Tag Archives: friendship

The Dying Art of Friendship

Today was my monthly “skip work” day, just one of my many sage life philosophies. I firmly believe that, unless you are someone who actually loves work (hell no), loves your job (hell no to the 10th power) or can’t afford to miss work (either for your pocket’s sake or your job security’s sake), everyone should just take a day to him/herself, preferably once a month, in order to stay sane. This is how I live. Judging by how many people–grown adults–I saw at the mall this afternoon, I would say I’m not the only one.

This means that my best friend Clara was at work today “by herself.” She begged and pleaded with me to come in today, but I told her no because I was losing my mind and it was just time for that skip day. She wanted me there because I am entertaining, but also because there is a lot of drama at work and she needs someone who is on her side. It is becoming a high school-like environment replete with tattletales, vindictive bitches, phonies, people choosing sides, wimps and very little work–which leaves more time for people to be fake old-@ss vindictive tattletale bitches. Clara paid me back for not coming today by texting and calling me with updates on all the bullschitt I was missing, as if she didn’t quite get that missing all of it for one day was my intent.

I firmly believe that some of the things that happened today would not have happened had I been there. Clara talks a good game to me, but I’m really the only one whose mouth shoots bullets directly at these @ssholes. Consequently, people don’t fuck with me. But…they will still fuck with Clara, and today they did.

When I write that Clara talks a good game to me, I mean that she complains a lot and puts on a tough act like she’s going to do/say something about these things making her complain. But mostly, she just complains every day. Now, I’m fine with complaining–in fact, I love that she is a complainer. I’m one, too, and most people just won’t put up with a complainer. So, complainers only have each other. But, as I’ve told her, things really need to be said to people’s faces and then you need to move on. Plus, she goes on and on way too long. Vent for 10 minutes, then let it go.

I’ve written other posts on my blog about friendship, and, for those who don’t know, this is going to be one of my last posts as I am ending the blog soon. I have lamented losing my friends, including the last woman with whom I was romantically involved. Some of these people I have described as lost friends don’t even know I view them this way. They still contact me via text, Facebook, email or whatnot. But we are no longer friends, in my mind. I will elaborate in a second.

I’ve also mentioned briefly here at times that there is another female at work, Sharon, who hangs out with us but whom I have considered Clara’s friend and not mine. The word “friend” has been used among all of us, but there has always been something about Sharon…at the very least, I have felt we don’t have anything in common. That’s not always make or break, as you can learn a lot from people who are different from you. But on top of it all, Sharon is dull, and it’s damn-near impossible for a dull person and an introvert who hates people anyways to be friends (not to say all introverts hate people, but I do). I mean, what are the two going to talk about? Nothing. That’s why almost all of my friends are outgoing and talkative–they complement my personality, allowing the friendship to work.

Today, I think I realized why I don’t care for Sharon and why I have never considered her a friend. Sharon is the typical female “friend.” The drama at work bothers Clara and me. Clara wants to talk about it. Sharon doesn’t want to hear it. I don’t necessarily want to talk about it, especially not as much as Clara does, but I respond to what Clara says and agree for the most part and have told her at times in a nice way that just sitting around complaining isn’t the answer–she has to do something.

I told Clara about Sharon weeks ago because, although Sharon has never said she doesn’t want to hear it, I could read her body language and behavior while Clara vents and tell that she doesn’t want to hear it. I said, “Listen, you need to watch talking about this with Sharon, because I can tell she doesn’t want to hear it. Just talk to me about it, because I don’t care and I get where you’re coming from.” Clara was in agreement, and then she went right back to going on and on and on–immediately. Meanwhile, Sharon just sits there, says nothing and plays with her cell phone.

Sharon’s philosophy for dealing with drama is to ignore it. So, she doesn’t agree with my being direct with people about what I think and how I feel or telling people to fuck off, and she doesn’t agree with Clara’s complaining. Even though Clara is being targeted by this jack@ss at work and it affects me, as well, I don’t think Sharon “gets” what the problem is and she isn’t the slightest bit supportive. The only time she’ll say anything is to imply that we’re overreacting. Indeed, Sharon told Clara today that Clara and I are “too sensitive.”

I almost guarantee, Sharon wouldn’t have said that if I were sitting there because she knows she would have been the target of a “fuck off.” The difference between Clara and me is Clara only thought about telling Sharon that she’s full of schitt–I would have done it, and I would have told her that she needs to find another crew to sit with from now on. Some @sshole is basically doing schitt that could lead to Clara getting fired, and Clara is too sensitive because she’s angry about it and tired of it…

Look, I don’t recall anyone asking Sharon to be our friend–quite the opposite. She came up to us one day and said, “You all are having too much fun over here; I want in!” And now that it’s not all fun and games, she wants to sit with us and look miserable because we’re upset or because we’re having a real conversation about politics, for example, and not just joking around.

Sorry–real friendship is not about being entertained. You take the good with the bad. When your friend is upset, you sit there and you listen and be supportive. I don’t care how much you can’t stand complaining or how tired you are of hearing it. You don’t sit there and say, “Oh, you’re too sensitive,” or pout because your friend isn’t being particularly funny today. If you can’t handle that, move on–and that’s why I would have told Sharon to go sit somewhere else if I had been there.

I don’t have friends who just want to be entertained and can’t have real, substantive conversations. I won’t have those kind of friends. And the whole reason why I have ditched a lot of my friends or no longer consider them friends is because there is no such thing as a friend who isn’t there for you, supporting you. Our society nowadays has bought into this whole thing of, “Oh, we can go years without talking, and one of us can call the other one day and pick right back up where we left off. That’s real friendship.” No, that’s a bunch of crap. This person has not been there for you, and you have not been there for that person. You barely know each other anymore, to be honest, let alone have a friendship.

