How You Can Create a Positive Friend Network Starting Now

Right before I got married, I had a therapist who told me something I never forgot.

“Evan,” he said, “life is just a big hunk of Swiss cheese. The problem is that you only look at the holes and never even notice the cheese.”

He was right. I’m not a pessimist, per se, but I do tend to notice and call out when things seem off, which is just a long, roundabout way of saying that I tend to complain a lot.

Positive friendships are a common theme in the blue zones

I come by it naturally. I’m not proud of it. I’m better than I used to be. But still, my natural bent is to notice what’s wrong with the world and point out how I would make it right.

I’m not the type to berate others just because I’m perpetually dissatisfied; most of my negativity just roils me inside. Regardless, negativity takes a toll everyone around you.

Think of your boss who has never a word of praise for you or that online dating guy who dumps his entire relationship history on you on Date 1.

Sure enough, most people feel life is too short to spend it with negative people.

So says this piece by Tara Parker-Pope at the New York Times.

Dan Buettner, a National Geographic fellow and author, has studied the health habits of people who live in so-called blue zones — regions of the world where people live far longer than the average. He noted that positive friendships are a common theme in the blue zones.”

Make sense. A huge reason that I married my wife is her naturally sunny disposition. In turn, she makes me into a happier person (an observation validated by all my friends).

And if you don’t have a partner, you’d BETTER have a supportive group of friends. Yet that’s harder and harder to come by as you age, especially if you’re male.

That’s why it’s important not just to cut off (or at least minimize) the negative dead weight in your life, but also to undergo your own conscious gratitude shift.

Not only will it make you happier, it’ll make everyone around you happier, too.

Want to create your own blue zone and surround yourself with five likeminded friends?

Take this quiz to see if your three closest friends are positively influencing  you.

Says Buettner, “In general you want friends with whom you can have a meaningful conversation,” he said. “You can call them on a bad day and they will care. Your group of friends are better than any drug or anti-aging supplement, and will do more for you than just about anything.”

Your thoughts, below, are greatly appreciated.

Join our conversation (73 Comments).
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Comments:

  1. 1
    No Name To Give

    Given the acrimony between the sexes these days, this is good advice. Form non-romantic friendships. I have a few friends that are closer to me than my own family. Romance comes and goes but the real friendships are the meat and potatoes of life.

  2. 2
    John

    I tend to notice what is wrong more than what is right. It works good for solving problems at work and editing books and emails. It works horribly for relationships. I have had to learn how to choose my battles and water the positive seeds in others more than the negative ones. I have read Dan Buettner’s book and he said that good friendships seemed to make people healthier and live longer even more than diet and exercise. That is how important positive relationships are. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. 3
    sylvana

    Three closest friends…

    Sad reality is, most people no longer even have ONE close friend whom they’d consider a true confidant. Hence the epidemic of loneliness these days.

    It’s definitely a great, and really important topic.

  4. 4
    Emily, the original

    “And if you don’t have a partner, you’d BETTER have a supportive group of friends. Yet that’s harder and harder to come by as you age,”
    I’m wondering what is reasonable to expect from friends if you are middle-aged. How often should you expect contact from them? If they live in the same city, how often can you expect to see them? If you have an important doctor’s appointment, are these the kinds of friends who will call that day to find out how it went or ones who will find out 4 weeks later and you’ll have to remind them you even went to the doctor. That’s a big difference.

    1. 4.1
      Marika

      Emily 

      Are you on Facebook? I think FB makes it a lot easier to remain in contact with friends. I’d have some level of contact via FB with friends most days. Calls and texts, less often, maybe fortnightly. Catch ups with some of them are as often as weekly. Others, maybe monthly. Others just on birthdays/ holidays.

      The doctor thing…it’s probably different for me as I’m close to my family and have a very anxious & concerned mother. So I already get that from her. If it was a serious medical issue, it’s probably reasonable to expect one or two close friends to check in. But if they don’t, I personally don’t see it as a slight, more just them being preoccupied and busy with their own lives.

      1. 4.1.1
        Emily, the original

        Marika,
        “If it was a serious medical issue, it’s probably reasonable to expect one or two close friends to check in. But if they don’t, I personally don’t see it as a slight, more just them being preoccupied and busy with their own lives.”
        I had a friend with a medical issue. I checked in with her by phone the day of the procedure. She knows I’ve had some some medical issues lately. I haven’t heard from her in any way in at least 6 weeks. I don’t think it’s asking too much to at least shoot me an email. I realize this is just one person, but it’s fairly common. I am running out of steam with this stuff, I have to be honest. I just don’t see the point.

        1. Marika

          Of course you want someone to check in on you, Emily. I understand. I can put it in perspective as (I’m lucky to) have family for that. But it would be horrible if no one showed they cared. I just don’t think it’s personal if they don’t check in, it’s not like they dislike you or thought, “nah forget her”, people are just consumed with their own stuff.

          How are you, btw?

        2. Clare

          Emily,

          I’m with you. I used to have two best girlfriends. We were a very tight-knit group of three – we got together at least once, and sometimes twice a week, and chatted by text or Skype several times a week. When the one got married, me and the other were bridesmaids. When one had relationship/heartbreak troubles, I would spend hours with her on Skype, talking it through and cheering her up.

          When my dad got cancer and was hospitalised for 7 weeks in ICU and I was going through a really hard time emotionally, I was actually pretty shocked at how they both kept their distance. My emails telling them about my dad’s illness went unanswered. The one finally came with me on one of my hospital visits, but I never heard a peep out of the other one. It was a really sobering (and hurtful) reality check for me about how good these friendships actually were.

          I eventually let both friendships go a year or two later.

          It’s been quite a few years now that I have only let friends into my life who are demonstrate consistent caring, loyalty, positivity and presence. I am ruthless about this. I don’t mind having other people as acquaintances, but the only people I allow into my inner circle are the people I can count on, no matter what. Obviously, it’s because I give this level of loyalty and caring in return.

          Life is too short to spend it on a one-way street.

        3. Mrs Happy

          Join me in my experiment.

        4. Emily, the original

          Marika,
          I can put it in perspective as (I’m lucky to) have family for that.
          You are lucky. I don’t have that.
          I just don’t think it’s personal if they don’t check in, it’s not like they dislike you or thought, “nah forget her”, people are just consumed with their own stuff.
          But then they aren’t really friends, are they? I think you have to have some consistency in communication or all you’re doing is throwing your stuff at them and they’re throwing their stuff at you once every few months. You don’t really know what’s happening in each other’s lives. There’s no support.
          How are you, btw?
          You’re sweet to ask. Thank you. I am hanging in there.

        5. Emily, the original

          Clare,
          When my dad got cancer and was hospitalised for 7 weeks in ICU and I was going through a really hard time emotionally, I was actually pretty shocked at how they both kept their distance. … It was a really sobering (and hurtful) reality check for me about how good these friendships actually were.
           I had the same thing happen to me. When my dad got sick, my “best friend,” a woman I talked to every day and saw at least once a week, a woman whose family I spent holidays with, really let me down. She was noticeably AWOL. I’m not perfect, but I tried to be there for her when she was going through something difficult. She couldn’t do the same for me. Like you, I let the friendship go.
          I had two other close friends at the time. One passed away and the other faded away. I just haven’t found people with whom I have the same level of rapport since, and the new friends I’ve made are more like friendly acquaintances.

        6. Clare

          Mrs Happy,

          What is your experiment?

          Emily,

          I’m sorry to hear that happened to you as well. I wonder what it is about illness and death which makes some people run and hide rather than be there for the ones they care about? Anyway, it doesn’t really matter. Such people definitely do not belong in my life.

          These days, I’m blessed in having a small but close support network. I know my mom and my brother would be there for me no matter what. And I have about 4 or 5 close friends whom I see often and who are very present and supportive in my life. But I endured years of loneliness. Sometimes I thought it was too much and that it would break me when someone let me down.

