I was on the internet some time ago, and ran, quite by accident, across this ad:
I was tired of being dumped by all my friends, and I have been looking for a relationship that would last, and I’m also a Frozen nut, so I clicked “here”.
That was how I found thefriendstore.com. It was classy, well-organized, and attractive. I was immediately impressed, and thought maybe I had the answer to my perpetually bankrupting relationships. Just on that first page I scrolled passed dozens of profiles with profile pictures of anything from pop cans to pets. Then I saw the little number up in the corner: page 1 of 100,000+. I felt suddenly overwhelmed, but just before I closed it right there and then, the website popped up a helpful window in front of the page. “Please set up a profile to continue browsing. *helpful tip: apply filters to increase success!*”
I’m not sure why I did, but I entered my name and email, and typed up a quick “600 words about myself”. A brief scroll through their filters revealed they had more options than I could think up myself. A few filters later (from “abstract”, to “animal lover”), and I had it down to a mere 1,000 pages. I was caught up and absorbed fully in TheFriendStore now. One girl’s profile caught my eye. She sounded like me, or like we could get along, and after reading everything on her profile I took the plunge. I had three options – to send a private email through the website, live chat, or FaceTime. I chose live chat.
It started off well, it really did. We chatted for several hours, and I knew we were going somewhere. I thought she thought so too.
We exchanged contact information, and closed off a very late night. I collected three more friends by the next (again, very late) night, from TheFriendStore. We were so excited to get connected and to have such success with the website (I thought). But something happened, sadly a phenomenon not unknown to me. I texted (and even chatted over the phone several times, which for me is saying a lot, since I usually hate phone calls) enthusiastically and often. But as I reached out more, they responded less. It was so gradual that at first I didn’t notice. But within a month, most of my texts went unanswered, or received the age-old and by now very tiresome 🙂 . My calls were “missed”. I asked the question “are we okay?” and strived to clear up every bit of possible misunderstanding, and was met with fake teeth smiles and flat “yeah”s and unspoken “but”s. By the end of the month I was worn out. I just stopped. If they still wanted to be friends, they could text me for a change.
My phone remained silent.
The core of this story is true. There is no thefriendstore.com (that I know of). But I know many, many people out there have experienced this.
I ask myself: Is there something wrong with me as a person? Do I put off potential friends with my personality? What am I doing wrong? Why can’t I win at this? Why do other people make friends so easily and I lose mine as though my fingers are greased and can’t hold onto anything?
It’s easy enough to say “find friends who appreciate you for who you are” and “if someone doesn’t want to be friends with you because you are you, then don’t be friends with them”. But what if I can’t find anyone who does want to be friends with me because I am who I am and appreciate me for the person I am?
What if everyone just… walks away?
I admit it. I’ve caught myself wishing for a friend store, a place to shop for potential friends. That’s why I wrote this post, to explore the idea. The “what would it be like, if there was an online dating website except for friends?”. What I found surprised me.
I don’t think it would be that much different. If a friend is going to walk away, they are going to walk away, whether you found them online or met them at a group function in your area of like-minded people. What, really, is the difference? If I can’t make my real live friendships last, what makes me think I can make an online relationship last? If I can’t have a long-lasting meaningful relationship with the girlfriends in my life, why would I think I could have a long-lasting meaningful relationship that began and is powered by media and the internet? Do I really want to make friends with someone whose main thing in common with me is that we have both failed in our real live relationships? Say whaaa?
I don’t have the answers. I wish I did. I wish I could come on here, red cape snapping in the wind, saying “Did I hear someone call for a friendship hero? Look no further, my friends; I have come!”. I wish I could tell you how to make friends, how to make them last, and what to do and what not to do; wish I could give you a recipe to make all your relationships work.
But I don’t have the answers. I don’t have a recipe. I don’t even have one weird old tip. All I can tell you is you’re not alone.
And I’m kinda glad there isn’t a Friend Store.