To me, friendship is not something that is in theory, one-sided or enduring long stretches of silence. ┬áAnd buying into friendships that are about entertaining people, good times only, labeling people who want to talk about their problems every now and then as “negative” or “sensitive,” or only talking to each other once every three years is just another way for us to avoid building and sustaining real relationships with people–relationships that take work. After all, isn’t that really why the divorce rate is so high in the US? People have just gotten lazy with relationships, and not even just with romantic relationships. Nobody wants to do the work anymore, and nobody cares about anyone besides self anymore.

So, this chick Sharon is going to keep following us around, looking for entertainment. And she’s going to say the wrong thing in front of me, and she is going to find herself taking a bullet from my mouth. I grew up tolerating a lot of bullschitt from people–was harassed by bitches in elementary and junior high school, have dealt with racial crap all of my life, I’m a lesbian–and the older I get the less I tolerate. I do not exist to entertain dumb bitches who don’t have an intellectual thought anywhere in their heads. Apparently, Clara and I are on the same page about Sharon, too. When I told Clara she wouldn’t be by herself because she’d have Sharon at work today, she turned up her noise–even my mother noticed and asked me about it later. Afterwards, I asked Clara about it, and she remarked that she doesn’t have anything in common with Sharon and that Sharon never has anything to say–she just “exists.”

I died laughing at the “exists” comment. It sparks thoughts of inanimate objects just sitting there, not really contributing to my life. I think that’s how I will refer to all of my “friends.” “Aren’t you and Leslie friends anymore?” Me: “No, she just exists.” ­čśŤ

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Female Loners

I never stop learning. When I become intellectually interested in a topic, especially if I’m interested in opinions on it, I head to a search engine and start reading. Lately I’ve been thinking and reading more about being an introvert, being shy and being a loner. It seems a lot of people don’t know the difference among these terms. The definition of an “introvert” is pretty involved, but it seems the simplest way it’s usually defined is a person who becomes drained by social interaction/people and needs some time away to get him/herself together or think afterwards. A lot of people don’t know this word exists or don’t know what it means, which means they use “shy” or “loner” to describe people who are actually introverts. But you can be an introvert and be a loner, too, for example, as is the case with me. And you can be a loner and be shy. I am not shy, though.

I’m writing about this because a couple of interesting things happened this week–1) my work friend Clara called me shy, and 2) someone pointed out something I’d never really thought of before, which is that loners are usually men and women who are loners are often mistaken for being shy. Well, what’s the difference? Being “shy” means you want to interact with people but you don’t know how to or are too scared. Um, this is not me. I have my moments where there are certain people–certain women–I want to talk to but I “can’t.” But that’s normal if you’re romantically interested in women. Shy people have issues with just about everyone. Loners are damn-near the opposite of shy people–they usually prefer being alone or prefer minimal social interaction. People often use “loner” to mean someone who is basically socially rejected, i.e. a loner against his will, and I can grant them that, although I believe the real definition is the one I gave and the definitions I have found so far support that.

In the course of my research, I have discovered that people don’t actually know what “loner” means, nor that females can be loners or what makes a female a loner (or why more men are loners). So, what I want to do here is another one of my response posts. What I do with these is I take stuff people have written elsewhere on the web and I respond to it.

Here is the first site where you’ll find some of the excerpts that appear here, to which I respond. Here are excerpts and my responses below, starting with the question “do you know any female loners” from the original poster:

It seems that it’s rarer for a woman to be a true loner than it is a man. Even shy women often seem to have at least a few friends, whereas I know a lot of guys on the internet who have no friends WHATSOEVER in real life.
It seems if a young woman has no friends whatsoever, she either travels a lot and just talks to strangers and stuff, has a really involved job where she still socialises and stuff, or works in some remote area. Otherwise she has some severe mental or physical handicap that prevents that.
I think it’s because it’s easier for girls to make friends and they’re more inclusive than a lot of guys.
I don’t really know any loners, or many women who would be considered ‘losers’ – no job, sponging off parents.etc, also no social life. I know they exist, but they seem quite rare.

I see a lot wrong with this person’s assumptions. First of all, there’s that equating “shy” with “loner.” Second, being a loner–and I see this assumption/belief time and time again–is not about having no friends. Again, it means you prefer to be alone. This belief is probably one of the biggest reasons why people don’t recognize female loners or why female loners are mistaken for being shy. But if you insist on believing this about having friends, by my definition of “friends” I don’t actually have any. I have people who think we’re friends, but emailing, texting and/or IM-ing every once in a blue moon doesn’t cut it, to me. And having people I don’t hang out with outside of work and will probably almost never communicate with once one of us finds another job is not friendship to me. And breaking up and you wishing me well from afar, talking about me with other people, thinking about me sometimes but never communicating with me doesn’t make us friends.

I’ve got to quote this person again here:

It seems if a young woman has no friends whatsoever, she either travels a lot and just talks to strangers and stuff, has a really involved job where she still socialises and stuff, or works in some remote area. Otherwise she has some severe mental or physical handicap that prevents that.

This is just pure…moronic…bullschitt. The end. To be honest with you, the average married-with-kids woman probably doesn’t have friends. She has her husband or her partner, and I have found that that’s all most of those women want. And you grow up, graduate, move away from people, work, have families…and then your “friendships” become that crap I described above–especially if you’re still single and your “friends” aren’t–which I don’t consider friendship.

I think it’s because it’s easier for girls to make friends and they’re more inclusive than a lot of guys.

