When you look around yourself on another Friday night spent alone in your flat, certain questions can start to occur to you. Some of them might even be valid, no matter how bitterly or toxically your brain presents them to you.
‘Why am I alone?’
‘Where are my friends?’
‘Are they really that close?’
‘Why am I like this and what can I do to change this?’
There before us is an example of how a good old fashioned mental spiral can go down. Often, it’s worse than that, but I’ll give us all the benefit of the doubt. This is a ‘one glass of wine’ spiral. Some happen after the whole bottle and take a whole lot more effort to pick yourself up from the next morning. So let’s be grateful that I’ve bounded this example.
But yes, there you are, with your empty Ben & Jerry’s tub and the series finale of Gilmore Girls playing. As you lament how the show declined in the revival (your favourite topic to love-hate), you brandish your sticky spoon at the poorly aging characters on your screen. You wonder that they’ve lived their lives and reflect on why you haven’t lived yours in the same way. Where’s your Lane? The Lorelai to your Rory? Even the haphazard Dean in the background. Or indeed, the gold standard of Luke, patiently waiting for Lorelai to turn around and realise she was meant for him all along.
Where’s that friendship?
Well, frankly, the first port of call to get out the way is to establish that most of those friendships are seen through the dramatic rose-tinted Hollywood lens. Friendships are often that intense, but rarely so angstily protracted or neatly resolved so as to align with the TV schedule. Sometimes friendships can recover from, some things they can’t. Gilmore Girls did get that right. But then, they always showed popular, charming and effortlessly witty characters that were never short of friends, nor ever lonely for longer than one 40 minute episode.
That leaves us. The people that have friends, sure.
Maybe more acquaintances, on reflection.
Or actually, have you seen them outside of work? Hmm, well there goes another option. Friendships aren’t the same as when we were younger and everyone had to invite everyone to their party otherwise you didn’t get a party. People can be crueller. But also people demand a certain level of compatibility and common ground. You have to show interest, and show willing in another person. People don’t just decide to be friends with you based on a CV application. You have to prioritise them, and make it work. Even if you meet friends on your university course, you still have to make the effort to see them outside of class.
Outside of work, or outside of coffee dates.
If you aren’t putting any effort in to be available, accessible, or important to the other person, then you can’t expect them to put the same in return. Unless you are putting much more into the relationship than you are getting out – then you can feel hard done by. One sided friendships are no fun, whichever side of them you’re on. Therefore, it’s all of our duty to pay attention to the people around us. Maybe we’ve just come out of a rut or a bad period of mental health, or a super stressful period at work. Yes, we deserve support and attention from the people around us. But, equally, if we have made no effort to socialise or meet them during that period, it’s not unreasonable to find that they didn’t reciprocate.
But there’s still time to change that.
Call them up. Suggest a trip somewhere for the day, or start small with a coffee catch up. Go from there, and remind yourself why you were friends in the first place. Or equally, find new friends. Take up a new hobby or night class or online presence. People are out there just waiting to be your friend.