Monday, July 10, 2006

On Friends and Garage Doors

A great bit of observation from Stuart Buck as he ponders about mates, particularly as one meanders through one’s thirties. While being relatively gregarious and always open to new people I am finding it harder and harder to forge fresh friendships. I’m talking real friendship (people who know when you’re happy or sad) here, not just regular socialising which the inventor of the braai ensured that there is plenty of in this town.

People simply do not have the time to nurture new friendships any more and have enough trouble maintaining those tried and tested childhood and university friends that they do have.

Stuart asks for solution. One of the comments to his post suggests the following:
1) Don't have many kids.
2) Avoid marriage, if possible.
3) Live in a dense urban city.
I wouldn’t choose any of those options outright, and I'm not sure that I agree with point 3, so would welcome other suggestions.

One of the comments in the article points out this lamenting excerpt from a forthcoming book by Joseph Epstein which makes for good reading.

It struck me that it is not an international distinction that must be drawn but rather that it is all about garage doors. If you have a garage door or two (and by virtue of that – probably have kids, mortgage and a time consuming career to pay for all of that) then you probably have less new friends.


Third World Ant said...

I have often wondered the same thing (in my twenties, it's alarming!), and have come to the conclusion that it's age-related, in the sense that if you're getting older, you're probably doing points 1 and 2.

Not doing 1 and 2 is not going to help you find more friends, because it can only help if everyone else also avoids 1 and 2!

Moral of the story: treasure the current true friends all the more, and accept, and see the value in, having a variety of 'peripheral' friends for fun-filled and adventurous moments of a more ephermeral nature.

(I've said it before, and I'll say it again - I love strangers. Though only less than 5% I actually ever meet up with again, I still treasure those once-off interesting and arb conversations we have).

ATW said...

Too true about the once-off conversations. I seem to remember those sort of occassions much more vividly than general socialising. Though I have most likely forgotten the subject and the person, I can remember that a deep conversation was had.

Another thing that annoys me is people who think that maintaining friendship must be a tit-for-tat thing. eg "he/she never calls me & doesn't make the effort therefore I won't make the effort". This is rubbish. If the friendship is any good it doesn't matter who makes the most calls.

Third World Ant said...

True to a point, though somewhere down the line, you have to ask, is the feeling of friendship mutual? I had a close friend I tried and tried to maintain a friendship with after she started seeing someone a lot older than us, but she basically cut me off. After 11 attempts to arrange to see her over a four month period - all turned down on her part - I decided I'd let her make the next arrangement. She never did, and I accepted that she didn't regard me as the friend I had regarded her to be.

But in principle, I agree that friendship can't be 'measured' by number of reciprocated phonecalls, what counts ultimately is that when you're needed/in need, both parties are there for each other.

ATW said...

I hear you. I've been receiving "rain checks" from a (previously?)good mate since moving to Jhb. I'll give it another 3 months and then call it quits.

Third World Ant said...

Good - no point in hanging on and losing morale over the issue. His/her loss; you've made room for a new friend!