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Making Friends


dagnarus
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Hi

One of the things which I've been struggling with (well not really struggling with but wanting to rectify) is the loss of a social group after deconverting. Basically before converting I was never good at making friends with people, and converting and attending church activities greased the process. Now I don't have that grease and I back to a point where I just don't now how to go up to a person and say let's hang out, or whatever the fuck your supposed to do. What advice do people have for this if any?

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Hi

One of the things which I've been struggling with (well not really struggling with but wanting to rectify) is the loss of a social group after deconverting. Basically before converting I was never good at making friends with people, and converting and attending church activities greased the process. Now I don't have that grease and I back to a point where I just don't now how to go up to a person and say let's hang out, or whatever the fuck your supposed to do. What advice do people have for this if any?

You are definitely not alone. The problem is that it would take some type of activity that you enjoy to get you involved in order to meet people.

 

Volunteering is great, and many many organizations need and want volunteers. Not knowing your tastes, I can't really be sure what would be good, but consider:

 

Public radio

Zoo or Botanical garden

Public service organizations (generic)

Animal type organizations

HIV support type organizations

Political organizations

 

Many other people/groups/organizations would love to have you, but you need to think about what would mean something to you.

 

I realize that most of these organizations would first like to have your money, but they may also have something that you can do.

 

Just some thoughts.

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I still struggle with this.

 

To some extent, you just have to pick a few organized groups that you think you could be interested in and go out and participate- even if you don't really make friends or soon want to move on, just the act of going out and doing something is worthwhile. Some ideas are a sports group, book club, night life club, freethinkers group, community choir, cooking class...

 

Don't get caught up on the idea that one group or set of friends is going to replace the entire social structure that you had with the church.

 

Volunteer.

 

I admit that I've been doing a lot of these things and it hasn't really been working for me- I'm introverted though, and it's actually helped a lot that I've accepted that I don't need huge network of social activities and acquaintances.

 

The big problem as I see it is that it's easy to go out and join a group, but then when the group activity is over, the friendship is also over for the week. It doesn't help that I'm a childfree woman in my late 20s, and so many other women my age tend to have their lives and schedules revolve around their children.

 

I find it pretty easy to meet and talk to people in my situation, and yours, online- it seems there's a whole world of real people who are online complaining about how hard it is to make real friends- we should have some sort of signal for each other in real life. I met a female friend my age and in a similar job situation online, and during the few times we've met up in person, we've had a great time.

 

The few times I've made friends from a group has been through running or hiking. There's opportunity to talk, but since you're actively doing something else, if you don't feel like talking, you don't seem weird.

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Go to the bar, start drinking, talk to the person next to you. Have fun. Repeat.

 

It actually does work. Social skills are like any other skill. The more you use them, the better you get at using them.

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This is a toughie, as I'm in the same situation as well. Once out of church, my circle of "friends" went from loads of people I saw a few times a week to one or two (who were friends outside of church) who I see occasionally - and that's pretty rare.

 

Like you, Clara, I'm childless - but married and in my 30's which excludes me even more! We've started going to a meetup group in our area on occasion - our schedules don't allow a lot of time there, but at least I'm meeting new people, and perhaps with a bit more time that may even turn into a friendship.

 

I also volunteer through a German Shepherd rescue in my area. We usually have a foster dog around, and then I also attend the adoption days, help out with the occasional home visit, etc. I don't know that I've crossed into the friend catagory with people yet, but it's getting closer. Again, though, age differences are present, so still not the same type of connections I am trying to make with the meetup group.

 

The biggest thing is to get out there - check meetup.com for groups in your area and start going. It'll be weird at first, but one visit can gain you a familiar face. Volunteering is another great way to meet people, over enough time those people (or some of them) may manage to cross over into the friend catagory - but since they are used to people coming and going, it may take a bit more time.

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A bar, a class at a school or at a gym, a social club...

 

You really just have to figure out what your hobbies are and look online for where similar people hang out. It may be hard, and you may drop out of some social groups, but over time you'll be exposed to more people and the more likely you'll find friendship.

 

In college I had no friends, my own dorm floor hated me for being different, until I attended a movie night another dorm floor was having. Idle conversation turned in to lifelong friendships. You just got to get out and mix with the sea of humanity. Some days your net will be empty, and that is okay. Just remember not to push friendship too hard...it flows naturally, don't let your loneliness creep people out...try to respond at the same level and only push it higher every so often as they grow to trust you.

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Sign up for a bowling league. Play golf. Volunteer for a charity event. Learn some magic tricks and be the life of the party. Take juggling classes. Join Toastmasters. Participate in walking, running, bicycling or motorcycle events. Your SPCA needs volunteers. Work at a homeless shelter. Go to a charity casino night.

 

Just meet people who are doing a common task and a few of them will click with you.

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I'm experiencing this somewhat too. I've got friends who aren't Christians and they are awesome but I'm not tight with any of them. I'm trying to get to know them better but I suck at it, plus I'm married with a kid and they are all single or living with there girlfriends/boyfriends. That makes me and my husband kind of on the outskirts but at least we do have people to hang with every few weeks.

 

 

My onlysuggestion is try some sports. Get involved in a volleyball league, bowling league or something like that. Go to the gym and do a fitness class there are a lot of talkative girls there and its good fun.

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It doesn't help that I'm a childfree woman in my late 20s, and so many other women my age tend to have their lives and schedules revolve around their children.

 

No doubt. My husband and I are in our mid-thirties and childless by choice. In our 11 years together, we've met one other couple like us. Everyone else is completely tied up in their kids' lives.

