My biggest challenge: new friends

This post is based on the September blogging special organized and put together by Indiebizchicks.

I missed yesterday’s blogging prompt “What I did over my summer vacation”. If you have been following my blog, you know that my summer vacation was early this year – in May – and that I went back to Germany for three weeks to visit my family and attend the baptism of my little nephew. I wrote all about it hereherehere and here. Sorry for just linking to these posts, but there is no way I can summarize my experience here again in a few simple words.

Today’s blogging prompt is “”What was the biggest challenge that I faced in the last year and how did I overcome it”.

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My biggest challenge this past year was the realization that making new friends is hard. I am not talking about meeting new people and finding someone to have coffee with or go to the movies. I am talking about someone I can absolutely and 100% rely on (and who, of course, can absolutely rely on me). Not an  acquaintance, not a buddy, a real friend.

I consider myself a very open and friendly person and I don’t have a problem connecting to new people, but I have come to realize that not everyone new that you meet will be a life-long friend. This is a tough pill to swallow, considering the fact that I approach – or used to approach – a lot of new relationships with long-term goals in mind.

I recently had a fall-out with somebody I did consider a friend. I don’t even think she knows how much she actually disappointed and hurt me.
But I kept wondering, maybe we’re not on the same page? Maybe we have different definitions of the word “friendship”? Maybe we see each other differently? Maybe I felt closer to her than she felt to me? Maybe I shared something that she didn’t want to hear about? Maybe, maybe, maybe.

But what those “maybes” tell me is that she wasn’t the friend I thought she was, and that realization was tough.

So, what is a friend, you might ask? According to the dictionary, a “friend [‘frend] [is a] person whom one knows, likes, and trusts.”

Now, that’s one bad excuse of a definition right there. It’s superficial and, frankly, totally inadequate.

I doubt that this definition even comes close to what I associate with friendship. Sure, it is true that I know, like, and trust the people that I call my friends, but there is so much more to friendship, wouldn’t you agree?

I mean for starters, those feelings have to be absolutely mutual. No friendship can be had by two people who don’t feel somewhat the same way towards each other.

But also, let’s talk about those three verbs, that are supposed to define a friend, for a minute.

What does it mean for someone to know you? Is it enough to call somebody your friend when they know what your favorite color is or what music you like to listen to? Is it enough to call somebody a friend who remembers your husband’s name and who likes the same silly tv shows that you like? Is it enough to call somebody a friend who recognizes that you dislike superficiality and that you’d take a coffee date over afterwork parties any day?

Does that mean they really know you?


What does it mean for someone to like you? Your co-workers might like you, but are they your friends? People might like a certain aspect of you, but that doesn’t mean they’re your friends either. I like a lot of people, some of them a lot, but that still does not qualify them as friends necessarily.

And what does it mean for someone to trust you? Trust you with the book that they’ve lent you? Trust you with their car or their pets? Trust you with their life?
Trust, peeps, is a very serious issue.

Obviously, the definition calls for all three of those things to come together, but if the requirements are all just met on the most superficial level, this would – by definition – still make someone my friend, even though I’d like to strongly disagree with that conclusion.

Friendship for me is a very serious matter. I don’t call anybody my friend lightly. I think many people throw around the word “friend” much too easily. For lack of a better word, a lot of people seem to call random people – people that they’ve literally just met – friends and that is just wrong.

Dont’ they know, it takes a long time to grow an old friend?

I know there can be different levels of friendship. There might be people that you share more with than with other people and therefore they’re your friends. But can you really completely open up to them about what you feel and who you are? Can you be completely yourself around them? Can you call them up in the middle of the night? I am not saying I would, but I sure know that I could.

In my opinion, real friends only prove themselves in crisis situations. You’ll never know if someone is a real friend, until (s)he’s gone through tough times with you. It doesn’t necessarily matter  for how long you’ve known somebody, but in most cases it’ll probably take a long time – years! – to find out if someone is a real friend. Someone who doesn’t walk out in tough situations and who will support you no matter what.

All the positives  signs might be there beforehand… you like each other and you like to spend time together, you have things in common, you agree on many issues, you can anticipate each others’ responses in certain situations, but it will still not be enough to know. Every new friendship is a risk that you take. Sometimes it’ll prove to  be worthwhile, other times you’ll be disappointed.

