I am not great at making friends, and I decided nearly two years ago, as a New Years resolution, that I was going to work on it. I am in my mid-30s, and don’t have any kids, I work full time and am in graduate school (online). I have drifted away from most of my high school and college friends, but still see a few of them semi regularly and/or keep up over email and Facebook.
To try and give myself a feeling of a community of friends, I went through my Facebook friends list and picked out other similarly aged women who live geographically close to me that I genuinely want to spend more time with and set up a group called “Brunch!” I explained what I was trying to do, and set up a series of brunches as events, once a month for the first year and in this second year less often. At first, everyone who accepted said it was a great idea, and the first brunch everyone ( 9 or 10 people) came, I hosted it at my house and thought it was great. We discussed and decided we would take turns hosting, and picked the next host.
At the next one, and all of the future ones a little more than half of the people came, though a couple of times it ends up being me and one other person. Often 8 or 9 people will respond “going” to the Facebook event and then 3-5 people bailing the morning of the brunch, with promises to be there the next month. A few people, it turns out, don’t really use Facebook and never reply unless contacted in other ways, which I have tried to do to keep them in the loop.
I am (still, somehow, even when other people are hosting) the one doing all of the coordinating and planning, so over the summer when I got busy I just stopped scheduling every month, we skipped two months and planned to all get together in October. The day of this month’s brunch, again, of the people I thought were coming, half of them bailed the morning of for various reasons, one who I had moved the day for earlier so she could make it promised to “be there with bells on next month”. And I can’t help but take it personally, and feel some resentment about it.
What do I do? Is this just what adult female friendship is like? Getting bailed on constantly? Or do the specific people I picked just suck? Is it me? Do I suck and they just don’t want to tell me? I want to have friends, not a bunch of people I plan things for who then bail on me at the last minute. And I definitely don’t want to feel cynical and resentful about the group and the activity. Please help! 1021-16
When there is a group function, the perception guests can have is that their absence won’t be noticed much so they find it easy to “bail” the morning of the event. I think it is time for you to transition to going out to lunch one at a time with potential friends. You just cannot get the depth of relationship by meeting in groups the way you can when you are one-on-one with someone. Sometimes people “click” and a friendship is born and sometimes they don’t and you just have to move on to the next possible friend.
When I’m trying to establish a friendship, I offer to go to lunch with the person. If my attempt to schedule lunch fails two or three times, meaning the person comes up with excuses at the last minute to bow out of going, I stop taking the initiative and wait to see if they reciprocate at a later date with their own suggestion that we do that lunch date we had been talking about. If they never take the initiative themselves, I make the conclusion that the person is not available for a friendly relationship at this time and move on the next person I find interesting enough to try to get to know better. You will get more “rejections” than acceptances but every once in a while you find a gem of a relationship that was worth all the effort.
I’m impressed that you are being proactive in reaching out to make more friends. One of my personal pet peeves are women who whine of being lonely, no friends, etc. and every time I respond with a question, “Are you doing any hospitality?” Without fail, they are not. They seem to have a perception that they can sit at home or work and the world should come to them and make the effort to get to know them yet they don’t see any value in they themselves doing the work necessary to build a foundation of friendship.