Why is it so hard to make friends as an adult?
"As external conditions change, it becomes tougher to meet the three conditions that sociologists since the 1950s have considered crucial to making close friends: proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other"
American society is breaking down socially. Even the opportunity to build friendships or maintain other close relationships is getting harder.
The Lonely American
Socially we know we have to try and change things. I worry about I and my husband becoming too socially isolated in real life. It's strange online I meet endless cool people who relate to me and vice versa while the real world seems to be a social wasteland. I talk with friends on the phone at least several times a week. So I can't say I am LONELY but socially things just seem weird. I did not expect just about everyone to be far away. Perhaps that is the new reality for many.
There's things I'm facing on the personal level too. I tried too hard to force myself as a round peg into a square hole trying to adapt to people who did not relate to me nor cared to. The only solution is to put an end to all that nonsense. I don't want to replay the dynamics I have with my cold rejecting narcissistic upper class family for the rest of my life. I'm rethinking SOLUTIONS and hope to find them. I have pondered what has brought me my successful and close friendships and acceptance, shared values and openness have been some of those positive attributes. They are people I can be me around without judgment. Real kindness. That is what I value.
I have said to my husband, we may have to adjust or change things so we do not end up like this guy George Bell. I get scared in such a community, what would become of him all alone? I read this story about a man who died alone in an apartment without anyone noticing him dying and was freaked out. This was NYC and you know in big cities especially there are people who have absolutely no one.
"A much tinier number die alone in unwatched struggles. No one collects their bodies. No one mourns the conclusion of a life. They are just a name added to the death tables. In the year 2014, George Bell, age 72, was among those names.
George Bell — a simple name, two syllables, the minimum. There were no obvious answers as to who he was or what shape his life had taken. What worries weighed on him. Whom he loved and who loved him".
Poor George Bell, I wanted to cry for him.
I see a lot of would be George Bell's in this community. Were these other ACONs? Some people simply have everyone die off as they age. There are people here who have told me they have absolutely no friends not even far away ones. It scares me that this is "normal" for them. I don't think people trust each other as much as they used to and that with all the forced moving, the social fabric is being ripped to shreds. One close friend and I have discussed this, she says most people are turning to their families for social connection and less to friends but if you have no family or had to depart from a dysfunctional one, this is where things get tougher. Then add in work and "being busy" for many.
I think my small rural town ruined me for life for what is reality in most places. but even there, one could see the social fabric starting to massively fray. Here, I see this woman walking around my apartment building in circles, she looks like she has no one as she is out there everyday without fail. I say hello but have been stuck at that polite point for years. I see others that look like shell-shocked lonely survivors having been widowed or laid off from jobs where their co-workers formed their social networks. Disabled people can enter a social isolated world especially if they live alone. There seems to be a lot of disconnected people out there.
The holiday season can be rough for all of them. This idealized life is presented to them where they are supposed to have an endless round of parties to go too and loving relatives with hugs, love and tasty food. I worry about those people sitting totally alone. I make it a point to call anyone I know who is alone on various holidays so they know someone cares about them. Sometimes I can't figure out why some people end up with this vast array of people around them and then you see the people worse off then you who have NO ONE. There is a difference between the actually lonely people with 2,000 friends on their Facebook account and someone who has several dear friends they can open their heart to without worrying about censure. It seems quantity counts more to some then quality relationships. I fear Facebook has made "social lives" into appearance and numbers games more.
Online, it's social butterfly world, in real life, I feel like the cartoon character Ziggy returning to his apartment, ready to talk to his goldfish except in my case, there's two of us to talk to one another so it could be far worse. We are a closely bonded couple. We have to be careful of depending on each other though for all our social needs though. We have discussed this issue between ourselves. I have talked about it with my close online and long distance friends.
A society that is growing more narcissistic, is also a society that is growing more lonely. Vulnerability in such a society does not bring empathy, sharing or closeness, it brings the knife in your back. It seems harder to get close to people. This could be a reality of aging, I am not sure. Years ago I read a report that 1 out of 4 every Americans don't even have someone they can confide in. I can't imagine that.
I don't have all the answers but would like other people's input on this. Do you feel like society has grown more lonely and distant? Is this a natural outcome of aging? Do you feel you are on your own? Did you face any time in life where you had no one? I did for this period of years right before I met my husband. I remember when I was young, how different things were, people talked and visited with each other more. [one caveat to this article, I think it's better to be alone then to deal with the abuse of narcissists]
The story of George Bell haunts me. I think it is happening to people way too much.