When I heard “I have enough friends…” said out loud the other day it made me pucker up a little, like I had just bitten into a really sour pickle. This time it was said with a kind of cavalier, devil may care tone. They have a lot of people that want to hang out with them. They don’t need new friends. It’s not the first time I’ve heard that statement this year. One other time was on a reality television show. The girl was distressed because a friend wanted more from her than she was willing to commit to. Finally in frustration she decided just to cut the friend off completely because he kept crossing her personal boundaries. “What else can I do? I have enough friends! I don’t need any more friends!” Evidently, this feeling can go either way. You can be secure in your own popularity and desirability and just know there will always be someone that wants to have dinner with you. Or you can get pissed and just cut people out of your life.
I’m not saying there is anything wrong with either possibility. What I’m getting at is I find the whole notion intriguing and perhaps this is something worth exploring.
How liberating must it be to decide your tribe is big enough for you?
When I hear stuff like this I always have to explore my own thoughts about it. Do I have enough friends? Am I ready to stop making friends? Wouldn’t I be so much better off if I stopped exposing my heart to people that have done nothing short of take a shit on it this year? I mean, one minute I’m wishing someone health and happiness and all the world can bring them that’s good and sweet, and the next minute I’m defending myself against malicious gossip they’re sharing with my other friends. What the fuck, people? Maybe you guys should learn how to BE friends, because that ain’t it.
Am I ready to just stop right here and be happy and satisfied with the people already in my life that treat me with love and respect?
I was lunching with two of my very best girlfriends and this same topic came up. I have had some lusciously deep conversations over the years with these two women and was very interested in hearing their thoughts. My friend stretched out her arms to encompass all of us at the table, “This is my tribe right here.” We are her friends and we are the ones that make her happy and we are the ones she makes time for in her life. She explained that it wasn’t because she doesn’t like people, because she does, and I know for a fact that people like her because she’s a lot of fun. She said it was just her decision to keep it small. It made for closer ties and less drama. That sounds like heaven to me!
When I was much younger (I keep saying that like I’m ancient!), but back then, I wasn’t interested in having those close friendly connections. I traveled a lot, I was in school for what seemed like forever and I was never in a place for long enough to really make those close connections that last a lifetime. I had a boyfriend for ions and I guess he was my one constant until he died. After that I wasn’t interested in letting anyone else get too close for a very long time until I met my husband. I also had family drama and that made me wary of close ties. I guess closeness to me meant abusive behavior if you weren’t ready to cut and run at the drop of a hat. I was always ready to cut and run.
As I aged I began to really enjoy people. I love all kinds of folks and tend to seek out the unusual, the artistic and the articulate souls among us. I am not a superficial kind of gal, but I do love some of the trappings that go along with skating right on the surface. If I were to map out my friends like a genealogy tree, the branches would be blessed with vines, wildflowers, robust shrubbery, mighty oak leaves with some sassy maple and pine needles, exotic Magnolia, Birds of Paradise and wisteria entwined with bougainvillea and Confederate jasmine. It would be a diverse and most beautiful tree and my tiny treehouse would be perched in the sturdiest of hollows.
Just because my tree is stupendously grand, it doesn’t mean I haven’t exposed myself to some horror over the years, because I certainly have. When you open yourself up to the world like I have, the bad comes in right along with the exceptional. In fact, the bad likes to blend in and ride on the exceptional’s coattails to make themselves harder to flick off. But I’m getting better at seeing the bad before they get to see me these days.
Do I have enough friends?
It’s an interesting question to ponder. How do you decide that it’s enough for you? How many bad experiences do you have to muddle through before you stop allowing new folks to cross your personal threshold?
When I explored this concept on the Interwebs and read up on other people’s views, it seemed many people were more interested in making up rules we should follow when making friends, or rules for our friends to follow in order to be our friend. Um, I have never done that. I make up rules, but they are for me to follow. When a friend crosses a boundary, I discuss it with them and we come to an understanding, but I never say, “And so from now on you have to wear a yellow shirt, or I won’t be your friend.” Making rules to give your friends, or potential friends, is fucked up. Don’t do it.
It reminded me of Furonda’s Tips for Successful Interaction from ANTM.
1. I will treat you in a way identical to, or worse than, the way you treat me.
2. I am the best person to discuss me with.
3. If you need anything other than emergency items, please do not ask me.
4. Stay out of my personal business unless I invite you in.
Her tips/rules really aren’t terribly bad though. I would have to say that some of these were worth sharing, however I probably would have gone about it in a more subtle way than she did. I thought it was incredibly insightful and proactive for someone her age. To think about this and then to put it into action was genius. Instead of making rules to pass out to everyone else, perhaps she could have kept these rules in place and followed them for herself. I think she might have fared better in the long run.
- I will not continue to make an emotional investment in someone that shows me they do not value me.
- It’s none of my business what you say about me, unless it hurts my family and our reputation or livelihood.
- I will help anyone out if I can, but I will be careful and more aware of people that are Users.
- Don’t have personal business that you have to hide from others. Besides people aren’t going to know you have personal business unless you talk about it. Even better…don’t talk about your personal business.
If there needs to be some rules, you make them for yourself. I have my own set of personal boundaries, or rules, that I use to guide myself through the treacherous waters of dealing with toxic people. Rarely do I have to whip these rules out when it’s one of my friends, but sometimes I do if I feel particularly bristled or hurt. You can’t expect everyone to know who you are or how you’ll react. Sometimes people think something is hysterically funny that you might be offended by. Don’t be a big baby about it! Quietly pull them aside and let them know how YOU feel. If you love the person, don’t express yourself in anger, but in pain, which is more likely the truth of it.
My husband always refers to me as his Social Butterfly, but not because I embody what that means or represents. He has called me that because I love social media and use it rather successfully. A social butterfly is someone that is essentially friendly with everyone. Even when they’re telling you how much they hate someone, if that someone walked up right after they told you that, they’d still smile at the someone and be friendly, maybe even hug the someone. That’s a true, dyed in the wool, social butterfly. Yeah, that’s not me. If I don’t like you, you’re gonna know it when you walk up. I’m not so shallow that I can sit there and tell you how much I dislike someone and then smile and cheese in their face later. I just don’t have that gene!
So what would ever make you decide you have enough friends? I don’t know that I have an answer to that question yet, but if I find one, I’ll be sure to share it with you right here. Take care out there and remember that you don’t have to be friends with everyone you meet. Be friends with people that resonate with your soul.