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  1. Today people are confusing becoming "friends" with people they "meet" on the Internet with the friends they meet in real life.
    Ideally, people would physically meet and become friends with people, then use the Internet to maintain contact between meetings, or to grow these friendships if they're long distance friendships. 
    Rarely I have experienced friendships I met on the Internet to progress to face-to-face friendships, or that they have lasted, usually "petering out."  However, the friends I have met on TGGuide have been lasting, quality, emotionally safe and supportive friendships, which is the exception.
    Sometimes people make lifelong friends at school and work, but it is getting more difficult as it becomes standard to have many employers over a lifetime.
    People often confuse acquaintances with friends.
    This is how I break it down:
    Light/Casual Acquaintance - You recognize someone as a familiar face.Moderate  Acquaintance - You are comfortable exchanging first names.Good Acquaintance - You share a cup of coffee.Light/Casual Friend - You go out as part of a group.Moderate Friend - You exchange full names and cell phone numbers.Good Friend - You share sensitive information, such as your home address, landline phone number, and issues that are occurring in the home, etc.           Be aware, so-called "popular" people, especially in a high school or college setting, really do not have that many friends, but many acquaintances, that they call "friends."
    In my opinion, people of my generation, the "Baby Boomers," seek friendship mostly within romantic relationships.
    First, people in a coupled relationship are able to become more easily friendly with others who are also in a coupled relationship. 
    For instance, during my ten year relationship with my Beloved, (she was a transwoman who identified as a mid-fem Lesbian, and I am a cisgender mid-butch Lesbian), we became good friends the first two years we knew each other through a transgender support group (I was exploring the possibility that I may have been a FTM, but I concluded I was not - that's another story!) and gradually fell in love.  As we started dating, we became friends with three other couples, where the transwoman identified as a Lesbian and the butch was a cisgender Lesbian, all of which I am sure the butch would not have been friendly to me had I or both of us were single.  About the fems, I am not sure, to be honest with you, but my partner and I only had good acquaintances at work and in professional societies.
    Friendship is very important at every stage of life (I will be 59 years old on January, 2017).  It is important to get out there.  You won't make friends in front of your T.V. or computer screen.  You need to join organizations that you truly find interesting that meet regularly.  No one is going to want to be your friend if you only meet them once or twice, or once in a long while. 
    Here are some resources and ideas:
    Toastmaster's InternationalGender support groupsLGBT - friendly churchesProfessional societies volunteer workwww.meetup.comPlease share with me your comments and suggestions!
     
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  2. Yesterday I went to visit my best female friend who unfortunately lives forty minutes north of me and does not drive. During non-peak hours it's a 20 minute drive. Any ways we were planned on going to the Portland Saturday market but I for some reason went to bed at 6:30PM Friday night and she was up dealing with an inebriated husband till 3AM in the morning. Beings I was up at mid-night and ended up texting with her the end result was no Saturday market as we both needed to take naps and ended up getting to her place around 11AM.
    So we went to a great mall five minutes from her place and did typical shopping and trying on clothes. Got to Pandora store (the only one in Oregon) and wanted to find a charm for my bracelet that had butterflies which can be seen in the picture above costing $40. After picking that one out my friend asked the sales person if they had any charms with a knife on it (if you have read my blogs this is about me and teaching edge weapon tactics) but no they did not. Then she says, how about one for best friends. Now I know at this point what she is doing, looking to purchase a charm for my bracelet and keep quite as saying you don't need to do this will not stop her. 
    So the third one I say something like, yes that one works for me and by looking at it my brain says "expensive". She says I want to buy this for her. 
    Side note, when you tell the sales person you want a charm he or she (dealt with both) will place the charm on the bracelet.
    He then takes both our credit cards to ring up the charms.
    At this point my friend breaks down in tears and know why, she adores me and has said countless times I am truly her best friend. So we embrace each other for a while then release. I look at her and she at me and we embrace again all the while she has tears flowing down her face. Of course that got me teary eyed too.  I was of course not keeping time on this but was an intense few minutes and the sales person did not try to interrupt us. 