          Finally, about 2 or 3 years ago, I took back my power back when it came to my friends group. I realised that you really can’t put all your eggs in one basket and that your social and support network is something you have to continually work on and put effort into (only effort that is reciprocated and yields a return, mind you). I’ve realised you need to have a wide variety of people you can call on when you want company or need support. This year, for example, two of my best friends have been unavailable for several months – one has been working on a cruise ship for 6 months, and the other has had his own personal and work fires to put out. This made me realise that I needed to keep my eyes open for and put effort into new friendships. As a single person, this is especially important.

          So I’ve joined a social meetup group which is constantly organising outings, so I have my pick of what to go to. I am also not shy at all about approaching people to be friends. I met a very nice girl at a party the other day and we exchanged numbers and added each other on Facebook and are having coffee tomorrow. Lovely, good, supportive friends are out there, and they probably want to be friends with you just as much as you do with them, but you have to be fearless and open and make the effort. Having this abundance mindset (knowing there are plenty of people who would love to spend time with you) also makes it much easier to let go of friendships that have become one-sided or have run their course.

        7. Emily, the original

          Clare,
          This year, for example, two of my best friends have been unavailable for several months – one has been working on a cruise ship for 6 months, and the other has had his own personal and work fires to put out.
          You hit the nail on the head. When someone is going through a life change, friendships are usually the things they let go or don’t tend to. It’s just the reality of life and I’ve hesitated putting the effort in making new friends because of this. It’s a LOT of work for people who may not even want close friends (and you have to put the time in to find out) and who can disappear from your life at any time.
          So I’ve joined a social meetup 
          I have done that. Thus far, the people I’ve met have been what I call entertainment or proximity friends.

        8. Adrian

          Hi Mrs. Happy, Clare and Emily.

          Mrs. Happy I never had the chance to respond to your comment on the other post but I think your experiment could be a double edged sword. Sure you will know who wants your company but in the process you will be doing to others what was done to you which could cause you to lose people as well.

          Also I am happy to hear that you are doing much better after your battle with cancer.

          …   …   …

          Clare I am curious what excuse did your friends give you about not contacting you when you needed them?

          And to answer your question Mrs. Happy’s experiment is to not approach, call, or contact any of her friends first. She wants to see who will contact her first to know who desires her company because like you she also previously did all the contacting of her friends first and did not notice that it was one sided until when she got sick none of them reached out to see how she was doing.

          …   …   …

          Emily said, “When someone is going through a life change, friendships are usually the things they let go or don’t tend to.

          I of course completely disagree with this. You don’t let go of real friends; the people who do this were never real friends to begin with… or they just never saw you as a priority. I think that’s your protective shell talking. Expect the worse or having low expectations so that “when” they disappoint you are not hurt.

          Emily said, “So I’ve joined a social meetup, I have done that. Thus far, the people I’ve met have been what I call entertainment or proximity friends.

          This is the problem I have found with most adult friendships now that I am in a new city I am experiencing it first hand. It’s actually sad because most people want the “How I Met Your Mother” level of friends and adventures and yet they don’t want to put the work into having them; and more importantly most adults just don’t know how to be a good friend; most friends were made in childhood so we never had to learn how to be a friend.

          If you are new it’s hard to be allowed into an already existing close group of friends. I am not sure about you or women but as a male if I try to be too friendly with guys I am assumed to be hitting on them and gay; if I try to be too friendly with women then I am assumed to be trying to hit on them. Couples are nice except for when you are the third wheel so you need at least a partner to hang out with most couples.

        9. Mrs Happy

          Dear Adrian,

          you make a good point when you say the experiment might be a double-edged sword (which I assume is the norm with swords).  I feel the loss sometimes already, e.g. with a few shy introverted friends who I don’t usually see often – if I keep strictly to my “if they don’t contact me ever during 2018 they are OUT of my friendship circle” initial plan (made in hurt) I’ll likely lose those connections altogether.  What price being the one who always sets up the catch up, hey?  I really don’t know.

          Like Emily, The Original,  I’m tired of repeatedly giving much more than I receive in friendships, and the only logical answer seems to be, whittle my friendships down to those people who put in some effort.  Yes I will lose some friends.

          Honestly, what is it with people though?  Always the least possible effort, good grief.  A recent example – I’m training for an event.  In early 2018 I got a group of women together to do regular training sessions.  Decent number of us at first.  Then one by one, mothers in the group started dropping out, because meeting up to train on the weekend didn’t fit with the kids’ sporting activities and the husband’s desire to cycle, run, golf and sail rather than stay home at any point looking after his own children on the weekend (God forbid).  A few women were left standing.  I organised every training session – every one.  Then it rained or was Mothers’ day or something and there was a one weekend break.  For the weekend after the break, I thought, I’ll just wait for someone else to set up the next time and place.  Well, nada.  Nothing.  Zip.  Unbelievable.  So I didn’t organise any more sessions.  And one of the women said randomly at a party a month later, ‘what has happened to the training sessions, they were really good’.  I looked at her and said, ‘yes, and I’m eager to do more, just let me know when suits you’.  Nada, nothing, never heard from her.  I gave up.

          Now I’m in a different training group, and all of us in the group continually suggest times, days, distances, and some can make it, some can’t, but the flow of all of us initiating texts continues even if any one person misses a session.

          So in this case I think my 2018 experiment worked – I ended up in a group that put effort in, I’m still training, I feel happy and more fit.  Regarding the group of ?acquaintances I left, or who left me, or who just faded away whatever, who never bothered to set up any training sessions, well maybe I avoided years of similar patterns doing things together, thinking I had friendships with these women (but having to do all the reaching out always) and then finding out in x years when I have a big life issue, that they don’t contact me.  Humpf.

          In fact my biggest mistake was getting the initial pathetic-hardly -interested training group together despite my 2018 rule (I was desperate to enter an event).  I occasionally break my 2018 rule because I am quite social, and I either momentarily forget the experiment or decide to waive it.  So far, it has been a big mistake to waive, almost every time.  Long live the 2018 experiment!

           

        10. Emily, the original

          Adrian,

          If you are new it’s hard to be allowed into an already existing close group of friends. I am not sure about you or women but as a male if I try to be too friendly with guys I am assumed to be hitting on them and gay; if I try to be too friendly with women then I am assumed to be trying to hit on them.

          I hadn’t thought of  that. It would be hard to be a guy and trying to make new friends.

          I think, at the end of the day, people have to have an opening or room in their lives for friends. They have to feel the need for them, and a lot of people, particularity those who are older, don’t have that need. They have families, kids and existing friends, and there’s only so much energy and time one has.

        11. Clare

          Emily,

          “Thus far, the people I’ve met have been what I call entertainment or proximity friends.”

          Yes, me too, but that’s what I’m looking for. I already have a small handful of friends and family that I can talk to about the deep stuff and if I need someone to really be there for me, so I really only need friends for socialising/entertainment on the weekends or my nights off or the odd catch up.

          Oddly enough though, you can never tell which of these “entertainment or proximity” friends will turn into a close friend, so it’s good to stay open. The majority of them certainly will just stay acquaintances, but it has happened to me before that I often gravitate to the same person at parties and social events and find it easier to talk to him or her, and we end up becoming good friends. I know it’s really hard to stay positive and enthusiastic when you’ve had so many bad experiences with friends, but I like to remind myself that the world (even the country I live in) is a big place, and there are just so many more fish in the sea, many of whom will yield positive experiences and friendships. I also truly believe that other people are as hungry for connection and friendship (and often just as lonely) as we are.

