I Don’t Know How to Keep Friends

I keep running away from people and I don’t know how to stop.

A few years ago, I realized Facebook was making me really unhappy. I thought about deleting my account, but that meant completely cutting off a few people I didn’t want to lose. It also would have impacted some games I enjoy which depend on Facebook for credentials. I decided I just wouldn’t engage with Facebook as much. For a while, that was enough and things got better.

Recently, I had a bad experience on Twitter, so I’ve been withdrawing from that space, too. There was someone there I thought of as a friend. We shared stories with each other. I thought we were fine, but then I found out they blocked me. I was shocked. I have no idea what I might have done or said that ended that relationship. When I reached out to some mutual friends, I didn’t find any kind of reassurance or understanding. It threw me for a loop.

It calls into question all of the relationships I thought I had in that space. Some of these people I’ve met in person. I thought we were friends, but maybe I’ve been fooling myself.

I don’t want to be hurt again. I don’t want to get close to someone, make myself vulnerable, and give them the power to break my heart.

At the same time, the pandemic is keeping me apart from people I care about. Withdrawing from social media means I’m giving up the illusion of socialization. I’m lonely and taking actions that will make me lonelier.

It’s more complicated than that and I’d be lying if I said social media was the only problem. We all know social media is like junk food. A little bit every once in a while is fine, but a steady diet of it will make you sick. My problem with loneliness isn’t just the pandemic or social media. I was withdrawing from people well before COVID-19 impacted our lives.

A few years ago, one of my oldest friends told me that if I cared about him, I’d leave him alone. He said my presence in his life hurt him. So, I stopped reaching out to him. I did care for him. Still do, in fact. If it’s a choice between hurting myself or hurting another person, I’ll take the pain upon myself.

Many years ago, someone told me that when I entered the room, I sucked out all of the oxygen. We weren’t particularly close, but I don’t think he was saying that just to hurt me. Maybe he was trying to help me through tough love or something. His words sit with me every time I enter a crowded room.

A few people have reached out to me to check on me in the last year and a half. Maybe I give off the impression of someone that has their shit together so well that they don’t need to be checked on. Maybe I’ve remained distant from people so long that when I’m no longer visible, I evaporate from people’s memories. I don’t know.

It has me questioning everything. My writing. My self-worth. My future.

I don’t know how people make friends and keep them. I think it has to do with a willingness to put time and effort into a relationship, and to allow oneself to be vulnerable. That’s probably exactly it, and I just don’t know how to do those things. Not anymore.

2 thoughts on “I Don’t Know How to Keep Friends

  1. You are still a valued friend even though we do not see each other often. Every memory with you is wonderful to look back on and I am so happy that you came into my life and made a difference. Thank you my friend

  2. First of all, we are but distant acquaintances who once upon a time did a few raids together in a video game, so my opinion doesn’t have much weight, probably. But I did notice you weren’t as present. I even came to your blog to see if I was just missing things from Facebook for some reason. I’ve always enjoyed reading what you have to say, and how well thought out your opinions are. Being who I am, I usually don’t reach out to people though, and I’m sorry. I realize that I’m the kind of person who gives the impression of not caring, while in fact caring too much.

    Which brings me to my second point. I do have similar issues too, so you are not alone in that either. After so many years of people I really cared about just ghosting me or circles of friends splintering after turning on each other, I just feel so… tired. Every time I try to reach out to people now, I feel like I have to weight in every word I say, is it too odd, do I sound too eager, can this be misinterpreted, am I normal ? I think I am generally a good person, just a little bit awkward, but it’s got me feeling all sorts of wrong, like I cannot make *real* connections and friends. And I’m exhausted, because when I do try now, I just feel fake, because I’m being too careful. I’m too scared to be rejected again. I don’t want to feel like that, I just want to be able to be me and still be cared about. So I’ve been really pulling out. Sometimes I write huge paragraphs and then delete them instead of posting. Which I’m wondering if I should do it with this right now…

    Anyway, I guess all that to say that even if it’s little comfort, there are others like you. And that some of those other people out there are thinking of you from time to time, even if we don’t show it.

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