Syndicated on BlogHer.com

My longest friendships are women I have known since childhood…and who currently do not live anywhere near me.

I find it difficult to maintain friendships as an adult. I have no problem making friends, but keeping them or having them develop into something meaningful, that is difficult for me.

I have never had a problem plopping down next to someone in class or in a meeting or wherever and making small talk. As a student, turning to work with whoever was next to me was not an issue. Getting put into groups with people I didn’t know made no difference to me. In fact, in middle and high school my teachers often told my parents that it just didn’t matter where they moved my seat, I would talk to whoever was there.

But maintaining friendships is hard for me.

My best friends–who live far away–are relatively low-maintenance. We rarely talk, sometimes text, and see each other only a handful of times a year. We pick up where we left off when we see each other, but other than texts and cards, we don’t really talk otherwise.  But I know that when I need them, they are there.  And I know they know that about me too.

But the friends I have here…close to me…I am not a good friend to them.

Because I don’t know how.

I am uncomfortable a lot. I get nervous that I will do or say something that will instantly make me not “hangout-able”.

Being friendly with people is easy; being real friends is difficult.

When someone says, “Hey, we should see that movie sometime,” I know know if they are just being nice or they would really like to hang out. So I say, “yeah! I would love that!” and then I wait for them to set it up because I am afraid if I try to set it up, I will look like I am pressuring them to do something they maybe didn’t want to REALLY do in the first place. Maybe they were just being nice.

So I wait for someone to make the first move, and when someone does go through with setting up legit plans with me, I get so anxious that half the time I end up cancelling because I am so paranoid and overwhelmed that I will be a complete letdown.

It’s also hard for me to set aside time to actually have a friend. I have local friends, don’t get me wrong. The problem is, they all live a minimum of a thirty-minute drive away from my house, so it’s not like we can every just randomly drop in.

I do  have a couple friends that actually lives in my neighborhood (::waves at Kelsey and Sarah::), but I feel like my life is so different from theirs. I am running around like a woman possessed during the school year, and only really get to spend time with them in the summer when we can have play dates.

I feel like I know what it is to be a good friend, but I feel a little unfriendable.

I want my friends to know I think about them often, but I don’t find the time to tell them.

I see them update their social media about fun things they are doing and I get sad and jealous, even though it’s my own fault for never inviting people over or asking them out to coffee or a movie. It’s my fault for canceling or being unavailable so often that I just don’t get an invite anymore.

The truth is I feel inadequate. I feel that I am not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, funny enough to hang out with the people I call friends.

The way my life is right now, my family and my job are my priorities. This leaves little time for hanging with friends.

I look at my planner and I realize that I have made myself unfriendable.

Maybe subconsciously I do this on purpose. I avoid rejection by filling my life with things (my jobs) and people (my family) who won’t reject me. Ever.

I throw myself into my work–both teaching and blogging/writing–to the point where any extra time I have, I give to my family. I don’t even know how to start with having a “regular friend”.

And now that I have written  all of this, I am afraid that any friends who attempt to spend time with me, are doing it out of pity and the experience of hanging out with me will be truly underwhelming and I will never hear from them again.

I am making this all much harder than it should be, I am sure.

About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.


  1. How insightful! I feel this way as well…more often than I probably should too. I think we often get ourselves turned around with our own emotions and end up making it harder. Aren’t we all crazed and thinking that too? I’m not sure. I always enjoy your writing, so I wish we lived down the street from one another and we could be each other’s ‘unfriends’. 🙂

  2. I empathize with nearly every word you’ve written. One major difference is that I’m TERRIBLE at small talk, and once I have made it past the small talk, what’s the next move to making a real connection? I hate phone calls, is it ok to text and email? It seems like it should be, but I never know. Also doesn’t help that I’m goofy and spend the majority of my time with my kids either…

  3. Sarah Coenen says

    I am the SAME WAY!!!! I always feel like such a spaz! The worst part is that I KNOW I’m like this yet I still complain when I’m left out of things (after saying no a million times). With me, you just can’t win. I have those tried and true friends as well and am SO thankful that I do. What would we do without them??? Wish you lived closer to me, I’d force you to hang out! ;O)

