, where I can wander in and read what everyone’s saying and reply whenever I want to, rather than having to be politely attentive for as long as the other person wants to talk.

I guess I’m that weird pasty thick-glasses-wearing computer nerd type who lives in his parents’ basement and makes up Star Trek plotlines…

Oh, now I’m depressed… :frowning:

As for me…hmmm…I’m not really shy… around ANYBODY. I only get close to a few people though and the rest can come or go as they please. I try to be myself all the time and I think I succeed most of the time. This way if someone likes me, it’s the real me that they like. We all wear faces sometimes, but the more you show your real self, the more people you KNOW care about you and you can forget about the idiots that don’t like you. And I feel it’s good to think that the people who may detest you are idiots because then they can’t get you down about yourself. Sometimes egomaniacs RULE!!!

Lissen up Mr. B!

You’re warped, sick, twisted and perverted! And I respect that in a man…

Now to the meat of the matter. Out of nearly all of the people on my music mailing list, you are the only one to have regularly sent back impressions of the pieces that I send out.

Out of nearly all of the people that respond to my recipe thread it’s only you and JavaMaven that have taken the time to get to know me a little. Hell, you even bumped the recipe thread for me when I was down for the count with tonsillitis.

Out of all the people that I regularly email, you are one of the only ones that has made a point to invite me up to your neck of the woods, when I have the chance to get up there. (Boy, will you ever regret that!)

If all of this isn’t the hallmark of being a friend I don’t know what the flock is. I think the major problem is that it is difficult to find people with their axles bent to the same degree as you. Trust me, it’s a common affliction that all of us suffer from.

Ever get weird looks when you tell jokes? People ever wonder why you have such peculiar hobbies? Does your SO often refer to you as her dear and splendid nutcase?

Welcome to the world of eccentricity. In Britain we’d be worshipped as Gods. Now, go look in the mirror, make all of the usual strange faces at yourself and repeat after me;

“I’m whacko, and I love it!”

Your Good (as in “good and weird”) Friend,

Chris

jayjay, I didn’t mean to depress you, sorry.
Until recently, about 90% of my relationships dissolved as soon as we lost touch too.
I also notice that I go through cycles where I don’t want to talk to anybody either. But I’m working on forcing myself to remember that I have friends who would like to hear from me occasionally. Posting to the boards helps though.

Who_me?, Yeah, as I’ve mentioned elswhere, once I decided to like myself, I was able to stop worrying about the people who didn’t like me. I don’t know if that’s egomaniacal though. I think it’s just rational.

Zenster, You are a good friend Chris! You should be more careful of the company you keep! :slight_smile:
Just remember, if you come up here, you may have to eat my cooking. :o

Seriously, I just wanted to explain that I don’t have very good ‘people skills’ because for a long time, I didn’t think I was someone people wanted to know, and I thought there might be other people on here who felt the same and might want to talk about it. Kinda’ like a support group. Socially Disfunctionals Anonymous.

Thank you all for responding, and Zenster, we will have that beer, and many others, some day.

as one of the people sadly lacking in any social skills. Having OCD and social phobia since childhood sorta hindered my development in this area. Consequently I often feel as if I’m in a game where everyone knows the rules but me. Really lost. I have to know someone for a long time before I feel comfortable enough to talk about personal things. It’s difficult even to talk to family sometimes and I’ve known them all my life. I like to think I’m a friend to some I’ve known for years but it seems that, when it concerns their friendship towards me, it’s “out of sight, out of mind.” I got pretty close to a male coworker a few years ago, thought we were doing pretty good vis-a-vis the friends thing. Then he takes another job somewhere else. I hear from him a couple of times early on but that’s it. Nothing for ages now. Guess that’s over. Oh, well…

Anyhow, I think there are quite a few of us socially dysfunctional types around here from what I’ve seen. Anyone interested in teaching a “people skills” course?

I really suck at this.

Hi dwyr, thanks for replying.

I don’t really have a lot of people skills, but I will say this: I don’t know if there are any hard and fast rules. I think everyone has to make up their own. It really makes the ‘game’ confusing at times. The only rule I’m sure of is ‘Believe in yourself.’ Believe that you are a person worth knowing, and if other people can’t see that, the fault lies with them, not you. That’s my 2 cents worth anyway.

