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Friendships - how good are you?

(63 Posts)
hopeful1 Thu 24-Aug-17 11:46:18

I often read on Gransnet that people have dumped friends because they haven't contacted enough, haven't supported them enough, haven't done enough.... I think I am that friend! I am hopeless at second guessing, forget to reply to people and worse still, have a panic attack if I have to go out then make excuses why I don't see people, I don't have many friends unsurprisingly.. However, I would love to be able to relax with anyone enough not to panic and have a good conversation without these inner thoughts that I may pass out, panic or run away.

How do you all fair with being supportive, considerate and having the memory of an elephant for every anniversary. I am so envious of people surrounded by loads of friends.

I have been told I look and sound really confident but no-one realises that I have this terrible selfish anxiety problem. I'm pretty good at putting up a wall, polite etc but if anyone gets too close I back off, just in case.

Just wanted to relay this to you all as perhaps, when you next dump that "unresponsive" friend, you may realise that perhaps they really cant help themselves. Are you all really good at friendships or is it just me.. surely not?

Imperfect27 Thu 24-Aug-17 11:59:19

No, not just you. Over the years I have found some friendships tricky and some friends have fallen away, but I can count three good friends - all very different and we do not meet as a group, but individually I see each of them from time to time. I am aware that they have other good friends too and a tiny, insecure corner of me wonders if I am a best friend for any of them, but guess I will never know smile

In the course of my life I have moved a lot, but these three friends are all relatively near to me and I have known them all for many years. Between us we don't keep every anniversary / birthday etc., don't phone much at all between visits - and that is okay, but I guess the measure of good friendship is that when we do see each other we catch up with ease.

Baggs Thu 24-Aug-17 12:02:15

I get where you're at, hopefull. We are not all the same and we should remember that when our patience is tried by a friend who obviously isn't the same as us.

I'm all for diversity in friendship. Be yourself: those who mind don't matter and those who matter won't mind.

hopeful1 Thu 24-Aug-17 12:25:49

Thank goodness for imperfect27, perhaps I should have called myself imperfect 28! Its good to know others are the same-ish, or perhaps all just different. Still would like to know how others do for inspiration purposes.

Serkeen Thu 24-Aug-17 12:39:10

For me being a friend is Loyalty and being caring.

You say you forget things that are important to other people, I guess you just need to Care enough to remember smile

Imperfect27 Thu 24-Aug-17 12:42:51

Oh dear Serkeen - perhaps a good friend needs to be kind enough to realise we can have busy and stressful lives and it is easy to slip up now and then. Forgiveness is a very good quality alongside loyalty smile.

hopeful1 Thu 24-Aug-17 12:55:42

Believe me Serkeen I really do care, unfortunately I say and do the wrong things all the time, I get nervous and before I know it my mouth has spoken before my brain- or worse still - not spoken at all. I am incredibly loyal but also incredibly forgetful. I could give many reasons but they sound like excuses, just feel a bit alone sometimes with my anxieties and love to hear about others and how they manage.... which is probably why I am on here as I am generally very nosey!

hopeful1 Thu 24-Aug-17 12:56:59

And now reading my last line I have just called you all nosey... apologies!

Imperfect27 Thu 24-Aug-17 13:08:12

It is a shame when friendships don't survive because people want them to be reciprocal to the point of taking offence if some occasion is missed. I am a bit reactive to what I see as 'conditional' giving and can't be doing with it. hopefull I think we are alike - I have a terrible memory, but it is certainly not about not caring. I have always been upfront about my failings so people know it is not a personal thing, - if anything I would hope it relieves a bit of pressure on them to know that I won't be offended if they forget a date that is significant to me - lets them off the hook too smile.

I'm not saying we don't have to work at friendships - we do - and I do show I care, maybe by showing that I remember a particular favourite colour or flower or shared reading and film interests for example, but I also think it is also nice to be spontaneous about the occasional gift / card rather than tied to dates.

I can reflect on friendships lost, but the genuine ones - ones where both sides accept the other for who they are -are still there - sometimes even if years pass.

hopeful1 Thu 24-Aug-17 13:21:28

I do have one friend who has stayed regardless of my thoughtlessness. She once showed me her new curtains in her bedroom and I noticed a pot of really expensive face cream on her dressing table. So... in my wisdom (see, I can do spontaneous) I got her a replacement for her birthday as I thought this would be a lovely thing to receive. It didn't occur to me that she may be offended with anti-wrinkle cream, she laughed but it has taken a while to get over - on both our behalfs!

