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I moved to a metropolitan area for work so I didn't and still kinda don't know many people. I have a few friends now but am not trying to lose anyone so I've considered just breaking off all communication, but that idea is on hold. I met this one girl though a dating/social app. She is shy, a bit depressed, and is hard for me to read. I like her despite a lot of shortcomings but I can't tell if she even cares and she doesn't know what I think as she doesn't really ask anything.

Our interactions are via text mainly and more like:

  • she says something, I say something, that's it
  • I say something, that's it
  • someone says something and there's a little back and forth but that's it.

We hung out in person once and I think the next 7 times I asked to hang, she had an excuse like, too tired, busy, don't feel like it. So I thought she doesn't care to be friends, on top of the really poor communications quality, ignored messages, apathetic responses, etc. or something but she texts me at least 5/7 days a week.

I'm not a confrontational person and don't want to put too much pressure on her but I wanna ask about if she actually wants to be friends and actually hang out more.

Other details:

  • Started talking around March 2017
  • Hung out once around May/June 2017, have not since
  • She is in a terrible life spot. 26 yo, lives with parents, cant find a job, college dropout that ended up graduating at an online school (BA graphic design), no self control, does not save money, plays video games and binges shows all day
  • (from what she has said) bad social skills, depression and anxiety, apathy, laziness, does not like small talk and finds it easier to talk to people digitally
  • Important to note that we met on OKCupid which she has updated her profile and reiterated she wants to meet people and do things in real life. We talk almost every day and I said I'm willing to drive the 40 min to hang out every so often as she HATES driving
  • She has hardly any in real life friends, if any
  • I'm not sure if she talks to me because she has no one else or if she actually cares to talk to me. The confusing part is how she never actually converses and suddenly changes topics or just drops communications

I do really like her for god only knows why, maybe because we are kinda similar and have similar interests (but I don't have depression and I have a degree and successful career, etc.). So although I considered and started just ignoring her forever, I care too much to do that. But I don't want to be her personal one-way Twitter (since people typically tweet something and never read or respond to comments). Of course if she doesn't want to be friends or actually meet, I must just say goodbye because it's a waste of time.

However, I'm looking for good approaches to ask if she wants to be friends. If feel if I were to just say that, she might just not respond or change topics.

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    Just to be clear: do you want her to be your friend or your girlfriend? – Elmy Nov 24 '18 at 10:00
  • Girlfriend is irrelevant, so friend. Point is, I don't want to be wasting my time on someone who may not have an interest in friendship in the first place. Although, if she got her stuff together, I wouldn't mind her as a girlfriend. – Greg Nov 25 '18 at 2:49
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    So it's girlfriend. – Hans1984 Nov 27 '18 at 12:11
  • No, that is not even relevant information. – Greg Nov 28 '18 at 2:29
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My experience with clinical depression was marked by many of the same behaviors. It's difficult to have self-control. It drains a lot of energy away. It's really bad on the self-image. For example, she might not want to hang with you because she can't imagine you wanting to do that with her.

What you can provide is human contact, but you may have to change tactics. Don't sweat her conversations. She may be doing her best.

When you ask about hanging out with her, emphasize that it's something you want to do. Keep it low-key. You don't want to trigger her anxiety. You want to be really careful about giving her any hassle about her circumstances or behavior.

Check if she's getting treatment. If not, you could see if you can find some free therapy. Offer to take her there, because she's not likely to go there on her own. If you don't know much about depression or anxiety, learn. There's good resources on the web.

Cultivate interests that she has that are not about her. Are you interested in video games? Some of the shows she binge-watches? Those could be good topics of conversation. Perhaps you could join her in playing or binge-watching at some point. Again, tell her it's something you want to do, and leave her feeling like you feel good about your visit.

This is going to be frustrating time and again, and bailing on her is certainly an option you can take without really feeling bad about yourself. You're volunteering a lot without immediate hope of reward. Heck, there's no guarantee you'll be close friends once she gets better, but she will at least remember you fondly.

  • She has mentioned (not to me) that although she has or had depression and saw a therapist, she doesnt see one due to cost and doesnt take meds anymore because she doesn't think it's that bad so I'm not really sure where the state of depression lies. But she has many reasons that might make her (no job, age, friends, parents pressure). I must say I'm not particularly empathetic to clinical depression as I cannot relate. If I usually mention anything that she doesnt have an interest in, she usually ignores or dismisses it. That's frustrating. I'm not the best conversationalist however. – Greg Nov 28 '18 at 2:24
  • It's hard to say how bad depression is without serious study. Different people handle it in different ways. Serious stress is probably going to exacerbate it. Depression is diagnosed with self-reporting, and that's always difficult in a personal context. – David Thornley Nov 30 '18 at 3:23
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tldr
Not all friendships are the same, be ready to accept that friendship may have to be on her terms.

From my own experience with a friend who has a history of medically diagnosed depression and anxiety I can say that trying to pour too much of your own effort into trying to strengthen this friendship can be extremely draining for you and without much reward for your effort.

It's important to know that depression and anxiety are isolating conditions to deal with. Depression makes it harder for them to feel excited going outside and taking initiative themselves, it can also make it so they have less energy and have to take breaks from even simple things like conversations. Anxiety enforces this by creating a stressful feeling whenever they do try to go out and take initiative or when they find themselves in a new situation. Don't forget as well that these are not problems that can solved overnight with a good friend, these can sometimes take years to make even slight progress (which will contribute to this effort draining you if you want to be their friend to help them).

