Dear Dr. NerdLove,
I was wondering if you could help me out with friendship dynamics.
I met this really cool girl, we’ll call her Zoe, about 3 months ago. We hit it off immediately: 3-hour conversation, lots in common, super easy to talk to, soul-sister kind of feeling. She’s a much more extraverted person than I usually hang out with, but that made me excited because she’s connected with this big group of other cool people. When I first met her, I got a weird feeling about her personality, but it was hard to place why and because the connection felt good, I brushed it off as me having too high expectations for people.
This girl and her husband host a weekly get-together at their home, which they use as a sort of open house to connect with their friends. The first time I went, it was amazing. Fun games, great conversation, etc. All the people were nice. In addition, Zoe came over to hang out with me at my house a few times and we hit it off just like the first time we hung out.
The problem is that the connection seems to be tapering off, and I don’t know why.
I got sick recently, starting about a month ago, where I can’t drive and the doctors aren’t sure what’s wrong (I’m not contagious). So I haven’t been able to really get out of my house and I haven’t been able to make it to any of the weekly get-togethers or other things my new friend group has planned, such as hiking trips and other social events on the weekends. I told my friend what was going on with me around the time I first got sick, and she seemed concerned and sympathetic in text messages, but that’s as far as it went.
This is kind of where the issues started. I haven’t seen her in a while because I can’t drive. My sickness makes it hard to be out and about so I haven’t risked catching a ride to her place. I invited her over to my place to hang out but she said she was busy and was so sorry. After a while, she started not replying to my texts as much (I send one maybe once a week and she replies about half the time). She also never checked in on me to see if I was doing ok, and it started to feel awkward reaching out to her, knowing I was probably going to get rejected, either by being turned down for hanging out or just not receiving a response at all. I know that she’s been extremely busy socially lately as well.
I don’t know if my expectations are unrealistic, but here they are so it’s clear where my mind goes when I’m anxious: A good friend would have checked in on me to see if I was getting better from my sickness. She hasn’t. A good friend would have tried to see me or reschedule knowing that I can’t go anywhere, but she has not. A good friend would have responded to my texts eventually, even just to let me know she got them, rather than ignoring them entirely. She’s apologized for not responding to my texts in the past, saying how much she cares for and misses me, but the behavior doesn’t change and I don’t see any actions supporting her words.
I know this friendship is young (again on the order of a few months), but I can’t help but get the intuitive hit that this girl is more self-centered than she initially let on. I have another close friend who said he’s seen similar patterns in people. Essentially, they make sure that you’re attached to them and love them and go over to their place to hang out, but once they know you’re hooked, they sit back and relax. I don’t want to believe this is the kind of new friend I found. I’d hate to lose this friend because she’s sort of the self-titled “leader” of this new group and I like a lot of the people I’ve met within it, but it feels really crappy being ignored, especially when I’m sick. And to be honest, I miss her. Again, she’s cool and fun to hang out with.
Are my expectations too high? Do I have a blind spot that I’m unaware of that’s making me the problem in this situation? I’ve often suspected I have social dynamics struggles since I haven’t been able to maintain friendships for more than 2-3 years since I was little, and I also know that I’m super sensitive and have some anxiety that gets in my way. I also have a tendency to assume people don’t like me and don’t want me around, when in fact I’ve been told I’m a joy to be around and very socially calibrated (I think I just learned the motions and can act well). So I know these things are increasing my anxiety around the situation and I’m wondering if it’s not just me and my own issues.
Any insights for me? Assuming there’s absolutely nothing wrong, and this is normal for new friendships, do you have any tips on how to maintain connection? I haven’t accused her of anything because I don’t even know if she’s done anything wrong!
I don’t want yet another new friendship to fizzle simply because I don’t know what I’m doing. This has happened to me before, and in the past I’ve just stopped reaching out altogether, losing the friendship entirely.
Sick and Abandoned