  4. I get this. I really do. I think you’re speaking to so many more people than you’d expect who truly understand it. It’s just so different. Lives are scattered as parents, our “tones” change, we can’t tell what sort of friendship is going to be brewing until it’s just there. (Hugs) my friend. You are not unfriendable. You’re just going through what so many of us experience. And honestly, lately, most of my friends – the ones I think of immediately and want to talk to when I need someone? They’re in this virtual world we love so much. It’s weird, yes, but it’s life, and I’m good w. that. 😉 xo to you. Thank you for sharing and opening up such a discussion.

  5. I feel the same way. So I am trying. This weekend a group from my SW classes is going to a movie & I am making myself go! Trust me when I tell you that I do not spend time with you out of pity, I spend time with you because you are a fun person. We should get the group together for dinner again soon! Love ya!

  6. Katie? What goes through your mind….is what goes through most everyone’s mind.

    I have very few friends that are close. My best friend, as I grew up, lives several hours away . . . sometimes we text/email every day . . . sometimes months go by and we barely acknowledge each other.

    On twitter & through the blogosphere, there are people that I communicate with, and enjoy chatting with, most every day. Heck, there is a whole concentration of people just about an hour from my house — and I’d actually say that I’m “friends” with them . . . but, even then, it’s difficult to maintain. Lives are hard. Families make maintaining social lives that much harder.

    But what I’ve found is that, when people say “we should…” they mean it. It’s taken me YEARS, but I’ve finally discovered that when someone says “we should hang out” or “we should see that movie,” they actually mean it — otherwise, they wouldn’t say it. The thing is, those insecurities that I have . . . well, everybody actually has them.

    So, I’ve actually started “making the first move” with those people that are close enough to hang out with. Heck, my kids now enjoy playing with their kids as much as I like hanging out with their kids’ parents. It’s worth the effort. Even when life is crazy.

  7. Right there with you. This is so me. I wish I was your neighbor. xoxoxo

  8. Oh, Sweetie, I can relate! I’ve spent a decade or so feeling like everyone is paired up doing FUN! THINGS! WITHOUT! ME! Sometimes I wonder if I put some sort of wall up around myself. Only in the past few years have I been really working to change my habits about friendships and be more proactive. You have a LOT on your plate, for sure. I have a lot more time to make changes than you do since I’m working only part time and have a middle schooler. When I was teaching h. school, all friendships were on hold until the summer. xo

  9. Yes, you are SO not alone. I’m not sure that my social anxiety is rooted in the same place, but the end result is the same. Try to let your heart remember what your rational brain already knows – you are a wonderful person, busy just like the rest of us, and you aren’t being judged nearly as harshly as you judge yourself. If you can get closer to that, you might be able to start making the “first move” sometimes, even if it’s still scary!

  10. I think many of us can relate to this! I feel the same way. Kind of funny to think we’re all out there feeling inadequate compared to each other, and cancelling plans because we’re too uncomfortable, oblivious that the other person feels exactly the same way. 🙂

  11. I feel this way too,but like Erin I am horrible at small talk,at talking to people I don’t know. I’ve joined clubs and things in order to make more friends and pursue my interests and then have just sat there with nothing to contribute. My mind goes absolutely blank and all I can think is I am so disappointing in real life.
    Even without that hang up though it’s hard to do as you get older and have families…I do think a lot of people feel that way. I do hope that you make the first move(by first I mean really second,they suggest seeing a movie you set up the time) more often though. I can’t imagine they would ask you if they didn’t really want to hang out with you.

  12. Ok, I usually never comment but as your “local” friend I just HAVE to!

    There are a few things I know as being your “real life” friend. First, you are most certainly NOT unfriendable. You are pretty enough, good enough and defiantly smart enough! I will say that one thing you are not is spontaneous. I would for sure call you up for a movie, or coffee, or hanging out but I know that you, your schedule and family are very structured so if I am to do that it needs to be in the plans. There is nothing wrong with this AT ALL, it just maybe makes it seem as though you don’t get that random hang out or time that you are craving.