See, men always think everything’s easier for women and women always think everything’s easier for men. I just have never seen how it’s “easier for girls to make friends” and certainly have never seen where women are “more inclusive.” In fact, over the years I have envied how easy it seems for guys to bond and not have drama or emotions in the way half the time. This is especially true when I think about sports teams–I don’t think women have anything like what male athletes have with one another, not even in their sports. I just think friendship between women is different from friendship between men, and that could be why a lot of men think it’s easier for women. Women’s friendships are more involved, more emotional and just closer…but that’s once they actually form. Most women don’t like to be alone anywhere, and they’ll use other women so that they won’t be. That doesn’t mean they’re friends. Women also like to run their mouths, and they will use other women for that purpose, as well.

I think it’s hard for women to truly become friends. Men have a fairly small group of general, stereotypical interests, and that makes it easier for them to find other like-minded men to become friends with. For example, I’d say you can say most guys either like sports, video games, science fiction, technology, drinking or some combination. I’m not saying guys aren’t or can’t be interested in other things, but these seem like the biggies that bind guys together. Contrary to popular belief, women don’t have a small group of biggies that can bind them together–women are more diverse. And even if we did all like some combo of hair, makeup, shoes, shopping…you can have so many things in common with another woman and still have her flatout dislike you or reject you, usually for some shallow reason that should have nothing to do with forming a friendship. A big one is physical attractiveness. So many women hate gorgeous women, but a lot of women also are drawn to pretty women who are less intimidating in some way (i.e. very friendly) and ignore less attractive ones or women who don’t subscribe their idea of how they should do their hair, dress, etc…and this is just talking about friendship. This is hardly being “inclusive.”

I also think this is why you see more male loners, though, aside from the fact that people mis-label female loners as “shy” or some other term. It seems like male loners either aren’t into any of the biggies I listed and, thus, can’t really relate to or have discussions with or be accepted by most men…or they are into some of the geekier biggies, like sci fi, but aren’t usually around other guys who are into that stuff. Guys who like sports are a dime a dozen, so if you’re a guy who isn’t into it but you’re always around guys who are you get used to being alone. There’s also the issue of defensiveness. Sometimes it can seem like being around other guys is halfway a “prove my macho” party, and some guys don’t want to bother, especially if they know they don’t have the requisite interests or the experience with women to win at that kind of game with other guys. They’ll look stupid, and they know it.

This response basically addresses things several others mentioned on that site, but I did see a couple of people who seemed to “get” what “loner” means.

Here is another site, where the discussion goes in a different direction. They are discussing whether or not to date loners:

…there is huge potential for this to be a red flag…
Someone who has no friends┬ámay┬áhave a hard time building and sustaining healthy relationships. Theymayalso be really selfish. Both my loner exes were selfish, and didn’t really like people. They were also clingy, as I was their only form of entertainment and only confidant.┬á
It’s best to bring up the subject with her to find out why she has no friends. If it is because she is super shy, then I think that is a more acceptable reason, especially if she really wants to make friends but has trouble. However, if she just doesn’t want to make friends, then that sounds like trouble.

I get some of this and not other parts. I don’t know why not wanting to make friends is “trouble” or a “red flag.” Not wanting to make friends doesn’t mean you won’t; you just might not be actively interested, but if someone who could be a good friend comes along you will be receptive. As I’ve written before, relationships are just tough. I think the majority of people are spoiled and/or selfish nowadays where they’re concerned and don’t want to put the work in. I don’t think that has ever been my problem, with respect to not wanting to build or sustain a relationship–if anything, I think other people I’ve been with have not wanted to build/sustain. Recently, I have looked back over my last relationship and have definitely seen where I was selfish at times, but I don’t think that’s the norm for me in relationships.

I am actually “clingy” in relationships, and I think that’s the problem. I don’t see the problem with wanting to be with someone whom you love and who says they love you all the time, but most people do and it kills the “love.” This is something I learned from my last relationship, and it is going to change how I act with the next woman, assuming there is one. I think one of the problems with my friendships is that most of my friends have tons of friends, whereas I don’t. I don’t know that you can be the kind of person who has 400 Facebook friends, 100 of them whom you actually do communicate with, and seriously be a good friend to any of them or have a “built” friendship with these people. Quality and [large] quantity often don’t go together. So, I always want to put in the work with a few select people and I have the time to do it, but they have 50 million other people they’re floating around and usually a serious romantic relationship/marriage, as well. And I don’t like people, either, but I have many exceptions. These friends with the 400 Facebook friends, unfortunately, are my exceptions. I like extroverts, because they approach me and they have all the right social skills, etc. But everyone else likes them, too. And extroverts like to be liked.

I probably need friends and romantic partners who are more like me in the social department, but how would two introverts/loners actually get to talking? ­čśë

Here is another discussion from a different site:

I think that part of it though is that women are less likely to be excluded due to problems with socialization, and shyness or anxiety may actually be seen as “cute”. Whereas the same traits in a man will often be perceived as weakness, and lead to stereotyping regardless of whether or not it’s deserved. Not to mention socially awkward men often end up taking on the dreaded “creepy” label, whereas you’ll almost never hear of a woman, regardless of what she does, referred to as creepy.

I don’t really think other women view women’s “shyness” as “cute.” Men might, but women assume the worst about other women who are to themselves. This is why I was surprised and kind of glad that Clara called me “shy.” I have never been called “shy” (not as an adult, anyway), but I have been called “anti-social” and “stuck-up.” And though no one has ever told me this to my face, I have been able to tell that black people don’t view me as a “loner” or “shy” or an “introvert”–they think I don’t want to be black because all they see is I don’t interact with black people as opposed to the fact that I hardly interact with anyone.