    Even though a year ago I had been on hormones for eight months I was not that emotional, I had been a fearsome male who rarely if ever showed emotions and now over the past six months finding this happening more and more
    Leaving the store she told me not to tell her husband she had purchased the charm as he would not care for her spending that kind of money on non-family members
    We then went to lunch then back to her place where her husband was cooking dinner. Sat and chatted for about an hour then left for home.
    If you read this far the thing I wanted to say if nothing else is, it is so wonderful to have good friends. I have many friends but only four that I can say that are really and truly a friend for life. Besides my friend mentioned above I have after thirty years rekindled friendship with my brother's former girlfriend whom he dated in our late teens. I stayed close with her for another five years until she moved 3,000 miles away. We reconnected the week after my gender reassignment surgery for an entire day. Two weeks ago I said I would be purchasing a new sports car in the fall and driving down her way to visit my son. She has invited me to stay for a weekend which will be so wonderful. There are few people that will do this and I am honored to be her friend.
     
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  3. The other article on Lesbian Connection that hit me between the eyes was about relationships.  
    ""Where are all the 'real' women?"  "I just want someone to be honest and authentic!"  "No one I meet knows how to listen and go deep!""
    "We offer dating and relationship classes for women, and it's amazing how often we hear this kind of thing from the Lesbians we work with.  We have some good news, and some bad news.  First - what you find out there is pretty much always a reflection of what you're bringing.  Now the good news - when you learn to show up with the beautiful, deep, vulnerable, self-responsible "realness" you seek, you can often magically elicit that same level of authenticity from others.  (No, not from everyone.  But from many women - more than enough!)"
    "For example, years ago I went on a first date with a woman who seemed promising.  She was a writer, she was smart, she was funny, and I was attracted to her.  But something wasn't going quite right.  She just kept talking and talking.  Every time I made a comment, or tried to interject something about myself, she'd launch into another story."
    "At first it was okay, because her stories were interesting.  But as this went on, I started to wonder:  Does she always just go on and on like this?  Is she really conceited, or is she just nervous?  Does she just not like me?  What gives?  And as more time passed I thought:  If this is how it's going to be, I don't want to date her.  What's wrong with her?  Doesn't she notice she's hogging all the conversational space?  Why doesn't she know how to listen?  Does she even know I'm here?"
    Then, after a while, a familiar litany started up in my head:  What's wrong with me?  Why do I always end up with women who don't know how to listen?  Maybe I am too picky.  Maybe I'm destined to be alone.  While all these thoughts, fears and frustrations were going through my head, on the outside I was nodding, smiling, being polite, saying "Mmm-hmm," and still trying to get a word in edge-wise about my own life, too."
    "What I was not doing was - being real."
    "I wasn't taking the risk to tell my date what I was really thinking and feeling.  That means I was giving up at the starting gate and not even giving her the chance to go deeper with me.  And I wasn't sharing with her the authenticity that I longed for."
    "How many times have you found yourself in a similar situation?  And how many times have you broken through it by getting more real yourself?  If your answers are "a lot," and, "none," you're not alone!  Most of us simply don't know how to be that honest, especially with someone we don't know well.  Yet how are we ever going to get to know someone well, if we aren't honest with them?  It's quite a conundrum!"
    "So let's take a look at what I might have said on that date:  "You know, I'm starting to feel really confused and kind of sad because I find you attractive, but it feels like our conversation is just going one way - and I'm really not sure why, or how to change that."
    ""You've got a lot of great stories, but I would really like it if we could switch gears and talk about what's going on between us right now.  I'm finding myself starting to have some familiar thoughts and feelings that are keeping me from really being here with you.""
    ""I was really looking forward to this date, but I feel like something isn't going quite right for me in our conversational flow, and I would love it if we could talk about that together and try to change it.  Would you be up for that?""