    Friendship is full of give and take…. FULL!!! With conversation, asking, loving, understanding. There is no one exact way to be a good friend. This makes it so that not all friends are created equal. There are several levels of friends. I was told that friends are in your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. So all we can do is maintain what is important to us and not stress about the rest!!!

    As long as you are listening, loving, respecting, and understanding you are a great friend!!! No need to stress or be anxious. Easier said then done right…?

    Love, the truth telling friend. 🙂

  13. Get outta my head, girl! I am the same way.
    My best friend of 20 years lives in Colorado and we talk randomly, haven’t seen her in years. But I know we could pick up exactly where we left off when I see her again.
    We’ve lived in Merritt, BC for 6 years now and I can’t say that I have a single friend here… yes, some acquaintances, but nothing more…

  14. Oh, Katie, we all have a level of insecurity about our relationships. I know just how you are feeling, having been through these emotions a hundred times before. What helps me to keep from looking down upon myself as a bad friend is knowing that no one else spends as much time as I do thinking about how I could be a better friend. I hope you can see from the comments that most of us have these thoughts. I think it’s very indicative of your “friendableness” that you desire to be a good friend.

    The thing is, we all structure and prioritize our lives to be how they work for us right now. Good friends know that, and we wait for each other to have the time to socialize.

  15. You just explained an introvert ;). While I didn’t blog about it and make a pinnable graphic, my theme of 2014 is “be more direct”. When I want to do something or change something, I just do it. I might fall on my face but whatever. This is at work, home, with friends…whatever. To blend the worlds a little, some of us Raleigh girls just have an FB group. When one is feeling like they want girl time, you post and people say “yeah”. This could be REALLY planned or just “hey I have a free lunch. Who wants to check out the new taco place?”

    But I’m with John. People REALLY mean it…and as someone who is often the one planning, I get THRILLED when someone else steps up. If you ask me, I will probably move the heavens to make it work. Coffee during naptime on a weekend, go to dinner WITHOUT KIDS anything. Moms need outlets and we are all looking at each other like a middle school dance. JUST ASK 🙂

  16. You are, friend you are. What’s not to like? And that’s not a rhetorical question.

    When I’m not sure of a new acquaintance becoming a friend, I take it slow, leaning on all the friends I DO have, even if they live far away. I know that I don’t actually need the person I’m getting to know (since I already have friends) so if I like them and they like me, why not? But it takes the pressure off. And I’ll at least take one step. If they don’t reciprocate, then I let it go.

  17. TheNextMartha says

    You are totally friendable. I know these things because I like you and I don’t like anyone. <3

  18. Katie, you are SUCH a fun girl! I mean, look at your taste in music. And girl, I have SEEN you boogie! ;-D

    In truth, I cannot relate because I probably overwhelm people with my wanting to be their friend – ha! I know it must be hard for you when you have all of those things going on in your head about not being good enough but can I ask you a favor? Next time a friend says let’s go do something do your darnedest to make it actually happen. Try saying “Yes, let’s go” and actually scheduling an outing or get together. I promise you most people have at least some of the same insecurities, yes, EVEN ME.

    You are most certainly NOT unfriendable – and I should know, since we are friends. xoxo

  19. Katie – thanks for sharing this. I think more than anything, it shows that so many of us are all on the same page. (which *should* make it easier). We’re all trying to do this social dance even though we really don’t have the time and it sometimes seems (a lot) easier to just cuddle up to the people at home. BUT, I know that when I do something with friends-in-the-making, I usually have fun, feel like a more interesting, multi-dimensional person, and am proud of myself. (then I analyze everything I said or “should’ve” said, but whatever. I eventually get over that especially if the person still seems to like me the next day).

    For me, the more spontaneous the “event” the better. If I plan something out days in advance, I can get myself all worked up over it. Whereas, if I see someone with free time and invite them for a cup of tea (or wine) — it usually ends up being less stressful.