I basically agree about how loner men are viewed, although I did have a female co-worker who was creepy.

And this site has the dumbest discussion on female loners:

Yes there’s plenty, but most are ugly. Good looking girls loners? Nah

Funny, since one of the other sites above has people discussing how pretty women are loners. So, which is it?

I consider myself ugly, to be honest with you. I have been told by many people that I am attractive, but I definitely know there are others who don’t think so. And I have not really noticed any pretty loners–quite to the contrary, pretty women often seem to have lots of people for socializing. I have seen a couple of women who look okay who seem to be loners, but they could also be shy. Bottom line–I just don’t really think looks have much to do with it.

Females are naturally more social than males. It’s rare to find a female who is content with being alone.

They’re not the same thing. I already mentioned that I don’t think women like to be alone, but I wouldn’t say women are more social. If anything, you run into more quiet women than quiet men.

They exist and they usually smoke a lot of weed.

Haha. This.
I was just going to say.. probably a few drug addicts.

I’ve never smoked weed and never will. I don’t even know what the schitt smells like. The only “drug” I do is caffeine.

See? Dumb discussion.

Finally, a Psychology Today article discusses loners and introverts, and it profiles a female loner who grew up shy:

Matsuoka, for example, says she was “pathologically┬áshy” as a child, which likely laid the groundwork for her current lifestyle, even though she grew much more confident in her 20s.┬á

What is that lifestyle?

She just strongly prefers not to┬ásocialize, opting instead for long baths, DVDs, and immersion in her art projects. She does have good, close friends, and goes dancing about once a month, but afterward feels a strong need to “hide and recoup.”

Ding, ding, ding.

I must admit that I was ridiculously shy for years and years, particularly when I was in elementary school. I also had an overprotective mother who wouldn’t let me do anything or go anywhere, which she still fervently denies was the case. Between those two things, I gave up on being able to socialize outside of school. Once I got home, it was up to me to figure out how to entertain myself at home. Somewhere along the way, I just got used to it and now that’s what I prefer–entertaining myself at home. Especially now that I’m an adult. My new job is incredibly physical at times, especially for someone like me who is out of shape. It’s Friday night/early Saturday morning as I type, but the last thing I want to do is go out. After my day at work, I can barely even walk, and I know I will probably have sore muscles all weekend.

One of the dumb comments I quote above profiles a “normal” loner female as one who just travels all the time. Well, I do like to travel. It’s just about the only thing I like to do away from home–I even shop via the internet most of the time. I’m going to Chicago next week, and I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to my trip to Michigan in September even more. If I had the money, all I’d do is go to different cities and countries–even my mother said that about me when we were talking about what I’d do with my money if I won the lottery.

Notice that Psychology Today points out Matsuoka’s “good, close friends.” Again, being a loner does not mean you don’t have friends, and it doesn’t have to mean you can’t sustain/build relationships. Personally, I do see myself growing old alone. As someone who doesn’t make an effort to meet people or to socialize with the people I do meet, and then makes too much of an effort with the people who get close to me, it makes sense that I’d be alone whereas it doesn’t make sense for most people. That doesn’t mean I can’t build something that lasts if there were someone out there for me.

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Making Friends At Work

It’s no secret that I’m not at all in love with my job. One of the things I disliked about my job when I first started, which might have been the biggest cause of any semblance of regret I felt about leaving my previous job, is the stark difference between the people I worked with before and the people I work with now. I had really come to like most of the people I worked with at my previous job, and most of them liked me.

Although I typically ignore people around me, hang with myself, am quiet–and although I like to think that it doesn’t really matter to me–it’s nice to not only have friendly co-workers but to also be liked by them. I couldn’t really say why, as far as being liked. I’d still honestly prefer to have my own office with a door I can close and just stick earphones in my ears all day, switching between sports talk shows and one of my painstakingly-prepared music playlists. My father doesn’t understand why I don’t want to speak to him in the mornings; my mother doesn’t understand why I don’t want to speak to her for a while in the evenings. Aside from just not being a morning person, I spend all day speaking to people and listening to people speak. Unless it’s about sports, it’s unnatural and exhausting for me.

Despite being like this, at my last job I had developed “work friends.” Work friends aren’t the same as real friends because I don’t spend time with/on these people outside of work. But I’d gotten a couple of outside invitations, and the two guys with whom I was closest participate in trivia every week and had gotten to the point of saying I should be there. The job before that, I had three good work friends. I found one of them recently on LinkedIn, and we messaged a little bit. But my current job is the one where I can say I distinctly felt early on that I wouldn’t ever have any work friends there.

I am not sure I can put my finger on why. A lot of it is age, but then, I do actually tend to get along with older people better anyways. The friend I messaged on LinkedIn is in his 60s. Frankly, it was probably a combination of age and race. But then, for some odd reason, I get along great with white guys a lot of the time (again, the LinkedIn friend is white). So, we have older white guys. Technically, that’s 2 for 2 in my favor, even though I didn’t realize it. Third, it’s the IT department, which means it’s filled with geeks, nerds, faux cool wannabes and crabby @sses. Now, I’m a nerd, but I’m not quite an IT nerd. My IT knowledge impresses people who barely know schitt, but I can’t say that I fit in with the average tech geek mentally or otherwise. I could probably spout off more knowledgeably about literature, grammar, psychology theories, philosophers and social issues–and why not? Those are actually the things I studied in college, not IT or Computer Science. So there’s that, too, but we’re still 2 out of 3.

It has been three months at my new job, and you know what I realized recently? I am liked at work, if nothing else. That will likely translate at some point to having work friends.

