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This is pretty hard for me to post, just ...
Help making male and female friends
This is pretty hard for me to post, just because I have been in denial of the situation for some time now, but I have come to the realization that it is a major problem which I want to address.
A little background...I have a lot of good qualities: solid looks, athletic, drive/work ethic, I suppose you could say I'm smart (graduated from a top university). There is nothing significant about my situation which is holding me back from living a happy, successful life.
But I have trouble making, and maintaining, significant friendships between both males and females. I do a good job of opening people, beginning conversations, creating a playful dynamic, and I think people realize I have good traits and am someone worthwhile to be friends with.
But the large majority of these acquaintances I'm friendly with never become close friends, and I'm not sure what I am doing wrong or how I could progress these relationships.
Although I can't pinpoint the problem, I do have trouble maintaining casual conversations for extended periods of time. I find myself thinking, "Is there really that much to talk about? How does a 4 top at a restaurant dinner sit down and have things to talk about for 3 hours?" If I am with a group for a few hours, I often find myself in a beta role, following conversations threads others bring up. If I do take a leadership role, its usually because I want to "do" something. Ex "Lets go to the pool." "Lets shoot skeet." "Lets go pick up girls at the bar." But I lack in the skill or talking ability to fill the time while we are walking to bars, or while on the car ride with people.
Note that I do enjoy sarging and approaching people and beginning interactions. I describe it as "doing/accomplishing" something, whereas sitting around and talking I feel like we are "doing/accomplishing" nothing. (Obviously I understand that sitting around and talking is "doing/accomplishing something"--strengthening bonds and relationships--but I don't feel comfortable and it feels like I need to do more.) While it seems others enjoy going to bars to sit in groups and talk with people they know, I actually feel more comfortable making approaches and opening up groups and learning new things from strangers, although those interactions eventually die once sustained conversation is needed.
I am fairly successful with girls in the short-term, I can keep her stimulated for a couple hours over a few days--long enough to f-close and subsequently get a few more hook-ups from her. But I find myself asking "How can I maintain this? What am I supposed to converse with her about on our 3rd or 4th date? What are we going to talk about if I keep seeing her for a month or more?" Obviously there are things to "do", such as various dates and venues, but the majority of time in LTR seems to be spent just with each other, "doing nothing", just enjoying each other's company, I suppose.
Similarly with guys, I don't understand how groups "hang out" for hours on end, pretty much doing nothing, just "shooting the shit." I am welcome with these groups, although I fall into a beta role and don't end up adding much value when we're just "hanging out", I feel myself DLV and usually just dip out, coming back when the group is being more active and there is something for me to participate in, rather than just sitting around and talking.
So many of you are good at maintaining and building relationships with friends, I was hoping you could help me in this department. I'm just not sure how to build close friendships with individuals and am aware its an issue I need to address.
A couple of observations:
First, you strike me as an introvert, so extended social interactions will naturally be more taxing on you than on extroverts in your circle. Your energy comes from spending time alone, so it is key to understand that and to allow yourself a balance. Don't expect to feel enthusiastic after a three-hour conversation that spans many topics: it isn't the way your mind is wired, and that's alright.
Second, you say in your post that you have a strong drive, but you didn't even need to state that expressly, because it shows through in every sentence you wrote. You are so driven to be productive that it causes you anxiety when you're not building something you perceive as tangible. This is not an uncommon mindset among professionals of all ages, and it obviously has its perks. I work with a guy who is like this and I can always count on him to meet his deadlines and get positive results with his projects. The hurdle that you'll have to overcome here is to be able to allow yourself time to relax and do things you might consider non-productive to grow in new and different areas.
My main question, AndyKatz, is this: What do you do for fun and what are you passionate about? Also, what would you like to do recreationally that you haven't yet? These are the subjects that occupy common table conversation. Without dedicating a portion of your life to something outside of your office, your conversational well will run dry.
A last note is that it's important to appreciate how widespread the problem of loneliness is. Most people, men especially, lack and long for close friends. What this means to you is that if you want friends, you will find them with a little initiative on your part. Pick an activity that you like to do or want to learn how to do better. Playing pool, for example. Now call a friend in your phone book once a week to see if they want to play pool and maybe get a beer. You might have to cycle through a couple of people, but eventually you'll connect with someone who is looking for the same type of connection that you are. And when you find a friend like that, you maintain it by continuing those weekly calls. A benefit of keeping an activity as the focus of your meeting is that you won't be required to make long conversation, which seems to tire you.
Best of luck.