Choosing to Have Meaningful Relationships

A little while ago I read a brilliant post about being an introvert and being OK with that.

I have thought about it many times since.

Introversion is undoubtedly the foundation of my personality, but I have fought it like crazy my entire life.

As a school girl I decided being slightly eccentric was the way forward. Making people laugh seemed to make it easier to talk to anyone. At university I developed a strong sense of community in the music I listened to and used music to define all the people I felt I should socialise with. Leaving university there always seemed to be someone in my life – a friend, a boyfriend, who was a bright star in the social scene. I have always been drawn to people like this – friendly extroverts who genuinely enjoy being with lots of other people. I thought this was the right way to be, and tried hard to be the same.

I always had this fantasy that I would be a door-open, drop-in-at-any time, kind of person, with a house full of comings and goings. It has never really been this way for me, probably because this isn’t a natural behaviour pattern, but whenever I wasn’t socialising and planning things and seeing other people, I felt as though I was a social failure.

I remember many years ago, a friend of mine came to visit, and on the wall in my flat I had made a photo collage of people I knew at different events we had been to. I was really pleased with it, and thought it demonstrated that I did indeed have a proper social life.

She looked at it for a while and said “That’s really funny, it’s just lots and lots of pictures of the same few people!”

I could have cried. I felt like she was basically laughing at me for not having enough friends.

So, this theme of feeling like I need more friends and a bigger social circle has been with me all my life.

But of late, I’ve decided I’ve had enough of pretending to be something I’m not. The post I mentioned above, and its excellent links, has been a huge part of the catalyst for this. But it has also come from the clearing out I have done, from realising that I wanted to leave facebook, and from the way I have been looking at all my friendships recently.

I have a lot of very superficial friendships, and hardly any meaningful ones. I find it difficult to develop meaningful relationships even though I am quite good at the first part of getting to know someone.

Partly, I think, this is down to my upbringing. My parents are both introverted and they never, ever socialised. We rarely had visitors. They didn’t even speak to my friends if they came over from school. When I started mixing with other families and seeing other people’s parents actually talk to each other, and to us kids, it was amazing to me. I wanted that so badly.

So, all that aside, I’ve decided two things:

  1. I am going to attempt to deepen the friendships I really care about. No more forgetting birthdays and not emailing or meeting up for months on end. Those people that I value need to be looked after.
  2. I am going to stop bothering with everyone else. Seriously. I especially don’t need friendships that make me feel like crap every time we meet up. I don’t think I even need that many friends – I am just not that kind of person. I’d rather have two or three people I can talk to about anything, than 20 people that I see and speak to without meaning. I took a big step forward with this in leaving facebook, but I’m going to go further – I’m going to clear out my address book and delete contact details. So what if my address book only has 15 people in it? I know now that I don’t need a list of 150 names to be a valid person.

Before making any rash decisions, I’m going to ask myself a lot of questions about each of the people I know. Something along the lines of this.

If all this makes me sound a bit cold-hearted and bitch-like then so be it.

I want more meaningful and mutually supportive relationships with the people in my life.

And I no longer want to pretend that I have this huge collection of people in my life when frankly, I don’t!

And if not having lots of friends is something that will put off some of the people I do know (I might be too needy! Too boring!), then maybe they are not the right friends for me after all.

I AM an introvert.

It’s time I started behaving like one 😉

To be continued…

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