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Old 04-17-2017, 11:05 AM
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Brita Brita is offline
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Default 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.
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