gaudior: (Default)
[personal profile] gaudior
Hey, folks. Does anyone have good advice on how to maintain friendships as an adult?

Because, like, I feel like I never see anyone outside of my immediate family anymore. And I am very lucky that immediate family includes not just my wife and baby, but also our other partners and Fox's grandmothers, so it's not like it's just the three of us all the time. We're a three-parent family and I've got a basic pack of like eight people, which I love and am really grateful for.

But... I spent my childhood with almost no friends, being bullied a lot. And then I went to college, and suddenly I could make friends! Lots of friends! It was amazing. And then, (after a few depressed and lonely years immediately after college) I moved into a collective household with college friends, and we were social enough to draw lots of awesome new people. And even after we moved to Texas with the core of that household, and then moved back, we were still involved with a creative project with most of those people, which meant that I was seeing friends multiple times a week.

But then the creative project ended, and so did my relationship with the people in that collective household outside of Lila. And I was pretty shaken up about that (even though it was my decision), and I spent about a year mourning (and working on my career, and trying to get pregnant), and saw very little of anyone else. And then I was pregnant, and then I had a very small baby, and was therefore exhausted. I kept seeing friends occasionally, from time to time, but though I missed them, I really didn't initiate. And I think that people, noting that I had been turning down invitations for, like, three years solid, stopped inviting me to things as much. Which is reasonable.

But now I have more energy, and I am lonely as hell. Or... not lonely, exactly, because I spend almost no time actually alone. But I miss the friends I used to spend time with. I want to know what's going on with them, and get their read on what's going on with me, and just generally leave my house and get out in the world and do things together.

But there are obstacles. One is that a baby (even as chill and portable a baby as this one) and running a small business do take a bunch of time and energy. One is that I now work evenings and Saturdays, which may change in the fall, but is pretty inconvenient now. One is that I'm not sure how to regularly see people when we're not doing some kind of structured activity together. One is that I haven't really figured out how to use social media to stay in touch with people, rather than just having a vague sense of their lives going by.

And one is the very old fear that nobody wants to play with me. Which you would think that the past twenty years would have talked me out of, but here we are.

I'm... working on it? I do host a monthly political-action party for people I don't see often, and those have been fun. But that leaves the other thirty-odd days when I don't have much contact with anyone outside my pack except for occasional "liking" them on Twitter and Tumblr and very occasionally Facebook. I don't want to just like people online. I want to like them in person. Or at very least, find a way to have more substantial online conversations despite the fact that I may at any moment need to jump up midcomment to stop someone from putting their hand in the humidifier. It's not a matter of meeting people-- I know which people I want to do things with. I just need to actually do the things.

Thoughts?

--R

(no subject)

Date: 2017-05-30 01:43 pm (UTC)
phi: (Default)
From: [personal profile] phi
Oh this is hard, and I've struggled with similar, over the last year of mourning the end of a very important relationship and also trying to get pregnant via invasive medical assistance.

One thing that works for me is keeping a private gcal with "ping so-and-so" as recurring events. So every 12th of the month, I get a reminder to check in with my former college roommate and ask her what's going on in her life. And every third saturday I'm reminded to leave comment on the latest blog post by one of the few wiscon people I'm still in touch with. It keeps me engaged with what's going on in people's lives even if we can't see each other very often. It doesn't, however, actually get me out of the house and seeing local friends.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-05-31 06:08 pm (UTC)
asakiyume: (miroku)
From: [personal profile] asakiyume
This is a very good idea; I've thought of doing similar but haven't actually taken the action--nice to see it works when someone does!

And, it could be altered for getting-out-of-the-house purposes, if it was a reminder to, say, extend an invitation to someone.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-05-30 01:57 pm (UTC)
landofnowhere: (Default)
From: [personal profile] landofnowhere
I don't have advice, though I totally get where you're coming from.

But I thought I'd drop by and say hi anyway! Friending you, though all of my entries are super ancient now (like the decade-old entries of "I'm in college! I have a circle of friends now! This is great!")

