Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Jo Anna Why Can't We Be Friends

I’ve always had a hard time with relationships, and I’m not talking about romantic relationships. I have difficulty with all kinds of relationships.

From my interactions with my own family members to the hello I exchange while sitting next to a stranger on the subway, I’m constantly trying to figure out how to navigate through it. I may look like a confident, unique woman, with style and quirky relatability–but I’m also awkward A.F. We’re not talking about the marketable Zoe Deschanel kind of awkward. It’s more of a, “I’m not really sure how to function in society” brand of awkward, with a dash of extra sensitivity. This tragic character flaw has made making and keeping friends a daunting task.

I could write a column about all my failed romantic relationships, but I’m saving that for when I can afford therapy again. Friendships have always been particularly difficult for me to maintain. It’s been that way since I was very young, and I have a long list of platonic blunders.

I remember walking down the beach in Avalon, NJ looking for groups of kids having fun. I would silently walk up to them creep up on them, and when someone noticed I was standing there, I’d shyly ask, “Can I play?” as they stared back at me blankly. No! Of course, I couldn’t play. Jesus, Jo Anna –that’s something the possessed kid in a horror movie says to a group of teenagers, right before they’re murdered by her.

I hate being rejected, it hurts my little stupid heart. People look at me and they think I’m this rough and tough chick who’s chill A.F. and can withstand anything. But the truth is, I’m super sensitive. I’ve got PBF on the outside and PTSD on the inside.(1)

In 2016 I moved from Philadelphia to New York, and I was quickly reminded how difficult making friends is for me. The small talk, the social cues, the fact I had to leave my room– were all obstacles I had to overcome. I’ve found myself asking, Why do I keep making the same mistakes with friends? Why is it hard for me to make new ones? What am I doing wrong? I hope to explore these questions while delving into my friendless youth in this column.(2)

I see my brother surrounded by more than a dozen of the same close friends he’s had since grade school. I marvel at how he does it–or how ANYONE keeps friends for that long. I was a weird kid, and bullies had a field day with me. High School wasn’t that bad, but girls can be unnecessarily mean to one another. College was a social hell hole that I was forced to live in 24/7, and my 20s were a fluke because I had so many friends I didn’t even know most of their last names. (Or REAL names for that matter!) In my 30s, however, as the parties die down and growing up begins–I’m finding myself with only a fistful of true friends.

I don’t mean to lament. I really appreciate the small group of friends that I have. It’s not all bad. Having very little friends leaves me free to do the things I love–like binge watch Netflix for 8 hours. I also spend less money on weddings. My friends are awesome people, and they send me love and encouragement ‘erry day. I hope that by rehashing my past friendship drama into this column it will lead to some sort of self-realization. Shit, maybe I’ll even make more friends!

…Or will it only isolate me further from my peers making me spiral into a crippling depression that leaves me jaded and fully committed to my modern hermit lifestyle…. *Shrugs* Let’s find out!


  1. According to Urban Dictionary, PBF, or Permanent Bitch Face, happens when a girl “permanently looks like she is scowling, pissed off, or generally disapproves of something.”
  2. Look, I know I have friends! I also know some of them are reading this. So, yes. Hello! You exist. You’re wonderful and amazing, and I wouldn’t be where I am without you. Now, shut up and let me write Sedaris-like quirks about the failed friendships you know about. Okay? Okay! (Call me.)

Jo Anna Van Thuyne is an actor, comedian, and producer residing in New York. Her column, Why Can’t We Be Friends?, posts every Thursday. Check her Snapchat/Twitter/Insta @JoPincushion.


About Jo Anna Van Thuyne 29 Articles

Jo Anna Van Thuyne is an actor, comedian, and producer residing in New York. Her podcast, Apocalypse…Now?, starts September 5th. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. Check her Snapchat/Twitter/Insta @JoPincushion. Learn more at joannavanthuyne [dot] com

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