Hermithood is Looking Better and Better

The habitation of a hermit
Instead of an RV, maybe I need a hermit hovel. (Image via Wikipedia)

I’m fretting about Friendship/Social Life Month in April more intensely and much earlier than I’ve fretted about the other months so far. I fret about all of them because I’ve inherited the fretting chromosome and it’s just what I do. But this one has me positively vexed.

My experiences Sunday didn’t help.

First, I took the kids to church. That worked out fine. My son wanted to get up and sit down and flirt with the people behind us and then vigorously sign and shout, “Poo-poo!” in the middle of the service. Luckily, we were at the Buddhist Temple. Those Buddhists are really tolerant. So even though I started to get all uptight about my toddler’s shenanigans, I stayed cool, and we had a great time. My daughter said she “LOVED it!” and can’t wait to lead The Golden Chain and The Promise with the rest of her Dharma School class in two weeks.

After a quick lunch at home, I left the kids with my husband and went to yoga. It was super crowded. The practice was nice. Fun. Challenging. But I was left wanting somehow.

Back at home, I quickly changed clothes, nursed the baby and changed his smelly diaper before hopping back in the car and going with a friend to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 at the dollar theater. The theater was packed, which I found quite surprising. I mean, the movie’s been out since November. Were there that many other people who hadn’t seen it before, or did the others there simply have nothing better to do than to sit through a movie they a) have already seen, and b) can’t pause when they need to pee?

After the movie, I felt out of sorts. I couldn’t pinpoint what was wrong. I liked the movie. I liked the conversation with my friend in the car there and back. But something was just missing.

I got home and my husband had made dinner and the baby kissed me and kissed me when I picked him up and my daughter asked us what “judgmental” meant, which pleased me. But I was in a really crappy mood nonetheless. Surly, on-edge, short-tempered, snapping at people. A real joy to be around, I’m sure. I remember my mom complaining that I was like this after spending too much time away with my friends when I was a kid.

My best guess is that my crummy mood was because I was out in public so much today. I didn’t have any quiet time in which to recharge, and then the day was done and I was spent and had nothing left to give to the family.

On the one hand, it’s nice to recognize this. As GI Joe used to say, “Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.”

On the other hand, what the heck does this mean for Social Life Month? My goal is to deepen friendships and to increase happiness in social relationships. How do I do this and still maintain a balance between those interactions and my alone time?

I’m tired of reading books about how important it is to have a number of close relationships outside of your immediate family, but that don’t offer any help for those who most times prefer to be alone. What does this mean for people like me who seem to have a different definition of “close friend,” one that would limit this designation to one or two people? Are we just destined to have high blood pressure and shorter life spans because we’re not social butterflies? I suspect that the research supporting these claims is being done by extroverts.

In the past I operated under the assumption that if I met enough people and became friends with enough people, I would eventually get down to the one or two with whom I really clicked, and they’d be the people I spent most of my time with. It hasn’t really worked out that way, and I’m looking for a paradigm shift.

How do you make friends? Do you just have the same friends you’ve had since your bassinets were next to each other in the hospital nursery, or are your friends those you’ve acquired as an adult? Do you have lots of people you consider close friends or just one or two especially close friends? How did you end up with your circle of friends? And, if you’re introverted, how do you balance time with friends with your alone time?

Is it really necessary to have friends outside of my marriage to be happy?

9 Replies to “Hermithood is Looking Better and Better”

  1. I think you have to be very careful about “should” statements. We live in a very extroverted culture — one that rewards “lots” of everything — friends, hobbies, jobs, stuff, etc. What works for you works for you — don’t let others define your happiness or how to obtain it.

    I’m 45 years old and I only found my closest adult friends through work within the last 13 years or so. Up to that time, there really weren’t any friends I felt close to. It took awhile, but I found them!


    1. Susan-

      Thank you so much for your comment. It’s nice to have reassurance from someone who’s been there that it might take a while, but it’ll happen.

      I’m looking forward to exploring your blog!



  2. Have you seen Gretchen Rubin’s recent post about a letter from Ray Bradbury saying to love what YOU love?? (Here’s the link: http://www.happiness-project.com/happiness_project/2011/03/from-ray-bradbury-love-what-you-love.html) Basically, it says that if you love something that other people think is ridiculous, then who gives a rat’s patoot, go for it anyway! The flip side of that is don’t love what you don’t love (as pointed out the comments section of the post). If you don’t have any friends other than your husband, and you’re happy that way, who cares. Maybe for April you could focus on doing things that deepen the friendship side of your relationship with your husband instead of the marriage-y side of the relationship with him. And I agree with Victoria…It’s only just the beginning of March. Focus on March’s goals and worry about worrying about April when it’s actually here. 🙂


    1. Thank you so much for your comment and for the link!

      I think the thing is that I want to have close friends, I just can’t quite understand how to do it. It’s not that other people are saying, “Get close friends!” and I’m saying, “No way! That’s stupid!” Other people are saying, “Wow, friends are so great! It’s so important to have really close friends. You should have 4 or 5 close friends, people you can rely on in a pinch and have fun with when things are going well.” And I’m saying, “Dude, that sounds lovely and all, but have you got any hints about how to acquire that kind of friendship? Seems like all of the potential friends are already matched up and aren’t looking for another close friend (especially since some people are hogging 4 or 5 close friends).”

      I don’t think I can separate out my friendship with my husband from our marriage. It’s one and the same. The method of strengthening one part of the relationship is the same as strengthening the other.

      But I do agree that I ought to perhaps leave the worrying about April for a little later in the month. Having fun with my kids is more difficult when I’m worried about my social life.


  3. I certainly wouldn’t take those “studies” too seriously. If you’re happy (is that the right term here?) without the social interaction, then forget it! Sometimes I think living out in the middle of no where with my little family sounds amazing! Maybe some day…


  4. Maybe our blood pressure goes up because people keep telling us we’re going to die young. Every time I read about how I NEED MORE CLOSE FRIENDS, I panic just a little.


  5. I think I’m going to write to you later about this, but I wanted to recommend that you read Janna Cawrse Essary’s book, The Motion of the Ocean. She’s not an introvert in any way and she finds that the most difficult thing of voyaging around the pacific is that she doesn’t have her girl friends to bounce thngs off of often. The book is somewhat about sailing, a lot about her, and a lot about her marriage. It’s funny and reads like a novel even though it’s true. She’s the one that wrote that post about “what happens after dinner?”

    I also think that since it’s just the beginning of March so you need to be writing about your kids and not worrying about April yet. Maybe you can be my personal advice columnist? So just what do you do when your kid still hits and pushes and calls names, even after 2000 or 10,000 repititioms and even when she’s almost seven?!


    1. Thanks for giving more information about Janna’s book. When I looked it up, I thought it wouldn’t be interesting to me because it’s all boaty and she doesn’t have kids yet when she writes it. But with your clarification, I might pick it up.

      And I fear I might not be suited to being an advice columnist. When my daughter was going through an aggressive stage, I sought professional help and was lucky enough to get hooked up with a very attachment parenting, pro-extended bf professional who gave us some great help and assistance. I could tell you what she told us, but I don’t know how much would apply to your situation. Actually, she’s moved up to Oregon. Maybe you could sail up there and visit with her in person. I think you’d like her.


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