Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The pursuit of friendship

One thing I'm still struggling to understand is friendship, perhaps particularly the nature of friendships between men and women. I use the terms 'men' and 'women' because children don't seem to have any trouble whatsoever making and keeping friends. It's only as we age that all our issues seem to get in the way. These voices in our head interfere, we second guess things...friendship gets difficult.

However it's also in the growing that adds the layer that seems to interfere the most, and I have no illusion that this is a new topic. The largest problem with men and women being friends is that sex seems to get in the way.

Although I often hate when people start throwing around the term 'daddy issues' to explain why a woman is doing something they don't approve of, I have my own daddy issues. The thing is, as I've gotten older, I don't deal with this problem by putting my body on display or trying to get sexual attention from men. Turns out I deal with it by trying to find guys who will like me in a nonsexual way. I find these guys who have a sense of humor that I love, and seem like decent friends, and for a while we have a pretty awesome friendship.

The pattern seems to be, though, that they're single guys. This may be partly due to my age, and the age of the people I tend to socialize with. If you're not single, you have kids and not a lot of time for socialization. If you are single, you're trying to settle down. As a result, the last string of guy friends I've had have basically fallen off the map once they've gotten serious with a girlfriend.

You're probably starting to ask yourself where my female friends are. I have them. Several, actually. Say what you will, but there is an inherent difference in the nature of female-female friendships. That's just not where I'm focusing this post on.

One friend that I lost in a particularly painful turn, was under the belief that I had blamed his girlfriend for the end of our friendship. That actually wasn't the case at all, but rather I blamed the fact that he had a girlfriend as part of the problem. You have to be careful with the semantics in this sort of discussion, but in essence, it seemed that once he had a girlfriend, he had little use for a female friend. Having no peek inside the head of these friends, I really don't know the truth. But the pattern seems to fit and to repeat itself. Correlation isn't causation, so perhaps I'm just likable in the short term...or people have forgotten how to have long-term friendships...or the barometer changed...

I can't stop my mind from wondering, though. I'm an analyzer. A dissecter. And I need to know WHY. This flies in the face of the Buddhist lessons I read through, but it's in my nature, so often I fall back into it in times of stress. So I start to wonder...was there ever a platonic friendship? Was I a safe placeholder, since I'm married and off the market? I tend to think of these guys as brothers, but it turns out I'm a disposable friend. Given that my father treated me and most of my half-siblings (and our respective mothers) as though we were disposable, this cuts me to the core.

I'm probably too old to not have had this lesson sink in. Or to even still be worrying about needing friends. I don't think we ever outgrow the need to be social, though.

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