• Keeping Friends

Trouble Making Close Friends?

Published: May 25, 2011 | Last Updated: September 12, 2021 By | 17 Replies Continue Reading
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A reader asks whether her trouble making close friends is related to culture or personality.

QUESTION

Dear Irene,

I have only had one (true) female friend in my life. She has been my childhood friend since I was ten and we’ve been friends ever since. I grew up in Lebanon and then moved to the US to attend college there. She stayed in Lebanon.

Although I am still very close to her (in the sense that no matter how little we talk we somehow still understand each other), I’ve been trying to make new female friends in the US and finding it extremely difficult.

First, it seems that the college girls that I’m bumping into have hidden codes that I don’t seem to understand. They seem a tad more dramatic than necessary and although I do understand American humor it seems I don’t understand theirs.

I had absolutely no problem making guy friends, and one of them also became a very close friend. But they are elements of female friendship that I need.

College girls here seem on one extreme too self-centered (and like to talk more than listen) or the opposite too nice (to the point that I, unfortunately, feel superior and uncomfortable).

And that made me wonder, is it possible that what came between me and the other girl is a cultural difference? Maybe it’s my personality?

It’s important to note that a lot of girls consider themselves friends with me but I don’t consider them as friends-these are one-way relationships. I listen to what they have to say, give them advice about it or discuss their decisions. But it seems they don’t care to listen to me (truly) when it comes to things I want to discuss.

Signed, Hakima

ANSWER

Hi Hakima,

There may well be some cultural differences between you and the women you meet on campus. By virtue of your having grown up in Lebanon (and still being connected to the culture) and now living in the U.S., you are probably more aware of these differences than I am.

What strikes me though, is that you’ve only had one experience in making what you consider to be a true friend. Maybe it’s difficult for you to make new friends, perhaps you choose the wrong people, or perhaps you don’t give new relationships a chance to deepen.

Since this is a problem you are aware of and that’s troubling you, I think it could be helpful to speak to an RA or counselor at your school to see if they can offer some insight or ideas about how you can get more immersed in the college culture and make friendships that are mutually rewarding.

Hope this helps!

My best,
Irene


Prior posts on The Friendship Blog on making friends:

 

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Category: KEEPING FRIENDS

Comments (17)

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  1. Sylvie says:

    Great post. I’m also an immigrant and have not made one friend here. I’ve asked left and right why and always got the same response: people like you. But there were never any invites, no reciprocity to lunch invites. I never felt treated the way someone who is liked would be treated. I have given up on making friends here. What an interesting dress means it’s a horrible dress. You have a slight accent means it’s really thick. Let’s have lunch someday means I have no interest in hanging out with you. In a culture where telling white lies is common, how can you ever develop any closeness or trust with another person?

  2. BookishBetty says:

    “College girls here seem on one extreme too self-centered (and like to talk more than listen) or the opposite too nice (to the point that I unfortunately feel superior and uncomfortable).”

    Although late to the conversation, I had to post because this statement above sends me all kinds of red flags. Your problems are I would venture to say not cultural at all if the above sentence is really true. If you are encountering college girls you perceive as “too nice (to the point that I unfortunately feel superior and uncomfortable),” then that is something you must fix about yourself if you want real friends. As way of example:

    I grew up with a bunch of male cousins playing competitive sports, and beyond that made my high school friends in the drama department (where talk was candid and everyone was happy to be somewhere without judgement since we were all geeky/quirky and a lot of the guys were closeted). I also come from a big, supportive, extended African American family where we learned that in upstate NY others might not accept you and will definitely discriminate against you, so you better love yourself and be who you are gonna be. Due to all that, I am plain spoken and candid (though not to excess), I am loyal and find no joy or fun in vicious gossip, and I am secure enough in myself to be ok with whoever someone else feels themselves to be. I am in competition with no one but myself.

    Now, I often find myself at odds with other women – hence why i’m reading this blog in the first place – and I have lost more of what I thought were friendships than I have found good ones. I also know the reasons behind some of these failures were due to feelings like yours. If I wasn’t back biting, trying to show off that I am so superior, being flashy and dramatic instead of real and grounded, then I quickly inspired hostility in a lot of women. How dare I love/value myself enough to want the best for everyone else too? How dare I not engage in or act to create rank and hierarchy among a group of friends?!

