Straight up, I don’t have time for fake friends.
I love the occasional playdate at the park, or a mom get-together, but the truth is, I’d rather have a friend whom I could go to dinner with and cry about our sorrows over a piece of cheesecake for four hours. If the occasional playdate doesn’t lead me to that kind of friendship eventually, then I’m not interested.
It’s just that I’m not that into small talk. I’m at the point in my own parenting where I need a friend who will keep it real and talk about the hard stuff. I need someone who won’t judge me if I say I really dislike my kids today, and who isn’t afraid to admit it either. But you can only do that with friends who are willing to go there with you. I want friends who are willing to get down to the nitty-gritty, crappy parts of life and sit there with you as you get through it.
I have a group of friends whom I occasionally go to dinner with. We can go to dinner for three to four hours. My husband is perplexed by how this could possibly be entertaining, but it feeds my soul to be able to talk to my female friends about real stuff. And you just can’t do that in a 30-minute trip to the park with your toddler. And let’s face it, no one is going to talk about the hard stuff at a playgroup with five other moms they barely know.
If I’m going to take the time to get out of the house with friends, then I want it to be worth it. I want to be talking about the real stuff, the juicy stuff, the embarrassing stuff, and the stuff that will make us cry one second and laugh so hard the next, until our sides hurt.
I’ve realized, though, that it’s no easy task finding friends who will go there with you — who won’t cringe when you bring up sex or a taboo subject like divorce or the deep pain you feel when your teenager won’t talk to you.
I crave friendships with women who will admit their child is acting out at home and not only do they want to talk about it, they also need to talk about it with me. And I can share my struggles with anxiety and depression and how I hate that I yell at my kids, but some days it feels impossible not to.
I just don’t have time for anything else. I’d rather be friendless than waste my time on friendships with people who aren’t willing to get real about everything from child-rearing, to marriage problems and how they secretly hate their in-laws. What’s the point of a friendship if you aren’t sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly?
So I find myself weeding people out. The ones who just want pleasantries and short quips about how my kids are doing in school aren’t where I will invest my time. The ones who have shared that their kid has thought about suicide and they are terrified and need some advice? Those are my type of friends. The real ones. Because let’s be honest, no one has a perfect life. And people who pretend they do aren’t my type of people.
I’ve realized finding a real friend like this is not an easy task. It takes a lot of trial and error, and sometimes, it takes a lot of speaking your mind and seeing how someone reacts. Do they laugh nervously when you bring up a parenting struggle, or do they grab your arm and say, “OMG! Me too! I thought I was the only one!”?
It takes time to find your tribe — the ones who get you and whom you can be real with. Sometimes, it takes feeling lonely for a while until you find that friend.
I’d venture to say that most women want the real friends, not the fake ones. And they want to be that real friend too. But it’s not easy. It takes patience, and often, they just don’t know how to get there. They don’t know how to blurt out the hard stuff at dinner for fear of rejection.
But I say it’s worth it. It’s worth the rejection of 20 fake friends to find that best friend for life type of friend, as cliché as that sounds. So put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid to say something a little raw or bold, or cry in front of someone, or put your foot in your mouth. You might find that if you take a leap of faith, that real friend is right in front of you, just waiting for you to open up so she can too.