crap at friends

It’s one of those deeply embedded psychological niggles carried through life, how I am apparently bad at making and keeping friends. How I apparently alienate people. Even now, a proper adult somehow with a wife, and fatherhood pending, it is a thing I am angstily sucked back to.

What is actually wrong with me?  

It feels bad and arrogant to think or express in any type of way, but I occasionally wonder if it isn’t because most people are stupid and do not want to engage or discuss or converse on the same level. People are hostile when they sense someone is brighter than they are. Intelligence can be threatening and unattractive.

And yet I genuinely do not think I am all that intelligent. (Not just saying that to appear slightly less of a twat). I do not and cannot speak with any serious authority about anything. Neither specialist niche things not anything wider, difficult or complex: religion or politics or Big Stuff.

Perhaps I am just a boring, self-indulgent idiot. My wife recently fell asleep when I was attempting a sincere outpouring of feelings. She is quite pregnant and has rocky energy levels at the moment but this also happened before she was pregnant.

The difficulty of making friends in adulthood is a broadly known and relatively well discussed thing. But I found it hard to make friends right the way through. A loner in the primary school playground, on the periphery of friendship groups at big school, part of small aimless college sets, living alone for much of my twenties, terminal singledom – not for the want of trying though, man I tried hard. There were mates, football teams, old friends who came and went and occasionally still come and go but with ever-decreasing regularity.

For the last decade or so my work life has been isolated and confined. For the last few years or so my social life has been virtually non-existent. Stay home, read books, watch films, walk the dog, spend no money. Perhaps a once or twice a year drink with sporadic friends I don’t really know that well. My best mates are Spotify and Netflix and Kindle.

Impending parenthood presents a new opportunity. Many of the solid regular good adult friends you see around, of this early middle age, are friends because of their children. This commonly shared and synchronised interest in pregnancy, labour, childbirth, new babyhood – this stuff can bind you. Maybe more so for mums than dads, I don’t know.

Our formal NCT classes are over now, those groups where half dozen or so couples sit around in circles and are explained physiological things and poked into discussing their fears by a kind, mumsy sort of lady.

On one of the final meetings, when our couples separated and it was the men’s turn to go to the pub, I was the last to leave the community hall, exchanging a few words with my wife beforehand. Nobody waited, nobody told me where they were going, nobody let me know via the Whatsapp message group. After heading to an assumed pub and walking around for a while I had to message to ask, finding they had walked in completely the opposite direction and were in a different pub ten minutes’ walk away.

“Wouldn’t like to go to battle with you bastards!” I joked when I finally found them in a beer garden, “let’s just leave the prick there, eh?” And we all laughed like men. But I have always felt like the prick who is just left there. Yesterday I read a fantastic piece about childbirth and shared it to the group. Nobody replied for hours. Why? Because everyone thinks I’m a prick? But why does everyone think I’m a prick?

I don’t know.

What will happen the other side of the trauma, if and when we have our little bundles of joy and despair and angst: that is anyone’s guess. Will we actually bond better then, will we become like proper friends, or will that stuff be mainly for the mums again?


At June 2019.

We men didn’t bond better. The women did, after a fashion. Though it still appears a little fraught with social awkwardness and the desperate affectation of confidence and coping fine. No messages on the men’s Whatsapp group at all.

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