    I think you should turn the question around and ask why it was/is so easy to maintain “childhood” friendships. Obviously, you’re a “friendable” person.

  20. This is one of those things that I think we all go through at times. I have friends I’ve known forever and sometimes, I feel like I’m putting too much pressure on them. And then, I have this infertility burden I’m carrying around, and it’s caused me to withdraw and alienate people and even though I’m aware of it, I feel like I’ve done too much damage now and can’t get those friendships back.

    You’d think as we got older and more comfortable with ourselves, this would get easier, but it doesn’t. Lives move further in the opposite directions as things change. Types of job, number of kids, husbands who travel, divorce…you name it, things are changing between us all every day.

    I think it’s normal to feel like you do. However, if you don’t like the current reality, you can change it. I try to remember what my dad always taught me “the only person who can hurt your feelings is yourself”. The WORST thing is, someone might say “no thanks” to a hang out. And maybe you take that personally for a few minutes, but then you move on. You look at what you have and think, ok, that person doesn’t fit in here, and that’s ok. And then you try again. I suspect you’ll be surprised more often than hurt.

  21. Oh yes. For a variety of reasons, I don’t have any IRL friends who live close enough to do anything with. I feel awkward making friends and don’t think they’d really want to hang out with me anyway. And I suspect I’m not really a good friend.

  22. Katie,

    I could’ve written this about myself. Some things don’t apply, i.e. I don’t live quite so far away from some of my friends here; but I’m just as paranoid about making plans and being the one to reach out. Feeling worthless and dumb and unfriendable.

    I will argue, though— that you’re anything but. I’m an introvert, but I can tell you that if you walked in here right now, I’d throw my arms around you and never let go. You are beautiful and smart and strong and capable and a wonderful mother, wife, and friend. SO tell that idiot in your head to shut up. You are an incredible friend. An extraordinary person. I consider myself lucky to know you.


  23. Thanks for sharing this Katie. I get it, I totally do. Insecurities, lack of time, family obligations – these all contribute to how much we are willing to devote to friend-making. I feel you. As someone who has been unfriended by so many people I’ve lost count I know it hurts. Friending is so much like dating. I say, if you kind of like someone, put yourself out there. It’s scary, but what do we really have to lose if we weren’t friends already?

  24. Ok, there are lots of comments here, so I don’t know if someone said this or not, but here goes:

    I think this has A LOT to do with brain development. I honestly don’t know any adult woman (or man for that matter) who can instantly make a friendship connection and be able to continually foster that connection. As we age and our brains mature, we get caught in our old, familiar habits. We spend so many nights doing what we know and what we’re comfortable with that the thought of doing anything else sends many of us into a tizzy. Like the phrase “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” our brains are set in their ways with the friends that we have and the life that we’re comfortable with that it takes a TON of effort to retrain our brains to remember that’s it’s OK.

    Our kids, on the other hand, can make new BFFs in a snap. I was worried about taking Aric out of daycare where he’d seen the same kids every day for almost 4 years, but he just moved right along and made new friends in preschool. And he can make friends with any single child at the park. His brain is still malleable and flexible that he’s OK being with anyone.

    Plus, our kids haven’t learned to distrust yet. They haven’t been hurt yet. They haven’t been shot down by someone they thought was a friend. That’s another factor that drives us into comfortable isolation.

    I don’t think that makes us inherently unfriendable. I think that makes us human. I think we get too comfortable in our warm houses with people that we KNOW will not reject us, people that we can be “ourselves” with, in all our awkward glory. Going outside of that is painful. I know that all too well.

    As I’m sure the other comments tell you, you’re not alone. It’s not YOU that is unlikable.

  25. First, you are not unfriendable, but I do understand this feeling. I KNOW that I’m a bad friend. I never reach out to people and I find it hard to make the effort a lot of times to make plans or keep in touch. Not because I think they don’t want to be around me, but because I’m lazy and distracted.

  26. Well, you’ve made my chest clench up because you just wrote what I feel daily. Except for the parts about your good friends. Even with them, I don’t feel like I can just text them. I don’t even know how to start a texting relationship.