          Personally, I like to protect myself emotionally when it comes to friendships. I used to invest fully in a friendship almost from day one, now I am a lot more tentative. I’ll make a small step forward and see how they respond and if they reciprocate. I won’t go out of my way or do too much for someone until they have proved that they are the sort of person who will do the same, and I can scale back my effort at any point. Honestly, after all the times I have been hurt by friends in the past, I won’t give them the opportunity to do so again on the same scale. If a friend starts dropping off their effort, I focus my effort on other friendships.

        12. Clare

          Adrian,

          “Clare I am curious what excuse did your friends give you about not contacting you when you needed them?”

          When I finally did address it with them, I was hurt, and I got a rather lame “sorry” and a half-hearted enquiry about how my dad was doing. The other at that point seemed to feel a bit worse and saw that I needed support and offered to come with me to the hospital.

          It certainly taught me the meaning of the expression “fair weather friends.”

        13. Clare

          Mrs Happy,

          “Honestly, what is it with people though?  Always the least possible effort, good grief.”

          Yeah I know. It short-circuits my brain sometimes. But then I remind myself that most people are living mediocre and barely satisfactory lives, and if they were the sort of people who made much of an effort, they’d be able to make big changes to their happiness, and they don’t.

          I applaud you for putting in the effort to get a group of women together to train weekly. Honestly, my expectations for people are low. I find that low expectations are the surest way to avoid disappointment. When I had a birthday get-together last year (one that involved driving 45 minutes to a nice spot on the beach, God forbid), I literally told people that they were free to come or not come, and that I wouldn’t take it hard either way. I had a good turnout and was pleasantly surprised, but I would have enjoyed it just as much even if it had been just me and my boyfriend at the time.

          My antidote to people’s low effort is to expect people to put in very little effort, and adjust my own feelings and behaviour accordingly. I’m much happier since doing that. That brings me to your experiment about not initiating contact with friends and seeing who reaches out. I can definitely understand the rationale for this experiment, but I guess the approach I take is this: If I feel like reaching out to someone, I do. If I can honestly say that it will be a net positive for me and will not result in any resentment for me, then I reach out. And even then, I require some kind of reciprocation or effort from this person. For instance, my one friend who is busy with a lot of work and personal issues – if I reach out and ask him if he wants to get together, I ask him to drive to my house, and maybe to bring a bottle of wine.

          I’d never continue to throw one-sided effort at a friendship because I’d simply get no enjoyment out of it. I’d lose interest very quickly. My antidote to one-sided friendships are simply to stop putting in effort as soon as I feel a lack of interest or any resentment at all.

        14. Adrian

          Hi Mrs. Happy

          One thing that I love about the anonymity of this online community we have here is that it allows us to be honest and vulnerable while being supported without being judged-yes I know I am ignoring a lot of not so positive commenters with that statement (^_^).

          My point is that you, myself, Jeremy ,Emily, Marika all have attachment style issues most people don’t notice about us and even if they did we would not readily admit it unless it is to someone that is really close to us. So it is good to be able to talk to people that understand your struggles.

          You said, “I thought, I’ll just wait for someone else to set up the next time and place.  Well, nada.  Nothing.  Zip.  Unbelievable.  So I didn’t organise any more sessions.  And one of the women said randomly at a party a month later, ‘what has happened to the training sessions, they were really good’.  I looked at her and said, ‘yes, and I’m eager to do more, just let me know when suits you’.  Nada, nothing, never heard from her.  I gave up.

          How do you tell the difference between a person who is shy, a person who just wants to be led (they are eager but they wait for you to make the first move), and I person who is just giving empty lip service? Your experiment is great for those who are just giving lip service but it seems that it will also eliminate the shy and those who desire to be in your company they just want you to make the first move.

          Thanks to Jeremy I realize that I am a validation person and therefore I struggle to differentiate between when a person does and does not want me and I always internalize it no matter what I’m horrible around shy people. This is doubly bad with dating the realm where women expect men to do all the blah blah blah (you know the script) in the beginning. You’ve read the comments so you know that many women believe that they should not have to do any type of signaling of their interest towards a man in the beginning; nothing but show up, smile and and let the man do all the courting.

          Which activates my anxious attachment style and does nothing to make me feel validated.

          For both the men and the women who need validation from their partner to know that they are desired I think that this is why we place so much importance on family and friendships. Friends and family are always supposed to be there for you and they are supposed to desire your company without you having to jump through hoops or beg like in dating.

        15. Emily, the original

          Clare,
          I also truly believe that other people are as hungry for connection and friendship (and often just as lonely) as we are.
          About  a year ago, I made a new friend who I thought would become a close friend, but she was the opposite of what we are describing. In the course of two months, she asked me to take her to two major medical  appointments (not just drop her off, but wait for hours and then drive her home), and I had just met her! This and too many invitations to things. It was too much. This is what I have found so far — people want too much or not enough. I don’t need someone to hold my hand every day, but there has to be some consistency in communication and effort at support on both sides.
          Personally, I like to protect myself emotionally when it comes to friendships. 
          I do that, too, but as I have to do that with my family — to keep reminding myself not to expect anything — it has become a bit depressing.

        16. Emily, the original

          Jeremy,

          Thanks to Jeremy I realize that I am a validation person and therefore I struggle to differentiate between when a person does and does not want me and I always internalize it no matter

          Can I ask you this: What are you you not getting from women that you need? From what you describe, you are an attractive guy and from what I’ve read here, very thoughtful and considerate. Surely there are women who are interested in you. Are there women in the past who have been very obvious in their interest? Maybe very aggressive at making a pass? Wouldn’t that tell you they wanted you? But I don’t get the feeling you like aggressive women.

        17. Adrian

          Hi Clare,

          You said, “ Honestly, my expectations for people are low. I find that low expectations are the surest way to avoid disappointment….  I already have a small handful of friends and family that I can talk to about the deep stuff and if I need someone to really be there for me, so I really only need friends for socialising/entertainment on the weekends or my nights off or the odd catch up.

          I would just caution you to be careful it appears (to me) that you could be heading down a dark path when it comes to friendship. Expecting little to nothing from people to avoid being hurt and wanting to use people only for socializing and entertainment (until they prove themselves to be worthy of more)…

          You sound like the very people we all are talking about avoiding. I’m sure Evan has material about the pitfalls of dating from a fear based standace; I am sure seeking friendships from the angle of not getting hurt are just as hazardous.

        18. Clare

          Adrian,

          It seems as if (not for the first time) you’ve misunderstood my meaning. It’s ok, it happens. It’s hard to convey meaning and nuance over a post of a couple of hundred words with only text and no context. You don’t know me, so I don’t blame you.

          “Expecting little to nothing from people to avoid being hurt and wanting to use people only for socializing and entertainment (until they prove themselves to be worthy of more)…
          “You sound like the very people we all are talking about avoiding…. I am sure seeking friendships from the angle of not getting hurt are just as hazardous.”
          I can assure you, I’m not using these people. I am far more likely to be the one used as I connect easily and deeply with people. This is not some attempt on my part to have superficial friendships with people, only to protect myself from doing too much, feeling too much and having unrealistic expectations. I used to open up to people completely on first meeting them. Now, I let them earn their way into my life through shared experiences and building a bond slowly over time.

          Believe me, I allow real and meaningful friendships to develop. I just don’t jump to that stage right from day one. It’s just like with dating – you initially spend time together in a low pressure, fun environment and then gradually decide if you want to let the relationship become closer.

          Ipso facto, I initially spend time with friends in a low pressure, social, fun environment, and gradually decide if I want to meet them for drinks or coffee, invite them to my birthday party or get-together, invite them on group weekends away. open up about the personal stuff going on in my life, etc. It’s a gradual process where the friendship becomes stronger and closer based on the feedback I am getting from that person and whether or not they are the kind of person I want as my friend.

          I can assure you, your vision of me as some superficial user terrified of getting hurt is quite impossible. That’s simply not me. I suffer from the opposite problem – opening up and giving too much to people. I have to protect myself to some degree. But believe me, I crave companionship and connection to ever be what you are envisioning.

