Interactions and relationships

Yesterday, I nearly finished a lengthy blog post, but then decided against posting it because it was focused on things that made me sad, which is going against the way I am trying to be. Then I took one piece of that post, and worked on that a bit, but that topic was too distressing. Last evening, as I was reading some article about a prison guard being attacked, I thought about writing a more lighthearted post about jobs I would never want to have. But I never actually put fingers to keyboard. So this morning, after being awake way too early, I decided to write about something more personal but hopefully not so negative: friendly relationships

I am grateful that I have a handful or more of "true" friends who I know like (or at least accept) me for who I am, with all my faults and quirks, and whom I can trust. If I had only one or two of these people in my life, I would be luckily, but (yeah me!) I have more. Next there are those who although might not be the people I can open up to about everything or always count on in a time of need, they are sincere and care at least somewhat about what is going on in my life. Last there are a number of people with whom I simply exchange pleasantries. The "relationship" is rather superficial, and for various reasons will probably never be more than that. For most people, I think this describes the interaction between many parents as well as between a number of coworkers (people who are, more or less, forced to be together at times). I have witnessed firsthand at some functions where some people go up to others, hugging them and then chatting for lengthy periods of time, while I think about how the one person had just talked about the other in less-than-flattering ways only a few days earlier. Although seeing this can be/has been unsettling to me (a say-it-like-it-is person who tries to be nice), it has helped me put some people from the middle group into the last group, realizing that these people were probably doing the same thing to me.

Is this relationship hierarchy typical? I am guessing more so with women; my gut tells me most men can fit their guy interactions into two categories--their really good friends and everyone else. And I say this as a compliment to men, who tend not to get involved in much drama or popularity contests. This is the main reason why I ate and hung out with three guys at my last FT job.

About a month ago while I was doing lunch duty, I walked by a group of third grade girls who were discussing popularity. One girl said she thought she was popular and another said she knew she was. I am pretty sure I physically recoiled. At third grade, this is what these kids think is important?! I am fairly certain popularity did not come into play for my generation until high school, but that was a lot of years ago, and my memory is not what it used to be. Regardless, this made me think about how important popularity is to grownups. I can tell you it is not important to me. Sure, I want people to like me, and sometimes it bothers me when it seems that is not the case. But I want this acceptance to be based on my being a decent person who genuinely cares about many people (including the kids at that school) and the world around me. I sure as heck don't want or need people to like me because of how I dress, what my hair looks like, how much money I have, the car I drive or house I live in, or whatever else matters to some people. If someone is not going to like me for one of those reasons (or, as likely in my case, because I tend to say what I am thinking and do what I feel like, even if that means standing up for others or dancing around the cafeteria), I am mostly okay with that. Or I am at least trying to be. And please don't misunderstand what I am saying about myself; I know I am not perfect and there are things I can do (and am working on) to make myself a better person.

Do I have an odd way of looking at this? Is this just my world? How would you characterize your relationships and interactions? Do you think young kids today think about popularity more so? Does and should it still matter in adults?

Off to relate to others...


bluzdude said…
My life became infinitely better once I stopped worrying about being popular, and just went on about being "me."

And you're right... guys do form much simpler relationships. Your description is almost exactly how I look at it. (Or maybe I'm one of your sources...) But still, because my best buddies don't live in my town, I find I almost always hang out with women.

Maybe it's because guy relationships (that aren't in that first category) so often devolve into... OK, striving for a polite term here... "Sausage measuring contests." We can't help but compete with each other on some level.
Facie said…
Bluz: Yes, eschewing the importance of popularity has been a wonderful thing; obviously I am still working on worrying less about what others think of me in general though...

I pretty much had you and my work husbands/boyfriends in mind when I was making the guy generalization. Bagger has not been here in eons; it would be great if he weighed in!

I think that women compete with each other too. It is often said that women dress for other women. I definitely cannot relate to that.
Anonymous said…
I think of women as being friends or not friends. Friends are close or not. The ones who are not friends are that way either because I don't yet know them or I don't want to know them anymore than I already do. You have kind of, sort of taken my view and took the bottom of the friends and the top of the not friends and created a middle category. As a rule I don't have male friends.

In adults I don't think of popularity per se. Yet like it or not it shows itself in everyday life. The popular mom that everyone wants to be friends with, the popular teacher that everyone wants to have, the popular friend that everyone wants to hangout with.
Jessica R. said…
I think you pretty much nailed it. But like you, I am who I am, and if you don't like it, then we shouldn't be "friends."
Facie said…
Anonymous: I used to think more as you do--friends ranging from casual to best and everything in between. The people who were not my friends could have been described as you did. I guess my experiences as of late made me want to come up with another category for the people in the lowest one, because they are not friends in the truest sense of the word, but they are not strangers either or even the people you say hi to (and nothing else) because you have seen them around wherever for years. I really over-think things!

I see your point about popularity. I am assuming that adults just don't use that word as kids (whom I would have thought would have been older) do.
Facie said…
Jessica: I totally agree that it does not make sense to be friends with someone who does not like/accept you as you are. I guess I am just having a problem with people not liking others for superficial or what I consider not good reasons. But who's to say what reasons are bad, I suppose.
Carpetbagger said…
I'm back! Yes, I've been gone too long. I just noticed that your blog wasn't on my blog's list so I've added it to remind me. It's not just you, though, I've fallen behind on reading many blogs.

And yes, guys are much simpler about relationships (and everything else, for that matter!) We have much fewer categories, and we don't move guys around that much. You're either a bud, a friend, or someone I'd rather not hang around with. Our emotional range is much less, too. Women tend to "hate" some people in a way that is kind of scary.

I don't really "hate" people. If I don't like you, I will just avoid you. I don't waste my time or emotions by thinking about you much more than that.

The world of women's friendships is like going into politics or wading into the Israel/Palestinian conflict. Things get touchy fast and can quickly dissolve into an international incident.

Guys just don't have that kind of emotional capacity.
Facie said…
Bagger: "The world of women's friendships is like going into politics or wading into the Israel/Palestinian conflict. Things get touchy fast and can quickly dissolve into an international incident."

Truth! :-)

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