Several of my co-workers are a lot friendlier to me than they were a month ago, they speak more and for longer periods of time, they greet me when they see me, they sound happy to hear from me when I contact them and they are fairly eager to assist me (that last one is most important). It’s not just guys, either–I barely work with women, but this also applies to most of the women I work with.

When I spoke with the recruiter who placed me where I work about why I was missing so much work–and this was a couple of weeks ago–he told me he hears good things about me. And I was just thinking, “Okay, he’s talking about my supervisor and the guy who is supposed to be training me.” And I was also thinking he was saying that to kind of reel me back in a little, you know, because I don’t love it there. But then he told me he has heard from other people at my company. Apparently, someone told him I am a “breath of fresh air.” I damn-near asked him outright who it was, mainly just thinking he made it up, but if he wasn’t then just wanting to know who was crazy enough to think that. Then again, the first thing I ever wanted to be was an actress, and so maybe I actually do have the chops for that. I definitely do some acting at work.

The common thread through my last three jobs, though, is my work friends are always men. I definitely work almost exclusively with men at my current job, and, though I don’t have work friends yet, there are a couple of guys I see that starting to happen with. There’s also Lazy Tech, but I don’t think it’d be right to call him a friend since I rip on him so much and will continue to do so. My previous job was a small business, so, even though I worked directly with guys I was also in regular contact with women. My work friends there still were guys. The job I had before that one was a very big, very mixed environment, and, still, my work friends were guys.

I can’t figure it out, especially the white men part (for those who don’t know, I’m black). Even though I’m a lesbian, I tend to think I know more about men than most women do. I have just always felt that men are easier to figure out and are more transparent, more direct with their thoughts, than women are. Women are confusing as hell, to the point where I don’t know whether to laugh or just gawk in complete shock when women are frustrated with guys or a guy because they don’t understand XYZ about men or why men do ABC and such. It’s not usually even a “how can you not know this” moment so much as it is a “look who’s talking” moment. But there’s one thing I’m not sure of, and it’s related to the question of why I, a lesbian, “click” with men. And it’s not just the sports thing, because I don’t talk about sports with most guys at work.

See, my theory had been that men are nicer to women they find attractive. But I don’t consider myself attractive, and I am rarely told that I’m attractive. When I’m told that I’m attractive, it’s by black guys. Even though you can find examples to the contrary, my general belief is that white guys don’t find black women that attractive. You’ll find a lot of PC comments to the contrary and a lot of “Yeah, we like black women” types of things at times, but if you look around at society, dating and the kind of black women who are used to argue to the contrary–always the same, like, two or three black female celebrities–plus just throwing in the way I was told by white “friends” growing up that they don’t find blacks attractive–I cannot really shake the idea that, particularly, white men are usually not that into black women. It’s cool with me if they’re not because it’s one of the few things that makes me feel comfortable working with white men–that I know I won’t ever have to fend off unwelcome advances. I have never been wrong about that, either.

So maybe there’s another answer, at least in my case (because I still think men are nicer to women they find attractive). Maybe some men feel comfortable with me precisely because I’m not attractive and, being a breath of fresh air, because I’m not threatening. Men definitely like “nice” and “friendly” women, and, even though I am not these things by nature, I fake these qualities at work–apparently, pretty well.

Okay, but then why do I often have issues with women, or at least don’t get anywhere near the same level of openness and friendliness from women? Ah. Might as well not even get started on that one. Like I said–women are confusing as hell. I’m having to tell myself daily to stop with trying to figure out women, whether an individual one such as my “ex” or women in general.

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Women, Friendship and Being Self-Centered

So, I don’t know if anyone else in the blogosphere can relate to this, but…I think I made a mistake giving out my blog link to some of the people I know in my personal life. For one, it can keep you from writing about any and everything that comes to mind because you don’t want to hurt anyone or make anyone upset. Plus, I gave the link to my “ex” way back when, for what reason I no longer know, and now I regret that because I don’t think it’s right that she has access to what’s going on with me and I don’t have that same access to her life at all. I actually don’t think she reads my blog anymore, but that’s not the point. It’s very symbolic of the relationship we had. She always had all of me and I always had only part of her, regardless of how much she thinks she shared with and gave to me. All the things she never would tell me, the trust she never completely gave me, the chance that she never wanted to give or take with me to see how far things could go, the decisions she would make about me/us that seemed to include everyone and their thoughts/input but me/mine, etc. And now I have none of her while she still can know things about me if she so chooses. It was always either one-sided or lopsided, and somehow I’m still the one giving more and getting less.

Well, tonight I’m not going to worry, because I realized that I just don’t care much about anyone but me these days. At work, Lazy Tech is the typical extrovert, i.e. likes to fill the silence with talk about absolutely nothing, and I just cannot bring myself to pretend to care or listen out of politeness in case he gets offended. Much like at my other jobs, I zone out while other people speak, and people at my “new” job are starting to discover that as I finally got the “in her own world” comment last week that I have often gotten elsewhere. I just don’t care about my co-workers.

But that’s becoming true with my friends, too, and it’s time to admit it, however some of my friends might feel about the admission. My “friends.” I’ve been thinking a lot about friends lately, specifically my friendships with women. As I’ve written before here, friendships with guys are different. At least for me, there’s just not the same closeness and the same expectations don’t exist.

