Tag Archives: making friends

Breaking Up With Friends Online…and In Life

I broke up with a fellow blogger recently.

She doesn’t know it, of course. Because I don’t know her. In that curious Online way in which we now Friend and Follow and Subscribe to many of our “friends,” you can just as easily unfriend, unfollow or unsubscribe to someone’s RSS feed and they won’t necessarily even know that it happened.

It was a weird experience for me, nonetheless – the end of this relationship. She was one of the very first bloggers that I began to follow, long before I launched my own blog. I followed her because she seemed wise and funny and edgy. Most of all, she had super-insightful tips on an array of topics that interested me concerning blogging and career change and work/life balance.

Over time, however, she began to blog less and less about these professional topics and more and more about her personal life. That didn’t bother me, at first. For starters, she has a super-interesting personal life. And she’s also got a terrific voice. And, let’s be honest, blogging is an inherently narcissistic activity. So if you don’t have a strong voice, it really doesn’t work. (Thank goodness for all of us that narcissism is no longer in the DSM…)

Still, the more I read her blog, the more I came to feel that I was going there out of some voyeuristic impulse, rather than than because I was getting all that much out of it. In other words, somewhere along the way, our relationship had changed and I didn’t feel that it was particularly healthy for me anymore.

And that was when I knew that it was time to break up.

Once she was gone from my life, I found that I didn’t really miss her. To the contrary, I felt a sense of relief. It was just like ending a long-standing romantic relationship that’s become unhealthy and unproductive, one where you can no longer remember why – exactly – it was that you first hit it off but, regardless, the chemistry simply isn’t there any more.

Which got me thinking that my Online breakup with this blogger was a bit like breaking up with friends in real life.

We’ve all been there:

*The childhood friend with whom you shared everything – even your chewing gum – but is now embracing social and political causes you can’t quite stomach.

*The co-worker whose banter was fine at the office, but slipped into something more inappropriate after hours.

*Or simply the person you befriended because he seemed cool at the time, but, upon closer inspection, turned out to have several bodies hanging on a meat cleaver in his basement refrigerator.

Sometimes those break-ups can be painful, especially if you didn’t initiate them.

Sometimes they enable you to find a new equilibrium. I wrote not long ago about a semi-unhealthy best-friend relationship my daughter got into – and out of  – last year. Once she severed that tie, I was sure that particular friendship was dead and gone. But now she and her old Bestie are friends again – albeit of a much more casual sort.

A big part of growing up is figuring out what’s important to us in a friend. But equally, it’s about realizing when it’s time to move on.

Image: The Broken Hearts Club by Chrissy Ferguson via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

Being Open To New Experiences: Not Everything Is A Lima Bean

I always tell my son not to pass judgment on anything before he’s tried it out. Whether it’s lima beans or cricket, he isn’t allowed to say that he doesn’t like something until he’s given it a fair shake.

Lately I’ve been telling myself this as well.

You may recall that a few months back, my son started a new school. And while I was very excited for *him* to make new friends…take new classes…heck, even to don that new pink (!) tie,I decided ex-ante that *I* didn’t need any new friends. Sure, I planned to attend all the parents’ evenings and concerts and do playdates and what have you, but for me it would all be strictly business. (Or possibly good blog material. Because, let’s be honest, it always is.) I just…Didn’t. Need. New. Friends. Damn it!

I’m not exactly sure where this militant anti-social attitude came from. After all, I’m an extrovert. I love meeting new people and will happily chat up just about anyone in just about any situation. My husband’s the same way. But somehow, when faced with a new social environment that was somewhat different from the one I’d been hanging (comfortably) in, I got all defensive…and judgmental…and uptight.

And then a funny thing happened on the way to becoming a wallflower. I went to a holiday party – and had a really good time.

Sure, as I wandered in and was blinded by all the glittery cocktail dresses, I realized that I was woefully under-dressed and should have consulted LPC about what to wear before I left. And I’m fairly certain that I was the only woman drinking beer.

