I have difficulty making adult friends. When I meet someone new, we will have great conversations and (what I think) is great rapport but then when it ends I never hear back from them and am always initiating the contact. I know they see other people I also know and I guess I feel left out. After a point I begin to wonder if they actually want to see me so I stop contacting them.
Am I coming on too strong? Not strong enough? Is it because they’re straight (I have lost what I thought was a close friend when her husband decided he didn’t want me in the picture)? Is everyone just busy? Do they already have enough friends? Do I really have to only have friends from the queer community?
I feel very alone and would like to meet people and be able to hangout and go for lunch or coffee.
I’m so sorry you’re feeling alone. I know your letter doesn’t specifically mention the pandemic, but I think it’s worth saying this up top: It’s a very fucking hard time for friendships. People are spread so thin, and it’s difficult to deepen connections. And yet, it’s also a time when we all desperately NEED those connections. It sucks! I think a lot of folks can probably relate to you right now. I’m so sorry you’re lonely, but I hope you also know you’re not alone. (In fact, we just did an entire round of Advice Box questions about making adult friends, so if you’re an A+ member, you can look through those to see if any of the questions and answers speak to you! But if you don’t have access to that, don’t worry, I’m also going to answer your particular questions specifically right here!)
Let’s step away from the context of the pandemic and just focus on the broader picture. I don’t think you’re the problem here, which might be worth telling yourself. I think making friends as an adult is hard in general. I also think you’ve probably been affected by some of what you talk about in your letter. I think it’s shitty that your close friend’s husband decided he didn’t want you in the picture. Sometimes when things like that happen, it can have lingering effects. That’s such a major loss that it could be impacting the way you view other social situations. I hope you can find ways to heal from that and mourn the loss of your friend.
For what it’s worth, I do think it’s possible to be friends with straight people! I just think you had a bad experience in this one instance. At the same time, there are definitely certain straight men who are weird and homophobic about their wives/girlfriends hanging out with queer people. Sadly, there’s nothing you can really do about that. But I promise not all friendships with heteros are doomed!
You don’t have to stay within the queer community to find friends if you don’t want to. Obviously there’s sometimes a level of understanding that comes with connecting with other queer people, but let’s be real, just because someone’s queer doesn’t mean you’re instantly going to vibe with them. In fact, some of the tensions/conflicts you’ve experienced in friendships with straight people could very well happen even with queer people! I know queer women who have been in very controlling relationships with women who didn’t want them to be friends with other queer women! It makes no sense, and yet, people are just jealous, weird, and manipulative sometimes.
I do think that making new friends should be approached in a somewhat similar way to dating. For example, I think that when it comes to dating AND making new friends, it can be really helpful to establish what you’re looking for right away and to vocalize your needs as they come up. Say you meet a new potential friend, establish that good rapport, and then never hear back from them. It’s okay to reach out and say “hey, I had a really good time with you, and I was wondering if we could hang out again” or “I’m really trying to meet new people, and I’d like to get to know you better.” Be honest and direct about how you’re trying to expand your social circle. Say “I’m looking for new friends!” You can even join an app like Bumble BFF (someone I’m close with has had a lot of luck with it, and she lives in a small-ish city) and put what you’re looking for in friendship.
People are indeed busy, and making new friends does require a level of forwardness that not everyone is comfortable with. It’s okay to not really know someone that well yet but still tell them you’ve been trying to make new friends. Will it feel vulnerable? Absolutely! But it’s not going to send someone automatically running (and if it does, well, they might just not be the right friend for you anyway, which I’ll get into in a bit).
Some people are just inherently bad at making plans, responding to texts, initiating conversation, and following through on things. And all that has nothing to do with you and what you have to offer as a friend. And I know it can sometimes feel like a burden to be the person who has to initiate contact every time, but that’s just sometimes how it goes in certain friendships! It’s not inherently a sign that the other person doesn’t want to hang out; different people have different communication styles. But also, if that doesn’t work for you in a friendship, then YOU can decide you don’t really want to be friends with that person. It’s possible that some of the friends you’ve made have different expectations than you within friendships, which doesn’t make you the problem. Sometimes we have to experience incompatibility in friendships to figure out what vibe we’re more compatible with. Again, kinda like dating!
I don’t think coming on too strong is really a thing tbh! You should be yourself when meeting new people. If your personality is very strong and forward, trying to hide or change that doesn’t really do anyone any good. And if you’re a little more reserved, that’s okay, too! But when you ask if you’re not coming on strong enough, if you’re asking if you should be more direct and upfront about the fact you’re looking for lasting friends, then I do think coming right out and saying it is a good thing! But at the end of the day, you have to be your most authentic self when trying to make friends. You might have to step a little outside your comfort zone when connecting with someone, but it shouldn’t feel like you’re being someone you’re not.
And if your personality isn’t compatible with someone else’s, that’s no one’s fault! Everyone doesn’t get along with everyone. Different people have different needs and expectations in friendships. If it doesn’t work out with someone, it doesn’t mean you failed. It just means they’re not the right friend for you and vice versa. That’s okay! There will always be people who DO vibe with your values, personality, interests, etc. Don’t get too caught up on the friendships that don’t work out and instead focus on finding new ones that might be a better fit.
As you get to know people better, continue to be honest and open about what you’re looking for in friendships. If someone you’ve hung out with a few times pulls away or leaves you out of something, it’s okay to check in with them about it. Sometimes it’s just a matter of miscommunication or an arbitrary decision and not an intentional exclusion. Friendships last when we can be honest with one another.
Above all else, I really think you should stop seeing yourself as the problem. Don’t be afraid to say what you want — meaningful, ongoing friendship. There are people out there who are looking for the same thing.
You can chime in with your advice in the comments and submit your own questions any time.