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Brita 04-17-2017 11:05 AM

The problem with friends
 
I often turn to you guys for advice, partly because we are a diverse crowd, and conversely because we are somewhat kindred spirits. I struggle with this a lot, and I wonder if any of you can relate.

If I Hide Myself Wherever I go, Am I Ever Really There?

This is a lyric from the Barenaked Ladies song "For You". The greatest lyrics can sum up such complex issues into one succinct line.

So, like many people, I am a mixture of both extroverted and introverted tendencies. I enjoy being with people. I enjoy deep discussions or just a night of playing games and having a few drinks. I benefit from social interaction. And when at it's best, I feel energized.

On the other hand, I am very content to just be with myself. I do not need social contact to maintain a healthy state of mind. And if I was to be truly honest, I am happiest when I am left alone.

Now, here's the rub. I thrive off strong opinions. And I love to discuss them and be challenged on them (like most of you here). However, I simultaneously worry obsessively about offending people. And I have offended people. Lately (and for most of my life, really) getting together with friends generally means a pep talk to myself before hand to "Not say anything about anything". I look in the mirror and actually say to myself "Don't say anything about anything." What I mean is not that I don't participate in conversation, but that I keep all my comments benign and fluffy. I try to curb any provocative or challenging thought that might cross my mind in the name of peace and tranquility. And I am left feeling dismal.

I often end an evening with friends wondering what it is all for? Friendship, I mean. The only person in the world I feel comfortable and completely open with is my husband. And this is partly why I often wonder why I need friends at all. I have a confidant in my partner. And if friendship just means playing a role and acting a part, what is the point? And I know what you are thinking. You are thinking "you should just be who you are, be genuine and don't conform for the sake of others". Well, I would certainly cause friction in a lot of our friendships. And I say our friendships because my friends are also my husbands friends. And you are also thinking "If you can't be yourself, then they are not truly friends." I agree. However, while I might be okay with letting certain friendships slide to oblivion, he would not be.

And so I am left at social gatherings, with friends that my husband enjoys very much, biting my tongue and being as socially bland as possible. Or, sometimes I let opinions slip (especially after a few drinks) and end up upsetting someone. Either way, a night with friends most often leaves me feeling profoundly alone. More alone than when I am actually just alone with myself. It is this irony that leaves me wondering if it is really worth it, this friendship thing.

GonzoTheGreat 04-17-2017 11:20 AM

Friendship error: replace friends and try again.

Which, admittedly, may be phrased just a bit too strongly. However, if those friends are such snowflakes that a few comments from you could drive them away, then they don't have what it takes to be your friend, do they? I suspect at least some of them are tougher than you give them credit for, but I admit that figuring out which can be a bit messy now and then.

Brita 04-17-2017 11:34 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GonzoTheGreat (Post 241423)
Friendship error: replace friends and try again.

Which, admittedly, may be phrased just a bit too strongly. However, if those friends are such snowflakes that a few comments from you could drive them away, then they don't have what it takes to be your friend, do they? I suspect at least some of them are tougher than you give them credit for, but I admit that figuring out which can be a bit messy now and then.

I know you are right. And I know that some of them are likely less sensitive than I am imagining. But a few bad experiences has made me gun shy. It is so much easier to just not try...especially when it is so easy for me to just stay home and read.

Davian93 04-17-2017 02:02 PM

Are the snowflakes in general women or men? In my experience, women seem to take stuff like that more seriously and more personally than a guy who will tend to blow it off and not hold a grudge, etc. That's not a hard and fast rule but overall it seems to be the case.

Brita 04-17-2017 03:15 PM

I hate to confirm the stereotype, but the majority is the women in the group that I worry about. Not exclusively, but the majority for sure.

I feel like I am a bad mix of feeling very passionate about issues and yet very afraid to step on toes. It kind of leaves me socially crippled.

Don't get me wrong, if you ask anyone they will think I am outgoing and funny and would not suspect this underlying angst of never really feeling free to be myself. But the result is I don't actually feel very close to any of my friends.