(no subject)

Date: 2017-05-30 02:22 pm (UTC)
kivrin: (Camelot (julesoh))
From: [personal profile] kivrin
So, it sounds like, first, in-person contact is important for you, and that Sundays are the comparatively-free time you have in common with people who work 9-5ish M-Fish... which I'm guessing is the case for at least some of the folks you're hoping to get back in closer/more regular contact with. What about a standing Sunday Night Potluck at your house? Or Sunday Afternoon Craft Time or something? It might work best to invite each person over individually (or have some kind of re-commencing closer contact get-together for coffee or ice cream or whatever) before putting out a large group invite, but that's one possibility.

If having substantive online interactions is something that doesn't come easily to you, it strikes me that trying to learn ways to do that while you're trying to strengthen friendships might be extra stressful.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-05-30 02:34 pm (UTC)
kivrin: a guitar with a hand resting on top (dave carter guitar)
From: [personal profile] kivrin
On reread I see that getting out of the house is something you specifically want, so I wonder if another possibility could be contacting someone who DOES or might have free time during the days, and saying "hey, I miss you, would it be possible for Fox and me to come by and hang out with you some Thursday morning?"

If any of your friends are academics or freelancers or otherwise engaged in paid or volunteer labor that's somewhat flexible in time and place, standing co-working dates could be a way to see each other regularly while accomplishing other things.

In the age of Netflix "everyone gets together to watch show Y on night Z" isn't the great standing date it used to be, but for a while R and I had a weekly potluck-and-ep-or-two-of-DS9 date with another couple, rotating between our places, which was lovely.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-05-30 05:00 pm (UTC)
tiger_spot: (Default)
From: [personal profile] tiger_spot
Fox is young for this yet, but at some point meetups of the "let's get coffee and take it to a park so Fox can play while we sit on a bench and chat" will probably be very accessible. Other people who do not have kids will not think to suggest these, but may enjoy them if you do.

Hosting things at your house is good. I've had good results from making a recurring note on my calendar to email or call or in some cases write to specific people I most want to stay in touch with, somewhere between once a week and once a month depending. (Actually, I should put one of those back on -- we'd had a standing playdate with the kids for a while so I took the weekly suggest-something reminder off my list, but her schedule changed so the standing thing went away and I feel like I haven't seen her enough lately.)

I definitely get the best results from social media when I ask questions. Like you've just done here!

Some specific things you can ask people out to do that are good for chatting during and can accommodate a baby: see a museum exhibit, take a hike or walk around a pretty neighborhood, play Frisbee, go to a summer concert in the park. Things that are not so baby-enabled: volunteer together (I would specifically recommend sorting at a food bank or picking with a neighborhood gleaning program, because I am doing both of those now and they are pretty companionable), ask for help with household projects like alphabetizing books or assembling IKEA furniture, go shopping together.

I should do a bunch more of these things myself; thank you for reminding me!

(no subject)

Date: 2017-05-31 05:53 am (UTC)
rosefox: Green books on library shelves. (Default)
From: [personal profile] rosefox
Fox is young for this yet, but at some point meetups of the "let's get coffee and take it to a park so Fox can play while we sit on a bench and chat" will probably be very accessible.

This is basically what we did yesterday except at a bookstore instead of in a park, and it was great. One friend with her kid, one friend who doesn't have kids, we did some kid-focused things and also exchanged actual sentences. Depends on the kid, of course, but Kit was happy to spend 15 solid minutes raiding the board books and needed minimal supervision.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-05-30 07:38 pm (UTC)
oracne: turtle (Default)
From: [personal profile] oracne
Lately, I have been making sure to go to more concerts and similar events with people, but those are often not the best baby venues. I also schedule occasional writer dinners with an ever-growing list of attendees.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-05-30 10:34 pm (UTC)
skygiants: Duck from Princess Tutu sticking her head out a window to look at Rue (no one is alone)
From: [personal profile] skygiants
For the record, I am always happy to spend time with you +/- baby etc! I would definitely be up for planning stuff more frequently, if schedules allow.

