Be my friend. Please?

I’m a bit lonely.

I’m a chatty sorta person, which you might’ve realised if you follow me on Twitter. So much so I’ve been slammed in Twitter jail 4 times since I started in August, and once it was twice in one night. If you don’t know, Twitter jail is when Twitter decides you’ve tweeted so much in the past hour that you must be a spammer, and stops you from tweeting for a bit. It’s a lonely place. And being sent there twice in one night on New Years Eve was not nice. Being sent there again on Wednesday when I was responding to all the lovely ‘Welcome Back’ messages I got was also quite shite.

I like banter, debate, and talking nonsense. Conversation keeps me alive and keeps my brain firing. It’s good for the soul. Nourishing. And makes me feel human.

But I’ve not spoken to anybody since Thursday evening.

Actually that’s not true. I had to speak to 4 separate people in the bank to find out why my card had been stopped and why they’d removed my ability to pay for stuff. It was a mistake at their end but the fact is that this was a functional and frustrating conversation. One which meant I had to ask them to do something and they kept asking ME questions. Not a conversation at all really. More a game of draughts. But with mouths.

But this is the problem. I don’t have many friends in this town. In fact, I’d say I have none.

I have lots on Twitter, which is always humbling. Real people at the other end of a laptop, Ipad, Iphone or similar. Real people who really care. Yet they’re all over the world. Not just round the corner. I can’t ask them if they fancy a drink or a coffee. much as I really want to.

And for the last 3 years I’ve been a full-time dad and since my wife and I decided to split the friends we had are now hers, if this makes sense. They’ve taken her side a bit, which is normal and I’m not going to judge them for this. It happens. And so I don’t have anyone local I can ring up and say ‘Hi. Do you fancy doing something?’ Plus, opportunities for socialising decreased once the kids were born. We had no-one we could tap up and ask to babysit. I think, in 3 years, we went out by ourselves 3 times.

So friends are a little bit thin on the ground. And it’s difficult to fully embrace this new life I have knowing that I have to fly solo for a while. Without a wing man.

How does one make friends? Through work I guess, but I’m looking for one of those job type things, so I that will come in time. Perhaps I should join a club? There’s a writing group which meet once a month and so maybe I should join that. A quick look at the societies and clubs noticeboard in the local library tells me I can also join the following:

A club for Nordic Walkers. I have no idea what Nordic Walking is. Is this walking like a Norwegian? I think I could do that as they seem to walk about pretty much like I do.

A folk club. Is this all beards and singing songs about sweet maidens of long ago with a finger in one’s ear? Nasal singing with a fierce smell of real ale?

The WI. Erm. I could drag up for this I guess.

A drama society. I’m not an actor. At least I don’t think I am. Perhaps I could be brilliant. Or perhaps I’d help with some scene shifting. This has got potential.

A bead and jewellery making club. I’m extremely clumsy and not very dextrous. I also hate threading stuff. I could go to this but they’d kick me within seconds for swearing.

I could join a book group but that would mean joining the same book group as my ex-wife and I’ve agreed to look after the kids while she goes to that, so that wouldn’t work. Besides, if we were at the same book group we could argue.

“Well I thought the characters were badly drawn, and as I got through the book I found myself unable to identify with their problems.”

“THAT’S YOU ALL OVER THAT IS! ALWAYS FAILING TO IDENTIFY WITH PEOPLE! I don’t know how you live with yourself. And you never put the rubbish out and always left ME to hang the washing out, and do the recycling.”

Apart from walking around town wearing a sandwich board bearing the words ‘Please be my friend’ I don’t know what else to do. I’ve forgotten what I enjoy doing.

I’ve decided that I’m up for some volunteer work. I’ll ask about in local charity shops. I did this many years ago in a shop in Clapham and the place was run by some of the funniest old dears I’ve ever met. I was able to do all the heavy lifting which made me feel useful.

And so, this weekend, while lots of people will be at street parties, hanging bunting, making Jubilee cakes and eating Jubilee flavoured food I’ll be sitting somewhere by myself. Blogging probably. Tweeting definitely. My children are away with their mum and for this bank holiday I’ll be trying to find things to do which will keep me sane and send this loneliness packing.

