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Do real friendships exist?

Discussion in 'Family, Friends, and Relationships' started by Destin, May 17, 2019.

  1. Destin

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    It doesn't feel like they do. I know an absurd amount of people, hundreds, yet every single one of them eventually ends up disappearing without a word, only showing up when they want something from me, or act like it's some big chore to find an hour to hang out every few months. I'm just really tired of it.

    Where are all these supposedly lifelong authentic friends that people talk about? No matter what I do nobody stays around. It's been literally less than a month since the seniors at my university graduated, and already all of the senior friends I had are refusing to return messages or even just hang out one more time before they leave the city forever. Years of friendship just means nothing apparently. Everyone's the freaking same. If they can't get free stuff or entertainment from me anymore I just stop existing to them no matter how long we've known each other.

    I don't understand what I'm doing wrong. I know a lot of people, I spend time with those people both in groups and individually, I'm always there for them, we do stuff we're both interested in together....and then....they're just gone one day for no reason. What's the point of doing anything with people. I might as well just sit alone in my room all day and stop bothering to care about anyone since they're all just going to throw my friendship away anyway.
     
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  2. Dionysios

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    Personally I feel that the true friendship that you describe is quite rare. From my years of experience, most people that I know and have hung with were not friends but more glorified acquaintances. Most folks are true followers if the "Me Generation." They think of themselves primarily. They use people they know if it benefits them in some way. When we are no longer useful, we are discarded.

    I have very few "real" friends, these are people who contact me in good times or bad, who are always there for me. My friend, I suspect that the same holds true for you. Most of the people in your life were never "friends" in that literal sense, merely acquaintances passing through your life much like strangers we pass on the street. Don't get down and don't take it personally. Concentrate your focus on your partner and those few individuals who are always there for you. They are the ones you should really care about and not stress over the others who are not worth the bother.
     
  3. OnTheHighway

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    Friendship exists. Its about more than providing each other entertainment value or material things. The underlying foundation for real friendship is based on vulnerability and opening up to each other. Establishing an emotional connection between two individuals is the basis for a real friendship. Such friendships take time and effort on both parts, and often it’s when your apart or have a challenge in life that you truly begin to see whom your real friends are.

    Coming out of high school, often friendships are more superficially based. That is to be expected. As we gain more life experience, get older, and mature, we better appreciate what a true friendship is.

    Instead of using gifts and entertainment as a basis for establishing a friendship, establish emotional connections with those you come across that you find commonality with. I know it sounds easier said than done, but having moved more times than I can count on my hands and needing to establish true friendships where ever I have lived, I have found this formula to work best for me.
     
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  4. Chip

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    It really sucks to discover that the friends you thought you had aren't really true friends, and I know how that feels because I've been there. I would disagree with the idea that true friendship is rare, but I do think that in order to cultivate and establish authentic, emotionally intimate friendship, one has to really be able to connect vulnerably... and that's difficult.

    I wholeheartedly agree with OnTheHighway's comments above. Here's a couple more thoughts...

    I can't tell you how often I hear something similar coming from people that grew up reasonably well-to-do. And (anecdotal evidence only) it seems that an awful lot (but by no means all) of people who grew up in higher income households seem to have similar problems. Their parents are often so busy with their lives that they have little time for their children, so instead of time, they smother them with material things... which, in turn, teaches the children (often unconsciously) that material objects = friendship and love.

    Unfortunately, when you are constantly buying things/entertainment/food etc for others, you are, in most cases "renting a friend." Real friends start to feel uncomfortable if those things are happening consistently; friends who are using you will milk it for as long as they can get away with. And the problem is... the friends who are using you have no authentic friendship with you in the first place, so it's easy for those friendships to fall away.

    Another major piece here is (to amplify what OnTheHighway said)... real friendship without real vulnerability is pretty much impossible. If your activities with your friends mostly involve activities where everyone is using alcohol or drugs... then no real vulnerability is happening, and thus, the friendships are pretty surface-level. And unfortunately, a "surface-level" friendship can persist for years without getting any deeper.

