I Just Want All My Friends to Be Friends, and They Won't Cooperate

If only they made more of an effort to communicate with each other and listen to each others' perspectives they would then realize that they were meant to be best buddies and play ersatz musical instruments together all the time!

Dec 17, 2012 at 10:30am | Leave a comment

I have a secret dream that someday I will get all the people I think are awesome in one place. They will then recognize each other's awesomeness and love each other forever. And there will be rainbows and glitter and dancing and every flavor of pie, too!

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I know my dream is based on faulty logic and is logistically impossible. So I decided to go all out Lisa Frank to express it. I've never been able to let the underlying idea go. I'm still firmly convinced that all my friends should be friends with each other, too.

I just want one big happy circle of friends! In an effort to make that happen, I make a conscious effort to introduce cool people to each other as often as I can. I write introductory emails, tweet at multiple people, and set up small get-togethers that usually revolve around food or playing Rock Band at my apartment.

Sometimes the connections are professionally based and have the potential to lead to cool work collaborations. But just as often, they're based on lighter interests such as creatively shaped pancakes, campy horror movies or watching football.

I also do this with organizations and groups. It's a basic principle in coalition building, which I firmly believe in. When I see people working on similar projects or using similar tactics, I try to connect them. It doesn't always lead to anything concrete, but I know as a recipient I'm always glad to hear about possibilities at least.

Whenever I see people who I think would get along or work well together, I try to make it happen. I even catch myself doing this with people I only vaguely know online. And the results are occasionally quite impressive.

But it pisses me off when my friends don't cooperate.

Rationally, I know that not everyone is going to get along. I know that it has nothing to do with me. Sometimes people just aren't in the market for new friends. And sometimes personalities will just clash. Relationships are messy and I can't dictate how people interact or interpret each other.

I get it, but I'm not good at accepting it.

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Photo credit: Pete Markham

My friends "Rory" and "Alex" are the most recent example. They work in the same field, have similar tastes and interests, mutual political leanings, and more than one mutual friend. But for various reasons they don't get along with each other.

Even though I know their relationship is none of my business, it still bothers me.

When my friends don't get along, I think that it's all just a big misunderstanding. If only they made more of an effort to communicate with each other and listen to each other's perspectives they would then realize that they were meant to be best buddies and play ersatz musical instruments together all the time! So I keep searching for the right situation for them to interact with each other.

Apparently I can get kind of pushy about trying to make people like each other, though I've calmed down considerably over the years. It's still frustrating, but I'm less likely to insist that everyone come over to try and talk it out over lasagna. I am capable of settling for my friends having nothing but courteous acquaintanceships. But I'll do so reluctantly. And I still think they're wrong.

Of course some of this is selfish and arrogant. It would be simpler for my social life if my friends all adored each other. And I think that my taste in people is so impeccable that everyone should share it.

Seriously though, my friends are awesome people!

And when it works, it can be amazing and beautiful to watch. Last week I watched two people I know discover they had each felt too uncool to hang with the other. They just had never shared an in-depth conversation before. Now everyone is happier, more secure, and on the road to more phenomenal times together. We all win!

But Rory and Alex have talked to each other many times. They're cordial, and generally respect each other. I never worry about inviting them to the same events or anything. They just don't actively like each other. And no amount of my manipulations is going to change that.

I'm slowly coming around to grudging acceptance. I've stopped actively bragging about them to each other. And I appreciate the different influences and communities they separately introduce me to.

I used to assume that all my social circles would eventually merge into one, and that was the natural course of things. Later I realized that's neither feasible nor desirable. After all, if all your friends know and like each other, who would you complain about them to?

Having different groups of friends has led to a wider variety of people, interests, and places in my life. I'm grateful for the ways they've each influenced my life, and continue to do so. But I also haven't completely given up on the dream of one epic party leading to lifelong connections of mutual respect and affection.

What about you all? Do you try to make your friends like each other or are you comfortable accepting sometimes it's just not going to happen?