Getting Flack for “Boring” Friends Post

18 11 2010

I got a bunch of flack for this post that went up last week.  It irked readers that I would refer to friends who chose a more traditional lifestyle as ‘boring’.  They viewed that type of language as judgmental and even condescending.  I have responded individually to some friends’ concerns (and apologized for hurting anyone’s feelings), but I think it is important to clarify my comments in a public post.

In the comments I made, I was not evaluating (or anything like that) people as entities.  Someone could be the most fascinating cool person in the world, but if they are too busy to be friends then they cease to become fascinating in their relation to me.  For example, when I studied in a religious seminary in Jerusalem, I thought that my teacher walked on water.  But she overextended herself teaching at multiple schools and trying to give advice to each of her 100+ students and therefore had no time for a personal relationship with me.  This doesn’t make her boring as a person, but did make the relationship between her and me boring/potentially boring because there was no substance or real time there.

Another example:  One of my best friends growing up is quite brilliant and devoted to her field of study.  She has a family, a career and is by objective means successful.  This girl is a great person, but – even going back to college and parts of high school – she was so busy with her studies that she didn’t have much time to hang out and be active friends.  I’m sure that I would have a great time if we spent days getting to know each other again, but as is we barely speak.   Of course part of this is my fault, but my point is that people who are so busy with their work and families may be interesting people, but don’t make interesting friends because they have no time to be active friends.

One last example (you’ll see the connection below):  I went to college with this great guy who I became friends with, and we kept in touch a bit since graduation.  He’s a very interesting guy with many cool life experiences and stories.  However, whenever we get together, he only talks about himself and never asks anything about what’s going on in my life.  I don’t really think of him as a friend because of this self-centeredness / obliviousness.

In conclusion, if I had to make an equation for a good/interesting friendship, there are two must-have factors:  1- Interest in the other person’s life/interest in being a part of it and 2- Having time to be a friend and spend real time together.  If either one is missing, it makes for a boring relation or, more accurately, a lack of friendship.  (I know that there are exceptions to this rule, as there are to any rule… certain people you have such a closeness with that years can go by and you can still feel a connection.)

Does that clarify my early comments?  Does anybody disagree?

posted by ayo

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4 responses

18 11 2010
Margie

Interesting post. Times and people change. It’s just a fact of life. Your lives and your friend’s lives are “growing” and apparently somewhat apart due to different lifestyles. When we made the decision to become full-time RVers, we had friends and family who thought we were crazy…and told us so. There were others who thought we were brave to sell everything and take off. I find that I now don’t have as much in common with some of those friends – we no longer work together, go out to dinner together, no longer in the same community, etc.

Our new life suits us so much better because we have new friends that share the same experiences and retirement lifestyle – lots to talk about, lots to do together. Do I think my old friends are “boring” – no, but we don’t have as much in common anymore. My old life was boring to me – I’m never bored now. When we returned “home” and went out with friends, I noticed that very few asked anything about our travels this summer – they wanted to continue to talk about their jobs, etc.

I haven’t read all of your blog yet, but I like the idea that you are enjoying your life and doing it your way. As someone much older than you, I wish I had done what you all are doing while I was much healthier and more active. There’s always time for another job and another house when and if you want that again some day. Have fun!

13 12 2010
amybetho

Thanks for your thoughts and encouragement, Margie! I often feel similarly to you. I also find that – though I love meeting new people and sharing our adventures – it can be exhausting to explain what we are doing and field the same questions over and over again.

Part of me loves being a poster child for unconventional living, while the other part of me just wants to be and have fun and forgo all the questions. Glad you’re enjoying the road, and wishing you a wonderful and heart-warming 2011!

19 11 2010
Andrew

It’s also possible that their lives (people in general, not necessarily those you refer to) are boring.

Somebody had the brilliance to spoof this whole concept yesterday. It’s kind of genius…

The Adventurists take an irreverent jab (at themselves) by aping the adventurer stereotype through the character Horatio Blackensmythe.

13 12 2010
amybetho

Looks like it was a fun video to make. I’ve always wanted to make a music video, so maybe ourtakeonfreedom will hit youtube one day. 🙂

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