          I encourage you, Adrian, not to see the world in such black and white terms. There are so many different types of people in the world and so many different ways of seeing the same situation.

      2. 4.1.2
        Adrian

        Hi Marika

        I had a revelation last week.

        A comment came to my email from an old post of Evan’s dealing with looking at other women. In it the commentator says that women don’t approach because of fear of rejection though they demand men take the risk of rejection and blah blah blah (you know the script so no need to repeat it).

        What I realized is that men and women who have never had to approach, flirt with or initiate any type of romantic contact with the opposite sex-because they were always being approached first-have no need to develop or understand the skills it takes to win over the opposite sex because not only have they never needed those skills, but they don’t even realize that you had to actually learn and put effort into accomplishing getting a date with the opposite sex-By the way I just finished reading all the comments (especially Karl R’s) from the “69% of men get rejected before the first date” post, which also influenced this hypothesis of mine.

        My point is that whenever this conversation of friendship comes up you mention about your close friends or family which is why you can’t emotionally (though I am sure you can logically) understand Emily and Mrs. Happy’s points about a friend not calling when you are sick-like the dating analogy you have never had their experiences having no one there for you so you can’t under their feelings of disappointment and betrayal.

        Like you I have very close friends and family but as I’ve mentioned before over a year ago I moved to a new city in a different part of the country and making new friends as an adult is hard. I can call friends and family but it’s not the same as having someone to actually go out and do things with.

        And honestly I can’t imagine being sick and not having someone check up on me. I broke my leg in a skiing accident a few years ago and many close and not so close friends and co-workers came to check on me; I took it for granted because I never even imaged the possibility that I wouldn’t always have that. Also I am curious as to what do you think about the post Evan wrote (talking about friends) where he had a dinner party and a certain couple treated them like a last minute option instead of friends they wanted to spend time with? Because I think this is Mr. Happy’s, Clare’s, and Emily’s point.

        1. Marika

          Hi Adrian

          I’m sure you’re right. And probably I shouldn’t even weigh in on this at all because I can’t really relate.

          I feel very lucky to have wonderful family and great friends. I never, ever feel alone (quite the opposite, sometimes I feel smothered). So I have the utmost empathy for anyone who feels alone or abandoned by people close to them.

          The only thing I would mention is that, the same way some of us overthink dating, as an observer, it feels like overthinking friendship. The easiest explanation is usually the right one. Ie, people who don’t contact you either get caught up in their own stuff, or don’t know what to say and feel all uncomfortable. It’s not an excuse and you don’t have to keep them in your life, but I don’t think it makes them bad people. Couldn’t you tell them it felt bad that they disappeared when you needed them and see how they react/if they do better next time?

          Emily, we are always virtually here for you. If that helps. I wish I could give you, Clare and Mrs Happy a big hug. And a gift basket.

          Happy Aussie father’s day Jeremy, YAG and Evan 😊

        2. Emily, the original

          Marika,

          Emily, we are always virtually here for you. If that helps.

          Thank you, Marika. I do enjoy your posts. You have a positive attitude, which is nice to read.

        3. Mrs Happy

          “Emily, we are always virtually here for you. If that helps.”

          The regular cast of vociferous commenting characters are one of the great things about this blog.  When Evan didn’t post topic subjects for a week (or his site was playing up on my computer) recently, I had to get my “other people’s stories” fix from the UK Guardian’s ‘Private Lives’ section – great funny reading for the topic headings alone.  They spell better over at the Guardian, but I missed the regulars here.  I often wonder what you guys are all like in the real world.  Sometimes I think I have certain people pegged; it’s fun to guess things.  But it is odd how it is a community of sorts.

        4. Adrian

          Hi Marika,

          You said, “And probably I shouldn’t even weigh in on this at all because I can’t really relate… I just don’t think it’s personal if they don’t check in, it’s not like they dislike you or thought, “nah forget her”, people are just consumed with their own stuff… The only thing I would mention is that, the same way some of us overthink dating, as an observer, it feels like overthinking friendship.

          I know it was not your intention but I think you are belittling their feelings. Since you have never been sick to the point of possibly dying you cannot say that it is “overthinking” friendship when someone who you believed was very close to you for years disappears on you when you need them the most.

          You go on and on about how close you are to your friends and family so can you honestly tell me that if one of them never contacted you once they KNEW you were in the hospital and possibly on the brink of death you wouldn’t be hurt?

          Emily, Clare, and Mrs. Happy didn’t talk about having a cold or being sick for a day or two they spoke about situations that lasted for months where there was no guarantee they wouldn’t die and yet they had no contact from these so-called friends after they reached out for support.

          To say they should not take it personal or that they are overthinking friendship shows that you are not capable of empathizing on this subject. You were wrong Marika to question their feelings you were right to say that for you and your situation will be okay but not for theirs.

          Everyone likes you on this blog so of course no one wants to say anything mean to you, but because I like you have to say something, and because I like them and respect their feelings I have to say something.

          I’m saying all of this in love so I hope you don’t get see this as an attack.

        5. Jeremy

          Adrian, there’s what we want to hear, and there’s what we need to hear.  Years ago, my wife was having a spat with one of her close female friends (who happened to be an ex-student of mine, and sort of a friend of mine too).  I got an earful of both sides of the argument (from each of them).  And one night, as my wife and I were driving home and she was once again venting about the issue, I finally had enough.  And rather than just nodding and interjecting “that bitch” and “you’re so right” in semi-regular intervals, I said to her that there’s her side, your side and the truth somewhere in between.  And that rather than focussing on your side, focus on where your side might be mistaken.  Well, Adrian, that was NOT received well.  And after receiving another earful about what a bastard I am for not providing validation and unconditional support, I again maintained that doing so was not my job in this case.  It would be one thing if the argument was short-lived and she just needed to vent, but this thing had gone on for weeks and was festering, and to me the solution was very obvious and necessitated compromise.  To this day my wife feels disappointed that I did not support her unconditionally.  But to this day I maintain that I did and said the right thing.  There’s what we want to hear, and there’s what we need to hear – what makes us feel good and what helps us live better lives.

           

          I already gave Mrs Happy my opinion about her experiment, for whatever that might be worth.  It is certainly understandable not to want to do all the work in a friendship.  After all, doing so puts one at a tremendous power disadvantage and no one likes that, even if they prefer not to see it as such.    But it is one thing to judge people based on their actions and quite another to make judgments about their presumed motivations.  A person might cheese out of a training group because she lacks interest or in spite of extreme interest but simply no time.  She might not call because she can’t be bothered, or because a relative has been ill and her emotional reserves are completely drained.

           

          Sometimes, when a friend is in distress, the best thing to do is lead with empathy and validation.  And other times, when the former has gone on too long and possibly incorrect assumptions begin to affect our friends’ lives, the best thing we can do is suggest that our friends question their assumptions.  Even if we get blowback for doing so.

        6. Emily, the original

          Adrian and Marika,
          “Emily, Clare, and Mrs. Happy didn’t talk about having a cold or being sick for a day or two they spoke about situations that lasted for months where there was no guarantee they wouldn’t die”

          My situation is nowhere near as serious as Mrs. Happy’s was or Clare’s, who I believe wrote her father was seriously ill. But I don’t think expecting an email every now and then is asking for too much, and I’m not even getting that from this one friend, who actually told me several months ago I could come stay with her if anything happened with my job. I was very moved …. and two months later, she disappeared. This is not uncommon.

          “To say they should not take it personal or that they are overthinking friendship shows that you are not capable of empathizing on this subject. You were wrong Marika”
          I didn’t get that from Marika’s post, Adrian. She gave a different perspective in that she said she’d never really felt alone. On the contrary, she felt smothered.