Look, I want good friends–I do. But I am just tired of selfishness. When I was growing up, the two biggest issues with female friends once you hit a certain age were being dumped for a guy and your female friends contacting you to go on and on about themselves and then suddenly have to go when it’s time for you to talk. Being in my 30s, the dumped-for-a-guy thing has completely run its course with the majority of my female friends to some degree. The other ones who are left seem to be of the “let’s talk about me” variety, and that’s precisely why I can no longer bring myself to care much about our friendships. Read my last post, and you will see some of the issues I have in my life. I don’t really need or want to sit and listen to someone else free-flow, especially when I’m not going to get reciprocity.

All of my female friendships have changed drastically at this point, and there’s no going back. We all have busier, complicated lives now, and it’s hard to not be self-absorbed, I know. But just as my friends are now self-absorbed, I need to be the same way. I have had issues with some of my friends becoming so self-centered and I guess I still do have issues with that simply because I can’t quite imagine being that way, but it makes me realize that I need to be that way, too, especially if none of them are going to be there for me. Still, it causes a rift that is just never going to be repaired, sorry to say.

I mentioned my “ex” before, and, this applies to her, too, because she was also my best friend there for a while. When she not only wanted to end the romantic side but also the friendship, I did tell her she was self-centered. She essentially said yes but that there’s nothing wrong with that. To me, a big part of the reason why she was/is self-centered is because, as mentioned above, she would often consult with everyone about what’s “best for” me, about our relationship, about the turn it should take and then inform me what she decided based on what everyone else said as well as what she felt would help her. But it was always also for my best interest, you understand. No, she didn’t talk to me about my best interest and when she did she’d basically ignore/discount what I said, so how could it have been for me at all? It was for her. It was all about her.

If breaking off the romantic relationship is best for her, even if it’s not what I wanted–which it wasn’t–then that’s one thing. But I never would have said I valued the friendship and will continue to think of someone as a friend in the same breath that I was breaking it off. If I’m breaking off a friendship, it’s because I no longer value it. It might not be the easiest or most comfortable thing in the world to be friends with an ex at first, but if I cared about the friendship I would try. Who’s to say she didn’t care about it?

The irony is she’s probably the only “friend” I’d want to hear anything about…and that is, again, likely because I never do. My other “friends” still text me, email me, IM me or include me on Facebook, so I know what’s going on with them, whether I particularly want to know or not. At the same time, with my “ex” I also know we could have a conversation and it’s not going to be predominantly about her like it is with my other friends. She’d ask about my job, she’d ask about my health, etc, and would have actual thoughts and comments about them, and it wouldn’t be out of a sense of politeness or obligation (hey–I never said she didn’t care about me, but one of us cares more than the other one does). That’s why, while whatever is left of a possible friendship between us is still very much damaged, I can still bring myself to care more than I can with my other “friends.”

Man, when I really sit and think about it, it’s funny how when we’re younger we look at adults in adulthood and think that’s the life. We think they have it all and can do whatever they want. Now I just feel like everything is so much harder and there’s always something that I’m losing (friends, girlfriends, free time) or in danger of losing (i.e. parents, jobs, health). We actually have more than just youth and looks when we’re younger, you know?

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The Reality of Online Relationships

Some of you might know that I’m a big sports junkie, but particularly college football and college basketball. I cover college football some and have been doing so for over five years. Well, there’s this big story in college football that I want to tie to the real world, because, ultimately, the story has nothing to do with college football…and the commentary by the football guys shows how out of touch they are while demonstrating a flawed way of thinking among many people, including many outside of sports.

You see, there is this football player at Notre Dame, Manti Te’o. I’ve watched the guy all season. My team/alma mater, Michigan, played Notre Dame and lost last year. Te’o had a nice game against Michigan, and his sob story was out there at the time. The story went something like his grandmother and girlfriend died on the same day. Te’o, as good a player as he is, largely rode the sob story to fame and very nearly to a Heisman Trophy (which goes to the best college football player each year…or that’s what they say; it’s not actually true…more like whichever player the media likes the best). Neither the fame level nor the Heisman campaign would have been what they were had that sob story not been out there.

Now it’s being reported that this girlfriend who allegedly died never actually existed. The question is whether or not Te’o made the chick up in order to get attention or if he was just tricked into believing she existed. Te’o had led everyone to believe that he had the kind of relationship everyone thinks of when they think of a girlfriend-boyfriend relationship, i.e. he’d spoken as if he’d actually met this girl before. He’d used the word “met” in interviews and made it seem as if they’d interacted heavily. He said he loved her. I read an article where his father said she could have been his daughter-in-law. Now that it’s out that she never existed, Te’o is trying to say it was an online/phone relationship and he never met her. In other words, he didn’t know she wasn’t real but believed she was. This went on for months. This is his story.

Now…sports media people, by and large, aren’t buying it. And if he didn’t know, then he’s “naive.” Translation: he’s stupid. So, to some, he’s either stupid or crazy for making up a story about a girlfriend dying of leukemia, but they don’t want to come out and say they think he’s lying. Then there are those sports guys who want to know how you can have a relationship with someone you can’t see, touch or be intimate with. That alone means he’s lying. There’s no such thing as having a boyfriend or girlfriend you met online and only know online, in their minds. Nobody does that.

That last paragraph is what my post tonight is about.

I want you to know this–all of these people talking about the Te’o story in the sports media are over the age of 40 and, I think, are all married. If you’re over the age of 40, you probably agree with these sports guys who think there’s no way someone has that kind of relationship. Perhaps some of you under the age of 40 agree, as well.

…there are those sports guys who want to know how you can have a relationship with someone you can’t see, touch or be intimate with. That alone means he’s lying. There’s no such thing as having a boyfriend or girlfriend you met online and only know online, in their minds. Nobody does that.

Except…there are people who do that.

Young people do that.