    The friends I do hold dear as family are a small, racially/ethnically diverse number, and they are sadly spread out all over the country/world. But these women (and a few men since men tend to Not engage in this female silliness and have saved me in some dark times empty female support) are all what you would call really nice and loyal folks who support, challenge, encourage, and nurture each other. The world is toxic and hectic enough as it is, when it comes to friends, you want something absent judgmental feelings.

    All this is to say that I write to caution you: I believe that women far, far too often equate/confuse kindness, integrity, and earnestness with weakness and a lack of intelligence. I know women have done that with me. If you feel discomfort with the kindness of potential female friends, and this makes you feel superior to them, then you will continue to only make superficial friendships with silly superficial women.

    • Lily says:

      Hi Bookish B. Isnt it great that you grew up with boys in the family? I didn’t, but played with boys most of my younger life until they got too strong physically, but boys/men truly make good friends. They’re simply black and white. I’m currently reading “A Little Life” by: Hanya Yanagihara that’s where true friendship lies.

  3. Linda says:

    It’s interesting what Hakima says, because I’m American (with a mother born in the US and an immigrant father) and I have always felt more comfortable around people who either immigrated here or are first generation of immigrants (from any country). As a young person, I think it was that these friends had a view of life that also wasn’t limited to this country and this culture, so I was more comfortable with them.
    As an adult, I am still this way. My closest friends tend to be people who have worldview rather than a solely “American view” of life.
    I teach in college, and I know what Hakima means by “self-centered” college girls. You will find young women who aren’t, but it depends on the campus and the campus activities you get involved in. Sometimes the young women who are not self-centered are quieter, or not so easy to get to know because they too feel like outsiders.

    • anne says:

      Hi hakima

      I dont think not bein. able to make a friend in north america is because of cultural differeces.

      I find tjat a lof women tjat I m eet tend to be too self focused and talk abouttjemselves all the time. And everytime I metioned something about myself, the answer is, o, with not I was born in Canada and have been lucky in making a few good friends with women in the past.

  4. Wild Rumpus says:

    I think all this US bashing should stop. No wonder friendships are difficult if you blame it on the US.

    Look at where you are looking for friendships. On a secular college campus? Odds are slim. In a bar? Even worse.

    What kind of people do you want to be friends with? Go where they would go and reach out to someone there. meetups.com

    Stop blaming others.
    Don’t give up.
    You are a diamond in the rough and will find another.

    • Yissel says:

      I have to agree wry u, the funny thing is I’m not from this country, but made this country my home. I found the worldwide view in this country and literally came out of the cave, the darkness and lack of knowledge I was in. But this country is not the topic or even a justification to not be able to make friends. There are ignorant people every where & in every country, as well as intelligent people that you can have deep conversations wt. We should be able to make friends “every where”. Is true that d choices r less as we look for quality people, but tfriends shouldn’t be chosen by, race, color, age, religious or sexual preference. Those things r comfort zones for us. The answer is in d mirror. & I’m happy to have found this blog as I can exchange information & learn from each other. We can be one step closer to making & sustaining friendships.

      Yissel

  5. Dorota says:

    I read the blog and felt for the first time that maybe I am not the only one in the world
    I am from Poland living in USAfor more the 20 years
    I tried very hard to meet new people and when I find that we might have something in common I go all out
    I will make parties for 30 people to have a great time
    I out my schedule aside just to jump on opportunity to meet for a cup of coffee
    With all this I find that so called friends get together ,plan outings without me and all that
    It’s very sad for me I feel very lonely
    I swear I will not do anything with them but than I feel even more lonely so I say to myself nobody is perfect
    I would love to have one real honest friend who really cares about me and I am not being their last option
    Please advise

    • Lily says:

      Dorota,
      It was nice reading your post. I did the same when I met some “nice girls.” We actually did hit it off. I invited several to have coffee and dinner in my home, and none of the them ever reciprocated. At first I thought nothing of it. Then I find out that these ladies now have “family fun Friday night dinners”. They have been very quiet about this so as not to be found out. At first I was insulted, because I truly liked them and thought they felt that way about me. You know what though, nothing is more important than having one true friend (which I gladly have), and your family. You just have to move on, and don’t give up on finding someone who has the same interests as you.You will find a nice person.

