Loneliness and the Lost Art of Friendship

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Doug and I usually feel desperately alone.

We work, a lot. 60 plus hours a week we’re at our store. Yet, we can still find time and move our schedules to try to make seeing people an option. Sometimes we make plans and it doesn’t work out and it sucks. Things happen.
What is interesting to me is how much time Doug and I collectively spend seeking people out and yet we’re still lonely. How many messages we’ve sent that got no reply, how many calls we’ve made that were never returned, or plans that simply didn’t get rescheduled.
We show up to parties and kind of remember that we like certain people and that they like us but we only ever get to interact within the shallow situation of group dynamics.  Plus, it feels really pathetic to be the one to ask people all the time to be around us and we can only take so many no’s before we close off entirely and embrace the lie that no one wants to be our friends.
We don’t have any deep relationships with friends who are physically close to us. Door after door seems to have been closed in our face and when we ask friends who’ve moved away, they understand enough to sympathize, but we can’t drive three hours on a Friday to see them and then open the store Saturday.

I should land somewhere, I know, and here it is:
Friendship has become a lost discipline.

Creating lasting relationships is, quite frankly, something that our generation has neither the patience nor tenacity for. I look at people who look like they have lots of friends, groups of people who get together and have fun, and I find a common denominator: scheduled activity. 
Doug and I have a schedule that requires we be occupied when others have  free time. We’re a store, we can’t be open Monday-Friday 9AM-5PM because we wouldn’t make any money. We’d lose an entire chunk of the market we serve.
What this has created in our tiny world of acquaintances is an anomaly. We can’t make it to birthday parties, cook outs, small group, Sunday church services, or other structured functions where people check their friendship boxes off one by one.
In a world where going out for coffee is thrown around like the thing people do I have seen very little coffee come my way lately.

Friendship requires that you forge a relationship with someone. If I just saw my husband at parties and on Sunday morning people would think our marriage was failing. Why is it okay for your friends? Is the, “Hi, how are you?”, in passing before you move on to the game of Cards Against Humanity spread out on the table in front of everyone really enough to know how they are?

Doug and I have hit a wall this month that feels insurmountable. So many pieces have been crumbling for so long that the big rocks are starting to fall and no one knows. Because no one has asked. Our friends literally don’t know how we are. 
Like I said, there are only so many times that you can beg for someone to hang out with you before you give up.

The discipline of relationships is often brought up in marriage counseling. But I wonder why it is that we are so content to have shallow friendships?
I am not out to have as many friends as my schedule can hold, but I am out to have someone I can call and meet up with without it feeling like I am an inconvenience or hearing about all the things they have to do instead of hangout with me.

My challenge, if you feel this way, is to look at the people who are contacting you. There must be someone. Or, look at the amount of times you’ve asked to see someone and got blown off or never rescheduled.

Maybe someone is waiting for you to reach out to them, too.

But if you’ve emailed, text-ed, and called and still haven’t gotten a response- I’d move on. There is someone who wants to be friends with you, it may not be who you thought.
Flex your friendship muscles instead of curl up again.

Instead of succumbing to the weight of the loneliness that we feel in the friendship department, we’ve been trying to make a point to see people around us that we know are solid friends. We’ve also made the rule that if we have instigated seeing someone three times without them responding or making an active effort for it to work, we’re done. We won’t beg. If they don’t want to see us, there must be a reason and we can’t fix it if they won’t talk to us, so the ball is pretty squarely in his or her court.

 

Also, it’s really embarrassing to admit that you’re lonely, let alone that both you and your spouse are lonely. We love each other, but I’m pretty sure somewhere in the hierarchy of needs  friends exist- our marriage isn’t failing because we’re tired of only seeing each other for 16 hours a day every day.

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Loneliness and the Lost Art of Friendship

  1. It is easy to get lost in the rhythm of a daily work, eat, home, sleep, laundry, church, and such. It takes a concerted effort to have friends who are real and lasting. I didn’t find mine till I was in my 40’s. I thank God for these people every day. I didn’t know I needed them or that I was lonely until I found them. Now I am not so lost in the rigamarole of the everyday.
    I love reading your blog. Thank you for exposing your real and very raw emotions here.

  2. Pingback: The Ubiquity of Loneliness | In and Out

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