Sunday, July 12, 2009

Friends don't always get along

When I was younger, and more naive - I remember introducing two groups of my friends. I was a sophomore in high school. I thought that everyone would get along, naturally. Perhaps it was arrogance on my part, maybe I thought since *I* got along with them, then they would get along with one another.

So it was a bit shocking to me when my friends did not get along, and did not want to spend time together. There wasn't outward hostility, but a polite disinterest.

As an adult, I have continued to find such situations. Being married, it becomes even more advantageous to find friends that get along with my husband. And now, as a mom, it's important to find friends who can tolerate little people. For me, it's not a matter of being good with kids, but simply not running from the room screaming when someone asks a question or throws a small tantrum.

So it's been interesting to me as an adult when people try to dissuade me from a friendship with another person. Most people respect that friends will disagree and have different interests. There are religious differences, differences in parenting styles, musical tastes, etc.

I've just found it fascinating when other adults try to manipulate or even outwardly say something like "I don't know how you can be friends with that person. They did x." or " they said x" or "their political or religious beliefs are x". I can't help it, it reminds me of high school.

It's not that I'm not constantly working on my friendships, taking in new information. But just because *I* may have differences with someone (religiously, politically, personal habits) doesn't mean that I expect everyone to lose those friendships. I'm not so insecure to need loyalty and play into cliques. Sure, if someone is accused of abuse or other dangerous behavior, that's one thing. Or if they are clearly racist, misogynist or homophobic (so much so that it's uncomfortable).

But for the most part, the fact that someone likes Spongebob or drives an SUV is not an automatic strike on my part.

How many friendships would I have lost out on if I had been so picky?


Anonymous said...

I love it when my worlds collide. I have changed jobs and workplaces so many times but manage to stay in touch with colleagues when I leave. As a result any events at our house are likely to have so many different circles of friends that it is hard to know where to begin. Luckily most of our friends are easy-going enough to introduce themselves to those they haven't met!

Aerin said...

Thanks relish! Most of the time gatherings and friends DO get along. What's always interesting to me is when they don't...I just re-adjust my expectations.

Holly said...

maybe because I grew up in a small town where everyone knew everyone else, I always want ALL my friends to know all my other friends. I actively promote friendships between friends from different times or areas of my life. I tried for years to get a set of friends who moved to Seattle to start socializing with another set of friends who had already moved to Seattle--the women in each couple had similar interests and temperaments; the kids were about the same age; they'd get along great! It really puzzled me that they wouldn't even make a phone call or go out for coffee. The mere link of knowing me was not enough, apparently, to make them decide to hang out together.

I've also been burned when I did introduce friend A to friend B and a falling-out then ensued.

But the hardest thing for me to understand has been people who want to keep sets of friends separate, the same way they want to keep things on their plates from blending into something else. It simply didn't compute for a while. I was in my 30s before I truly understood that some people just don't want this person they hang out with to know anymore than the names of the other people they hang out with.

I still think it's weird. OK, there's the danger that some of your friends might decide they like the person you introduced them to even better than they like you. But the increased bonds between you all might also make you better friends in the long run.

I'm glad not everyone is like that. One of the people I hang out with most now is someone I met because a friend who heard I was moving to SLC emailed me and said, "Hey! I have a good friend there! You would like her! Here's her email! Go have coffee!" Even time I see S, I'm grateful to J for hooking us up.