Saturday, 20 December 2014

In 2015 - consider going alone.

Still thinking about 2015 . . . possibilities . . . directions . . .

In the course of my life I’ve seen a particular thing happen a number of times. It goes like this.

I meet a person, we get to know each other, and they become a dear friend. We talk, we go for walks, we explore each other’s s0ul territory, it’s enriching and quite wonderful.

Then they get married. They still want to meet up. BUT they want it to be as a foursome – I bring my spouse, they bring their spouse. Or their newly acquired children. Or the whole family.

This doesn’t work for me. The dynamic changes. Instead of adding enrichment and getting even more lovely, nobody is anybody in these group meetings. It just becomes polite socializing, draining. The truth stops, the souls are withheld, only the bodies are there – in their smart-casual clothes at their carefully chosen venues.

Getting to know step-family or in-laws can manifest the same difficulty – meeting only in group settings can amount to never meeting at all.

This doesn’t apply to all groups. For example, we have a Theology Group that meets at our house every 2nd Friday of the month. Someone (any one of the group who volunteers) gives a paper about some aspect of life and faith they’re interested in, and we discuss it. The group is not for the promotion of orthodoxy and conventional thinking, but for the honest exploration of matters of belief we really care about and wonder about, wanting to dig deeper. It’s meant to be a group.

Likewise, some friendships in my life have been me + hubby as a couple, with another couple we’ve met – and that has worked happily and well.

It’s when a one-on-one friendship is subsumed into coupledom, or when the dynamic of the group prevents the real things inside each soul from being brought into the light, that the whole thing becomes an uncomfortable waste of time.

So my suggestion for you in 2015 is – when you meet up, consider going alone.


Julie B. said...

I have experienced just what you've described, and agree. It's not that I don't like my friends' husbands. I really do. It's that having to do things as couples (when the real relationship to begin with was the two women) seems to dilute the original friendship somehow.

And as surrounded as I am by people, I've been a bit of a loner in my heart for quite some time now.

Merry Saturday and Sunday to you, Ember! xoxo

Pen Wilcock said...

:0) xx Waving!

Rebecca said...

After "going alone" for awhile, other possibilities may open up....but I agree. Don't put extra expectations on a new friendship. It just gets bogged down too quickly.

Pen Wilcock said...

:0) xx

Anonymous said...

now Pen- don't be so mean! While it is true about there being a certain degree of superficiality in these meetings it is also a way to share our lives on a larger scale. We will better know and understand our friends in the future when they may speak of their happenings with their other family members--this is really only a problem if it becomes the only way that you always meet them is with the "others" then I would begin to wonder if the relationship is as close as I felt or I just imagined it--or perhaps they want to back off slightly-- don't take it personally- just meet the whole group on the rarest of occasions and not regularly as you are right in saying it can be draining and if your friend doesn't seem to be keeping the "close" friendship you thought existed-- then just take a deep breath and step back-wish them well in your heart and let them go on their way!-amy from new jersey(u.s.)

Pen Wilcock said...

:0) xx

LANA said...

I could not agree more. I have a dear girlfriend whom I have known since High School. We are very fond of each other and confide and relate quite easily. We always meet for lunch just the two of us because each of our husbands are radically different. One is a hunter and conservative, one is liberal and would never hunt an animal not for survival. Politics and religion, I won't even go there. I don't know why some women feel compelled to do the couple thing. Men certainly don't have this inclination.

Deborah said...

Friendship dynamics change when you include a spouse. Of all the friends I have had, whose weddings I helped to plan, I am only in contact with 3 of them. All of the others drifted away to spend time with other couples. It's sad but it's life and we just have to move on.

Pen Wilcock said...

Hi friends


Lana - yes, good point that men don;t have that urge to include - even themselves, at times!

Deb - yes, I've experienced that as well - and I miss some of those friendships, look back on them with love.

DaisyAnon said...

I've been 'going alone' all my life. My husband and I have very different interests and I soon realised that if I was going to do the things I wanted to do I had to do it alone or with like minded friends. Most of my female friends are single.

It really didn't work too well trying to meet as couples, although there are one or two couples that are joint friends. Even here, I am closer to the female half of the couple and actually prefer the times when it is just us.

It is not just about male and female though. It is partly to do with me and my difficulties with social interaction.

Recently I arranged to meet with a friend, and when it was too late for me to drop out she said she was bringing another friend of hers, completely unknown to me. Well, for me that was a bit stressfull. Especially as I only have one thing in common with my friend and it wasn't a suitable topic of general conversation.

My husband doesn't do religion and I found that at church many people found his absence hard to cope with. I discovered after some time at one church that people thought I was a widow!

I had some insight into how difficult it is for singles at church where the expectation seems to be that couples are permanently joined at the hip after marriage.

Pen Wilcock said...

"It is not just about male and female though. It is partly to do with me and my difficulties with social interaction."

Oh, yes, Daisy! Me too. xx

Southern Catholic said...

I agree with the comments about difficulties with social interaction. I dislike it when a friend unexpectedly invites a third party or, worse yet, shows up with a third party that I have never met. I think it is the difference between being introverted or extroverted.

As an introvert I prefer spending time with one person I know well vs. a group of people I have never met. My extroverted friends enjoy a social outing where they meet new people and there is a lot going on. For me, that is boring and exhausting.

Pen Wilcock said...

Hello friend - yes, that's how it is for me, too.


Rapunzel said...

It really struck me what you said about step-family and in-laws.

One of my daughters had some painful experiences with an aunt in another state who was unfortunately blunt in criticism during daughter's teen years. Recently she heard from the aunt after years of no communication. Bewilderingly, the aunt said "We've always had such a wonderful relationship"> and daughter was stunned.

We have figured out the 'wonderful relationship' in auntie's mind was based on daughter being quiet and polite at the large annual Christmas gathering fornthe first 17 years of her life. (She's now 34 and married with children.)
Beyond that annual gathering and a single family vacation when she was 12 there was no relationship as such, just two people living far apart who know very little about each other,

Weird that the two of them see their interaction so differently. You really don't get to know people you only see at large social occasions. (which in some cases is just as well!)

Having figured out that the Manimal and I like completely different types of people I can really take your going alone advice to heart, Thanks for this insight!

Pen Wilcock said...

Some aunties are best viewed from a distance!! xx