Gah- I was hoping someone here has felt the same way, but maybe its just me :(

Davian93 04-17-2017 08:32 PM

I feel pretty much the same way if that helps...especially with my family members.

GonzoTheGreat 04-18-2017 02:19 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Davian93 (Post 241427)
I feel pretty much the same way if that helps...especially with my family members.

Ah, but there you don't have to mince words. After all, a friend can unfriend you, but a sibling can't unbrother you.

Purple Dragon 04-18-2017 04:12 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GonzoTheGreat (Post 241428)
Ah, but there you don't have to mince words. After all, a friend can unfriend you, but a sibling can't unbrother you.

Trust me... it CAN be done...

GonzoTheGreat 04-18-2017 05:06 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Purple Dragon (Post 241429)
Trust me... it CAN be done...

Now that you mention it, I once heard a story about two brothers called Cain and Abel ...

Davian93 04-18-2017 08:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GonzoTheGreat (Post 241428)
Ah, but there you don't have to mince words. After all, a friend can unfriend you, but a sibling can't unbrother you.

You haven't met my family...

For example, my brother and father didn't speak for the final 8 years of my father's life because of a disagreement.

connabard 04-18-2017 10:09 AM

I feel similarly, though for the opposite reasons. I am afraid of coming across as dumb if I voice my opinions, etc.

I will say, something I've noticed is that a lot of people aren't used to disagreements, in a sense. I notice everyone here doesn't qualify their language when disagreeing with things like 'well I think' and 'I'm not sure' and I know people that are super intimidated by that level of certainty and then... defense mechanisms.

I'd suggest maybe soft-balling your approach to voicing your opinions? Do things like "well, I'm not sure, but I think X about Y" or even (but make sure to not use a condescending tone) ask them "interesting. what do you think?" etc

My father was a blunt man so I grew up just stating things but I've learned a lot of people take that aggressively, and more inclined to get offended at that rather than at what you're actually saying.

EDIT: As for what friends are for, I'm not entirely sure. I like to think it's good to have a separate life than that of your spouse, and friends are a vehicle for that. But I'm also unwed and young, so I could be entirely off the mark there.

Weiramon 04-18-2017 02:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by connabard (Post 241433)
I feel similarly, though for the opposite reasons. I am afraid of coming across as dumb if I voice my opinions, etc.

I will say, something I've noticed is that a lot of people aren't used to disagreements, in a sense. I notice everyone here doesn't qualify their language when disagreeing with things like 'well I think' and 'I'm not sure' and I know people that are super intimidated by that level of certainty and then... defense mechanisms.

I'd suggest maybe soft-balling your approach to voicing your opinions? Do things like "well, I'm not sure, but I think X about Y" or even (but make sure to not use a condescending tone) ask them "interesting. what do you think?" etc

My father was a blunt man so I grew up just stating things but I've learned a lot of people take that aggressively, and more inclined to get offended at that rather than at what you're actually saying.

EDIT: As for what friends are for, I'm not entirely sure. I like to think it's good to have a separate life than that of your spouse, and friends are a vehicle for that. But I'm also unwed and young, so I could be entirely off the mark there.


Bah, that's ridiculous.

Brita 04-18-2017 02:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by connabard (Post 241433)
I feel similarly, though for the opposite reasons. I am afraid of coming across as dumb if I voice my opinions, etc.

I will say, something I've noticed is that a lot of people aren't used to disagreements, in a sense. I notice everyone here doesn't qualify their language when disagreeing with things like 'well I think' and 'I'm not sure' and I know people that are super intimidated by that level of certainty and then... defense mechanisms.

I'd suggest maybe soft-balling your approach to voicing your opinions? Do things like "well, I'm not sure, but I think X about Y" or even (but make sure to not use a condescending tone) ask them "interesting. what do you think?" etc

My father was a blunt man so I grew up just stating things but I've learned a lot of people take that aggressively, and more inclined to get offended at that rather than at what you're actually saying.

EDIT: As for what friends are for, I'm not entirely sure. I like to think it's good to have a separate life than that of your spouse, and friends are a vehicle for that. But I'm also unwed and young, so I could be entirely off the mark there.