    Knowing of you what I do, I suspect that the vulnerablity (or, more precisely, lack thereof) is getting in the way of authenticity in friendships, and that's tied in with the alcohol/drug use. I know that's something you're working on. The challenge is... the alcohol and drugs are numbing the discomfort and self-esteem issues that, in turn, are creating huge shields against vulnerability. So as you solve the alcohol/drug issues (which also means digging into the childhood trauma issues), you'll find it easier to practice vulnerability with people who have earned the right to hear your story... and those people are the ones who can, over time, be the real, lifelong friends.

    It's not a rapid path, but I think you'll find that as you do the work, you'll be rewarded with much more fulfilling friendships... and this will also have positive impact on your relationship as well.
     
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  5. regkmc

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    It’s hard, I remember feeling incredibly sad as a senior in college because I knew my friendships would never be the same with those people. It’s a unique moment in time....a lot of alcohol, a lot of people from all over the country, a lot of surface level relationships. You’ll maintain some connections and friendships, but those will change and fade. The ones that are meaningful will persist, sometimes you’ll have to be the one to keep it going, and that’s just how it is. Life gets busy, and family will be hard enough to maintain contact with, let alone friends. All normal and all OK.
     
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  6. Aaron83

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    I am currently asking the same question! I never hear from any so called 'friends' unless i initiate contact so i can't be bothered anymore. I think if people were honest with themselves they would find they had one or two real friends they could count on. I am luckily to have my parents and sister but other than that i don't have any real friends and have accepted i never will. I don't like people much to be honest due to past experience and most of the time i am ok in my own company.
     
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  7. resu

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    I've read articles on friendships, and there were two interesting statistics that stuck for me. First: humans can only maintain ~150 stable relationships at a time ("Dunbar's number"). Second: It takes approximately seven years before a friendship will be permanent (lasting a lifetime). So, the vast majority of people you know are just acquaintances, and even many the friendships you've had for several years may end.

    I would say one way to develop friendships is to do things that interest you and find the communities of people doing those things. In my case, I make art and have gotten involved in the local arts community. I've found some artists are always thinking in terms of "promoting/networking" while the people I really enjoy talking to are those who can have friendly conversations that aren't always about themselves. The same is true for other relationships: everyone has an agenda when it comes to communication, but the people who are honest to themselves and others about their motives will have the least problems.
     
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  8. HM03

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    I had the exact same feelings as you do once I graduated. I went from having a ton of friends that I studied, partied and chilled with all the time to basically nobody. The majority of them went back home, a few only message me when they want something.

    After a year of being an alumnus and reaching out to people now and then, I've come to terms with who I'm wasting time on and which friends I can talk to/hang out with every couple of months and things still feel the exact same.

    So yeah, good friends exist, but would say you only get a couple in a lifetime.
     
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  9. Love4Ever

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    I completely agree. Personally I feel like in this day and age making friendships is just harder. I too have tried so hard to make friendships and I do often feel that none of them are really meaningful or long lasting. I just feel like in most cases I end up getting hurt. I also have social anxiety so it makes me often want to just give up and become a hermit tbh. So you’re not alone op. I often feel just as lonely with people as I am by myself.
     
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  10. OGS

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    I guess I'll start by saying it definitely can be real--I have friends I've been close with for decades now.

    But the main thing I would say about what you're going through now is just to say that sometimes people are there for you within a particular context. They're school friends or work friends, neighbors, that sort of thing. Oftentimes that doesn't move beyond that context. I think you should try not to let that negate what it was. Some people will say that means they weren't really your friends, that they they're more like just friendly acquaintances. And I guess I get that and don't entirely disagree, but I think that obscures the fact that you're going to spend a lot of your life with those friendly acquaintances and they can be a really wonderful part of a full life.

    At the moment I have two guys at work that I'm pretty much thick as thieves with and it's great. We really enjoy each other's company; we spend an awful lot of time together at work, and some time outside work. We care about each other, we're very open and honest with each other, support each other--and we're just fun together. Frankly, they're one of the main things I enjoy about my job. Experience tells me that it's possible if one of us were to leave the firm that we would stay friends, but it's also quite possible we wouldn't. The fact of the matter is I've pretty much always had a special work friend or two everywhere I've worked. We have a lot of fun together, really bond and sometimes it extends beyond the job, but most of the time after the job ends you sort of see each other from time to time and reminisce about all the old times, compare new times and the like, sometimes you just drift entirely apart.