Serkeen Thu 24-Aug-17 13:40:09

Oh dear Imperfect27 everyone entitled to their opinion I think. And I gave mine, which really did not need a co comment from you, thanks anyway though smile

Elegran Thu 24-Aug-17 13:52:20

I think also that a good friend needs to be very sensitive to avoid being a smotherer. Not everyone wants to have someone always there, at their elbow, sharing every moment with them, good or bad. At times being left alone and able to think one's own thoughts, let things settle and adjust themselves in our own mind and heart, to grieve if we want to or to change the subject. If a friend is always raising a painful subject, asking how we are and analysing our feelings with us, it can keep a wound alive which could be healing with a bit of "benign neglect".

It is not just a question of us not caring enough to remember. Sometimes you have to care enough to step back. Also - as we get older, our memories are not that reliable any more. Is that a fault to be condemned?

devongirl Thu 24-Aug-17 13:57:48

serkeen I think that is a bit unfair, you did post "You say you forget things that are important to other people, I guess you just need to Care enough to remember" which is not an opinion, it implies that when people forget thinkgs it means they don't care.

pensionpat Thu 24-Aug-17 13:58:37

Surely everyone has a system for birthdays etc? I transfer them to my diary each year. Also I can see from my diary when I last saw someone. Time passes so quickly. A friend of mine is punctilious with things like friends' hospital apps and tests. She always texts or writes to see how they went. Very thoughtful. Then I noticed her system on a visit. When I tell her for example that DH is having something medical, she writes it on a post-it. She sticks the post it by the phone. With others. When she speaks to me after that date she asks me how it went and then destroys the note. I'm sure that there are reminders that we could put on our phones, but I stick with what I know works.

Chris1603 Thu 24-Aug-17 14:11:54

Have you thought of joining some activity or group perhaps a reading group at the library or a knit and chat or gardening or doing a course.

Being friendly in a group may seem on the face of it daunting, but nothing more is expected of you other than turning up and taking part in the activity and conversation will be around the subject area. If it doesn't suit don't go back, no one is let down because the group will run anyway. These casual relationships expect less of you.

Also keep in mind that not every one likes every one it is ok if someone dislikes you or you dislike someone. It is how it is and happens to us all from time to time.

I do feel you are being hard on yourself. Don't judge yourself by how many friends you have; we are all different.

What are your expectations of a friendship?

hopeful1 Thu 24-Aug-17 14:35:52

Chris1603 that is a brilliant idea, joining a group. At least I wont have the pressure of having to turn up... I can go if I feel up to it. I worry when I am expected to do things with someone.. which triggers anxiety, then I try to get out of it! Only really close relatives ignore my pleas of why i cant do things and I generally enjoy going out... after the event. I get fed up with me too! Perhaps I should be more honest and open in real life to earn friendship.

tiredoldwoman Thu 24-Aug-17 14:46:06

I'm a hopeless friend , too ! I sometimes get 'claustrophobic' if people get close to me , I begin to feel controlled then resentful of people and start saying no to invitations . I am however , reliable , kind and would like a 'bessy mate' - maybe it's a trust issue ? weird , eh ?

Baggs Thu 24-Aug-17 15:12:39

Some people behave the way they do because they suffer real anxiety when in social situations. I think one needs to have some tolerance of difference and sometimes quite a lot of tolerance. People behaving in odd ways is not always about the observers (or 'receivers' if you like) of the oddness; sometimes the person being odd/forgetful/careless/whatever can't help it.

Anya Thu 24-Aug-17 15:18:33

those who mind don't matter and those who matter won't mind

I really like that baggs and it fits with my take on people.

SueDonim Thu 24-Aug-17 16:58:55

I think part of the answer is to have fewer but closer friends. I know plenty of people and like their company etc but to me a friend is someone closer than that, it's someone to whom you can confide your deepest, darkest secrets(!).

It took me many years to learn that I didn't have to be friends with every single person I ever met, but once I had learnt the lesson, my life was the happier for it. smile

petra Thu 24-Aug-17 20:35:49

I do that, but as I keep a daily diary I see the post it's every day. That way I never forget.
I'm afraid I'm with Serkeen on this, if you care enough you do it.

BBbevan Thu 24-Aug-17 20:49:53

My Ma used to say that when with friends " Ask first, tell second"
Always ask how they are and what they have been doing before launching in to your own exploits .
I also keeps important birthdays and days to remember, like exam results, on a calendar so I don't forget.

Imperfect27 Thu 24-Aug-17 21:43:50

Serkeen, meaning sometimes gets lost in print. I thought your poem read as a critical comment and therefore rather pointed. I am sorry if I misinterpreted.

Imperfect27 Thu 24-Aug-17 21:44:25

For poem read post! Tch. Gremlins!

Libralady Thu 24-Aug-17 23:51:19

Hopefull - my advice is to just be yourself. We are all unique.