Why I Am A Bad Friend

The Golden Girls have been my favorite show for as long as I can remember. The friendship between all of the ladies is something that I have always wanted for myself and yet I don’t feel like I’ve ever been able to find it. I don’t know how to be someone’s friend and at the age of 25 it feels a bit late in the game to learn. Still, I yearn for the friendships that are seen on tv. Friends, How I Met Your Mother, Cheers – who wouldn’t want a group of lovable weirdos to go through life with? I’ve never had that and a part of me doesn’t think I ever will.

I am trying to work on my friendship anxiety.

Friendships make me really anxious. I just don’t know how to do it. I missed reading the guidebook in Elementary school that said “This is how you make friends, and this is how you keep them.” As a child, I had friends but as I grew to be a teenager I found myself alone. I buried myself in books and found my friends in their pages. Prom, graduation, parties – I didn’t do any of it.

Something that I don’t talk about very much is my brother’s autism. It is something that has greatly shaped the person that I turned out to be and has heavily affected how I relate to other people. I couldn’t love him more and growing up his sister was a blessing to me in many ways. I loved playing games with him as a kid, I loved looking out for him, and he’s a great, funny, guy. My brother is five years younger than me and for a large part of my childhood, as the good big sister I am, I took care of him. I remember when my mother was working two jobs and at the age of 11 it was my responsibility to bathe him, get him ready for school, wait for his bus to come and then¬†get to school myself.

This turned me into a caregiver which has been a blessing to me.

I spent a lot of my summers with my brother in daycare for special needs children, my mother worked there so it was free. Not being special needs myself, this again put me into the role of caregiver. My friends were children with down syndrome or severe physical or mental disabilities. I grew up feeling like a mini-adult and I didn’t mind. I felt useful on field trips when I helped feed and look after the others and that was a good feeling.

However, now that I’m older I wish I’d had time to be more of a kid and sometimes I wish that my childhood had been more “normal”.

I am not normal.

I didn’t have my first real friendship until I was nearly twenty and I had no idea how to be a good friend. I still don’t and it’s a struggle that a lot of people don’t understand. If someone needs taken care of I can do that. If someone needs cheering up I’m happy to oblige. I don’t really know my role outside of that.

I can take care of you but I don’t know how to do anything else.

It’s hard for me to open up and ask for help or advice. It’s hard for me to be comfortable going to the movies or hanging out because I feel so out of place.

On the opposite side, when I do let that guard down to become close with someone, I become very clingy and selfish. It opens this flood-gate of FINALLY SOMEONE WHO CAN BE THERE FOR ME. And I overwhelm them because when the dam breaks, boy does it break. This had led to the deterioration of a lot of my close friendships which leaves me feeling even more uncomfortable about friendship in general.

Right now I’m trying to be gentle with myself and gentle with my progress. I’ve been working on my friendships, trying to be supportive, trying to give others their space, and not making everything about me and my feelings. I am not a lost cause! I’m determined to be someone that anyone would be proud to be friends with. Patience, dedication, and heart, I believe almost anything can be accomplished with those three things.

Thank you for taking the time to read this rambling post. Any advice or wise words would, of course, be appreciated!

  • very touching post dominee… vulnerability without need is a great strength… one i treasure in my friends and one you demonstrated admirably here… blessings barbara

  • Crystal Dreaming

    Just wanted to say, I am rubbish at friendship too. For completely different reasons, and it is expressed in a different way, but I too find it hard to open up and when I do let someone in I am clingy and selfish too.

    Still learning the answers to this but I have found a wonderful friend who sees me truly and copes with my insecurities well, because she knows they all stem from deep deep love for her.

    I hope in time you too will find someone who will help you learn to be a friend

  • Lisa Frideborg Lloyd

    brave post. you have gained great insights along the way and i'm sure you make an excellent friend. hope you find friends who deserves you!!

  • Wa6cml

    Hi, I'm new here and I know this post is from awhile ago. I had a similar childhood my sister is 10 years younger than me and was born with a congenital heart defect which led to a heart attack when she was just 2 years old. I spent most of my time carring for her. Your story struck me in almost a physical way. The struggles learning to be a good friend, things most learn in their youth, sometimes it takes a lot of concentration to get it "right". I guess what I'm getting at is it's good to know I'm not alone. Thank you for sharing yourself. Blessings, Auntie.

  • Dominee

    Thank you for sharing with me. You are never alone!

  • My childhood was not affected by particular situations, rather, from a point of view outside would be perfect: 2 parents, 4 grandparents, a brother two years older. I find, however, to be a decidedly not good friend. I easily "friendship" with anyone, m atendo to build relationships a little 'supeficiali .. I tend to isolate myself. I do not like the "best friend." I tend to see the close personal relationships, such as chains and tend to voluntarily remain on the sidelines. I am working to understand where does this attitude, because then I feel a bit 'of envy when I see groups of friends who know each other for years, perhaps from childhood.
    You say, in 37 years get there to understand? ; A
    Kisses from Italy!