I know that I am more than lucky to not have only one, but a handful of people in my life that I can blindly rely on and for that, I am forever grateful. I just wish one of these people would live close by.

  1. True friends are so hard to come by- I hope you find someone local who’s a perfect match in the coming year :)
    .-= Kyla Roma´s last blog ..Friday Finds are back to school =-.

  2. Finding deep, true, actual friends is so difficult. I find that lately, there are so many people I want to hang out with more (you included, obviously!) but life seems so busy. It’s difficult to feel lonely and yet too busy to fix that simultaneously.

  3. I’ve been lucky. I have two best friends that I know would drop everything and come to me if I needed them and the same is true for me.
    These two women are totally opposite of each other. But their one commonality is that they both love me…unconditionally.
    But you also see, they are not close to me physically. Both live far away. Yet I don’t feel that too much. I think when you are lucky enough to have that real friendship it’s okay to then enjoy the acquaintances that surround us.
    .-= Maribeth´s last blog ..Maribeth’s Spaghetti Sauce =-.

  4. Wow. This post really spoke to me. I have been realizing lately that I have some friends that are perhaps not as good as I thought.

    I have some friends that are great, no matter how often or how little we see each other. It doesn’t matter because we are friends through everything.

    I’ve realized lately though that some of my friends don’t really put in the effort. Especially when they have a significant other. I know that life circumstances change for everyone but you shouldn’t drop your friends when you get a boyfriend. I know I don’t do as much stuff now since I had my baby but there are some people who I thought were good friends that I can’t give much to anymore because I feel like I don’t get enough back from them.

    The good friends I do have, I cherish even more now.
    .-= Impossibly Alice´s last blog ..I have FOs! =-.

  5. I love this post! I have a ton of acquantaintances but real “friends”? Not so much. I’ve been hurt a few too many times by people I trusted too much – so now I have a really hard time opening up with new people. Since I moved out west 5 years ago, I’ve made a grand total of three actual “friends” (the type I would trust with anything, who I think I’ll be friends with forever) – and I’m married to one of them :) But honestly, I think I’d rather have a few real, true friends than a ton of acquaintances …

  6. I LOVE your Post!!
    I’ve talked with my hubby about that a lot because we both made the experience that “friends” let us down when we moved to Nürnberg (we are both from the north, Bremen and near Magdeburg). It grew worse with time, first they still came for birthdays, now we haven’t had anyone visiting us for at least a year. Mostly they say “It’s kinda far away, gas prices are high, we have stuff to do on the weekend, I’ll see you around when you are here to visit family”…
    I have a friend, we met in High School, grew close really fast and she was the only one who visited me during my Au Pair Year. In 2000 we had a huge fight over something stupid and she didn’t want to be my friend anymore because she said we define “friendship” in different ways. I tried to apologize but we didn’t talk until 2008, 2009 she moved to Virginia and now we are closer than we used to be even if we are far away from each other. Another friend I met as Au Pair now lives in Chicago, we don’t talk a lot because she is really busy working but she came “home” only to be at my wedding. Those two I would consider friends I can trust with everything, I would try anything to help them when they are in trouble, even if they live so far away. And then there is a girl I have known for nearly 30 years now and she told me she didn’t want to be friends anymore and didn’t come to my wedding because we have “grown apart” living so far away from another (yeah right, she lives in Bremen)…I thought I could trust her with anything because I did for over 20 years and then she pulls something like that – I was shocked! It was two years ago and I am still not over it.

  7. Very thoughtful post.

    I have a large family who I count as friends, plus my husband who it my best friend. Combine that with many moves over the past ten years and it has been hard to make truly deep friendships… but I keep getting out there trying to meet new people and I have made some lovely new friends that could develop into life-long friends.

    Sometimes I get nervous calling someone new a “friend” because they may think that we are still just acquaintances… but it is hard to know what to call someone new…
    .-= rachel´s last blog ..challenge =-.

  8. What a great post. I find it really difficult to make real true “friends” when you move to a new place as an adult. I often times find myself jealous of people who grew up in this area and have built friendships over years of growing up together. Sometimes I still feel out of place here.

  9. Great post, San! You and I have very similar ideas/feelings on this subject! :)
    .-= ToBeAnnounced´s last blog ..TBL … abridged version =-.

  10. Great post; it’s often hard to find people we can trust with ourselves completely. Me, I’ve only found a handful in my few years but they all mean the world to me.

