November 10, 2022

Friendship and Planning

I've been thinking about friendships and planning.  As a person who plans, I am very proactive about my social life.  If I like someone I want to see them.  This is only exacerbated by the fact that I don't have a smartphone, so I don't do long form texting, I don't do WhatsApp, and I don't do social media.  If I want to know what's going on in someone's life I make plans to see them in person.  

At the same time, if someone wants to know what's happening in my life they need to make plans with me, for all the aforementioned reasons.

I find myself making more plans than I'm invited to, and lopsided friendships have always been a fear of mine.  It's a teenage anxiety that still manifests when I realize I haven't heard from someone, and I want to see them, and also that I'm always the one arranging.  

In my twenties I had a "three times invite" rule - I can't actually remember whether the rule was that I would only ask someone to do something 3 times and if they said no then I wouldn't ask again, or whether I would only instigate events 3 times and if they didn't reciprocate I wouldn't ask again.  Either way, it was such a hard and fast rule that other people parroted it back to me.  Usually along the lines of "I know you have a rule of three but I'm so sorry please don't stop being my friend"

In fact, that line, which was said to me, is probably evidence enough that people like spending time with me.

So then I started to wonder whether the people I make plans with don't feel the drive as much as I do because their social needs are more satiated digitally.  Is that a bad thing?  Am I avoiding a party that everyone else is at, then wondering why no one hangs out with me?

I am also aware that the "busy years" are not necessarily people's prime friendship years.  Maybe everyone else with one or two children under five years old is just tired, and getting through, and not planning meetups.  Maybe my wholistic approach to my calendar means that I track better when I see people and how much time has passed between meetings.  

Maybe other people are happier at home, by themselves.  The pandemic has normalized a level of introversion like never before.  I am sure some people liked lockdown, but I like people.  I liked my life before.  I never felt other people were social obligations, I feel like other people are social opportunities. 

I have a good friend, who passed away far too young.  She was living a life that I aspired to live. Before she got sick she always had time for people, and when she got sick she had even more time.  "People, not things" became her ongoing mantra.  Happiness is in people.  At the end all we have is people.

So I continue to make plans, because people are all we have.  

Bus still, no matter how old I get, I may always worry that I have no friends.


  1. Friendship can be so tough as an adult. It's hard to manage. I have to say there are some friendships where I feel I always initiate, and others where the other person always initiates. And then, still others!, where I feel like it's pretty equal (with my best friend, there is NO counting score for me...we just stay in steady communication).
    I had very few friends as a kid. We lived in a rural area, I went to a tiny school, and I was super awkward. In high school and university I spread my wings a bit, but I really feel like confidence in friendships has only happened for me over the last few years. I feel like I have a community now, mostly because of friendships forged with other mothers. I guess my biggest piece of advice to younger me would be: just wait - things CAN get better!

  2. I think it's really hard because some people are long-range planners (like it seems you are), some people are last minute planners (like me - I am sending out texts for invitations for things this weekend), and non-planners who are happy to go along with things, but don't make plans themselves. It's hard if you don't quite match up with the planning styles of other people in your lives. It doesn't mean you don't have friends. :)

  3. Oh adult friendship, it's so hard. My dilemma is: I have a ton of friends (and yes, many digital now) because most of my friends (that I would like to actual see and make plans with) live super-far away and I don't see them very often.

    The friendships I have tried to forge locally have been far and few between and I also often felt that I was the one reaching out all the time (probably because I was the one looking for new friendships, while they already had a full social life? I don't know. I definitely have implemented your rule before and... guess what, some of these friendships have fizzled out when I stopped being the one reaching out all the time. Sad, but I also didn't want to be a "charity case", you know?!

    I think some people naturally reach more out than others and the people who don't reach out themselves are often "glad" that the other one is so proactive, so don't let that be the deciding factor of your friendship with some... as you said yourself, some people have told you that they want to stay your friend! :)

  4. I have a couple of friends I do plan ahead with and then others I know I can call up short notice and it usually works out. I think for a lot of friends I know through my kids it's just that everybody is so busy with work, kid activities etc. that it's sometimes hard to get organized. I myself sometimes choose the couch over an outing with a friend just because I am tired. It is getting easier as the kids get older so I for now I have the wait and see approach.

  5. I know the feeling of teenage anxiety. Getting dumped by friends is real and hearts at least as much. I am an introvert. I don't need to see people every week. That doesn't mean I am don't like to see them every ones in awhile. But often enough I am the one who is arranging things. I try telling myself that its just their character but I do wonder. I am also a bit tired that I am – without kids – always need to go places. I know it is more convienient for parents if this way. But expecting it is not very nice... I think friendships are tough.

  6. Oh, this is so hard. I WANT to reach out so many times, but stop because... who am *I* to be bothering someone? That assumes that, well, they want to hear from me, and maybe they don't and... you can see (and, I imagine, you *know*) how that can spiral. But I don't have a lot of friends, to be honest, and sometimes feel like the ones I do have will forget about me if I don't reach out periodically. It's a conundrum, isn't it? Wanting to connect BUT not wanting to seem like I am... desperate? (Which, sigh, since they're real friends, they would probably never think that, but I would!)

    1. I found this book really interesting about friendship and helped me with a lot of what you're saying there:
      I'm not christian and I know the author is very christian but she had some really interesting points. I sometimes remind myself that people like being asked things and to just ask and ask and ask until I can't ask anymore. But when I'm feeling less mentally resilient it's hard for me to do that.