Friday, February 17, 2012


I've been thinking about friends a lot lately.

When I was a kid I had no trouble making friends. I've always been someone who had a small group of close friends, rather than a big crowd of friends, and I've always been shy, but until recently, I felt pretty okay about it all. I spent nearly 10 years in Seattle. I moved there for grad school, and for those school years I lived in a big shared house, so I was surrounded by people. And grad school was such a perfect fit for me that everyone was "my people." Then after we graduated, most of us stayed nearby. These years also coincided with my most "volunteer-ing" years as well, so that was another big group of people.

Interestingly, after grad school, I remember feeling like my social life really suffered. But if I look back now, I have to laugh; I was so busy with friends and events. Twice a year I'd host a big brunch or barbecue.

When I moved to Portland 8 years ago, I made a HUGE effort to find friends. I joined groups, I organized hikes. I tried after a few years to get to know a few people better by hosting a dinner party. What a bust! A couple of people canceled the day before, one person forgot to come. In the end there were 5 of us; one was me, one was my sister and one was an ex-boyfriend. Ugh.

As recently as 2010, though, things weren't so bad. I had a boyfriend for half the year, and went to all those "scary social events." But over the course of 2011 and until today, I've just found myself pulling back. I don't have anyone outside my family here in Portland that I'd consider a close friend. And mostly I just don't mind. I'm never bored (I recently learned that's unusual!) and I have a hugely high tolerance for being alone. But some days it does make me sad. And I also worry about what happens when my family isn't around. My parents are getting older, my sister has less tolerance of rain than most happy Portlanders do, so she may eventually move away.

I also don't know what role OCD plays in all this. I had the OCD for most of my Seattle years, so it doesn't seem like it should be causing the problem, but who knows.

What about you? Do you have a lot of friends? Have you found it possible to make close friends into your 30s and beyond? Does your OCD affect your friendships?


  1. Don't feel bad about not being bored or about liking being alone. Some people just groove on alone time.

    I personally am about 50/50. A lot of the time, I crave alone time to sit and crochet/read/surf Pinterest ;D I can get pretty cranky if I don't have that down time. - and the other time I really need to be out in a social setting.

    As far as finding friends, I'm really lucky to have a great network of women through my church. If it weren't for that, it would probably be pretty hard to find - scratch that - I'm pretty involved in a Zumba class too, and I'm thinking about going to a local knitting group -

    OCD definitely used to put a kibosh on friendships for me - I was often too critical of myself - what I'd say or do never felt perfect enough - so I kept to myself. But lately, I've just come to accept myself as an imperfect doofy person - and people can take me or leave me - and it's made a huge difference. :)

    Good luck finding the balance that works for you.

  2. Hi Ann. My OCD definitely affected my ability to have friends. I really pulled back from most people during my rough years. Now, I have a great group of friends in my bible study, plus I've made some good friends at my OCD support group. With the help of my psychologist the past few years I've reached out to others and for some reason it's gone well (in the past my social life was kind of like your dinner party ha ha).

    It is a risk to reach out, and it takes lots of practice, but it does get easier. It sure was a lot easier to make friends when I was a kid though!

  3. Ann, I could relate to what you said about your time in grad school. I was the same way. I've never been one to have a large group of friends, but rather, a few close ones. I went to grad school in Bowling Green, Ohio, far from home and family, and I had a small but very close set of friends. We were all sharing the same types of experiences, going through the same stresses, and I think that helped.

    Since then, it's been harder for me. I moved back to Virginia, away from those good friends, and I haven't been able to form the same type of friends. I do have friends at church, but I am around people whose lives are very different from mine--a lot of women I am around have children and are interested in very different things from me.

    That said, I think part of my issue is that I'm very introverted. I'm a INFJ on the Myers Briggs, and I prefer to be alone most of the time. My husband is my best friend, but I do yearn for close women friends to do things with and talk with more than I do now.

  4. I do not have OCD. A member of my family does. I wanted to read up on it a little and came across your blog. Throughout my life I have never had more than one or two close friends. At other times I have had no close friends at all. For some reason this has never bothered me. I am very contented when alone and make it a habit to have alone time. Friends come along and that is great, but I never worry about it.

    PS: I have had a few dinner parties that have crashed as well.

  5. I think my OCD affects how much I put myself out there and make friends for sure. It takes me a lllloooonnnggg time to open up. I'm pretty guarded at the beginning. OCD? Not sure. Maybe some Social Anxiety? But I also prefer meaningful conversations rather than "fluff" - also probably due to having OCD, so I definitely go for quality over quantity. I really enjoy down time and being alone, but I get depressed/lonely easily too so who knows????

  6. Thanks everyone for your thoughts. Sounds like, as for me, there's a mix of anxiety and plain old personality differences when it comes to friends.

    Welcome mjhighroad (and thanks for your comment on the dinner party issue!)