But I had at least three or four conversations that I really enjoyed, including one with a Jewish guy – married to a fellow Shiksa. We jointly bemoaned how hard it is to find a synagogue in London that is truly open to “patrilineal” Jews – i.e., kids where only the father is Jewish and who thus don’t technically “count” as Jews. (FYI: Lately I’ve been eyeing the Gay and Lesbian synagogue here, despite being neither gay, nor lesbian, nor Jewish. But I’ll leave that for another blog post, speaking of material…)

Then I went to a birthday party over the weekend and had this same experience all over again. This time, I ended up talking to a couple with a child at the school for about 45 minutes. The husband was English but had grown up in the States. He and I bonded over how Americans take it for granted that you get involved in your children’s school, whether coaching (as he does) or raising money (as I do), whereas for the Brits that’s still largely anathema. The wife was Indian and she and I bonded over what it’s like to be a foreigner at a predominantly English school.

The moral of the story, I suppose, is that even as adults, we need to be open to new experiences and “give them a go” as we say on this side of the pond. Not everything is a lima bean. New experiences can be fun. New people can be stimulating. And most importantly, as a friend of mine put it so succinctly: “Not everyone is an *&%hole.”

Hard to argue with that.

Image: Doc Marten Lima Beans by luluisforlovers via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

Add to FacebookAdd to NewsvineAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Furl

Wine Tasting: It's Not Just for Trader Giotto Anymore

My husband and I went to a wine tasting the other night.

As someone more at home with a bottle of beer, I always feel terribly grown up when I go to a wine tasting (which, by the way, I do quite rarely, despite having gone to one in Helsinki last week).

This time, we were invited by someone I barely knew, so I really feared the worst. In fact, we almost didn’t go at all.

Part of our reluctance stemmed from what happened the last time we went to a wine tasting with people we didn’t know. It was about eight years ago, right after we’d moved into a new neighborhood. I’d joined a local women’s group, thinking it would be a fast way to make friends. And so, when I saw that someone in the group was hosting a wine tasting, I thought:  Why not? My husband likes wine and maybe we’ll meet some like-minded souls.

Huge mistake.

If you’ve never been to a wine-tasting, it works like this: You’re given a bunch of different wines to sample “blind,”  and then, at some point in the evening, the names/origins/grapes etc are revealed. There may even be a contest.

But at this particular gathering eight years ago, it didn’t work that way. Instead, just as it seemed like the “moment of truth” had arrived, the hostess – now thoroughly sloshed herself – stood up and announced that we’d all be playing a little game called “Guess the Price.” She then began brandishing the different bottles of wine and instructed people to shout out their guesses as to how LITTLE the wine had cost (e.g., $9.99, $7.99, four bucks from Trader Giotto’s, etc.).

Yes, it was that bad. My husband and I locked eyes and fled the scene, scarred for life by our near-brush with suburban sophistication. (For the record: I have no issue with cheap wine and purchase it all the time. It’s just not something one usually associates with a wine tasting…)

But another reason we almost took a pass this weekend was that we didn’t know anyone else who was going, and so we thought:  Why bother?

As you get older, there’s a tendency to hunker down and say, hey, we’ve got enough friends as it is…we know our “type”…why take a chance on someone new? Let’s just go see a movie and call it a night.

But I feel like it’s important, every once in awhile, just to give it a go and try something new. Because there are always new and interesting people to meet out there. Plus, it’s good to get out of your comfort zone and do something – like wine tasting – that you’ve sworn off (even if for good reason!)

And guess what? We had a great time. It was a beautiful flat, there was plenty of interesting conversation and they served great wine. Plus, this handsome Italian guy named Marco was pouring all evening. What’s not to like?

*****

A new website on AOL called Politics Daily launched today. Looks like a great line up of writers!

Image: Wine Glasses by Slack12 via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

Add to FacebookAdd to NewsvineAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Furl