Making Friends

Several years ago, a middle-aged couple came to see me. As often happens, it was the wife who insisted on seeing a counselor, against her husband’s wishes. Throughout their thirty-year marriage she had complained of feeling lonely, but he didn’t take her complaints seriously. While he provided well for the family, his inability to form close relationships with her and the children was steadily taking its toll on her. Each time she’d tell him how she felt, he would soften up for a while, buy her flowers, and take her out for a nice dinner; but after awhile, he’d go back to the same routine.

This poor man was blind to what had been happening throughout their long marriage, and that his wife was growing ever more distant. His problem on the surface seemed pretty simple: he had no idea how to talk to a woman – nor to anyone else, for that matter, unless it involved his profession. In fact he didn’t do much of anything, except to make a good living and watch sports on television. He was honest enough to admit his problem, and agreed to read a book on the topic of “how to have a conversation”.

But once again, true to form, he didn’t take the problem seriously. Finally, she’d had enough, and decided to leave him. He was shocked.

I recently asked a couple of young people the following question: What issues or problems are common to the lives of people your age? One of their answers surprised me: the difficulty of making friends once you’re in your 20’s. For many people, after leaving school, the workplace is the only environment that lends structure to their lives and puts them in regular touch with people. Why would that be so? Maybe it’s because they have become used to doing things without other people – playing video and fantasy games, staying glued to a screen of one kind or another – and, not having a history of social recreation, they don’t develop social skills.

Now, considering the other problems that come with overuse of social media, it’s easy to see that so many people lack the skills and experiences that would help them make friends. The problem can be as simple as the inability to have a real-time conversation using the voice, instead of the thumbs.

If you’re feeling isolated, lonely, not sure how to meet people, I’d be glad and honored to meet with you and do some problem-solving, together. Please reach out and call me at 219-309-3928. You might find that making friends is not nearly as hard as you think it is.