I was thinking about what I need friends for. I got close to a new housemate who seemed to have a different project socially than mine. He’s charming, brilliant, and kind, with his fingers in many pies of activism and social change. We live in community together and have a ton in common.
But we had some conflict about how we do relationship, which stems from differences in what we need socially. At least that’s part of it.
Of course, people have different personality types and vastly different goals. It’s not like my friend was better than me, or I was better than him. Just different needs and focus.
what I need friends for
I like friends for multi purposes.
- new ideas
- shared projects
- feeling connected
- mattering in the world
Feels important that I have a role or place, socially.
I need several people I can reach out to, so I’m not overly reliant on Ming and one or two people. Diversity is important. I need to talk to many kinds of people who are different from me–I don’t want to live in an echo chamber.
Also you know I love community, and community is made of people. I used to be only one on one. In some ways I still am.
But I understand now that doing something in a group can be its own kind of valuable. I can do work in a group that I can’t do one on one. I learned that at Get If Off Your Chest and in the Las Vegas Radical Mental Health Collective.
Still, the biggest part of what I need friends for is intimacy. Intimacy is my goal. Someone understands me, and I understand them. We go deep. We form a bond that feels meaningful and beautiful, sort of like family. A lil culture of two can have its own norms, jokes, tone, playfulness, pleasures. That’s what I like best in the world. Someone to go on the journey of life with.
I’m an outlier introvert, and being social exhausts me. Spending a lot of energy with someone can feel like a waste of time, if deep intimacy isn’t there. That’s the meaningful payoff. Intimacy is what I show up for.
I maintain a friendship priority list, so I can stay on track with who I give my resources to. That’s because I can get confused by squeaky wheels; I need to give my energy in ways that are aligned with my life’s goals, not folx who make demands or cause trouble.
I have bad relationship habits from when I was young, of chucking my love into bottomless pits. Reciprocity is vital to me now; I won’t show up to be used anymore. Reciprocity is important for my health.
Intimacy is the only place I can create deep trust. Trusting someone and being trusted by them is how I find safety.
Sometimes I make a mistake and trust someone who’s hurtful or who is not interested in collaborating on anything emotional. But getting hurt in that way is productive–I’m glad to make mistakes, because it means I’m reaching out and trying.
What do you like friendship for? What makes you show up? Are you always revising how you connect? I keep learning, my priorities shift, and I refine what I want and what I’ll put up with. Feels great to stay in motion.