        7. Emily, the original

          Mrs. Happy,
          “When Evan didn’t post topic subjects for a week (or his site was playing up on my computer) recently, I had to get my “other people’s stories” fix from the UK Guardian’s ‘Private Lives’ section – great funny reading for the topic headings alone. They spell better over at the Guardian, but I missed the regulars here.”

          Me, too! I remember thinking: OMG! No new post! What am I going to read? Then I started to look at other dating advice sites, but there’s no sense of community there. And I actually read The Guardian, but for the articles.

        8. Adrian

          Hi Marika and Emily,

          Most commentors I don’t correct because to be honest I know they are here just to troll, vent, or be heard. Marika is here to learn which is the only reason why I said something.

          Emily when the site was down I went back and read a lot of old post so I know you are sweeter than your online persona but also not as tough as your online persona, and loniler which is why I know you would not want to risk alienating the few commentors you really like.

          Marika has one of the best hearts on this blog so I know she wasn’t trying to be mean but she, Jeremy and perhaps one or two others are people who would make you doubt yourself and your feelings (before you rebuttal me on this I’ve seen it a few times already) which is why I stepped in. If it was YAG or someone like that you would have swung back because you have your armor on with them but you are more willing to consider that Marika is right and that you may be wrong.

          Anyway I’m not trying to single either of you out and Emily I know you hate for your personal business (emotions) to be out in the open, it took you so long to finally start to open up and share about yourself with us on this blog so I’ll stop talking now. I’m just explaining why I did what I did, you know normally I try to stay out of debates-even the ones I start! (^_^)

        9. Adrian

          Hi Jeremy,

          I loved that story; you do realize that if your wife wrote in to Evan telling it you would be painted in the comments as an unsupported husband who she needs to get away from immediately!!!… right? That and other comments about you are probably having an affair with the other woman is why you defended her.

          When the site was down I went back and read a lot of old post and comments, the one that stuck out to me the most was the one about the “69% of men are rejected before the first date” I was honestly amazed at how little empathy women have for men when it comes to dating and relationships.

          …   …  …

          I finished your two books; really liked “The Paradox of Choice” but loved “Stumbling On Happiness”. This lead me to read “Authentic Happiness” by Martin Seligman.

          Any other recommendations? Something about life goals maybe and of course dating and relationships. What one book in both subjects do you think is the most impactful?

        10. Emily, the original

          Adrian,

          Emily when the site was down I went back and read a lot of old post so I know you are sweeter than your online persona but also not as tough as your online persona, and loniler which is why I know you would not want to risk alienating the few commentors you really like.

          It wasn’t really about not alienating anyone. I really didn’t read into Marika’s comment what you did. I’m not saying I’m right.

          I can be very sweet, but I do have a mean streak which comes out when I think someone is trying to manipulate me.

          Now, you … perahps you are MEA!NER than your online persona.   🙂   Or pervier!   🙂

    2. 4.2
      Jenny

      My parents have a large group of friends with whom they celebrate all major holidays and numerous birthdays and, for those that live nearby, see them every weekend or nearly so. The downside is that they don’t have much room for new friends, even people they like; and sometimes the group feels too big. But it’s a small downside, and I wish I had such a group. But I’m a different sort of person than they.

    3. 4.3
      Adrian

      Hi Emily,

      I am noticing that we are talking about this topic a lot lately. Close relationships are a foundation to happiness and to be honest if you are not happy then no matter how great of a partner you have you won’t be happy in that relationship.

      As Evan wrote about a few years back too many people (mostly us men) try to make our partner our best friends (that is ok), and our only friends (not ok).
      … … …

      On a different note Emily the last time we spoke you mentioned that you having healthy problems; are you any better now?

      How is work? Still boring and stressful?

      What in your opinion is the cause of the disconnect? Age, gender, social class, or just a general lack of social skills?

      1. 4.3.1
        Emily, the original

        Adrian,
        I am noticing that we are talking about this topic a lot lately. Close relationships are a foundation to happiness 
        I hope I’m not being redundant. 🙂 I’m honestly trying to find out how other people live, particularly if they are not married and don’t have children. What do they fill their lives with?
        On a different note Emily the last time we spoke you mentioned that you having healthy problems; are you any better now?
        You are sweet to ask. I am the same. I am hanging in there. Getting through it.
        How is work? Still boring and stressful?
        Yes, but I can start to apply for other jobs in 5 months. Then I’ll have a year in, and that’s enough time. How’s your new job?
        What in your opinion is the cause of the disconnect? Age, gender, social class, or just a general lack of social skills?
        I am, as a friend put it, a pink commie East Coast liberal whose life goal is to have fun and hang out at the disco. Really. I had so much more fun when I was in my 20s.  🙂  I am living in a place that values family and religion, so I feel out of place.

        1. Adrian

          Hi Emily,

          I was not implying that you were being redundant I just meant that this is an important situation that we all are going through and that is why we speak about it so much-Jeremy and Mrs. happy are both Married with Children and they still struggle with having good friends in their lives, this shows me that a spouse and a child is not a good substitute for a platonic friend.

          I disagree with you “somewhat” that adults don’t have room for new friends I think it’s that they just don’t want to put in the work of maintaining a good friendship. Remember most of our friends we grew up with so they are use to our foolishness. An adult would judge our character while a child just judged us based on how often we returned to play with them.

          I remember you surprised me by saying you are shy and an introvert so perhaps you should try small talk with another person you see sitting by themselves a lot.

          So in 5 months will you be moving to a bigger city? A less conservative state? At least out of the south? You speak about the fun of your youth and how hard it is to date while older so much that I hope that you don’t think your best days are all in your past? There are southern states like Atlanta that are not conservative, the cost of living is cheap, and it’s supposed to be fun for singles (I personally did not enjoy when I visited Atlanta but you may).

          I’m also thinking about joining some meetups so what advice do you have? How do you differentiate between the ones where people come to date and the ones where people come just to make friends? I’m thinking it could become awkward very quickly if the group is small and you got rejected by a member.

        2. Emily, the original

           This shows me that a spouse and a child is not a good substitute for a platonic friend.
          No, it’s not a substitute. I’ve always advocated that people have friendships outside their primary relationship. But if you have a spouse and/or close family, I think you feel the loss of friendship a little less than those who don’t those things.
          I disagree with you “somewhat” that adults don’t have room for new friends I think it’s that they just don’t want to put in the work of maintaining a good friendship.
          I meant they don’t have the emotional need for other friendships. They’re “satiated,” so to speak.
          So in 5 months will you be moving to a bigger city? A less conservative state? At least out of the south?
          My goal is to be out of here in 7 months. (5 before I can apply. 2 to find a job.) I hope the city is bigger and less conservative, but money is an issue. I’m in a low-paying industry.
          You speak about the fun of your youth and how hard it is to date while older so much that I hope that you don’t think your best days are all in your past?
          Yes, that’s how it feels. After college I went to Niagara Falls with my best gay male friend. When you go behind the falls, they give you a full-body raincoat to wear. It was hot that weekend. I dared him to just wear his boxers with the raincoat, which he did! But middle age is a serious of appropriate lunches.
          I’m also thinking about joining some meetups so what advice do you have? How do you differentiate between the ones where people come to date and the ones where people come just to make friends?
          That’s hard to answer. I joined several meetups in my previous city. It was always TONS of women and a few men, usually much older, who were clearly looking for dates as they almost always ended up messaging all the women who were at least 15 – 20 years younger than they were. (I’m not kidding.) I actually had the best time joining a women’s group. Are there male groups for you to join?

        3. Marika

          Emily

          I wonder if location is the issue. The friends I’ve made post divorce who are single or never married (or who are married but still come out) aren’t boring, staid and serious.