In terms of more broad-scale advice, my default "regular structured social-ish activity that doesn't require a ton of social energy output" is almost always 'semi-standing media-watching date' -- like, I have a friend I watch Star Wars cartoons with, and a friend I watch kdramas with, and a friend who I trade off terrible movies with, and Gen and Sandry and I have been watching our way through Steven Universe ... and obviously all of this doesn't happen every week, because that would be A LOT, but usually every week at least one of these things happens, and it's a good excuse to see people (in person or over Skype) and catch up and enjoy each other's company without feeling pressured to fill every minute of the time with talking, which for me is the fastest way to drain ALL my energy. And also a good excuse to be like "hey, when are we going to watch the next episode of [thing]?" and just have an excuse to get it on calendars.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-05-31 05:59 am (UTC)
rosefox: Green books on library shelves. (Default)
From: [personal profile] rosefox
This is a very very very common early parenthood thing! Do not panic! It will get much better as your kid gets older and meets kids they like and you meet parents you like. If you have friends who are already parents, suggest kid-and-parent get-togethers, and don't be afraid to mix age groups. Kit has played splendidly with both older and younger children with no trouble at all. Our favorite places to go with other kids are the Brooklyn Children's Museum and the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, both of which have a lot of options for self-directed play and romping about at different levels of capability.

Our last few birthday parties (for both Kit and the adults) have been "we are at home to visitors from [time] to [time] on [date], please come by whenever you like" and that has worked out splendidly. It's not getting out into the world, but it's social time, and low-stress and low-effort and baby-compatible.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-06-11 08:12 am (UTC)
rosefox: Green books on library shelves. (Default)
From: [personal profile] rosefox
Maybe your family was really unlike mine, but I grew up surrounded by my mom's friends and she definitely never gave us any impression that having kids was a permanent impediment to socializing for her. Obviously I don't remember my early childhood years super clearly, but by the time I was in elementary school I think we had either adult friends (including many who didn't have kids) or kid friends over for dinner at least once a week, and did other social things on the weekends. My mother is a dyed-in-the-wool extrovert and social butterfly, and you are not required to follow her example. :) I'm just noting that it is entirely possible.

(It only occurs to me as I'm writing this that I thought of all those people as my mom's friends rather than as my mother and stepfather's friends. I'm sure my stepfather had friends... I'm pretty sure... huh.)

(no subject)

Date: 2017-05-31 04:59 pm (UTC)
sandrylene: Scott Pilgrim generator based pic of me (Default)
From: [personal profile] sandrylene
I don't know that I have advice because I feel like I also have this problem... I always feel a sense of relief when some sort of ongoing event or group enables me to have predictable, scheduled interactions with people I like.

I am looking to, in the nearish future, start up one of my own - basically a recurring weeknight dinner thing to host at my place. Because essentially a) I like cooking, b) I like friends, c) I like hosting, and I think making something be a regular repeating event means I'm likely to have some success seeing people.

...but yeah. You are an outstanding human being and I am frustrated at how little I have managed to see you lately due to missing multiple of your monthly event because of the various limitations of time and space we all experience as human beings, and I hope to see that change in the near future. <3

(no subject)

Date: 2017-05-31 06:25 pm (UTC)
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
From: [personal profile] asakiyume
One thing that worked for me when I had just one child who was still in the portable stage was to go for walks with people. I could carry the baby in a front or backpack, and they'd be pretty happy for the whole walk, and during the walk, a friend and I could talk. And actually, this can be extended even if Fox is already at the walking stage if you push them in a stroller somewhere.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-05-31 10:17 pm (UTC)
mrissa: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mrissa
The regularity of monthly or weekly or biweekly things can be really helpful. I find that while some people have really good initiation skills, a lot of people really, really don't. If you have one or two people you want to set up a regular lunch, tea, supper, coffee, whatever with, find out if they feel the same! Find out what works for them! Whether it's you + family, you + kiddo, or just you meeting up with them, having it be a default time doesn't mean that it never changes, but my brother and I have found that it's a very different thing to say, "I can't make it to our regular lunch on Thursday, do you want to come for supper that night instead?" vs. "When are you free this month?" vs. "When are you free this month oh crud I think it's slipping into next month I really want to see you I promise." Having it on the calendar as a monthly thing means that it really does happen monthly even if not on the day scheduled.

When I can't come to a regular thing, or when I don't want to, I will put people on my to-do list or calendar: "write to G about lunch in August." "Museum with J in September?" I pick people I haven't seen enough of for one reason or another, and I don't pick a lot of them, because other things come up. But I put it on my list along with the other things that are important to me.

