She's Just Not That Into You, or, Fears That Plague Female Friendships
The phrase "She's just not that into you" has been a running joke in my own head to cope with the rejection I feel when friends don't reach out. A little humor to ease the lonely feelings that come. I feel like I am the go-getter in many of my friendships, near or far, and the fear is that when or if I stop reaching out, it would fall apart. And it has sometimes. In college, I had a friend, sweet girl, but I felt like I was always reaching out. So one day I passively/aggressively decided I would not reach out and see how long it was before she noticed or said something or invited me over. 3 months. 3 months went by, and keep in mind we were almost neighbors as well as friends.
Another friend I was very close with in college got a new boyfriend, and as it goes, we saw each other less and less. I stopped trying and we never reconnected. Ever. I still ache a little when her Facebook feed scrolls by.
Another time I reached out with cards to all the other male staff's wives at a church where Kenny was newly employed. Crickets. Nothing. None of these women ever invited me into friendship or relationship there.
I see this phrase "She's just not that into you," like a terrible agreement I've made and take into friendships. Even today, I think about how much I do the planning and the reaching out, and sometimes it feels constant. What I want is for someone to say, "I'm thinking about you, let's do something" on a regular basis. Something socially shifted when my dad died in 2019. I haven't quite put my finger on it, but I just don't do things like I used to, and I don't initiate in friendships to the extent I used to. In 2021 I was determined to get some wholehearted women around me. I planned a weekend away with 3 girls, and actually, I could only find 2 of my friends that could or would go. So the 3rd one was a friend of a friend, I didn't even know her. But I had the promise that this gal was as wholehearted as they come, and we did become friends after that weekend.
But it's all still CLUNKY (stumbling along). I mean, I have a goal of reaching out on the first Sunday of each month to these women to walk together. Once a month. And even at that, sometimes it doesn't happen for one reason or another. The enemy sneaks in that old agreement, "She's just not that into you" and for a moment, I agree.
Reading through Captivating again, the Holy Spirit has shown me a fear behind that phrase/agreement. I sense fear of rejection, and of not being a priority to another person that I deeply care about. I sense a fear that I will always struggle with friendships, I will always have to initiate getting together, and I will always feel desperate for more. Lightbulb.
Being desperate for more of something is a clue to my heart that part of my struggle is coming from within. Idolatry is giving a place in my heart to something that is reserved for God.
It's IDOLATRY to give friendships a piece of my heart that God alone can fill. This happens in marriage too, and can suck the life out of it by demanding your spouse give more than they were ever designed to.
I see it now, Father, that gentle nudge of yours that says, "I see you. You are a priority to me. I will never reject you."
To look for this fulfillment in friendships is idolatry. It will always leave an ache that God alone can fill. May the mere taste of friendships drive me closer to Jesus, my closest friend, and the actual satisfaction to the ache of unconditional belonging and pursuit.
I can't solve all friendship issues with one blog post. I think the next steps for me are to solidify the friendships that uplift me currently with honest conversations about what I would like to commit to with them.
I've got another phrase that runs through my head sometimes:
"Put your big girl pants on."
This is the light-hearted encouragement to not be so easily offended or to stop feeling sorry for myself. It's a check, for me, in looking at the situation as a MATURE person, one who can choose empathy when I want to choose indulgence in my own situation.
Empathy is a little window to seeing that these other women are doing the best they can as well.
And maybe some of them just aren't into that me, but the ones that are will make themselves known. This is risk. This is the vulnerable part, that says I will keep trying at friendships and I can see, graciously, that I'm better now than I used to be. Earlier this year, I had a fleeting thought of not sending out any invites for my birthday dinner, and seeing who remembers me. Oh, young, hurt Chelsea, that's not the way through, I tell myself. I put my big girl pants on, send out a text inviting a few friends to dinner at a place I love, and then, miraculously, send the desire to Jesus. Let go of the outcomes of how many will respond and remember and make space in their calendars for me, and give my heart to Jesus.
Sidenote: They all came to my birthday dinner, gifts in hand, because I have made it known my love language is gift giving. They came with love and patience for me and my flaws as well, and some even spoke of the gift I give to be the initiator. The humanity of friendships is actually part of what holds them together.
PS- If a friend wants to plan an Oregon coast trip to have a bonfire on the beach, I would be the first to say yes! This has been on my bucket list for a few years now.