          I have a group of friends who go out dancing and drinking. They range in age from 30s to early 50s. We do silly stuff like the raincoat thing you mentioned. We grab each other’s butts when someone bends over, tell our couply friends to ‘get a room’ when kissing, look at Grinder with our gay friend…. play bawdy board games, and have a tradition of photographing our shoes, as one guy tried to take a photo of us from below, but forgot to flip the camera. We also have a whole heap of dumb inside jokes.

          We’re out there! Just need to move to a funner area.

        4. Emily, the original

          Marika,
          I have a group of friends who go out dancing and drinking. They range in age from 30s to early 50s. We do silly stuff like the raincoat thing you mentioned. We grab each other’s butts when someone bends over
          Sounds like my kind of crowd!
          We’re out there! Just need to move to a funner area.
          I’m working on it. I’ve been at this job about 6 months. I have to put in a year … and then I’m out of here. Right now I’m working on restoring my work record, which was kind of abysmal.  My goal for the next job is a bigger, less conservative city.

  5. 5
    Noquay

    When I had to take an emergency flight to make my dad’s end of life decisions, four people stepped in to tend my farm. None of these folks Nope, some plants withered, the house was a horrid mess, some didn’t know what they were doing but animals were fed and watered, plants watered (mostly). The important thing was that they stepped up and they triedwhen they were really needed.

  6. 6
    Noone45

    I admit I’m blessed in this category. I have two very close friends, both of whom I’ve known for almost 12 years now. Aristotle’s philosophy of friendship theorized that friendship is “reciprocated goodwill”. There are three types of friendship – pleasure, utility, virtue. Pleasure is akin to the people you partied with in youth. A utility friendship is what most middle-aged people have – work friendships. Virtue is the last – loving a friend for their own sake. Nothing to gain, simply friendship.

    Most residents of the western world have farmed out most of their needs when in the past we would have relied on friendship. Perhaps the lack of friendship in our world is due to economic circumstances. I can pay a therapist, a nurse, etc. It isn’t a sustainable option in the long run. Either way, it is a special kind of bliss to have a friend whom you can say “I love you” to in a way that has no sexual or romantic connotation. It also pays dividends to have a good relationship with your family if it’s possible.

  7. 7
    Marika

    Adrian and Jeremy

    Adrian, I do get your disappointment/outrage. It’s why I prefaced my comment the way I did. Jeremy, thank you for contributing, you always write things in a way that is accessible and doesn’t spark emotion.

    Adrian, what I’m saying is that, unlike dating, I can be objective over the topic friendships. It’s an area I’m very secure in and feel no emotional scars or pull. (Rare for me!!) 😁

    If a friend isn’t there for you the way you want them to be it SUCKS. Completely. But is it more helpful to think: “they are a horrible friend and a bad person, they clearly don’t give a shit about me; I’m so alone”… or “Wow, I’m surprised not to have heard from x, it’s pretty disappointing..I’d love to get a call or email from them. I need them right now. I’ll try reaching out again and bring this up with them next time I see them. Maybe they don’t know what to say or are giving me space…but that’s not what I want, I’ll try to tell them and see what happens”. Something like that. Is what I meant.

    I guess I generally think friends are those who are well meaning, so if they stuff up, it’s because they are being clueless or absorbed in their own stuff, not nasty or malicious.

    On the other hand, some people are just selfish jerks.

  8. 8
    Selena

    Emily: This and too many invitations to things. It was too much. 

    This reminded me of a good friend I had for several years. She was more social than I and the initiator when it came to getting together, going places throughout our friendship.  One summer she bought a pool to put in my backyard- the idea being we could hangout and the pool would keep her young daughter entertained.  I was fine with this, but after 3 hours of her visit, I was ready to go back to doing my own solitary thing. She thought 3 hours was short, she (I think) expected we would hang out all day. Often. It simply felt too much for me.

    Reading the commentary on this thread, I can understand the frustration of people who feel they are always the one to reach out, keep the friendship going. I suspect I’ve had friends who may have felt that way about me.  I was a homebody; very good at entertaining myself; somewhat an introvert, but mainly I didn’t have a high need to socialize, to be “doing something” on weekly basis. I didn’t initiate as often as my friends because it didn’t occur to me. That it was* my turn* to ask them to go out for a drink, see a movie, or just come over for an afternoon or evening.

    I wonder if -in some cases – if what feels like a one-sided friendship, might be tw0 people having different social need levels.  What feels normal to one could either feel like too much or too little to the other.

    1. 8.1
      Emily, the original

      Selena,

      I wonder if -in some cases – if what feels like a one-sided friendship, might be tw0 people having different social need levels.  What feels normal to one could either feel like too much or too little to the other.

      I think for me it usually boils down to what the other person’s emotional limits on the friendship are. I had one friend who said she would not pick up  — and this was only PICK UP, not stay with — a friend who’d had an outpatient medical procedure and couldn’t drive herself home. The bottom line was, she didn’t want to be bothered. Another said she thought of friends as people to do things with and that family were there for emotional support. I put time and energy into both of those friendships and I wish both of these women would have alerted me a lot sooner than they wanted shallow friendships.

      1. 8.1.1
        Selena

        Emily,

        The two women you described don’t sound like they even wanted friendships. Not sure what they wanted – someone to entertain them???

        1. Emily, the original

          Selena,

          . Not sure what they wanted – someone to entertain them???

          Yes. Evan did an interview with dating coach Bobbie Palmer a few months back and she said women needed to show a man they needed him. That if they didn’t, it would be like a having friend who never needed anything, and I thought of these two friends of mine, who I would never ask for anything because that’s the kind of friendships they were, and the friendships felt hollow.

          She thought 3 hours was short, she (I think) expected we would hang out all day. Often. It simply felt too much for me.

          I’m like that, too. After a few hours, I’m ready to go home. But I still like to have at least one fun/social thing planned for the week.

        2. Selena

          Emily,

          she said women needed to show a man they needed him. That if they didn’t, it would be like a having friend who never needed anything, and I thought of these two friends of mine, who I would never ask for anything because that’s the kind of friendships they were, and the friendships felt hollow.

          I find this concept of need in friendship’s interesting.  I’ve had wonderful friendships fade out when one of us moved. We’d keep it going, often for years, but phone contact gradually became sporadic, visits almost non-existent. Meanwhile our lives filled up with other people.  I’ve always thought distance was the reason, but I can see how the need we had for each other lessened over time.

          In two instances, I had friends who became religious who previously were not. I’d call them up ready to set in for a nice, long phone visit and they would turn the conversation to God and Jesus.  I didn’t relate and became bored.  Their lives were filling up with faith and friends and activities from church.  They didn’t *need* me in the way they may have at one time.  I suspect these two friendships would have faded out even if we remained in the same town.

          What I find difficult to grasp about the 2 women you mentioned is that they had parameters for friendship at the start.  Why would someone “know” they would never pick someone up from a medical appointment?  Or never want emotional support from someone who was not family? It seems weird to plan ahead like that when one can’t predict how close they might become to a new friend.

        3. Emily, the original

          Selena,
          I’ve had wonderful friendships fade out when one of us moved. We’d keep it going, often for years, but phone contact gradually became sporadic, 
          I’ve had that same experience. Boy, oh by, will moving away show you who your friend are. Although I did have one close friend stay in contact with me for 20 or so years (she passed away recently) after I moved. She was the exception.
          In two instances, I had friends who became religious who previously were not. I’d call them up ready to set in for a nice, long phone visit and they would turn the conversation to God and Jesus. 
          Another parallel we have! One of the friendships I have now is with a deeply religious woman, and I just can’t relate to it. Everything goes back to God or her kids. I haven’t heard from her in a while and I was hurt at first but then I got to thinking that we really don’t have all that much in common. I don’t mind someone being religious, but with her, it’s about  50% of what she talks about.
          What I find difficult to grasp about the 2 women you mentioned is that they had parameters for friendship at the start.  … It seems weird to plan ahead like that when one can’t predict how close they might become to a new friend.
          They had no intention of the friendship ever becoming close. I guess they just don’t want close friends or have the need for them.