Have you read Zenster’s thread about loving yourself?
http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?threadid=62499
I think you will find some good advice in there.

There are certain key things in being a friend that covers all inhibitions and flaws.

First. Loyalty. If you like someone, you’ll be there for them and you’ll defend them. There are more ways of defense than fists.

Second. Compatible you like your friend and he/she likes you. You’ll have similar likes and dislikes and morals.

Third. Compassion. You will not hurt your friend out of casual actions, like poking fun at or publicly embarrassing them. You’ll know what hurts your friend and not do it. You will not get into trouble with your friend and blame it all on him/her. You will not take advantage of your friend, knowing his or her weaknesses.

Fourth. Communication. You will be able to talk to your friend about problems with him/her or virtually anything. You will be able to discuss almost anything. You’ll know when he/she is not feeling good, is worried, happy or excited. You’ll know what subjects are taboo and what are not.

Fifth. You’ll be glad to see your friend and your friend will understand your moods.

Sixth. You will accept many of your friends personality traits, but not all. Those you don’t accept, you’ll ignore.

Friends watch out for each other. If drinking, one friend will stay more sober than the other to keep the other out of trouble.

Friends do not need to play one-upmanship with each other.

Friends unify against a common threat.

Friends like each other.

Friends come in different degrees, from casual acquaintances to best friends. The best friend is the most valued.

A best friend will drag your wobbly, drunken, vomit splattered ass home after drinking all night, help you clean up and make sure you’re OK before leaving or stay there until you sober up. Through it all, he/she will understand.

You can tell intimate secrets to a best friend and he/she will not laugh at them.

A friend will listen to you talk out some pain all night if necessary, without getting irritated, looking bored, getting pissed off or repeatedly asking ‘why are you telling me this?’

A friend will be content just to hang around, hardly talking, enjoying companionship.

A good friend will give you his/her last dollar if you need it. A good friend will pay back all loans you give him/her.

A good friend will take that punch meant for you and join you in the fight.

A good friend will bail you out of jail at any hour.

A good friend will never attempt to seduce or allow him or herself to be seduced by your love interest.

A good friend will drive 40 miles in the middle of the night on a work day to haul you and your broken down car back from where you broke down.

You, in turn, will do all of these things. Friendship is give and take.

Yoo Hoo dwyr! Please refer to the following list. I know that it is difficult and messy to uphold but it is a Hell of a good place to start. I shall quote it in its entirety just to piss you off!

PS: D@mn good start Spydie!
As to you Mr. B, you’ve officially been read the riot act, now settle back into your chair, pour another one down your neck and take it like a man!

You and one of the principal players have both responded with more than kind words about the “loving yourself” thread. I’ll take that sort of high score any day. Do me a favor and take it like a man.

As to you dwyr, feel free to email me sometime. Friends are just strangers you haven’t met. I’ll leave it at that.

I like the words of a friend of mine, a little old nun who is now in her late nineties:

by Sister Cecile Gertken, OSB

I almost never live up to those high standards, and find myself avoiding people and human contact far more than I should. But I think that they are good guidelines for which to strive.

Um, hi, my name is Lyllyan, and this is my first time to a meeting of Socially Disfunctionals Anonymous.

I do not now, nor have I ever, had a vast cashe of friends. As of this minute, I have one friend, excluding my husband, and she too will leave when our stint with Boy Scouts is over. I am friendly, I listen, I am loyal, I am entertaining and knowledgeable.

This used to bother me, alot. Now that I am older, I find that I really don’t give a shit anymore. I was never able to sit with a bunch of female type people and discuss children, PTA and other things of that ilk without grinding my teeth together. And I am not going to change just to satisfy social nicities. As Who said, I am not wearing a face. I am WYSIWYG. I will end up as the crazy old lady on the hill with 99 cats.

Word, Lyllyan!