In the background? Can you hear that? Yes. That’s right. The sound of the world’s smallest violin playing a tune just for me.

But it’s like this for so many people, especially some of the elderly who have partners who’ve died and relatives who’ve moved away.

Any suggestions how I could make new friends? All comments and ideas will be warmly received.

Oh, and thanks for reading.

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31 responses to “Be my friend. Please?

  1. Great post, you’re doing all the right things and putting your self out there ! A lot of people aren’t so brave. Being a sahm, I’ve lost a lot of friends along the way, gained some too, but I always feel friendships shift with time, there are very few real friends who remain that way. As a couple mr6 and I have few friends and would like to find more, but this can come across as weird to some people and isn’t easy.
    I have every admiration for you, and would love to be (I’m sure like many others)be a friend who lives around the corner and pop out for coffee. Keep doing what you’re doing but you don’t need me to tell you that ! X

    • Thanks very much. Sadly it does seem to be quite common when people make the decision to become a full-time parent. Some friends just drift away, but you do somehow pick up some others, people you say hello to at toddler groups for example. But it’s not the same. Sometimes you want something away from and outside of your job as a parent. Someone to see that, behind the change bag and pushchair, there’s a person who’s fun and worth spending time with.
      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. I know it sounds a bit strange but how about putting an ad in the lonely hearts….there’s usually a ‘friends’ section. I did this a few years ago when I moved to a new city and met some lovely people (funnily enough mainly single ones). I sadly didn’t keep in touch with any as I moved away again shortly after. My ad was in the Guardian by the way.
    Louisa x

    • Thanks. A good tip. Confidence is the other key thing I think, and sometimes, especially just now when things are a bit tough, I’m lacking in that.
      Thanks for reading and for commenting. πŸ™‚

    • It’s a great idea. I’m thinking I might come into London for the Friday of Britmums, although I won’t be going to Britmums. Just to see if anyone’s up for a sherry or two.

    • I have done this and met some awesome people actually. I think I’ll be suggesting a few in the coming year. πŸ™‚

  3. Hello! What a very awesome and brave post to write So first off – good on you for being so honest and wanting to get out and meet people. Right, 2 ideas. One has already been suggested. Meet the tweeters near you. You obviously have liked minded interests and humours so this is a must. Do it. Second one is going to the pub and sitting at the bar. A nice pub. An “old man” style pub you know? Friendly types in there. Take a newspaper. Conversation will eventually strike after a few visits. You will see regular faces. You dont have to drink a lot, I don’t mean that but I find sitting at a bar in a pub when I am on my own, with a newspaper, brilliant and always end up chatting to someone. Just a thought….
    x

    • Thanks for reading and for commenting. If I go to a pub I tend to go with my laptop which maybe isn’t the best thing. Makes me look a bit ‘unfriendly’ perhaps.

  4. We’ve moved about a bit in the last few years and each time had to start afresh in a new environment where we don’t know anybody. The school gate and church is where I meet people, but I guess that’s no good to you. Voluntary work is an excellent route. Did an article on it recently and was amazed at how many opportunities there are embracing all sorts of interests. Try this website. http://www.do-it.org.uk/ Strikes me, knowing your Twitter self, that you’d be good, say, volunteering for the Citizens Advice Bureau. Or mentoring school kids.

  5. As you mention, you could volunteer. You are not alone. There are lots of isolated and lonely parents out there who just want someone to talk to. Home-Start provide friendly volunteer support in the family home to support with a wide range of issues. You could check on their site http://www.home-start.org.uk if there is a local scheme recruiting in your area or you could ask them for support. The support can be as simple as being a listening ear for a couple of hours a week. It makes a huge difference. Good luck

    • Thanks. I have been to Home Start in the past with the kids, as they run a family group, but without the kids I’d just look a bit odd. I’ll give it another go. πŸ™‚

      • Glad to hear you’ve accessed Home-Start support before. You could volunteer for them! It’s really rewarding & a good chance to make friends through their preparation course (many run a range of courses you can access as a volunteer if that’s your thing). Sometimes supporting others that are in a challenging situation puts our own into perspective. As Anna said http://www.do-it.org is a great resource to find local volunteering opportunities and you can refine the options down to categories that you’re really interested in.

