Thoughts inspired by this article.
I have a bunch of friends that are arranged in my head in concentric circles based on level of trust. This isn't an uncommon arrangement. There are a couple of people who make up the inner circle. They know EVERYTHING, good and bad. These are the people I can text and tell them the real reason I'm having a bad day. I know they'll get back to me in whatever way they can and they get it, whatever it is. We trust each other implicitly (I was there for the birth of one friends' miracle baby). Two I've known since high school, one since graduate school, and one from a job that I've known for about five years now.
The next ring are people who I know fairly well and have let in some. They know Some of the Things, but not everything. These are the people who I might text something like: "I'm having a crappy day. Tell me a stupid joke" or suggest meeting for coffee. We have things in common and really enjoy each other's company, so it's comfortable.
There are a lot of other people I know on the outside circle, but they know very little personal stuff. People at work I've trusted enough to let them know what a twisted sense of humor I have or that I talk to myself or some other bit that causes us to "click."
These levels of trust seem two-way. I don't have any friendships that feel disproportionate. The people who know All the Things? I know All of Their Things. I dunno, though. I may come off as running hot and cold when first getting to know someone and that may be sufficiently off-putting for someone to decide not to invest the time.
The people on the inside have been there for a long time and the friends in the outside circles exist in increasingly superficial capacity and I think this reflects the difficulty meeting people who become people you decide to let in as you get older. I've been shit on more times than I can count, partly from being too trusting in the past, and I don't trust people easily. At this point in my life (almost 40) I've been surprised when I click with someone to the point that I start to trust them and the friendship deepens. These have been some of the best surprises of the last 10 years.
There have been some colossal and deeply wounding disappointments. People who flew under my "dealbreaker" radar. I have a very high tolerance for people's quirks, so that hasn't been the problem. One woman (mom of my daughter's friend) refused to see that her first-grader daughter had been sexualized somehow (I suspect she saw porn that mommy and daddy were watching) and the daughter acted out against another of my daughter's friends. Another mom-friend dated a friend of mine and while he was no saint in the relationship, she broke into his apartment, read his journal repeatedly, hid his keys, was physically abusive, repeatedly stole his phone and sent texts as him or erased messages, and harangued him through entire nights (refusing to let him sleep until the issue was worked out to her satisfaction). The most recent was another mom-acquaintance who turned out to be very passive-aggressive and unwilling to discuss an incident involving our daughters (I hadn't let her in, so it was more of a mild disappointment than the others).
I appreciated this article because I can accept that it's up to me to decide how much effort I want to put into meeting people and whether I want to take the risk of letting people in, rather than feeling buffeted around by the whims of others. Right now I'm not looking very hard, but I recognize that this is my decision. There are a couple of mom-acquaintances that I might see about hanging out with, but that's about what I have to offer after I put effort into maintaining the relationships I have. My stressful life is likely to get more stressful later this year and it's ok if I have to shut my world down some if/when that happens.
Thoughts, GT? I know there are differences with women's and men's friendships (I'm a woman and two of my closest friends are dudes), but I don't know that this increasing difficulty making new good friends is very different across gender identity. As always, I'm open to being wrong. :)