    2. 8.2
      Adrian

      Hi Selena,

      I just want to say thank you for your comment. It was a much needed perspective on a subject that we have talked about on and off for a long time; but we only had the opinions of one side.

      If I may ask, in your romantic relationships do you keep the same dynamic? Do you never initiate contact first just to talk? When you do talk to him on the phone do you not want him to talk to you too long? After a date or on your days off do you not want him to stay over too long?

       

      1. 8.2.1
        Selena

        Hi Adrian,

        If I may ask, in your romantic relationships do you keep the same dynamic? 

        In some ways it has been similar. Boyfriends, like some girlfriends, were more socially proactive than I.  They were more easily bored being at home, sometimes antsy. They wanted to be out, going somewhere, doing something, with someone. I would accompany them and enjoy myself, but since I didn’t feel that same need as often as they did, they were the initiators most of the time.

        Partners I lived with had friends to do things with as well.  Someone to play tennis with, or go fishing, or just hang out and have a few beers on days when I was content to stay home and do my own thing.

        Do you never initiate contact first just to talk?  No.

        When you do talk to him on the phone do you not want him to talk to you too long?  Totally depends on the flow of conversation.  Sometimes one topic segues into another and another and… Other times we might not have much to talk about other than when we plan to see each other again.

        After a date or on your days off do you not want him to stay over too long?  Again, it depends. Some dates seem to extend naturally. Others, not so much. 

         

      2. 8.2.2
        Nissa

        @Adrian, you said:

        If I may ask, in your romantic relationships do you keep the same dynamic? For me, it’s the same in my friendship dynamics. My friendships are basically superficial work friends and deeper relationships with people I know from my spiritual center. I’ll join in when people invite me, or invite people to an event I’m already attending, but never just ‘let’s hang out’. 

        Do you never initiate contact first just to talk? Almost never. I much prefer in person contact vs phone, and only text with brief info, such as :”Running late, ETA 10 min”. 

        When you do talk to him on the phone do you not want him to talk to you too long? I prefer people keep it to essentials they need to impart. I don’t want to ‘hang out’ over the phone. 

        After a date or on your days off do you not want him to stay over too long? No. I usually tell my friends how long I can stay, then leave after a set time. This does not mean I don’t like them or I’m not having fun, it means I’ve got stuff to do and limited time in which to do it. 

      3. 8.2.3
        Adrian

        Hi Selena and Nissa,

        I like the fact that you are consistent because it shows that a friend who would leave you would be wrong; it’s not how you feel about them it’s just your personality and you are that way with everyone.

        This was Jeremy’s and Marika’s point and it is something I struggle with because from the outside it seems as if you are the friend doing all the initiating-we always hear about leading with confidence in relationships but seldom do we hear that you need to do it in friendships as well.

  9. 9
    Adrian

    Hi Mrs. Happy and Emily,

    Mrs. Happy said, “The regular cast of vociferous commenting characters are one of the great things about this blog.  When Evan didn’t post topic subjects for a week (or his site was playing up on my computer) recently, I had to get my “other people’s stories” fix from the UK Guardian’s ‘Private Lives’ section – great funny reading for the topic headings alone.  They spell better over at the Guardian, but I missed the regulars here.  I often wonder what you guys are all like in the real world.  Sometimes I think I have certain people pegged; it’s fun to guess things.  But it is odd how it is a community of sorts.

    Emily said,   “Me, too! I remember thinking: OMG! No new post! What am I going to read? Then I started to look at other dating advice sites, but there’s no sense of community there. And I actually read The Guardian, but for the articles.

    I actually tried this a few times when this blog got slow in the past but most other sites seem honestly very judgemental and yes there definitely is no sense of community, so when this site went down last week I just read old post.

    Have either of you noticed that every other site seems to also have a type or a role that is always present especially when it comes to dating subjects? When I was being a relationship forum vagabond in the past I would often read something and think YAG? or KK?, or Shuakat?. I don’t mean they said the same thing or they were the same people, I just mean their attitudes and comments about certain genders were the same.

    Mrs. Happy as far as wondering how people are really like I think if you read long enough you see the pattern but I also think many like Jeremy and Buck are the same offline. I would say though that I always watch out when someone is too amazing with the opposite sex. You know they just walk into a room and after one look at them women just rip off their clothes because of the intense lust or they can’t walk ten feet without dozens and dozens of hot (always hot) young men in their 20’s trying to date them.

    Tom10 (who I think is somewhat more serious in real life) once said, “apparently almost every commentor seems to be super hot or a super alpha” and as Emily said “and they all look 20 years younger than their actual age.” If you take away all those factors than I think everyone is basically the same.

    1. 9.1
      KK

      “When I was being a relationship forum vagabond in the past I would often read something and think YAG? or KK?, or Shuakat?”

      Well hello, Adrian. Care to explain? Lol

    2. 9.2
      Emily, the original

      Adrian,

      I found a Theodora commenting on a celebrity gossip site I read. Didn’t someone with that name also post here? The one everyone thought as really a man?

  10. 10
    Tron Swanson

    I’ve had basically one friend in my life. We still keep in touch, but I haven’t seen him in about two decades. And I’m fine with that. (He isn’t, heh, and I don’t know how much longer we’ll be friends.) I’ve never been a social person, or a people person. I’ve only been on one social network, and it was for a very brief period of time, over a decade ago…I didn’t (and still don’t) understand the concept and/or appeal. I’m far more emotional than most men, but I have zero desire to share those emotions with those around me.

  11. 11
    Mrs Happy

    The Parker-Pope piece has a wonderful sentence towards the end, which Evan quoted:

    “In general you want friends with whom you can have a meaningful conversation…”,

    and though it cautions against these connections being via Facebook (thus presumably any virtual connections), I think the people who post here are a wonderful source of meaningful ideas and conversation.  I want my socialising time to be filled with deeper connections, and frankly only sometimes can I find that in real life, and certainly not at 11pm with any ease.

    I return again and again to this blog, and I suspect it’s not good really, because it’s not real life.  But you guys are all so sensible, blunt, well spoken, and such a delight to develop ideas with.  I fully enjoy YAG’s exquisite grammar, Jeremy dropping in power and metagoals whenever he can get away with it but trying to hold back at other times, Adrian maturing before my very eyes, Emily, Clare and Marika sharing so honestly, KK, Shaukat, GWTF and Tom10 occasionally weighing in with such wisdom .  Such a meeting of minds.  Thank you.

    1. 11.1
      Nissa

      @Mrs Happy –

      I agree.  What I really enjoy about these posts is the open, honest discussions of ideas. My superficial friendships are so much about X event or Y politics or Z activity, but it’s…not terribly satisfying, is it? Like a 100 calorie fat free muffin instead of a hearty steak with butter leaking off the side. Mmmm, butter. Where was I? Oh, ideas.

      Ideas are the part that lets us really get to know one another, to connect in a visceral way, to share passions. I might not agree with YAG or Buck25 or Jeremy, but it is easy to respect their point of view as valid for them. And seeing something so far out of my own views creates a new context for me, that allows me to grow into new perspectives – something I value highly. And honesty, which is so lacking in ‘real life’. I often think that people don’t care about each other enough to be honest, because there are real consequences for giving truth to people you know. My best friends are the ones who lovingly point out my flaws as they affirm finding value in me.

    2. 11.2
      Adrian

      Hi Mrs. Happy and Nissa,

      Have either of you read the book “Datanomics?” The author speaks about the psychology behind communities like ours here on Evan’s site and how it can be as real to the regulars as it would be if they met in person.