People who get cell phones as Christmas gifts at age 8, iPads as birthday gifts at age 10 and who have had a computer or a laptop for as long as they can remember do that.

People who work so much that they don’t have time to date the old-fashioned way or who have friends who met their boyfriend, girlfriend, fiance or spouse through match.com do that.

And I have done that.

I have “met” not only girlfriends and boyfriends online, but friends online. Some I met in person, but, honestly, most I haven’t. I’m in my early 30s, and I started making friends and girlfriends online back in my teens when technology still wasn’t what it is today. So imagine for a guy in his early 20s nowadays, when all young people do is stay glued to cell phones, tablets, laptops and social media. There is probably not a young person alive now who hasn’t spent quite a bit of time chatting with someone online he or she doesn’t know in person, and half have probably “dated” someone he/she doesn’t know in person. It doesn’t matter that he’s a football player and there are young ladies at Notre Dame–that’s not the point. This is a cultural issue. And today’s culture is that we interact with people in cyberspace in ways that some married 48-year with 5 kids probably can’t even begin to fathom, regardless of how hot or popular someone is.

My best friend right today is a female I met online in 2001. It’s 2013. We’ve been friends for over 10 years. We’ve never met. There’s no telling if we’re ever going to meet. We have discussed it, and there have been two or three times when it could have happened. It just hasn’t yet. There are things called life (especially when you’re older) and money (especially when you’re younger) that get in the way. Still, I trust her, she trusts me and I know she exists.

The last woman I had romantic feelings for was someone I met online. We never met in person, and not because I didn’t want to. I wanted to meet her, but we never got that far.

The funny thing is how people nowadays like to blame technology for everything. That’s why young people today are stupid. That’s why people today want everything now. That’s why people today are more violent and more sexual. You can’t trust people you meet online. You can’t have a real relationship with them unless you know them away from the computer.

In a way, yes–to all of it. That woman I met online romantically? I wrote to her once that I don’t particularly want to do a long-distance relationship. At some point, I need to be able to be with someone. At some point, we have to be in the same place. That’s true for every online/long-distance relationship. That was not initially why I wanted to meet her. Initially, it was because I believed pretty strongly that we’d get along great in person even as just friends and that it wouldn’t be awkward, which has been my worry before about meeting people from the internet–that it’d be too awkward.

Assume for a bit that Te’o really did believe there was this girlfriend who existed and he wasn’t just trying to get attention. Remember, he said he loved her. According to him, she said she loved him. But they hadn’t met. I went through the same thing. And then some months later, after a breakup of sorts, I was told by my romantic interest that she looks back and doesn’t think it was romantic love she felt. I thought it was painful and ridiculous at first. But now I’m to the point where it’s hard to blame her for thinking that. Why? Because…how do you know if you love someone romantically when you haven’t met her? You can feel one way online, and then when you meet in person it can feel different. Ultimately, that’s why we needed to meet each other, if either of us had been in the place to pursue a romantic relationship…which we weren’t.

That makes sense.

What doesn’t make sense is thinking that you have to know people in person to actually know them. When online relationships or friendships don’t work out, people make the internet out to be the bad guy. It’s not.

“I’m not going to talk to people online anymore. Only in person.”

You don’t necessarily know people around you are more real than people online are. I know people who have realized they don’t actually know their spouse the way they thought they did. The spouse broke a trust through lying or cheating. It’s not just people online who do these things.

So, assume Te’o was fooled. Like we don’t meet fake-ass people in person? Like the chick at the bar who smiled at you and gave you her phone number didn’t give you a fake number just to get you off her back? Like a guy you wasted three years with has never told you, “I’m just not ready to get married” for two of those years, only to turn up married to the next chick six months after your breakup? Or like he wasn’t actually already married the whole time you thought he was single?

The internet isn’t the bad guy. Indeed, you can meet wonderful people online. I have. I met one of my friends online, spent a year chatting and emailing with her before we actually enrolled at the same law school and met in person there. We’re still friends. There’s nothing wrong with her. Have “known” her since about 2004, met in 2005.

I’ve had people lie to me online, but I’ve probably had way more lie to me in person. My romantic interest wasn’t always forthcoming with me, but I think I understand at least some of it. She didn’t tell me her real name. But she knew mine, so I dug around and found out. The first thing she did was beg me not to tell her parents. What??? Ohhhh….yeah, the lesbian thing. Never crossed my mind, since I’m not that kind of an ass. But yeah…now it makes more sense why she was secretive about some things. Still,┬á having met me online doesn’t automatically make me less trustworthy than the kid in the next cubicle at work. After all, she knows my full name and orientation; the kid in the next cubicle at work doesn’t. I have more faith in her not to blab it around than I do in him not to.

As always, it’s about judgment and alertness. Not seeing only what you want to see. People now question Te’o’s judgment, among other things. Assuming he’s telling the truth, meeting someone he liked online and sustaining a relationship with her for months shouldn’t be the reason why, though–at least not in and of itself. That happens. It’s a part of life today. If you’re 50 and don’t get it, then you’re 50 and don’t get it. But I’m 31 and I do. I’ve been there.

Oh, yeah…and I don’t believe Te’o. I think he was trying to see how much he could get out of the sob story. But that’s because, one way or another, he has lied to everyone. He definitely lied about how he and the chick met. When I realized he lied about certain aspects of his relationship with this mystery girl, I was done. Still, I thought the online dating spin on the story makes for a good discussion.

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Life Took All of My Friends

If you’ve read my blog at all, you’ve probably figured out that I don’t have any friends. Now, there are probably some people who would take exception with my writing that because they consider themselves my friends. Some of them even have the link to this blog (who knows if they read it?). It is not my intention to offend any of these people.

