I think. I hope.
I'm a terrible introvert, which means I don't make friends easily (the ones I have, I've had for a long time.) Isolation during the pandemic did a number on me. I needed contacts, and wanted to do something useful at the same time, so I registered for a couple of online writing classes. I liked the interaction and bonded with a few fellow writers, and we decided to form a little review group, meet via zoom once a month, etc. One of the requirements was that we would stay in touch via social media (something I'd been very wary of for a long time!). Anyway, the group survived for 18 months, but social media proved priceless. I now share with a group of writers, we read each other's work (not in group but one on one), and I made a few good friends, we FaceTime, talk on the phone... we're all over the world, but in person meeting is in the cards. So, yes, I made new friends and we have a ton in common. Who would have thought....
Exactly the topic I have been thinking about these days! This line gives me hope, Lyle: "...But lately, I’ve been spending way less time on social media and have made a concerted effort to reconnect and keep up with old friends." I dearly hope more and more people will realize how much time they spend on social media and come to their senses... Great essay on this Saturday morning! Thank you.
So much of this post resonated (I think we had a brief exchange about it on Notes a few weeks ago).
I grew up playing golf and have been getting back into it. We live in Carpinteria - a place we randomly landed during the early days of the pandemic. It’s a lovely place, but it can be sleepy, and it’s been hard for me to find friends.
I’ve played maybe 10 or so rounds this year, mostly at Santa Barbara Golf Club. I’ve played with such a wide variety of people and it’s been a much needed antidote to spending so much time talking to people on Zoom all day. I haven’t quite found a “friend” or great fit for a recurring playing partner, but even just being able to go for a afternoon walk on the course and talking with different folks has been amazing.
Curious what golf course you worked at in SB?
Thanks for writing this post. 🙏
Finally, the stranger post! I’m way younger than you, and I’ve only really felt like an adult for maybe three or four years, but as time goes by, I experience the same things you talked about. I live in the same city with a bunch of childhood and high school friends, but we don’t talk more than once a month, and only meet up a couple of times a year. When we do, it feels amazing, as if no time at all has passed since our previous get-together. But yeah, it’s hard, and I find that whenever I text them to set something up, it’s got a much better chance of happening than if I wait for them to do it. The surest way of going out for a beer nowadays is if I text a friend “Beer tonight?”, instead of trying to schedule a specific date. Great post, and I hope you and Jacob keep it up!
1. I feel that it’s totally a matter of circumstance. If you’re around open people who don’t have many familial responsibilities then it’s easy, but if you’re not then it’s nearly impossible. There’s a lot of city-to-city variation too. In New York people seem very welcoming but a place like Toronto is very cliquey.
2. Yes, through a mutual friend and it’s been good! Inconsistent meetings but still fun.
3. Historically, yes. 100%. But less so recently for whatever reason.
4. Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends you already have, and don’t be afraid to start conversations with strangers: people are really receptive to meeting others because they want to meet people just like you do.
Needed to read this. And as men, it is a bit awkward and a vulnerable act to go out and make a new “friend” nowadays. It’s definitely akin to asking someone out on a date, a man date (a mate😳). Job well done
I think men tend to make friends by sharing an activity (golf, watching sports, video games, etc.) Where women can simply sit and talk and make friends. Most of the closest friends in my life have come from making music together. Men tend to bond around activities. Where women often bond around sharing personal things. Of course, there are exception.
I started a new band just before Covid hit (yes, I had to initiate it.) I knew one band member for 12 years. The other member was introduced to us by one of our wives who knew the new band member's wife. So we both made a new friend (at age 60 for me.)
We had to take a year and a half off as all live music was shut down. Then my wife looked at me one day and said, "Are you going to get the band back together? You haven't been playing music for a long time." She was right. With the lockdown, I had focused on writing, which is a solo endeavor I can do at home. I had gotten lazy about music. And I need it in my life. So I called the guys and we got back together. I had to initiate it again, but they both were excited to do it. We have been going strong for a year and a half.
