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Me: Rye, I think my question this week is one you could help with.
Rye (My Baby Sis): Oooo, I love helping. What’s up? Is it “How to come to terms with being single forever because you hate everyone”?
Me: *Sigh* No, Rye. They want to know:
“I’m 27, and I know people always talk about how many friends will come and go in your 20s, but what’s a reasonable amount, and what’s absurd?
Background on me: I’m a reasonably friendly person with a very active creative life and access and ease to/with the internet. So, I make ‘friends’ fairly fast, and they aren’t shallow. I trauma-bond like a professional therapist. However, I’m tired. I just wanna settle down with a cool diverse group of friends, but I’m afraid to put my heart out there after last year.
2018 was the best year of my professional life, but I burned so many bridges and lost so many friend groups that I avoid whole scenes in the small town I live in. All of my close friends now are miles away. I love my apartment though, so I don’t wanna move. I want to make new friends where I am right now.
Any advice on how to do that while in my late 20s as someone who’s returned to their hometown (and is avoiding certain scenes because drama)? I wasn’t a perfect friend in the past, and I like to think I’m different now, but I still get anxious around new friendships. So much so that I don’t even pursue opportunities anymore.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my alone time, and I still have a solid few friends that feel more like family, but I want some happy hour buds IRL. What do I do? How do I get over my fear of being hurt by possible new friends or even hurting new friends?
Rye: Oh! Yeah! OK! Making new friends and burning bridges isn’t something that changes with age. I’ve found as I’ve gotten older, I’ve valued my alone time so much more, but at heart, I’m still wildly extroverted. I’ve moved to several new cities in the past four years and every time, it means starting over with a new friend circle. Sometimes it’s not easy. Chicago was a major bummer for me.
But at the end of the day, you still have to get out. You still have to try new places and you still have to meet new people. You just gotta or you’ll find yourself mad depressed in a new place. Not sure if you hate the place, the situation or both. I live my life in essentially black and white, and that’s caused a lot of loss in friendships, and it’s lead me to hurt friends I care really deeply about. But you kind of have to address it. Yeah. They were shitty to you. You were shitty. You did this messy thing. You did messy things, but you can’t live by other people’s perceptions of you or perceptions of your past self. That’s only an anchor around your neck that’s gonna do more than stop you from making new friends. So, acknowledge your behavior. Acknowledge past friends’ hurtful behavior, keep in mind that yeah, you’re gonna get hurt again at some point in your life no matter what. Then ball it up and put it in the Fuck It bucket. Go to that old bar because fuck not being comfortable in spaces that mean something to you. Go to new bars with a book and watch how many people want to know what you’re reading. Better yet, put in headphones, then all of the sudden everyone wants to talk to you. You can’t go back, you can’t stay here, so you have to move forward. It’s the only thing that makes sense.
P.S. It’s OK to take some time to mope. One time I moped myself all the way to Iowa, and it’s the best choice I’ve ever made in my entire life.
P.P.S. Are you sure “trauma bonding like a professional” is the move? You aren’t a professional. That’s creating really intense labor very quickly and creates friendships born from strain. But I mean, also, you’re grown. You know what you’re doing.
Me: Brilliant. Thanks, Rye.