Great take on it connabard! My dad was also (and still is) very blunt with his opinions. I definitely take after him, and really enjoy a good battle of wits. But I have to realize that not everyone appreciates (or understands) that kind of thing :) My approach is something to work on for sure.

On reflection I realize I can definitely come off strongly, and it doesn't even reflect certainty in my stance- but more my excitement to be engaging in some deeper topics of conversation. I just need to tamper my enthusiasm a little so I can be more circumspect in my approach.

What a great aha! moment :)

Great Lord of the Dark 04-19-2017 06:23 PM

Same here
 
I endure similar scenarios Brita, because I like rocking boats, and others worry worry worry.

I have found you can get away with saying all manner of ridiculous opinions if you say them in a way that allows that you're making fun of yourself too.

My other tactic is to state my opinions in a way that offers something that may be of value to a discussion, and hope to receive something that may be of interest to me.

But most of the world didn't improve their debate/engagement skills via Theoryland.

I also figure if my spouse can check her facebook feed no matter who is around, then I am justified in pulling out my phone when the conversation doesn't allow for full Tyler to be expressed.

I also have a group of friends who get together once a month where we are all comfortable in full out arguments, and we are not fit company for lesser mortals. But it is a good outlet.

Brita 04-20-2017 10:16 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Great Lord of the Dark (Post 241437)
I also have a group of friends who get together once a month where we are all comfortable in full out arguments, and we are not fit company for lesser mortals. But it is a good outlet.

Sounds like a group I would enjoy :)

This has been so excellent, great suggestions everyone. Thanks. I feel much better about it now that I am armed with disarming ways.

GonzoTheGreat 04-20-2017 10:34 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Brita (Post 241441)
Sounds like a group I would enjoy :)

Doesn't everyone fit in with the Friends of the Dark?

Sei'taer 04-21-2017 08:58 PM

I'm the same way, Brita. I can count my really good friends on three fingers of one hand, and that's if one of them is my wife.

I think we can agree that I have strong opinions and I express them when I feel like I need to do so. Most of the time it's not even worth it to me. That's a terrible thing to say but it's better than being called names and told that I'm stupid. Especially after this election it's been really bad. I have lots of "friends" that don't talk to me anymore. Truly, I just don't care, I feel like they'll either come back around or they were a seasonal friend anyway and not worth pursuing a deeper friendship with.

That being said, I had several wonderful discussions with GLotD at Jordancon last year. He's a deep opinionated guy and so am I. We had an unspoken agreement that we would talk it out and not fight it. If you ever meet him, you'll understand what I mean. The funny thing is, after a few discussions I figured out that we really weren't terribly far apart anyway.

Mort 04-23-2017 08:57 AM

What kind of opinions are we talking about exactly? Politics? It's usually politics :)

A few of my friends friends doesn't share my views, I just never bring that stuff up when being with them. We share other interests that we can focus on when hanging out.

If it's opinions you care deeply about, voice them.

If you have to tip-toe around a mine field of possible disruptive arguments, I would definitely think long and hard if it's really worth it.

GonzoTheGreat 04-23-2017 09:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mort (Post 241485)
What kind of opinions are we talking about exactly? Politics? It's usually politics :)

It could be the Kardassians instead. Or whatever substitute for those is en vogue in Canada, of course. Maybe Brita had Bieber problems.

Brita 04-23-2017 04:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GonzoTheGreat (Post 241486)
It could be the Kardassians instead. Or whatever substitute for those is en vogue in Canada, of course. Maybe Brita had Bieber problems.

Yep, I definitely have Bieber issues that cannot be discussed. Ever.

It's actually significant differences in general outlooks on life, and this affects many many topics. And it is a bit of a mine field. It affects things like parenting, work and leisure. It touches almost everything about General life. It is an extreme type "A" couple (teachers ;) ), and a much more type "B" couple (us). And then their clash with our VERY type "B" friends whose children they teach. And that leaves very few topics we can discuss openly without offending them.

My husband really enjoys his friendship with the husband- and I ley my relationship with them slide at this pint without being obvious. so I just need to keep my mouth shut and enjoy what conversation I can.


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