When Lukewarm is Barely Warm.
Lukewarm is barely warm, ever. Bordering room temperature, and the word “lukewarm” stirs similar imagery of “murky” or “cloudy”, and the temperature at which I should be watering my plants. Not exactly an exciting word.
Yesterday, I explored the mission district with two roommates. We ventured to a festival, drinking, dancing, and talking our way through the colorful, music-filled streets. Upon deciding that getting a second $12 large Bud Light was an outrageously overpriced idea, we fled the event in search for more affordable beverages. After three hours there we had exhausted the scene anyways.
We sprung for a beer at a dive-ish bar called Amnesia. The bartender let me taste-test several because none of the labels were familiar to me. The vibe was very relaxed, and a live guitarist came on. I was staring into the mirror behind the bar when the bartender asked me if I was ok. I murmured an awkward, “yeah, of course” and tried to look cool. I had been using the mirror to examine an attractive man behind me.
Next we went across the street to a brewery/restaurant. We all went for some German brew, as per our German roommates recommendation, and opted for salty, cheesy appetizers. We had been drinking beer all day. We got to the point in our slow beer drinking day where the conversation got real. I’ve only known these girls for 2 weeks, and I’m not one to reveal details about my personal life quickly, if at all.
We addressed the commonality of our ‘singleness’. — Even as I write this I’m not sure I like that word, but cannot find a better descriptor. Perhaps, independent women status, boss status, focused on ourselves and building our empires status. Single is appropriate too.
My roommate starts on a story about how most of the women at her new job are married or engaged. Not only married or engaged, but also only talking about their partner and the barrier it’s shown for making new friends with them in their coupled lives. Long story short: it’s difficult. My roommate talks about how she has been helping out a co-worker who’s been having car problems. She’s been picking her up and dropping her off from the train station this entire past week. Twice my roommate suggested they do something social after work, but was turned down both times by the I need to get home to my significant other, or I have plans with my significant other speech.
I chimed in with a story about how my best friend is visiting me for Labor Day weekend. Something that wouldn’t be possible had I not moved to the West Coast. Amidst our planning she asked if her boyfriend could come along. I really didn’t want to be the third wheel/nor do I ever want to be the third wheel. It’s truly not fun and I’d rather hang out alone. I didn’t say no, because I rather my friend come with her boyfriend than not at all. To my relief he wanted to save money and turned down the offer.
Next my roommate got into a story about a guy she dated several months ago, and about how in retrospect he was very lukewarm towards her and towards what they had going on. She decided from now on when she felt that vibe from a guy she would not pursue it. Lukewarm is not warm enough.
I realized that same thing in myself, but with friends. Over the past year, and with some help from talk therapy, I have become more aware of the time and energy I have put into lukewarm friendships, trying to keep them alive. I’ve nurtured friendships where the feelings are barely mutual, and it feels more like a chore to make plans than something I actually want to do. I’ve felt obligated to try to keep certain friendships alive. I think it’s partially an aspect of social competition, and wanting to be going out and doing things, even when I’m perfectly content at home, alone. The second reason would be a pressure I feel from society to be social and outgoing, even when that is not my natural disposition.
I told my friends how this past year of my life, amongst other “revelations” I’ve had, was to cut off the lukewarm friendships. I’ve barely to practice cutting off these ties, and more become aware that I want to do so, but I feel it’s a good step for me. I have many friendships, and I think many twenty-something millennial females can relate to this, that I feel obligated to kindle and put work into, even if that work is just scheduling a drinks to catch up. If the effort I’m putting in is exceeding the benefit I’m getting from this work, why should I continue with it?
I understand the importance of making and keeping friends, and making connections and how important those can be to your career. I got my first job in a research lab in college through a sorority connection, and even felt more at ease moving to SF knowing I had various friends, albeit surface level friends, that lived in the Bay Area.
I just feel now, after college, and after graduate school, you make and lose friends, but it is much more about quality than quantity, and I shouldn’t be putting in more work than the pleasure I’m getting from friendships.
Wrapping up our dinner, I was to meet up with this guy I had met on tinder and had been chatting with the previous several nights. He lived near the mission and wanted to grab a beer while I was in the neighborhood. He insisted I take the bart or bus or whatever to meet him one neighborhood away. I started to put our discussion re: lukewarm relationships into practice immediately. I didn’t want to travel anywhere to see this guy. I had already put in the traveling being 30 minutes away from my home. If he wanted to see me he could hop on the bart or bus or whatever. He didn’t even suggest that, so I decided I felt lukewarm towards him and would not be pursuing him.