I’ve always had a lot more difficulties making friends here in southern Spain than in Barcelona or Madrid. Everyone thinks it must be easy to make friends here because southern Spaniards appear very friendly and open. But that is only superficial appearance. In fact my impression is that southern Spaniards are much more closed minded (in general and also when it comes to making friends) than people from Madrid or Barcelona. Or maybe it’s just cultural differences, but I’m from a place where you don’t make friends the same way people do here.
I made a ton of friends when I lived in Madrid, unfortunately I didn’t keep in touch with most of them when I left. Those were the days before email and Facebook, and people’s phone numbers (landlines, because those were also the days before mobile phones) change and they move. But I’m still really good friends with some friends from Barcelona. I found it easier to make friends in Barcelona than here in southern Spain.
Once someone who had lived in France, who said she’d lived in France for many years (she was American), said that in France people have 3 groups of friends: childhood friends, usually from the same elementary school they went to, high school friends and university friends. Once people got out of university, they lost interest in making friends and if you wanted to be their friend, they didn’t. I find here in southern Spain it’s very similar.
Most people here have lived here all their lives and they only hang out with people they’ve known all their lives and grown up with. They are very friendly, they’ll chat with you for a long time. But then after that they are not interested in taking the relationship any further. They don’t want to hang out with you, they want to hang out with the kids who went to grade 2 with them. They don’t want to go to the bar with you, they want to go to the bar with their circle of friends from university.
Some people are very open and not in the least bit shy, like my friend Maria*. And even she can’t make new friends. All her friends are people she’s known in elementary and high school. Which is a major problem for her, because in high school she hung out with the drug addict crowd, and most of them are still on drugs today. She is not on drugs but you know what it’s like to have a friendship with someone who is on drugs: violent behaviour, unreliability (they say they’ll meet her tomorrow at 11 and they don’t show), you can’t count on them (they say they’ll introduce her to someone who is looking for a receptionist and then they forget and the person hires someone else) and worst of all they pressure her to take drugs again.
She’s tried over and over again to get away from them, because she knows they are no good for her and she knows they only use her. As in, let’s go out tonight. But then they only wanted to go out with her to try and get her to take drugs. But when she really needs someone, for example she needs someone to pick her son up from school, all of a sudden they are not available.
She can’t live in Marbella, her hometown, because every time she is in Marbella all her old druggie friends drop by and try to turn her house into a drug den. So she keeps moving away. But then she can’t find a job anywhere else, or she has a family emergency and needs to return to her family in Marbella, and she just can’t get away. But when she does move away, she can’t make any new friends. And she’s the least shy person I know. I mean, she could sell air conditioners to an Inuit person.
In Barcelona, there are a lot of outsiders, it’s a big city, new people are constantly going there for different reasons. For work, or to go to the university or to study something else (not university). Or for personal reasons. So there are tons of people who didn’t grow up in Barcelona and don’t have a circle of childhood friends there, so there are tons of clubs there to meet people. So it’s easy to meet people and make friends in Barcelona.
But here in Malaga there are hardly any clubs. I asked someone once, let’s say you want to make a hiking club, or a sewing club, how do you do it here? And they told me, you ask your childhood friends if they know someone or if they know someone who knows someone who likes to go hiking, and you go hiking together. In Barcelona, you join a hiking club. Here, you ask your childhood friends if they want to go hiking with you. That’s just the way it works here.
Which really sucks for those of us who didn’t spend our childhood here!!!
I met a lot of people in Barcelona by going to meetings of things that I was interested in, or even just with classified ads. That’s how I met my great friend Pippi* and my friend Morche* and my former friend Enid* (we fought because she became a radical vegetarian and stopped having any contact with people who were not vegetarian).
But I just can’t seem to meet anyone this way here in Malaga. In fact I couldn’t meet anyone in Almeria either, things work there the same way as here, as Almeria is also southern Spain.
I met my friend Jessica* at a secretarial course we took together once. During the course many of us hung out together but once the course ended most just simply kept making excuses for not meeting up again, and finally they just simply stopped having contact with other people from the course. Only Jessica continues to be my friend. I met a few people at a hotel entertainers’ course too, but I’ve changed a great deal since taking that course and we just drifted apart due to having very different interests.
Also people who have never worked before are hard to make friends with, which was the majority of the people at the hotel entertainers’ course. It’s just impossible to get on with people who have never worked before. My friend Lucinda*, from the course, who had never worked before, told me things like, why are you so worried about being able to pay the water/electricity/phone bill? It’s only a few cents, right? And if you can’t pay them, just go back and live with your mami and daddy like I do, or get them to pay your bills for you.
Lucinda is over 30, has never had a job and has lived with her mother all her life. Now, I’m in favour of kids living with their parents, I want my kids to live with me. But I still also want them to work. And to know what life is like and that you have to pay the bills and that mami and daddy aren’t always going to bail you out. Or at least not at age 30.
And I’m just finding it a bit hard to jive with someone who at the age of thirty-something has never paid a bill in her life or had to run to get to work on time. I dunno, somehow I just can’t.
Oh by the way Lucinda is not disabled in any way, neither physically nor mentally.
Another example: one year I subscribed to the blog of a makeup blogger, and I also joined her Facebook group. So I chatted on the group for a while, and commented on her blog for a while. But then one day she organized what was supposedly an open party at her house (she lives in Malaga) and on her Facebook she said, Hey girls come on come join the fun, come to my party! Bring some drinks and your bikini cos we’re all gonna jump into my pool. Leave a comment below if you want to come. So of course I commented too and said I’d like to go. She answered my comment (on Facebook) and said, I’m sorry Serena but this party is only for my personal friends, that is, followers of my blog who are also my personal friends, I thought it was clear and understood. I wanted to say, well if it was only for your personal friends why did you announce it on your open, public Facebook group that I’m a member of?
So you see, here people make a very clear distinction between FRIENDS (ie. people they have known all their lives and probably went to the nursery with) and friends with tiny little letters (ie. people they’ve chatted to online or maybe even met in person, but meeting someone in person and having a good time with them doesn’t make you their friend).
I dunno maybe it’s that way everywhere, I’m not like that though. For me, you are my friend if I have met you a few times and we got on great. I don’t need to have known you for 30 years to admit you into my circle of friends. You don’t have to save my life to prove your loyalty and honesty to me before I will admit you into my circle of friends. But other people don’t agree with me. And I’ll admit there aren’t too many people in my life whom I’ve known for 30 years or whose life I have saved haha.
I always think it’s so hard for me to make friends cos I’m so shy, I’m too shy to just come right out with someone I just met and just say, hey I really enjoyed chatting with you, you wanna meet up again for coffee sometime?
But Maria is the least shy person I know and she can’t make new friends either, only her old druggie ones. (Although I admit she would probably not be pleased with me referring to her old lifelong friends as “druggies”.)
And while we’re at it, not to sound like a sleazy saleslady but I’ve written a few thrillers so, if you’re into creepy, scary, suspenseful novels, I’d love it if you’d check them out, here: Thrillers by Moi.
So how about you? Got any suggestions as to how a shy, wall violet like me might make new friends? Please leave me a comment. As you know I LURRVE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments!
*not their real names
If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:
How Much Do YOU Value Your Friends?
The Meaning of a Friendship
Thrillers by Moi