    It doesn't change the fact that what we had was special and important in its time. Sometimes people enrich a portion of our lives, and then that portion ends and we move on to the next one. Not everything that's real and important lasts forever...
     
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  11. Mirko

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    I do think that real friendships exists, but as others have said, they take some time to cultivate, build; I would further agree with the idea that a lot of the friendships we have aren't as stable or deep as we think they might be. I have a couple of friends where I know that our friendship is a real friendship. With the others, I am not entirely sure and it makes sense to place them in the category of 'acquaintances' to be really honest.

    One of the friends I have, where I know that he is a real friend, we originally got to know each other at university, 12 years ago. From there, we lived together for a while which allowed for a deeper friendship to develop - chief among the reasons are that we realised that we could trust each other, and respect(ed) each other's boundaries. Living together, it necessitated us communicating with each other daily which helped up to get to know each other more so. More importantly, we made time for each other. If we realised that one of us needed to talk, we left everything aside, put away cell phones, and just talked and listened (actively listened). We used to have long conversations (three, four hours long) on the kitchen floor - the kitchen being one of the two common areas in the place we shared. Even though some of the conversations were about something we were going through or a problem we needed to solve, they helped to shape the friendship and made it what it is today. My friend moved back to another country, but even though we have now a large geographical distance between us, our friendship hasn't changed. When he moved back, we committed ourselves to staying in touch, which holds true to this day. We Skype regularly, and if we have a longer period of time without a text, or any communication, one of us will check in and see what's up. Four years ago, I visited him for a week and it was as if nothing changed. Last year, we decided to travel together to different cities in the United States; it was one of the best vacations I have had.

    When I think about the other friends I have, or indeed had, I struggle to think about another one that would come as close as the one I described above. I do have friends with whom I can share things, and get together, but none of them are as deep.

    I have started to learn, that when a friend cannot deal with the fact that I have boundaries, and while I might not put them in place immediately or will be more forgiving at times, they are not a friend as such to begin with. I have had friends where the friendship went well, as long as it was on their terms. The moment I started altering the terms, it started going downhill. I have also had friends who thought I will do whatever for them, and it doesn't matter what they say or do, including treating me like crap at times. Well, they learned that it's not going to happen. And looking back, I have never lost anything by not having that friendship.

    I don't think you are doing anything wrong, it is just a matter of finding one or two people with whom you can build a true friendship, a friendship that you know will last. Keep meeting people; as you do that, chances are you will find the person that is willing to give it a real chance of building a friendship that lasts for a while.
     
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  12. DecentOne

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    Some folks do this in order to launch themselves into a new life. It’s a psychological thing, to compensate for the sadness of leaving behind the community they’ve had for the past four years. I got upset in school when an older student seemed to be pulling away in the months before graduation. I was getting annoying about it (I was the one acting funny, in reaction). He challenged me about what was going on, and fortunately I was able to express how welcoming he’d been when I was new at school, and now I could feel him leaving and I missed that. It didn’t change the way he was redirecting his focus to the new possibilities and fears of what might come after graduation, but at that point we didn’t need to say more.
     
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  13. OnTheHighway

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    Is it really possible to have even more than just a small number of close friends? I try to find enough time in a day for my own personal stuff, not sure how to fit in more time for more than just a few close friends. Everyone else are just acquaintances.
     
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  14. Mirko

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    I have known a couple of people who had several close friends, and they managed the relationships well (then again they were also an extrovert). I suppose it depends on the kinds of priorities one has and where the emphasis is. Personally, I wouldn't be able to manage as I also need a fair amount of time to myself to reenergise.

    I think it's something to think about when one tries to forge closer relationships with others - what are the individual's needs, is one content with one or two close friends, what priorities one has, etc...
     
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  15. Railwayj

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    My problem is that I have lots of good straight friends but can’t find ANY gay guys that I have anything in common with other than anatomy to even try and be friends with. The ones that I think might be interesting as a friend aren’t interested in friends and are only interested in who their next encounter is with. I also have had issues with many closeted guys who are married that seem like they could be someone I would enjoy as a friend but they almost always are afraid of their own shadow and are so secretive and sneaky about things that being friends with them wouldn’t work even if they were willing. I have no desire to have a “covert” friendship. I have plenty of faceless gay people I talk to online but finding any real life ones hasn’t worked out. It’s most depressing.
     
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