People who know me now refuse to believe that I was a shy, awkward kid/teen. When I got past the years of angst and self-loathing, I looked in the mirror - quite literally - and really saw myself. I had a clear view of who I was and who I wasn’t. I accepted that I wasn’t gorgeous, but I do look better than most road kill. I’m not the smartest person in the world, but I’m educated, fairly well-read, and conversant on a variety of topics. I wasn’t the most popular but I knew people who would laugh at my jokes, and a few who’d listen to me cry.
Now, fast forward a bunch of years. I wandered into a chat room in a work-related intranet. The safety of anonymity allowed me to be me from the start. And from the start, many of the other chatizens liked me. I got brave enough to meet a few, then more and more. A couple years after that, I find this MB, and first chance I got, I was at a Dopefest.
I’m not sure where I was headed with this… Something profound like “F*** 'em if they can’t take a joke!”

Well, no, more like - you’re not going to like everyone and not everyone will like you. You’ll make and lose friends. You’ll likely change your attitude and point of view many times. And life goes on. And you’ll never get out of it alive, so don’t sweat the small stuff, keep your sunny side up, have a nice day, blah blah blah.
Apparently I don’t do profound very well.

But, Bumbazine, if you find yourself in Jacksonville, I’ll be your friend! :smiley:

Bumbazine, just from this thread alone it seems like you are just fine; not everyone who starts threads keeps monitoring them and interacting so pleasantly with the people who respond. As for making more friends, I’m with Lyllyan; I realized a few years ago that I normally don’t ever have more than one friend at a time, and that this is the way I like it. My free time is very valuable to me, and I need a lot of time alone to do my own thing.

I don’t know how old you are, but as I get older, I’m getting more and more comfortable in my own skin. Nobody told me that would happen!

(If you’re ever in Calgary, I’ll be your friend too! :D)

Thanks Bumbazine (I love Pogo!) and everyone. I was reading Zenster’s thread earlier and it does have some good stuff there. I shall try to apply it.
Lyllyan, about the crazy old woman motif, that’s what I always told my family I’d be someday. Only 96 more cats to go… :slight_smile:
[sup]I really like this place![/sup]

First off, I want to thank everyone for all their replies.

Secondly, I want to have one more go at defending myself, and try to explain where this post came from.

I think I do okay being a friend. When my friends need me, I’m there to help, to defend, to offer solace, whatever. All the things SpyderA48 said.

The point is this: My wife knows half the people in town, and so, by association, do I. But if it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t know anybody except the people I work with, and the very few people I have worked with in the past who make an effort to keep in touch. It’s not that I don’t like people, I do. There are some people whom I like (love) very much, to the point where I consider them family. But left to my own devices, I will spend all day puttering amongst all my hobbies and activities without ever speaking to another human being. I don’t initiate contact. A lot of people think I’m stuck-up because of this. Think about it Zenster, the only time I e-mail you is in response to an e-mail from you. And I really do like you, and am glad to call you my friend. It just doesn’t occur to me.
Anyway, I’m trying to change that. To be more outgoing and ‘social’, whatever that is. I want people to stop thinking I’m an arrogant snob. I’m not a snob.

And now:
SpyderA48, I’m speechless.

Zenster, Okay, okay!

Spider Woman, as always, you rock!

Lyllyan, welcome to the club, glad to meetcha’

FairyChatMom, can I be your friend even if I never make it back to Jacksonville?
[short story] My parents moved to Pensacola when I was four and I lived there, with one short break, until I went into the service at nineteen. I remember driving to Jacksonville with some other teenagers and sleeping on Jacksonville Beach in sleeping bags. Hint: find out of the tide is in or out before you decide where to sleep. [/short story]

dwyr, almost a simulpost there. Crazy old men collect electric trains. They don’t wake you up at 4:00 in the morning. :slight_smile:

Hi featherlou, You snuck in while I was composing my magnum opus above.
Yeah, I’m getting pretty comfortable in my skin too. And there’s so much more of it these days. :frowning:

You got it! :slight_smile:

And now I have to get out of here and do some real life stuff for a while.
I’ll check back later.

Well, hell, yeah!! Always room for another buddy! Some of my best friends are people I’ve never met and probably never will!! :smiley: From what I’ve seen on the boards, we most likely would be good friends if we were like neighbors or something… After all, you wouldn’t get all ticked off if my idiot dogs got out of the yard and left piles of doody on your lawn, would ya?!? I didn’t think so…