Is this friendship?

Because if so, it sucks.

Our elder has some advice for a letter writer who’s seeking some new and better friends.

Dear EWC

When I was younger I never had any friends, but occasionally I did get a friend that stuck around for about a few weeks and then found other people to hang out with. I realized that most of those people used me to complain or as informal therapy. Because of this, I spent almost my entire elementary school and middle school years alone. When I reached ninth grade, one of my previous friends that ditched me for others from when I was younger started talking to me and we became friends. She can be nice sometimes, but she picks when she wants to be nice and when to be mean. She tries to tell me what to do, is rude and says the opposite of everything I say sometimes. She complains to me, but doesn’t listen to me when I give advice and ignores me when I speak sometimes. Also, in groups, I’m usually the one that is made fun of. I don’t know much about having friends, since she is my first friend and I have talked to her about it, but she won’t listen. She’s a good person, but she annoys me a lot. Is this normal when having friends?

Lincoln-Parker replies

The description that you give of this so-called friend — “She tries to tell me what to do, is rude and says the opposite of everything I say sometimes. She complains to me, but doesn’t listen” — is not what I would call “normal.” She may be a friend, but I cannot imagine that she is much fun to be around, especially since you say that “she annoys me a lot.” To answer your question—you do need friends, but I think you can do better.
Finding good friends is not easy, especially when you set it as the goal. Instead, the goal should be finding the social things that you like to do and joining up to do them. In the process, you will meet other young people who enjoy the same things, and, frequently, great friendships develop. Concentrate on the things that you think are going to bring you the most enjoyment. It may be sports, the band, debate, math club, or any of a lot of other social activities that high schools have to offer today. Don’t let your shyness stop you; you are joining in because of your interest, not because you are trying to make friends.

By doing this, you will be thrown in with a lot of other kids who enjoy the same thing, and friendships will start to develop. You will automatically be associating with people who have similar interests, and you will all interact in the pursuit of that interest. Some will become friends, and some will just be other people who enjoy that activity. An added advantage is that now you are getting enjoyment out of a group rather than one person. You get to decide how close you want to get to any one person in that group.

I am not suggesting that you discard your current friend; I just think that you are too heavily dependent on one person. As you start to associate with your new-found group, you can decide how much time you want to continue to spend with your current friend. Participating in a group of like-interested people will engage you more in that you are participating in something healthy that you all enjoy doing together. This is often where some of the greatest and long-lasting friendships start, and you get to choose the forum based on an activity that you enjoy.
Give this a try. Don’t approach it as an instantaneous means of replacing a friend. Look at is a way of enjoying yourself more and associating with people who equally enjoy this activity and the people who enjoy doing it. The result will be unselfish friendships

Letter #: 459158
Category: Friendship

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