  11. I have the same predicament. I have great long life friends, but they all live far away. Having just moved to a new city I’m feeling the pressure to make new friends and hopefully have them be true friends. It’s hard, but I hope not impossible. At least we have our internet friends who we can easily communicate with, no matter where we go ;)
    .-= Jen´s last blog ..Being ungrateful- I guess =-.

  12. This post touched on something very close to my heart, having gone through losing someone I’d thought was a friend this year only to find we weren’t on the same page at all. Making new friends in your twenties can be really hard, but if you put yourself out there, the universe can surprise you – ever since my one door closed, much better ones have opened – people who feel natural, kind, and… right have entered my life and I feel like they’re going to be sticking around for a very long time. I know it can be hard having your closest friends live far away, but that’s where Skype and phone cards can become some of the most valuable things ever invented :)
    .-= Emily Jane´s last blog ..From Avatars to Allies =-.

  13. I definitely agree making friends becomes harder as you get older. As a kid, you’re forced into situations where you meet and have to interact with a bunch of the same people over and over again and have to become friends. As you mature and grow older, you might have work people but not necessarily people you interact with in a fun way.

    Glad you’ve found some to take care of you!

  14. I understand this problem. I have very few friends I really confide in with my issues, feelings, etc. I have many friends (well maybe not many by everyone’s standards but plenty) that I hang out with, have a good time with, chat with, etc. and for most of the time that is fine, but I do wish sometimes to make a new close friend, who you really have this connection with. But it’s hard to find friends like that, where the feeling is mutual and it takes time to make a deep connection like that. And sometimes I worry that I may not make new friends like that, especially if I move to a new city where I will have to find new friends. Because having such a good friend is not the same as having them close-by.
    .-= Karen´s last blog ..Days 31-60-365 =-.

  15. Ohhh, I so, so relate to this post. I am someone who absolutely adores making friends and getting to know people and expanding the wonderful circle of people in my life. But, as I get older, I find it gets harder to devote the time and energy needed to make true, deep-rooted friendships. Time is so precious; life is so packed.

    But, I do think we should always have our hearts open to whoever might stumble upon our doorstep.
    .-= Hannah´s last blog ..On being alone =-.

  16. =( I hope you find someone you can trust & be friends with! good friends are very hard to find!!!

  17. uargh you made me cry. I miss my best friends so much. exactly the kind you can call at ANY time because you need them…sniff. With Steffi gone I do not have anyone left in this country that I feel this close to..which is really sad. :( it still makes me cry and she is almost gone a year…however, I know if we would live closer we could be such good friends, which also makes me sad cause you are sooo far away. :) anyway distance is not really a reason, but you know what I mean. nothing better than a real hug when you need one. love ya girl!

  18. I love this post and absolutely agree with you. You never really know if you can count on someone until you need them in a crisis. They’re either there or they’re not and that’s your proof.
    .-= Terra´s last blog ..Michigan- briefly =-.

  19. you being one of my “handful” makes me wish there was a smaller distance between us, too. but honestly, the quantity of time spent together doesn’t make the quality of friendship. two of my closest friends (the kind who i can be 100% who i am around, call in the middle of the night…) don’t live in the same city. you’re even on a different continent. i am crossing my fingers for you to find that coffee-chat-friend one needs every once in a while close by. at the same time, you know where to call any minute of the day/night :) thank you for being the amazing friend you are! HDGGGDL!
    .-= kim´s last blog ..knockknock is this thing on =-.

  20. The kinds of friends you describe here? They don’t come easily. It takes time to nurture friendships with deep meaning and understanding and respect. And as you suggested, it has to be mutual for there to be true meaning. I do hope you find those one or two super close and local friends … we all deserve at least that much.

  21. I’m one of the ones that uses that word “friend” lightly…ooops!

    For me, friendships and keeping them in my life has been somewhat of a struggle and I really cant pinpoint why. It’s almost as if I feel that it’s better not to have any close friendships because they can blow up in your face just as tragically as a relationship. I guess those are just my severe trust issues rearing their ugly head.

    I have a few good friends in this world and they all live far away. And I, like you, wish I had good friends that happened to live close by. It is hard to make new friends at this age when everyone already has their set social circle and isn’t looking to add anyone else.

    I enjoyed this post :)
    .-= Carolina´s last blog ..3 Months =-.

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