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I’m awkward around the new girl

Will my friends ditch me if I can’t win her over?
Our elder puzzles over the dynamics of the college friendship group.

 

Dear EWC

Hello, I am a college student and I have a great group of friends that I love but a few months ago, a new girl moved here and my friends and I all welcomed her and she fit in pretty well with us. I’m not really an open person in general and it usually takes several months to start to ‘get along’ with someone that I’ve never met and this is normal for me and I’ve gotten used to that, but this situation is just weird. I HAVE to be better friends with her, you know, because if I don’t, then I’m kind of ‘left out’ of my friend circle because the new girl is important to them.

I’ve tried EVERYTHING: I asked open-ended questions and so many things, but I just get a one-word response or nothing at all. And now it feels awkward and pressuring to even think about talking to her but I really need to be friends with her. There’s nothing really to talk about either, I know that she likes to swim and I ask her many questions and talk to her about it but then I feel like I’m being really boring and not interesting at all to her and she doesn’t deserve that from me. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE help me not be so awkward around her and it’s just really hard for me right now… PLEASE help me to become best friends with her because I can’t stand it anymore. Thank you so much for this, it means a lot to me.

 

Ms. Mary replies

You certainly are in a peculiar situation. You’ve been put in an awkward position and have done everything you can to befriend this girl. It is a shame that you feel so much pressure. Friendship is a two-way street, yet it doesn’t seem that she is reciprocating. Why does the responsibility of building the relationship fall on you? I’m confused too, about why your friends would leave you out if you don’t form a close bond with her. You are willing to include her and have reached out to her. Your intentions are good, and that is what counts. It doesn’t seem fair that your friends would judge you by the degree of closeness you share with her. Why isn’t accepting her enough?

Every friendship is different. It is natural to have a few friends who you feel very close to and others that you are congenial with but don’t share a special affinity. There’s nothing wrong with that. All of us are unique individuals and have more in common with some friends than others. You shouldn’t be forced into a “best friend” relationship. That is awkward and unreasonable. It is okay that you don’t have a lot in common with her providing you are kind and respectful to her (and you are). There is no formula for forming a friendship. Two individuals feel a connection or not. That’s not to say, that eventually, you two will discover that you have mutual interests.

The whole premise that a group of girls should all be required to be best friends baffles me. How will your friends evaluate and decide whether you and this girl are best friends? And, is there a designated time to seal the friendship? I don’t understand how they would even measure the degree of friendship between you. If I’m missing something, please let me know. A silly analogy would be if your friends required that apples were the favorite fruit of each of you. There is such a variety of fruit that it is unlikely that all of you would agree that apples are your favorite. Bottom line, everyone’s taste is different regarding food and friendships. We all like some friends better than others and appreciate the uniqueness and differences between individuals.

I get together with a group of friends for lunch on a regular basis. Some of them I feel very close to, others not so much. I accept that instead of trying to change it. Even though I relate to some better than others, we all enjoy our time together. At times, I invite some of those friends to my home for dinner or ask one or two of them to meet me for lunch. I don’t feel pressured to include the whole group. We operate as individuals, not as a group that stays tied together—or else.

You are sweet, kind, and caring. You shouldn’t have to try and make this girl like you. I recommend that you stop trying so hard and just be yourself. I read a wonderful quote this morning that applies to your situation: “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment,” by Ralph Walden Emerson. You may find that eventually you warm to each other and that a friendship unfolds naturally (but don’t force it). That’s great if it happens, but it isn’t a negative reflection on you if it doesn’t. It is no wonder you feel awkward in this situation. It is as though you are being asked to pass a test that has no logical rhyme or reason and goes against human nature.

On a side note, like you, she may realize that you two don’t have a lot in common, thus her lack of responses. It is likely she accepts that and doesn’t see it as a problem, so doesn’t feel the pressure you feel. She probably doesn’t have a clue that this group of friends expects each other to behave in a specific way to fit in. She’s probably just going about her business. I doubt she feels any animosity towards you, though may find it strange that you are trying so hard to engage her.

Decide to be confident and assume that all is well with you both. As I said before, just be yourself and don’t try to prove anything. There is no reason to feel so desperate. If you don’t say anything negative about her, will your friends even notice? If they genuinely care for you, they won’t reject you. It is evident that you are a good person and that your heart is in the right place. There isn’t any reason for you to be left out. I understand how worried you are, so I don’t mean to make light of the matter. If there are specifics that I should be aware of, please let me know. I want to help you but as far as I can tell you are doing everything right. I’ll be sending good thoughts your way, dear girl.

Best Regards,
Elder Ms.Mary

 

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