And then...and then I reassess my list. I have weekly to-do lists. But a lot of people I know have to-do lists that are over a particular period and roll over into the next, or else are perpetually rolling, and they never finish one week's in one week, and/or they don't assess what never leaves the list. I don't want to lecture people on this, because it's not morally bad. But if something is always on my to-do list and never gets done, either I don't really want to do it, or I am not aligning my behavior with my priorities. (Sometimes with an infant, your priorities are forced to be a little odd for awhile.)

The substantial online conversations thing: do you want to talk more about that concretely? "Yes" is enough of an answer if you want me to start some more of talking more about that.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-06-10 04:09 pm (UTC)
mrissa: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mrissa
So...there is a medium-high threshold of investment for what I am about to talk about, and that may mean that right now is not the time. But it is a thing that I am told can go on phones. (I deliberately do not have it on my phone. I only have Twitter on my phone, no other social media, but that is so that travel is a social media vacation on purpose.)

How do you feel about Slack?

Several people I know have set up Slacks (Tim finds it infinitely funny that the plural is basically trousers, yes, hahaha) that work as private chat rooms/clubhouses/safe spaces/whatever for friend groups they've picked. They do not pick these to be all their friends ever. They pick them by some algorithm known to them--friends who know each other, relaxing friends, friends who are "safe" for them in some way, friends in one particular community, friends who want to talk about one particular topic (although that last one has to be a pretty big topic or it fizzles--which is fine but not what you're looking for). The ones I'm in that have lasted range between a dozen and 150 people. I think the 150 people one is not what you're looking for, so probably more of the 12-30 people range.

The thing that makes me think it might work well, the thing that I have seen work well for other primary-care parents of very young children, is that there is a lot of potential for short-comment interaction, for emoji-reaction interaction, and for ducking in and out of conversations asynchronously. You can set up channels with topics you and your selection of friends like to talk about, whether they're "funny links" or "gender awesome" or "sff biz" or "sff NOT biz" or "politics rants," whatever it is that you're up to. "This one anime Gaudior likes best by Gaudior age N." Whatev.

It is a safer space than the wider internet, being just your friends, so if you have a half-finished comment, everyone gets it, it's fine. You don't have to be as polished, you can just go, "ughhhh why are molarrrrrs" if that is what the kiddo is doing and that's all you have to say about it. But then if the wee Fox actually gives you another minute you can follow up on something someone said about a recipe for strawberry spoonbread, and something ELSE someone ELSE said about Steven Universe. Or you can just click a heart-eyes emoji and jostle the bebe on your knee.

Or not; I think the very best case scenario for setting something like this up would be having a couple of partners or a couple of friends who wanted to do it with you, and it is entirely possible that you all collectively simply don't have the energy to figure out who you would want in an online space like that right now. But it gives you the space for longer comments like these--but also less demand for them. A *lot* of the interactions can be single line or emoji-click if you want them to.

I do see you heart-ing on Twitter! I know you're there! I feel like the cage match that is Twitter discourages people from saying even "love that" or "what about with plums" if they have a thumb to do it with, though, because who wants to dive into that morass. So it's heart and move on, there's no really better way to Twitter than the comments and retweets plus hearts that you're already doing. It's not set up for the same kind of casualness and vulnerability that Slack allows.

It may be that what you have now is the best set of online interactions you can have with the current set of demands you have. Since you are feeling lonely/low on interactions, that would be sad and frustrating. But every kid stage is temporary, so I thought I'd put this here in case it's useful later if not now.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-07-02 08:21 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] tilisokolov
I don't think I have any particularly useful general advice about this because our situations are so different. (I've been coping with similar problems mainly through using Twitter, Discord, and attending DSA organizing events, none of which seem terribly well-suited for you.) But I do have one piece of concrete information that may help a little, which is that I've set up a DW and now I'm following you and will see your posts, so maybe we can keep in touch a bit more that way?

(no subject)

Date: 2017-08-31 09:20 pm (UTC)
kivrin: Buffy looking at Giles with the words kind of okay (b/g something in common (glim))
From: [personal profile] kivrin
A friend just posted this link and it made me think of this post:

https://twitter.com/jenndangerous/status/903323762094899200
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