      Something else I have noticed about it though is that many seem ashamed to admit that, kind of how back when online dating first came out many people were embarrassed to tell others that they used it because they didn’t want to be perceived as a loser for not being able to meet someone offline; I sometimes get that vibe from commentors here when we have conversations like this one.

    3. 11.3
      Clare

      Mrs Happy, Nissa, Adrian & Emily,

      I really enjoy the discussion and the camaraderie on this blog too. I used to be an active commentator on the Rori Raye blog because, although I do not even come close to agreeing with all of RR’s ideas, the sense of community, support and robust discussion on that blog was legendary. You actually really got to know the commentators and their lives quite intimately, and personally, I loved that connection. I even made a few friends on that blog who became friends *off* the blog. However, that blog eventually died, I think in part due to a shift in RR’s priorities.

      In recent months I have started commenting on the WeddingBee forums. Although there is not the same robust debate that there is here, there is a lot of very sound advice and a lot of perceptive commentators and a range of views. The forums are more focused on providing support and advice than debating ideas, but it’s a great place if you enjoy reading other people’s stories and offering advice, which I absolutely love! There’s direct interaction with the OPs who post their problems as well, which is also nice.

      I personally think that if you’re an insightful person with a lot of insight, it’s very healthy to be able to share these, even if it’s with strangers on the internet. It’s also actually very enlightening to see other people’s situations laid bare and to see the way in which people can be so blind to what is obvious to everyone else.

      1. 11.3.1
        Emily, the original

        Clare,
        “In recent months I have started commenting on the WeddingBee forums.”
        I have to try that one out. I’ve never heard of it.
        “It’s also actually very enlightening to see other people’s situations laid bare and to see the way in which people can be so blind to what is obvious to everyone else.”
        I actually read this blog for three reasons:
        1.) It’s written by a man and has male commenters (The other blogs I read were written by women and all the commenters were women.) I think you need to hear male voices, although it’s sometimes stuff I wish I could unhear! 🙂
        2.) The voices on the other blogs were too homogeneous, parroting back whatever the blog post said. Although I do think this blog skews toward the conservative side (marriage, kids), there is still an undercurrent of dissent (or at least there’s allowed to be one.)
        3.) The peeps.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          @Emily: Marriage and kids isn’t “conservative.” Nor is any other viewpoint I express. This is as moderate, balanced and mainstream relationship guidance as you’re going to get anywhere. I’m a reality-based dating coach who calls attention to how things are, not how I want them to be. I give “best practices” for women who want to understand men and make healthy long-term relationship choices from a place of confidence. In other words, while I don’t teach people how to be swingers or have kids out of wedlock, I don’t judge those people either. For example, telling women who get hurt in NSA relationships not to sleep with men who have no desire to commit is no more conservative than a doctor who tells you to get vaccinated. It’s just practical.

        2. Adrian

          Hi Emily,

          I hope you are feeling better.

          …   …   …

          I am focusing on the subject and not on you personally, so all my “you’s” are meant in the plural sense not you specifically emily.

          You said, “1.) It’s written by a man and has male commenters (The other blogs I read were written by women and all the commenters were women.) I think you need to hear male voices, although it’s sometimes stuff I wish I could unhear! 🙂

          2.) The voices on the other blogs were too homogeneous, parroting back whatever the blog post said. Although I do think this blog skews toward the conservative side (marriage, kids), there is still an undercurrent of dissent (or at least there’s allowed to be one.)”

          This is what I don’t understand about a lot of the push back women give the moderate men on many subjects.  It’s like when men say they see something one way or are attracted to something about women instead of saying “Oh! That’s how you see it!” Instead there is ridicule and condemnation.

          Or the classic ” all the men I know would NEVER!” So it’s just you not men, but has it ever occurred to any one that their male friends don’t show them everything (Lie) because they don’t’ want to be judged?

          Your second point is what I really don’t understand! Again when the men say something you don’t like or agree with (even if all the men are saying it) their is such pushback, denial, and mockery… So why not just stick to sites where everyone agrees and says the same thing? Why not stick to sites were only women post?

          It’s like some want to invite men to speak not to hear their views but just because they are bored and want to argue; kind of like a cat that wants to play with a mouse.

           

        3. sylvana

          Adrian,

          I think a lot of the push back comes from the fact that reality sucks. A lot of women have certain hopes and dreams of what their relationship would be like, and when they find out that it won’t or cannot happen (because men in reality simply aren’t like that), they tend to lash out.

          Those who don’t have accepted reality for what it is. And they either settle (and I’m not talking about looks or income), and hope it makes them happy enough, or they give up on relationships.

          I think some women still invite men to speak up, because they hope some men will say something that will give the women hope things can be different. And when that doesn’t happen, they get angry again.

        4. Emily, the original

          Hi Adrian,
          “It’s like some want to invite men to speak not to hear their views but just because they are bored and want to argue; kind of like a cat that wants to play with a mouse.”
          I am not referring to you, but there are a few male commenters who like to poke the bear and enjoy writing outlandish things to instigate the female commenters. Some want to make women feel bad, particularly about their appearance and age. I have decided to ignore their comments because they are not helpful. But the men push back, too. When there was a discussion about how some women can have NSA sex with men they aren’t particularity attracted to (the same way men can), I remember there being several male commenters who said, “No, no. For a woman to quickly dive into bed with a man, she must be super attracted.”

        5. Emily, the original

          Adrian,
          Also, there are a number of things female commenters have posted that I read and think:Huh? Is that how you experience men and dating? But at least for me, it gives a different perspective because I need it drummed home that people do not feel and experience things the same way. I think that’s where the push back comes from. A woman posts that she is having a hot FWB, and someone else posts that, for the man, she is probably just convenient when she thought the FWB was rocking his world, too. Of course, there’s no way of knowing what the man in the situation truly feels (and he might lie just to keep things going), but there will be push back when someone posts comments that slam into one’s worldview/view of herself/himself.

        6. Adrian

          Hi Emily,

          I have fallen in this trap as well so I can not act as if I am completely innocent. Additionally I do recognize that their are extreme commenters that set most women off “Congratulations on your last post the other day when you finally decided to stop feeding the troll.”

          But taking away how crude some of them speak I still sometimes get the sense that women won’t accept a message about men if it is something they don’t want to… As you have said it goes both ways. Like the debate about the women sleeping with an ex faster, we men also have many issues we don’t want to hear women on.

          I differ from you about the female extreme posters; I actually enjoy their points of view. I guess it’s because to me I “think” I can tell the difference between a person who is passionate and a person who is just trolling. Most of the women with outrageous comments may have been wrong from my viewpoint but they believed what they were saying.

          Some of the males I honestly don’t think they believe half the crazy things they say. Of course we have extreme males that believe what they are saying who comment also-but for this conversation I am assuming you are speaking of the regulars.

        7. Emily, the original

          Hi Adrian,
          But taking away how crude some of them speak I still sometimes get the sense that women won’t accept a message about men if it is something they don’t want to…
          Well, yes. Aren’t there things women have told you about how they view sex and dating that you didn’t want to hear?
          I differ from you about the female extreme posters;
          I wasn’t talking about the extreme comments. Two female commenters recently posted that they had picked guys to date (at least in part) based on how closely they lived near them. That surprised me.
          Some of the males I honestly don’t think they believe half the crazy things they say.
          They don’t. They just enjoy getting the women riled up.

      2. 11.3.2
        Adrian

        Hi Sylvana,

        I agree with everything you have said; we men do it as well.

        Certain subjects always trigger women: age, weight, body type, and looks.

        The thing is those same issues affect men, I wonder if it’s just a simple case of deflections. You know if I keep attacking you for something then no one will notice I have the same flaws?

        For example age, men also have an expiration date for having “healthy” children and their dating marketable value does start to go down also after a certain age regardless of how wealthy they become… Yet in both cases it seems people only focus on female deficiencies in these areas.

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