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The big problem as I see it is that it's easy to go out and join a group, but then when the group activity is over, the friendship is also over for the week. It doesn't help that I'm a childfree woman in my late 20s, and so many other women my age tend to have their lives and schedules revolve around their children.

 

I can relate to this. I lost most of my friends before I deconverted due to those friends getting married and having children. They just did not have time for me and could not relate to my lifestyle.

 

I have had success finding friends through the groups on meetup.com as well as through volunteer activities. They tend to me much more interesting people that those I met in churches. Unfortunately, I have had a hard time meeting interesting people in my small town. Most of my friends now are in nearby larger cities, so I just get to see them on the weekends.

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I too wish I had more friends. I know that I come off as extroverted, especially since I pack my days with so many activities (both work-related and things I do for pleasure) and sing with gusto, teach with gusto, write with gusto, post as a braggadocio... But it's all an act. I overcompensate so people won't see how insecure, uncomfortable and lonely I am.

 

I too lost a lot of friends for a variety of reasons, the two most important being my becoming an atheist and my coming out of the closet sexually. The only close friend who remains is my best friend since 1992, but for the past two years he has been teaching in the Middle East. He comes back to New York twice a year, for a couple of weeks each time, and I am very, very happy then. When he is away we e-mail often, but it's not the same.

 

It's a very, very lonely place to be; in fact, here I am home alone on a Saturday night, posting on this fucking board instead of doing something fun. What can I say? I am calling it like it is. But I am also doing what I can to make my life better.

 

Music has been the most important thing in jump starting a new social life. Within music, I tend to find the people who are also open-minded and science-fiction-oriented, as we hit it off well. Last night (Friday) I did go out, but it was not an evening I enjoyed. I went to see a friend's rock band play (even though I sing more traditional music instead of rock), as this friend has come to hear me sing (even though what I sing is not his cup of tea). The rest of the night... Well, that was a sacrifice: But often that is part of a friendship. It can't always be about what I want to do.

 

The sacrifice: They played at an Andy Warhol party (UGH!) at a run-down hotel where the bathroom had one toilet but no toilet paper, no soap and no sink. And this unisex bathroom was the only one we were allowed to use. (I was on the guest list and did not pay to get in, but most people paid and still had to use it after waiting on a long line.) It put me off touching any of the food at the party.

 

The two rooms were packed and there was no air conditioning. There were people babbling nonsense as if they were still on an acid trip in 1969. And I was yelled at by a bouncer because, without realizing it, I leaned on the tinfoil covering the wall. "Don't touch the art!" (That was art? :twitch: )

 

But my friend was so happy that I was there, and I ended up doing the sound recording of the evening since there was no one else doing it. This is what friends do for each other, and I have noticed, of late, a real change in the way he addresses me in person and in e-mail. It's really sweet, actually.

 

I also earned brownie points unintentionally a few months ago when he brought his new boyfriend with him. Everyone was being cliquish and ignoring the guy, so I talked to him. Just something to think about.

 

I am also unbelievably loyal to friends, and I defend them even if I think they are in the wrong (barring something truly earth-shattering). Whatever you say about your friends WILL get back to them, and sometimes praising them in front of the people with the biggest mouths is a good idea. Again, something to think about.

 

It can also pay to be the one different person in a large group in which you show much honest interest. I posted a couple of days ago, for example, about being the only non-Jew in my Yiddish class and how people warmed up to me big time. http://www.ex-christian.net/index.php?/topic/33285-my-first-yiddish-lesson-and-i-wasnt-the-only-atheist-there/page__p__485851entry485851 I was very open about being an atheist and an ex-Christian who hated the excesses of Christianity. It's the truth, and it's something I can be open about in such a setting.

 

Finally, I am here--and soon I will be starting a thread about wanting to get to know people better here and asking for advice about what or where I should post in order to interest more people here. That might sound needy in the 'real' world, but here it is something people will understand because of our shared experiences. In other words, I am going to put myself out there as someone who wants more atheist friends (especially but not limited to gay atheists) since the only two I have are my best friend and the guy with the rock band.

 

You may want to do the same--and by all means look for local groups of freethinkers in your area.

 

All the best,

 

Ameen

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I too wish I had more friends. I know that I come off as extroverted, especially since I pack my days with so many activities (both work-related and things I do for pleasure) and sing with gusto, teach with gusto, write with gusto, post as a braggadocio... But it's all an act. I overcompensate so people won't see how insecure, uncomfortable and lonely I am.

 

You may want to do the same--and by all means look for local groups of freethinkers in your area.

 

All the best,

 

Ameen

I'm fortunate in a way. Being married and having one partner makes it very easy to get a date.

 

The flip side is that I am not close to many people at work, and when I go out it is for the purpose of being with my wife. We find many things that we both like, so it's not torture.

 

But here it is, Saturday night, and I'm on the board. And that's not bad! It's just another way to interact, and since I can't go to a bar, movie, theater, or strip club, I post.

 

There are probably local freethinkers around here, but I'm not sure I want to go that route.

 

Many things I have done, however, have been just totally unrelated to religion. Today I went on a picnic at a local park, watched baloons, toured some attractions, ate out, and I'm full and tired.

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I go out when there's music I want to hear, but I don't really talk to people. Don't know how I guess. It makes waiting for the show to start very boring and very awkward, just an extended period of time of looking for a place to stand where I'm not in the way.

 

I'm reasonably content with my life, but I will admit to wishing I had more friends just so I'm not completely dependent on the handful I have whenever I feel particularly social. r Many of them are married, after all, with different demands on their schedule.

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