I am an introvert, but often you have to initiate things if you want something. Really, all I had to do was ask. It also helps to have a spouse who knows what you need and nudges you in the right direction. 😉🤓
Good piece Lyle. I’m usually the one making the arrangements and doing the “reach out” but I’m OK with that. I’ve been told many times that it’s much appreciated. My closed-mouthed friends are my anchor and I depend upon them.
Lovely. Yeah it’s hard and gets harder. Once family dies off, harder. It’s a tough road, Lyle. Keep going. Cheers MM
Im going through the same right now, as I moved abroad and I am almost 30. I’ve been also writing about it, and to read this now was a beautiful way to feel seen, as I felt every word in it... what a great timing -- also, happy for you, for getting out of your comfort zone and being rewarded ✨
Lyle, I very much enjoyed this piece. I connected in a lot of different ways. I have realized that making friends needs to be much more intentional. we have moved so much that I have lost touch with most of my friends.
This piece is my favorite of all your recent pieces.
I played miniature golf when I was a child. Am I allowed to participate in the conversation?
Omg I’m so happy for you! I just joined Bumble to try and find a friend. Feels... weird.
And -- I’m glad you’ve made a new friend!
Solid piece here Lyle, and making friends is a topic that deserves addressing. Lots of people—men in particular, at least according to the statistics—do have a hard time making friends, and more so as we get older. And especially as parents. And especially for folks who work online. And, then Covid, of course.
That said, my own experience has been otherwise, and I feel it’s important to provide a counter example, especially in terms of the idea that men, in particular, have trouble making friends. That may well be what the numbers show, but i don’t think it has anything to do with those men being men, but rather to do with how men are socialized and how men live.
I have not found it harder to make new friends as I’ve gotten older. To the contrary, I have more close friends now, and far more close male friends than ever before, and many of them are people that I’ve met in recent years (although I also have friends I’ve known for 20, 30, and 40 years).
My most recent new friend is a fellow writer who lives on street, which is actually a pier to which our floating homes are tied. Pretty much like houses, except there are no garages, and so everyone walks down the pier, often multiple times a day. You can’t not meet people, and this guy named Guy and I share early-morning schedules and, as it turns out, many mutual interests.
Another man who has become a dear friend I met about three years ago through a mens group called EVRYMAN. Two, in fact. They are both now among my “best” friends.
I *used to* often feel that I was the one coordinating things with my friends, and I hated that lopsided feeling. Since then I’ve become a rather different person, part of which resulted in changing my behavior such that I told or asked people who never, or rarely, or inconsistently returned my efforts, or just chose to stop trying, which in turn resulted in losing some of those ‘friends,’ but also deepening some friendships. I also no longer say “let’s get together sometime,” hoping that the other person will sort of take the hint, or if I really don’t mean it. If I feel to continue a relationship, I say so, and then offer an open invitation for the other person to get in touch, or drop by--or I do that myself.
Part of what I’m saying is that I used to think I wanted to see all sorts of people more often, when in reality I didn’t *really* want to see *them* more often as I wanted to see *someone* more often, and so, no surprise, a lot of those people didn’t really want to see me more often either. Now I have a much clearer feeling about who my friends are.
Advice on making and keeping friends?
As I’ve written, “sex” is better sober—and that applies to all sorts of relationships.
Be honest, open and direct. As I’ve written, I think that we all need more truth, and that, especially for men, truth is a form of love:
Get outside and do shit that you love doing, smile, introduce yourself, be generous and open and fun to be around. Have something interesting to say about something you care about. Remember that, however much others will do it themselves, complaining and gossip is always boring, before long.
Finally, be cool being by yourself. Coming from a place of grounded contentedness is attractive.
This is a wonderful piece, thank you. I found the most refreshing reminder to be that friends DO want to do X. They DO want to talk. They DO want to get together. I find that difficult to lose sight of at times (often).