Dear Papa Bear,
A few months ago I experienced a personal tragedy. But that's not why I write you today; I'm receiving help for that elsewhere.
My issue is with friendships. After the event, I've found my friends drifting away. I'd hope they'd be there to support me, and some gave me some words of comfort the next few days after, but they soon became scarce. Either I'm the one who always has to initiate contact and keep the conversation going--they never contact me first--or they just stop responding to me, or in one case, said something hurtful and took my reaction as an excuse to end the friendship.
My problem is two-fold. I have no success at maintaining friendships, and little at fostering new ones. It's tough making new friends at my age, and I have little in common with most furries. I'm just tired of being lonely. I'm tired of investing in friendships just to see them dissolve. I've turned everywhere for advice, I hope you could provide some. Thanks.
Weary (age 34, Canada)
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It's ironic that in the "Communication Age" we seem to be more isolated from one another than ever. Making friends can be tough, to be sure. Many people, in my experience, are shallow and not really friend material, which means my real friends are all the more precious to me.
In your life you will meet several types of people: acquaintances (don’t care one way or the other), hostiles (wicked people who will smile at you and think nothing of stabbing you in the back while telling you that you should be enjoying the pain), fair-weather friends (will hang with you when things are good, but not when their services are requested), and true friends (through thick and thin no matter what). Sounds like you had a lot of the fair-weather variety in your life. The loss you suffered was a litmus test and, sadly, they all failed.
So, how to find true, blue friends? Well, for one thing, it helps to shop around among people your own age who share your interests. You mention furries, noting that you have little in common with them (and most are likely younger than you). See, that doesn’t work well. Start by finding people your own age (if you want to hang with furries still, might I suggest you join the Greymuzzle group I created on Facebook?) Examine your personal interests, as well as your education level and occupation and try to locate people who share these things with you.
The other factor is that friendship is a two-way street. It’s not just about asking others to be interested in you, but you also need to be interested and involved in their lives. It does sound like you know that, though.
My suggestion, overall, is to reevaluate the people you hang out with, both in person and online, and see if you can’t find a group of people who are more suited to your personality, age, and experience. Once found, try to hang out with them in the real world, not online. Interact with them doing real-life activities, sharing experiences. The more you share your life in the real world, the more you will bond. Such bonding is virtually impossible to accomplish in the virtual world. Oh, sure, you can communicate online, but I continue to maintain that deep bonding, even on a friendly level, is very difficult to do through a keyboard.
I hope this helps some.
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