    "You'll notice that in each of these statements, I used "I - language" - that is, I'm trying to talk about what I am feeling, rather than make accusations or assume I know what's going on for my date.  When you make I - statements, it's easier for someone to hear you - and it makes it less likely she'll argue or get defensive.  And, most importantly, by talking about what I feel and want, I am being vulnerable and real.  I am offering my date the chance to go deeper with me - if she's able and willing."
    "As I said before, some women won't choose to take you up on that offer.  But some will.  And for most of us, all it really takes is one!"
    "Fast-forward to when I met my partner, M.  I can still remember a few key moments when I took these kinds of risks, and she followed, and we ended up connecting much more deeply, because of it.  Sometimes it was by e-mail (which for some of us is easier).  In fact, that's how I first told her I loved her!  But other times it was in person.  Once, it was when we were in bed and things just weren't working well for me.  Another time, I was having some doubts about whether we should keep seeing each other because I was afraid she felt more for me than I did for her.  And every time I took the risk and told her - in an honest, vulnerable and present-moment way - what was happening inside me, she met me there.  And that's a huge part of why we celebrated our eighth anniversary - and why we keep growing and going deeper together every day!"
    "And it's also a big part of why we started our website (http://www.consciousgirlfriend.com), in order to help Lesbians who are struggling with relationships, learn how to create deep connection.  We offer coaching, retreats and classes, such as "Communicate and Be Heard," and, "Take Charge of Your Relationship Destiny.""
    - R.
    Found this an excellent article, and I would like to make some comments.
    Feel the writer was engaging in what I call "emotional masturbation," also known as "diarrhea of the mouth." Most of the time, this is caused by runaway anxiety, and R. did an excellent job of supporting her date to get a grip on her anxiety, instead of stressing her further by trying to get a word in edgewise.  
    The other comment I have is that R. is a butch, and her partner is a fem, and butches have to be sensitive to how fems perceive a relationship.  Fems, are, by nature, more sensitive than butches, and expect butches to gently lead the relationship.  Forgive me, but it is the butch's job to pleasure the fem in bed, but I applaud this butch for having a conversation about it, instead of breaking the relationship off.
    In my opinion, I find people (not just Lesbians) don't give a relationship a chance to bloom, looking for every excuse to break it off, for fear of intimacy.  
    How do I get past this?  Building friendships, sometimes for months and even years, to build emotional safety for both.  As I am getting older, I realize I have to speed it up a little bit.  With the love of my life, we were friends for two years before we became romantically involved, and we slowly went about it.  Not a big fan of Internet dating websites, as I use touch (in the respectful way) and touch is my major communication tool.  
    Highly recommend Dr. Gary Chapman's book, "The Five Languages of Love," even though it was written for Straight people.
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  4. As a cisgender Lesbian, the price for immediate interaction, as provided by the Internet, rather than meeting face to face, is a loss of community.
    It is important to maintain community.  In the age of the Internet (especially social media), cell/smart phones, and other technology, it is becoming more and more difficult.
    In the Lesbian community, as I am seeing Lesbians approaching gaining their full civil rights, I am seeing less community.
    Presently, I only see Lesbian Connection and Golden Threads, among a few others, trying to maintain community among Lesbians, and they are struggling.  Sadly, I have also noticed that most Lesbian bookstores no longer exist. 
    My great concern is, when, as transpeople achieve greater acceptance, are they going to lose community, too?
    The challenge to the TLGB community, is to maintain community as the emphasis in our society shifts from face to face to online interaction.
    In my opinion, I feel we have it reversed.  People should meet face to face PRIMARILY, and maintain contact (and community!) through technology.  The Internet should be seen as a tool to support face to face interaction, but not to supplant it. 
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  5. Everyone, and I mean everyone, no one is immune, experiences open (obvious) and closed (not so obvious) rejection in their lives, through all stages of their life, starting in the very earliest years.

    The reality is that not everybody likes or loves you, but there will be some who do. The secret is to focus on those who do, and innoculate yourself from those who don't, thus removing their power to hurt you.
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