That all said, it sounds to me like she may already consider you some sort of friend but due to the isolating qualities of her condition her terms of friendship are less than what you would consider normal. She is taking the time to consistently message you and has at one point hung out with you in person.

If you decide to continue your friendship with her I would not recommend causing her more anxiety by pressuring her to put a label on your relationship, instead allow her to continue messaging you every so often and every now and then you may find she has the energy and will to try hanging out in person again.

  • So I did ask her "Stacy, do you actually want to be friends?" And she replied "are we not?" And we had some back and forth which she agreed if I wanna do something, let her know and we can. Overall, our relationship is really weird and I have no clue how she interacts with other friends but I said "all we do is complain about stuff to each other via text" and she said that's basically the same for all her friends. So not sure if its completely normal for her but it's still unconventional. It's just the way things are, in 10 years if this continues, our "friendship" would be meaningless. – Greg Nov 28 '18 at 2:29
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    @Greg Like I say, not all friendships are the same, sometimes you'll find unconventional ones. That's not to say they can't work out but know that you can't force every friendship to fit in the same mold you expect. If this is her normal don't expect to be able to change that, it will just fatigue you trying to do so. Accept it for what it is or find a way to move on – BKlassen Nov 28 '18 at 6:46
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reiterated she wants to meet people and do things in real life.

I would use this as a leverage. Remind her that this is her plan, and tell her that you want to be a good friend and help her with it.

I often (daily) make great plans for my future, only to shatter them the next day. But being reminded by my friends that I actually DO want to go out and do real-life things can help me a great deal along.

  • So after we hung out the first time, I asked about 7 times after only to get replies like, busy, tired, no thanks, etc. I did ask if she wanted to hang and she said yeah, but never bothered because "inconvenient" because of the distance, even though I iterated previously that I have a car and am willing to drive that far because it's normal for me. The only reason I wouldnt say "hey I see your OKC profile says you wanna hang" simply to avoid what people generally consider stalkerish behavior. But I did kinda mention it without referencing her profile. – Greg Nov 28 '18 at 2:19
  • I feel like "hey I see your OKC profile says you wanna hang" would not be strong enough anyway. It misses the part about you offering to help her in achieving her goal. I would phrase it somewhat like this: "I know that you are not really feeling like it today. But I also know that you want to be more active in general and I want to help with that! Lets strike a deal: you join me today, and if afterwards you think it was a bad idea, I promise not to convince you next time ;) " – Lot Nov 28 '18 at 13:54
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Generally friendships made through online apps for dating only get stronger on some concrete and common grounds. Availability of common interests always provides strength in relationships, which ultimately becomes a source of confidence for both sides.

In your case, perhaps no common interest is available, although being a happier personality with successful career in front is a positive point of your personality which one can count on to build a relationship with you. As she is facing some depressed atmosphere around her with no job and unknown future status, in these circumstances most people live a confused life with no positive hopes in future. In such situations one cannot focus their attention on their ongoing issues. Your friend is probably living in this situation.

If you are serious about continuing your relationship with her, you have to work hard to give her full confidence. No need to ask her directly regarding continuation of your relationship, try to involve her in your ongoing affairs by sharing personal information regarding your family, job & future planning. If she shows some interest in this information, you can easily judge that she wants to continue having a relationship with you. If she does not show any interest, then she only wanted this relationship to spend her time and did not want to strengthen it.

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    Hi Ahmad, could you edit to include what your source is for this advice? We prefer answers on this site to include some explanation. For example, is this based on personal experience with depressed friends, or something else? – Em C Nov 26 '18 at 15:31
  • It's a really weird relationship, in my opinion. If I say something that isnt directly posed to her as a question, she may not answer or I'll get an extremely or apathetic response. I found it easiest to just reply if she does, and in a way that instigates a reply on her part. So I'm not sure why she doesn't respond (lazy, doesn't care, doesn't want to talk). Many interactions have gone A B and that's it. If anyone acted like this regularly, I would think they didnt care but she keeps messaging after. – Greg Nov 28 '18 at 2:17
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However, I'm looking for good approaches to ask if she wants to be friends. If feel if I were to just say that, she might just not respond or change topics.

That question is too direct for most people. Most people will just say something along the lines of "Of course!" and move on to the next (more comfortable) subject. The truth is that she may not know the answer herself.

In my experience, the best way to find out if a person is truly dedicated to being your friend is to wait for them to ask a favor, and then say "no."

Their reaction will tell you everything you need to know. If you tell her "no" and her reaction is anything other than respectful, she is not a good friend.

  • Interesting approach. Unfortunately, we dont have that kind of relationship. I have helped with cover letter, job apps, or even just other stuff like shopping online. I have but often dont get a "thanks" or responded that indicates acknowledgment. – Greg Nov 28 '18 at 2:13
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It looks like no one has suggested this yet.

Do a similar thing. Instead of doing the chasing and putting in the most effort, ignore her and let her do the chasing.

If she doesn't increase her effort (of trying to get a response from you when you ignore her) and texts decrease instead of increase, then you get closure from this and will more easily be able to move on.

  • I actually tried this multiple times. I've been out of comms before for like a week and she just sends messages and no reply doesn't even phase her. Just keeps sending. But I have a hard time ignoring people. I hate doing it and find it rude even if justified. Just a personality quirk. Every so often I'll be able to ignore for a few days or I can usually ignore really stupid stuff she says that I know she won't even respond to my response because it's a dead end topic from the start. – Greg Dec 5 '18 at 9:17

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