    I wish I could comment more. There are a lot of thoughts in my head about this because I FEEL it so personally and deeply. It affects me.

  27. I relate so much to this. I have wonderful friends who live far away, and most of my spare time is devoted to work and my family. I’m also an introvert, which doesn’t help.
    Anyway I loved reading this and I thought I’d let you know.

  28. Oh yes, I relate to this as well. Not only the not really making plans part, but the living far away from everybody part and not having a lot of time part. It’s hard, but you are a good friend. And loved.

  29. Holy shitballs, woman, how are we not friends?!?

  30. I’m glad I got to see this…I think it’s a universal feeling that we wonder “do they really really mean they want to hang, or are they just being polite?” I guess that’s why Sally Field’s 2nd Oscar acceptance speech was so rememberable. Who thinks a famous actress could possibly think she is not liked? But true that I never feel that way with friends I made many years ago, and do the same as you. When we see each other, it’s like we never left each other.

  31. I feel this way. Not about having girlfriends, but about having a relationship…with a man…because I’m anxious, and un-hang-out-able, and nervous, and what if it sucks, and what if I suck, and …am I good enough? pretty enough? ENOuGH??? Am I enough? I think that’s a question we all ask — it is a question of identity. Probably one we can trace back to our parents and our upbringing. I find the only thing to do is JUST DO IT (sorry Nike).

  32. I totally get this! I find it so much harder as an adult to make lasting friendships.
    it was so much easier in high school and university. I also moved from my hometown when I got married – to a city where I knew no one but my husband.
    as adults our priorities and responsibilities are pushing and pulling us in so many directions. my kids take so much of my time right now — and thus I find my current friends are moms in the same situation. And we have absolutely nothing else in common often. Just that we are busy moms. That doesn’t make for a lasting friendship.
    I just accept that much of life is “seasonal” right now. I enjoy and love the ones in my life right now the best I can.

  33. People have stopped calling/ texting me to ask me out, even my own family members , because they know that I’m structured in my day, and it’s challenging for me to carve out spontaneous time (see how that’s an oxymoron? Carving out spontaneous time) I like spending one-on-one time with friends, but there aren’t many of those around, just one. And I love that she makes equal effort in coordinating a meet-up, because I’m not sure I can carry on being the only one.

    All this to say – I know what you mean, and I see where you’re coming from. But I also hope you know that you are genuinely loved and I think you’re more friendable than you think you are. I love you!

  34. Kelsey Posma says

    you, my love are far from “unfriendable.” you are loving, caring mom and wife who also works full time. that being said, we DO need to get together soon. because we haven’t even planned a family party night yet. and we need to. before spring comes and we all get busier.

    know that you are always loved. I think about you often too, but I also stay busy and don’t share my thoughts as much as I should. I know it.

    Smile today, it’s friday. And this friend and neighbor LOVES YOU! xo

  35. Katie, I am right there with you. In that I do the same thing.

    I’m going to have to disagree with you about your being unfriendable, though. You’re wonderful. Clear a bit of space on your calendar and other people will discover it.


  36. Katie, I could have written this myself. I am not even kidding. I NEVER initiate plans with anyone because surely they have better things to do. I’m afraid of rejection. When I’m going to an event, I get so excited, then I stress and worry about the social aspects, then afterwards, I stress and worry about my actions. Surely I talked too much, said the wrong thing, acted like an immature idiot. I pick it apart for hours or even days. It sucks.

    I really want to hang out with you.

  37. Oh, Katie I relate to your this so much and have felt the same way. I think about my friends a lot but I don’t really arrange events or coffee dates or dinner invites. I love to see everyone, but I feel uncomfortable reaching out because they may just be trying to be nice. I get this.

  38. I so relate to that feeling of not knowing when it’s time to pick up the phone and make an effort to set things up, or if that would be pressuring the other person who was just being, as we call it here, “Minnesota Nice.”


  1. […] This spring I read a collection of stories about women and friendship called The HerStories Project. I’ve admitted my lack of awesomeness at female relationships here before. […]