  6. Christina says:

    I noticed this comment when I googled reciprocation for weddings. I read that Hakima was from Lebanon and I was happy because I am half lebanese, born in USA.

    Hakima- I don’t know if it’s a Lebanese thing where we keep it real or just people in general don’t get it but I agree with you. I wish that female friends were more genuine and authentic. Luckily, I have a core group of friends that are amazing. There are so many stupid bitches out there who are unhappy so they like to tear others down. Stay away from rubbish and be awesome, you will attract awesome friends by being yourself and you will find friends with the same values! All the best 🙂

  7. Linda says:

    I’ve met quite a few friends through online sites such as meetmoms.com, meetup.com, [EDITED BY MODERATOR] which I’ve had reasonable success with. It takes time but it’s worth it in the long run. I always spend a lot of time first though chatting to the person and always meet in an open place for safety.

  8. Brandi says:

    Hakima,

    I completely understand where you’re coming from, and there’s nothing wrong with you. You may be what I like to call an old soul, or someone mature and wise who values friendships with depth, compassion, and substance. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to establish those types of relationships in the US because some girls are more interested in the shallow aspects of small talk, “schmoozing”, gossiping, and the like that many girls use to establish rapport. You’re probably wanting more than this and expect a caring friendship with equal give and take. I could be all wrong about you, but I have a strong feeling you’re a gifted person with lots to offer others. But when it comes to you, you need a higher, richer level of friendship than most to feel satisfied on a deep, inner level. Now you may be thinking “So what?! I want friends!” Well, I have lots of suggestions that may be of interest, and you can feel free to email me at: nap sha 21 @ yahoo.com to hear some of them.

    I’m just a gal who was reading her email and felt the urge to reply to this post. Also, though American, I understand the cultural conflict. I’m passionate about global culture and overseas travel and have often felt more at home abroad, than in the US. In the US, it’s been difficult for me to establish genuine friendships too, but when abroad, I make many fulfilling friendships that’ve greatly contributed to my life. I think the difference is, social society has deteriorated a great bit in the US and people just don’t know how to relate to each other anymore. Relationships have become shallow and unfulfilling, and even those who seem to have lots of great friends…they find they’re left high and dry when in need. So, there are lots of reasons why making friendships can be difficult, but You CAN make wonderful friends :). And you’re not alone either. This friendship blog is a testament to the fact that women and friendships isn’t easy business, especially if you’re a rare person with deeper needs.

    • Jaz says:

      So glad i red this yes I agree !!!!
      The U.S. is on a moral decline 🙁

    • Sophia says:

      Hi, I’m African American and often seem to observe women of other races/ethnicities enjoying less stressful friendships. I wish more Afr Ams would be honest about our competitive, and even hostile attitudes toward each other. I’m really enlightened by this commentary, and now realize that I simply desire deeper, richer friendships. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m learning to embrace my unique personality, and to nurture my own heart -be a friend to MYSELF- for a change. This is helping me to like myself more and to be more patient. Ive noticed people respond more positively. Best wishes to you ladies.

      • LaTrice says:

        First off, I have to agree with what you’re saying because it’s the truth. I can’t count how many times I’ve dealt with the hostile and competitive attitudes that’s coming from African American women. I’m NOT better than everyone else, and my goal in this life is to do better, so I don’t spend the rest of my life struggling to make ends meet.

        Like you Sophia, I’ve learned to embrace my own unique personality, and had to be my own best friend.

        • Sophia says:

          Hi LaTrice, Thanks for taking time to respond, your honesty is an encouragement. I think it’s brave when an Afr Am woman can admit the serious flaws in our friendships, or lack of. Unfortunately, we may feel charged with a burden of always keeping a positive image for an oppressed people. As a result, we pretend, or play tough instead of growing and developing richer lives and relationships.

          As I expressed earlier, I’m still learning to accept my own uniqueness. But I’ve always desired sincerity and true understanding in friendships over negativity (defensiveness) and pretense.

          Glad you’re seeking more for yourself too. Look forward to hearing from you again. Take care.

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