August 4, 2011

That true blue BFF

Lately, all my travel is really wearing on me. Earlier this year, I was in DC four days a week, and then traveling so much on weekends (Europe, woo!) that I was only home a few days a month. I started losing friends (okay, maybe not losing, but drifting away from and losing closeness) as a result of my traveling, so I made it a point to mostly stop the weekend travel and make myself more open for weekend planning.

I thought that would cover it, but it seems that in my absence, a lot of my friends have shifted to weeknight plans, which still puts me out of the loop. Plus, summer is wedding season (I have one of my own friends’ weddings to attend this weekend) and vacation season, so there just aren’t a ton of people around on weekends either. As a result, I’m spending my weekdays largely by myself (I’m working on a two person team where the other person is local and goes home at the end of each night), and now spending a lot of weekends by myself too.

This week, I was fortunate to spend Tuesday night catching up with an old college friend (okay, an ex… but we dated only briefly and he’s married now) who also lives in Dallas. I breezily mentioned the above issues, making sure it was more of “this is what’s going in my life and meh! What can you do” instead of “Oh, woe is me; my life is miserable.” But when I put it all out there, I was surprised to find that he totally empathized. He works for an airline, and while he doesn’t travel nearly as much as I do for work, he still used to take lots of weekend trips because it was free and he could (oh, I know that feeling). Meanwhile, his then-fiancee was in school, so she was focused on her studies most of the time, and now that she’s graduated from school and he’s cut back on the weekend travel, they’re in the same boat of not knowing a ton of people and not really knowing how to make friends at this age.

My friend astutely pointed out that we’re just at that stage in life right now, where it’s hard to make new close friends. Everyone is so wrapped up in their romantic relationships and work, and we just aren’t in an environment like school where you’re meeting new people at every turn. He also pointed out that we probably won’t really be in that type of lifelong-friend-making environment again until we have kids and start meeting other parents at preschool. Yikes, are we getting to that point already?

While I do have a lot of acquaintances/activity partners, I definitely am lacking the closeness that I once had with my high school and college buddies, where you could call at any hour and chat about anything. It’s not just about sharing the bad or the good; it’s also about sharing the little minutiae of a day that aren’t major news. I wish there were more people whose phones I felt comfortable dialing just to chat, instead of only to make plans in our busy, over-traveled and over-scheduled lives. There are times where loneliness can’t be solved with a good book or a long run, and the best thing is just having someone to talk to. Unfortunately, that’s what I’m currently lacking.

I’m hoping that the upcoming weekend of seeing old college friends will calm me down a little bit, and maybe even give me the chance to reinvigorate those friendships. But how do you convert a friend from acquaintance/activity partner to true blue BFF? I suppose that’s what I’m still working on figuring out.


7 thoughts on “That true blue BFF”

  1. SO TRUE! I hear you 10000%. I’m sort of in the same boat, well more so when I was living in San Francisco. I lived there for a year and a half, and honestly did not make many solid friendships. Lots of fun acquaintances, but nothing very substantial. It’s strange to think that we’re at that point of our lives.

  2. I relate to this post so much. I went to my college reunion earlier this year and it was great to see all of my friends there, but I missed the closeness they used to have. Most of them moved to California and see each other there, and I don’t. And it’s hard to balance work, anything you want to do outside of work and a social life. I didn’t appreciate those times when it seemed like I had time for all of them.

  3. You asked the million dollar question and there is no simple answer. I feel the same way, how do you convert an acquaintance into a true friend. Its a tough task and I am not sure there is a simple answer. That is why I value the few “True” friendships I have even more. Even those people who we have become distanced by life and all but in the end they are the people I can always count on when I need an ear to vent to or vice versa. I am sure things will get better. Keep your head held high.

  4. As someone in my mid 30s, I struggled with this in my 20s, but managed to make a lot of solid friendships in my early 30s. Honestly the key is to feel settled yourself. Understand if you don’t feel settled, people won’t always invest time in getting to know you. I’m a firm believer is being where you want to be (geographically) and the rest will come for you.

  5. Yup. You’re at a period of your life in which the quality of friendships tend to change and display ambiguity. As someone in his mid-30s, I remember wanting to be closer to people, but not sure at all how to go about it. You’ve endured other difficult seasons of your life (think junior high) and you’ll endure this one as well.

    The above adivce is excellent and bears repeating. (1) Intentionally invest in yourself. Read books you’re interested in. Take classes you always wanted to take. Explore places and things you’ve been meaning to explore. Trust me, once kids come along, such things become extremely difficult. I know I’m writing to a woman who has traveled to every state in the Union to run a marathon and has also traveled internationally (you have lots of interesting stuff to talk about), but you’re setting a foundation for the next season of your life–one of closer relationships.

    (2) Volunteer. It’s a good thing to do objectively, but it also allows you to meet other people who are well-grounded and open to others. Also, think about joining a group, club, religious organization, etc.


  6. As someone who is almost 30, I understand how you feel, and I totally agree with Megan. The key is to feel settled. When I was in my early to mid 20s, I felt unsettled. But over the years I have built a life for myself here. I know my neighbors well, because I have been involved with the management of the building in which I live for the last three years. I am close with people in the same profession as me, because I joined a professional committee and have gone to every meeting once a month for over five years.

    I think the problem is that you have not built a life for yourself in NYC. How can you expect to build close relationships with people if you are never around? Building close relationships with people takes a lot of time and continuous effort, especially when you are an adult.

    Frankly, maybe you should think about finding a different job – one that doesn’t require you to travel all the time. That way you can build a life for yourself in NYC and really make an investment in getting to know people.

    Choose a club or group and go to every meeting. Make a concerted effort to get to know people over an extended period of time. Have a routine. Not only will you find deeper relationships, but you will feel a lot less lonely.

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