(not) making friends as an adult

Making friends as an adult is hard, especially for those who have lines in the sand.

School cafeteria looking setting, people talking to their friends in the background, with a woman looking into the camera.
Photo by Toni Koraza on Unsplash

Personal story coming up in case you want to skip this one.

There’s this meme of how to make friends as an adult:

Comic, four panels. First one: How to make friends as an adult. Drawing of a guy, and another one lurking behind a bush. Second panel: lurking guy jumps at the first one, grabbing his leg. Caption is step one: latch onto their leg firmly. Third panel: Guy is lying on his bed, with the other guy still latched onto his leg. It's dark. Caption says step two: never let go. Last panel: Guy gives in and says sigh, wanna play Mario Kart? Other guy seems happy. Caption says success!
Links to the original.

I don’t think I can do that. You see, even though I don’t think I’m an asshole, I am perceived as one.

As I was walking to the gym, an old lady crossed the road. It’s a three lane busy road that leads out of the town. As she arrived on the side that I was on, she stroke up a conversation that went like this:

Her: “Oh, it’s quite scary crossing these roads, don’t you think?”
Me: “Well yeah, if you do it on red.” She was crossing on a red light for pedestrians.
Her: “Yeah, I shouldn’t have done that.”
Me: “No, you shouldn’t have.”
Her: “...Thank you.”

Nary an hour later I posted a picture from inside the gym: one of the members decided to shave in the changing room, and did not clean up the sink. I don’t want to wash my hands or do anything in a sink that still has someone’s stublles and shaving cream on it. The caption was sarcastic, and I added that their mom does’t work there to clean up after him. Who the fuck shaves and not cleans up after them in a somewhat public setting?!

As a tangent, the overwhelming majority of men I see using the toilets at airports, restaurants just leave. Without so much as glancing at the sink, let alone washing their hands. If they do use the sink, it’s usually to sprinkle hands with water, no soap, and then wicking it off with the satisfaction of a job done. I do not want to shake their hands.

I’m currently looking for some professional help with some business matters. Things were going well, until during the phone conversation the other person had somewhat of a throwaway comment about GDPR and privacy in general. I’ve asked for clarification, but if what I heard is accurate, they aren’t people I can work together. “Can’t” in the sense of us not having the same values, and that is fairly important to me, especially when it comes to sensitive data and details about myself, my business, and my projects. It would be a position of trust.

I’ve had friends where we talked about random stuff only for them to utter something “funny” like they don’t think trans women should play in women’s sports. That’s unacceptable to me, I am no longer friends with them.

Or that a financial advisor veers off into cryptocurrency bullshit.

I do not want to bond over our mutual disregard of laws and regulations and how shit it is that we get speeding tickets if we do 110mph on the motorway. I am not interested in talking shit about whichever group of people others deem acceptable to talk shit about. I do not have sympathy for people who get into trivially avoidable situations if only they read the manual, or guidance, or actually listened to the people who were telling them things.

And I understand why they think I’m an asshat. After all hearing that they’ve actually been the idiot is not nice. Hearing someone else tell them that their behaviour was not okay is embarrassing and hurts. Realising that a person they thought was their friend thinks that a core belief of theirs is unacceptable must also not be nice.

On my side it’s disappointing to get my hopes up thinking I found someone I get along with, someone I share values with only to have a light hearted conversation on a random Tuesday afternoon and thinking “yep, there it is...”

I’m 40, I am not these people’s dad, it is not my job to tell them that what they’re doing might not be the best. I have lines in the sand though, and I set boundaries, and I don’t care what you say or what you do. I care that if I do not agree with them, I will remove myself from the relationship.

So the way I cope with this is I prevent this from happening. I do not make friends. I do not want to know you. I do not want to get to a point where I find out why I’m going to be disappointed.

A side of me wants the connection and wants the nice things that come with having a large group of friends that I could invite over so I could make pizza for them, or play board games, but this absolutely will not come at a cost of letting people I don’t vibe with in.