  6. I have so much to say about this you’re actually going to see a post on it on my blog. In the meantime, just be patient. Get out there – try and put a smile on, DO join a club you can stand, maybe (gasp) attend a friendly support group…all the things you don’t want to do but will get you in fron of other people. I am here for you, many miles away but in my heart because on a lot of levels I am you and I feel your pain. So, I can’t have a coffee with you right now but you DO have friend.

  7. In Canada we have a group called Parents without Partners, a wonderful group with loads of activities of all kinds. It is a great way to meet other parents, and occasionally include your children.

    After chatting with you on twitter, I am impressed, and have the feeling you are quite a well-rounded individual. I’m sorry to hear your previous friends chose to take sides, but I am sure in time you will find new friends who are more worthy of your friendship.

    • Thanks. In time, when I see these people I hope they get to know me for who I am rather than something else, and also give me a chance.

  8. Sounds like you’ve had some good ideas already, I reckon the volunteering thing could be a winner…as would not taking your laptop into the pub.
    Interestingly, I misread one of your local clubs as ‘beaRd and jewellery making’. I guess it’d be a real niche group, and it might be worth starting your own one of these? You could take all the best roles (chair & secretary & treasurer & umm…whatever else) and then EVERYONE will want to be your friend.
    Good luck, dude x

    • BeaRd and jewellery. Cool beard jewellery. It’s a niche market.
      Thanks for reading. Some good tips.

  9. You seem to be doing all the right things, just going places alone and being willing to talk to people will do as much as anything. Good luck, its horrible to be in this kind of situation

  10. Hello
    I just read your lonely blog and I just wanted to say that I think you’re very brave and honest. I don’t mean to be at all patronising when I say that. I empathise totally with what you say and it really struck a chord with my life. I don’t know the best way to find proper friends, so I hope you come up with the answer so I can do it too. Good luck!
    Belinda

    • Many thanks. You’re not in any way being patronising, so less of that please. πŸ™‚

  11. I’m in a similar situation myself & can sympathise with you completely. Even though I have my kids with me it can be unbelievably lonely at times. The suggestions made are all good, I personnaly am considering going back to a jujitsu club. I used to train years ago, and with the small clubs there is usually a good social aspect too…a drink after being thrown around for a couple of hours!!

    • Who doesn’t need a drink after being thrown around eh?
      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  12. Ok so I’m all partnered up at present but when I found out myself and the bearded one were about to become 3 (having not long become 2 :-/) I moved from my city centre pad to a fecking ISLAND.

    So, being the type that likes to use socialising as validation for extreme wine consumption (obviously post podding the baby), I exploited Twitter like mad, hooking onto the local hashtag and finding nearby people who seemed good for copius amounts of Pinot and borderline inappropriate conversation.

    I have lots of loverly friends here now, many of whom are slightly bonkers, and a couple who live in my street!

    Be brave, get tipsy if necessary and definitely get out there. Loads of people are in the same boat for one reason or another.

    • That is such a good idea. I hadn’t thought of trying Twitter and using a local hashtag. That’s a cracker, thanks for that.
      That’s really cheered me up!

  13. You seem to have some pretty good ideas already, volunteering’s a good one.

    You have a background in marketing, yes? There are hundreds of small charities who can’t afford marketing departments who could use someone like you.

    The Tweet up where I met you was a great night, more of that would be brilliant.

    • Thanks matey. I’m determined to get on this volunteering mullarky once everything opens again for the Jubilee. πŸ™‚

  14. I don;t have any friends who aren’t bloggers which is a bit of a fail on my part…
    Living in a village of old folk I could make friends but inevitably that friend would soon die. I once had a hamster that had to be put down – I don’t cope well with death and even less well with funeral services where you get told that the dead dood is now ‘ happy with God’, I can’t help thinking ‘NO HE’S NOT HE IS FRICKING DEAD’.
    Anyhoo, we could be friends. Like long distance friends. Cyber pen pals, oh nads that’s just Twitter in a nutshell though.
    If you wants friends all you have to do it stick a carrot up your bottom and waddle down the High Street – I guarantee you that someone will want to be your friend then.

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