So, let me put that another way:

I no longer have friends in the same sense that I did 10, or even 5, years ago when I and most of my friends were in our 20s. I used to have different kinds of friends for so many different categories. I had a male best friend, a female best friend, a music best friend, a girlfriend best friend, a law school best friend. White best friend, black best friend, Asian best friend, gay best friend, lesbian best friend. Now pretty much all of my friends fit into one big category–friends I hardly speak with/hear from. Although some other people don’t feel this way–especially married women, it seems–I can’t help but feel this is the same as having no friends.

Yes, this damn overrated life strikes again. I’m not sure, but I believe some people would say life gets better with age. To this point, all I’ve seen is that life gets worse with it. I miss so many things about being younger, but the two things I miss the most are 1) having far fewer legitimate worries, concerns and responsibilities, and 2) easily being able to find people to socialize with. To me, there is just nothing like meeting people at school. We now have co-workers socializing and even dating each other outside of the workplace and people meeting on the internet, but I just feel as if school is the most natural way to meet people and forge relationships. I just can’t shake the idea that I’m supposed to do little more at work than work and that work is meant to be left at work. And interacting with people online, for me, has been an accelerated version of forming relationships in person, i.e. the lack of communication starts to happen way quicker.

Maybe it’s me. Maybe I did something wrong. But I think that, with most of my friends, my friendships have taken a fairly normal turn that just seems to be the way friendships progress in life–especially with women and especially with age. As people grow up and develop more worries, concerns and responsibilities, friendship slips down the list of priorities–which I find ironic in some ways. It seems like you’d need a good friend more when dealing with things life throws at you as an adult than the crap life throws at you as a teenager or 20something, but there ya go.

Do You See Your Friends Here?

This is a general list of what life has transformed my friends into, resulting in their not really being my friends. These are not necessarily all individual people–there is some overlap among these adult friend types.

The Friend With Serious Problems: One of my friends is basically homeless because he decided to “come out” in a profession that is particularly against homosexuality. Last I heard from him, he was staying with a friend because he lost his house and car. Another one of my friends is going through a divorce and likely dealing with having to move and find a job. Make no mistake–this is all horrible schitt. My point here is not so much that they’re not here to tap dance for me and tell jokes when I get bored–it’s more like the point I made above about the irony of friendship becoming less of a priority, or at least that’s how it seems. You can never really know what’s going on in someone’s mind. But it just seems that as teenagers a friend will call you every single time she has any dumb problem, but as an adult your friend will fall off the face of the earth when real problems arise.

The Friend Who Talks About Himself 90% of the Time: This is almost the flip side of the friend who falls away when she has problems. No, this friend will communicate with you quite a bit, but almost every time it is to talk about what’s going on with him. He has very little interest in you, and, if he does, he doesn’t really do a good job of showing it. You can easily have a friend who was always like this, but sometimes life will turn a good friend into this type of person.

The Friend Who Was More Than a Friend: If you had a boyfriend or girlfriend, or a husband or wife, who was actually your friend, too, then this is the hardest friend to lose. The worst part is most romantic relationships end. So, if you’re not that lucky person who married your high school sweetheart and it will last forever, you will probably have at least one time in your life when you will lose a good friend because you happened to have a romantic relationship with that person which didn’t endure.

The Friend Who Only Cares About Her Partner/Family/Job: This has got to be one of the top two reasons why adult women lose friends. I had a friend with whom you could argue the friendship was over once she started dating the man she eventually married. It got worse each step of the way from there–moving in together, then getting engaged and finally getting married. A guy, and then kids, killed the friendship side of my relationship with my sister, as well. So many women’s lives amount to work, kids and their husbands, nothing else.

The Friend Who Only Cares About Local Friends: You could easily argue that, for people who attended college, this is the #1 reason why we lose friends. I made a lot of great friends in law school, but I can count on one hand the number of them I’ve even so much as Facebooked with in any way since graduation. I have my reason for why I haven’t spoken with most of them (which I’ll get to), and it’s not due to the fact that we’ve all gone our separate ways and live scattered across the country now. But for most people, there has just always been something about someone’s moving away that keeps them from being able to maintain any sort of long distance relationship.

The Friend You Always Have To Contact: I realized about a year and a half ago that I had among my friends the type whom I’d never hear from her if I didn’t contact her. Yep. A year and a half, counting and so far I’m dead on. Pretty sure I’ll never hear from her again.

The Friend Who Is Insecure About His Life: You might not even know that you have a friend whom you never hear from for this reason. But if you can even kind of pull off the appearance of a successful life–whether you are married or you have a good job or even a job you actually really like–then the chances are good that you have at least one friend out there who is comparing him/herself to you and feeling bad about the current state of his/her life. This is the reason why I didn’t hold up my end of the friendship bargain with some of my law school friends for a long time after graduation, and I have another friend with whom I’ve discussed this and she revealed she feels the same way about staying in touch with our fellow law school classmates. See, the problem that I’m just now starting to overcome and which I don’t believe my friend has overcome is this: we know that any time you start speaking with an old acquaintance, that person is going to want to get an update on your life. Uh…kinda problematic if your life sucks. Imagine having a bunch of doctors, lawyers and business owners for friends and former classmates, too (really, my Facebook friends list could be a Who’s Who of professionals), and having to face these queries. No–my friend and I just decided to avoid most people.

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I’ve probably forgotten a few types and maybe even a few of my other friends. But the bottom line either way is I miss having friends. Life, give me my friends back. Quit dealing them so many problems, insecurities, moving vans, jobs, husbands and kids! ­čśë

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