The Friendship Gap

I was talking to a friend today about how I go about making friends, and it made me realise something with a kind of jolt. That is—my current working life does not lend itself to new friendships.

To start with, I’m not a lotsa-friend kind of woman. I have very close friendships with a handful of people, and a whole heap of people who I really like and get along with, but only ever see in a group and don’t feel compelled to take the friendship any further.

BUT—all of my close friends were either forged in high school and have stood the test of time, occurred through living together as a student, or developed through working professionally with someone who I clicked with.

But clicking isn’t enough by itself. I’m introverted and busy. In a 9-5 type of job in social work, you are often working closely with other people and certainly working in an open plan office (side note! My new in-an-office project is the first time in my professional career I have had my own office. It even has a door! Life goals…). You get to know each other by sheer volume of hours. The friendship progresses because of time and proximity for me—and in there, there is absolutely an element of judgement. ie how much do I invest, and reveal? This is not a judgement on the person’s worth as a person, just an (admittedly terribly clinical) assessment of their fit for me. And after this many years around the sun, I am pretty good at picking.

To be honest, there have been times in my life where I felt the line of a colleague (who never became a close friend!) was appropriate as well as funny—“Not recruiting!!”—where I simply haven’t had the emotional energy to invest in additional friendships. And there have been times when the hours are there, but I just haven’t felt like someone was ‘my people’. I am profoundly grateful to have 5 or 6 people who are ‘my people’. Being in their company makes my soul sing. But I have kids, one with additional needs, three jobs, and lots of projects on the go. So yeah, I’m pretty picky about where I invest my time.

But my chat this morning made me realise, working independently both as a sex worker and as a social worker in my own business, there is really no opportunity to put in those kind of hours that grow a friendship. And even though Twitter exposes me to so many amazing sex workers, who I admire from the other side of my computer (and let’s be honest, perve on a little bit…), making contact isn’t incidental and feels kind of pressured. It also feels like asking a lot. If everyone is as busy as me, taking time out to meet someone who you don’t know if you will even click with may not be the most appealing way to spend your morning. I am very conscious of other people’s time as well as my own. I hate the idea of being a burden (more on this in another post! I’m reading Stan Tatkin at the moment and he says WE ARE ALL BURDENS IN RELATIONSHIPS AND NEED TO REGULATE EACH OTHER. I have many, many words to say about this….)

Such things don’t even occur to me in a traditional job. Grabbing a coffee with a co-worker is the norm, over which you can chat and get to know whether it’s going to be a friendship made in heaven or a pleasant office relationship only (or someone you’d actually like to avoid, in fact).

To be clear, I’m not including developing a deeper connection with clients in this pondering, because that’s a different thing (and also often quite intermittent in terms of hours of opportunity). Just reflecting on it, and perhaps the hidden benefit of my current 9-5er – I am forced to converse with the peoples, and such things can lead to miracles ❤️❤️.

Having said all that, I’m off to sex worker coffee on the weekend, and my hours might be limited but my enthusiasm is boundless 🥰.

Ellie xo