Friday, June 08, 2012

{Friendship Friday} How do you treat friends of your friend?

When I was 26 weeks pregnant, I had the third bleed of my pregnancy and was put on a week's bed rest.

Natalie came to visit me and brought lunch. Right there two of my favourite things - connection and food :)

I remember one of the things we discussed was whether she was going to have a baby shower.

She didn't want one because she didn't want a typical baby shower with lots of stuff.

I've mentioned about a hundred times how I hate baby showers but I found myself saying, "well, you MUST. This baby must be celebrated".

She agreed and then told me some hippyish things about how she wants just a tea party with everybody sharing their wisdom for parenting.  :)

Thankfully, it ended up being the perfect blend of woo-woo feelings and practicality.

When her sister started off the proceedings, she asked us to go around the circle and share how we knew Nat.

That was my favourite part because I loved seeing how all these different aspects of her life merged into this person that was my friend.

Running friends, work friends, husband's work friends, infertility friend (me), family, clients, old school friends... it was all such a wonderful tapestry of her life.

Setting the scene in that way made for an afternoon rich with conversation among ALL 15 of us. There was at most 3 people from one area of her life and yet we were all mixing, chatting, laughing, connecting

That, however, is very, very rare.

I've found that 90% of the time, the friends of the friends don't really reach out to one another. This is at my own "events" and at socials I've gone to.

Or am I wrong? Do you have a different view?

At my baby shower, D told me afterward that my church friends didn't really engage my friend, C, in conversation and I was MORTIFIED. I cried and cried that night (hormones and overwhelm!) at the thought that she felt left out.

There have been other parties here where it's also happened.

These days I still feel a bit bad but I'm more in the space of "everyone's adult, they need to get on with it and socialise". I don't feel like I need to "make" people talk to one another even though I wil introduce everyone.

I took this pic of these friends of MY friend at her 30th two weekends ago. Don't you love the way the girl on the left is laughing? It makes me laugh just to look at this pic.
A reader (you can out yourself in the comments if you want :)) told me this happened to her at a party.

The other people (6 sets of friends and family of her friends) stuck to themselves, didn't try to make conversation with her at all even though she made some small talk with them and just left them alone.

When she told me about this, I cringed inside.

It's terrible. It's the lost art of conversation.

So there are 3 things going on here:

1. As the host, how do you create an atmosphere that gets people making conversation with one another? Should you bother?

2. I'm 100% sure I've also not tried to engage people at a party. I know I do this when there are friends I rarely see who are at the same event. I use the opportunity to catch up with those friends so maybe some people have thought this of me. I like to think I do look out for people who look alone but I'm very sure I've gotten so engaged in conversations that I've missed out on people.

3. If there are no existing friends at a social, I do reach out and talk to the person I think I'll get along with the most but again, as I've said on the blog before, if I try a bit and see no reciprocity from the other party in asking me questions too, I'll let it go. It's easier to let go now that we have kids to run around after but in the pre-kids days, it was hard, especially since I so love to connect.
Of course, when I've been spurned, I try and stay a reasonable time to not make my friend think I'm running away, but then leave as soon as it's comfortable to do so.

So, do you talk to and involve friends of your friends?

Or have you been the one not spoken to, and how did that make you feel?

PS I'm meeting a friend for lunch today. Remind me next week to tell you how our friendship soured a bit... and if there are topics for consideration, please share in the comments or mail me!


  1. mmm this is an interesting one.

    I generally leave people to just get on with it - if I notice someone sitting "alone" I will engage them and maybe try and bring them into a conversation.

    I struggle when I am with Davids friends - it has taken me 3 years to feel comfortable with the girls and actually make friends with someone of them. The main reason for this is that we are at totally different life stages so it makes common ground rare.

  2. We try and make sure conversation is kept so everybody is included. I hate it for instance if there are some who are Afrikaans and they ramble off in Afrikaans leaving the English speaking ones who might not understand Afrikaans behind. Or if you know there is a couple who do not have kids and everybody else talk about kids. So I try and change the subject so that it covers something more general. Good friends we once made were friends of friends :-)

  3. Certain situations are easier than others - for instance, if there is more common ground than just a friend it works well - our Booklcub mainly consists of friends and friends of friends and we always do an introduction when a new member joins. But it is a closed group, so is a bit easier however I did find my first 4 or 5 meetings rather daunting. I also find at school things where we share topics, it's much easier.

    Work functions do scre the whatsisname out of me though, and I put my big girl panties on and just go for it! Although I often really feel "out" - a very male orientated industry too.

    Thins like stork teas etc, I will try to find someone to chat to - if it does not work out, I will excuse myself at the first decent moment

  4. guess who's back? :)

    i met some of my dearest friends though another set of friends. so, friends A and D were very close to us. we saw them weekly. b worked out with A. then, A and D had a party and invited these other people M and J. We got along great with them. we were so excited any time they would be invited to parties. then the 6 of us started doing things together. then we would just hang out with M and J alone. now, M and J live several states away and we are closer than my original friends. :)

    you know i'm not very outgoing....i tend to be the person that doesnt get talked to. i try, but it doesn't work out so well. i'm working on it though! :)

  5. Certain situations are easier than others. I tend to make a duck as soon as it's comfortable to do so. I personally (as a hostess) have never been in a situation like this. I tend to keep the friendship groups and family separate. So, for example I would never organise a social with say blog friends AND church friends or knitting friends AND Family. I also tend to keep the Gay/Atheist friends separate from the Christian/Muslim friends. Just in case. I am still a very reluctant entertainer and the thought of making sure that they ALL talk to each other quite frankly just overwhelms me.

  6. I love the way you describe all your friend's friends in one room as "a wonderful tapestry of her life." That's a lovely picture.

    Oh. As an introvert, all this talk of socializing made me tired (and sweat a little) :)

    For that very reason, my baby shower was a come-and-go/open house type of deal. And, it was at my house since I was on bed rest. So, people just came over to my couch to engage me :)

    I have a friend who is such an extrovert. She's constantly planning parties/get together events. All the people that she invites are from her circle of friends. Because she does such a fabulous job of including this introvert, some of those friends have become my friends as well. I tell her all the time what a gift she has for making her friends all feel special and included. Now I enjoy going to her shin-digs, because I have friends there now :)

  7. Anonymous8:01 am

    I cringe inside every time I read your posts about friends. I suck at friendships, wether its new or old, I'm not very good friend material, I want to blame life getting in the way, but I don't think that it is that :( Oh well, I'll live through your friendship posts for now ;-)


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