The Hard Truths about Friendships as an Adult
Hey Internet World! Welcome back to my blog. For the past two weeks, we have been speaking about friendships and how to navigate them as adults/mothers/wives/sisters (you get the picture).
I made a new rule for myself this past year. I stopped making an effort and reaching out to people who make no effort to do the same for me. It’s not that I am angry at these friends and it’s not that I don’t miss them. I simply don’t have enough emotional energy to spend on maintaining relationships with people who don’t make a reciprocal effort.
Friendships like this are called “one-sided friendships,” and they can often lead to burnout for the friend who is making all the effort. One of the problems with one-sided friendships is that the person who is doing all the receiving gets used to being supported and cared for without evolving within the relationship as reciprocal support. Not only does this create an unfair imbalance, but it also stunts the friendship from developing into a deeper and more meaningful connection and eventually leads to burnout. In some cases, it can even lead to heartbreak 💔.
Now, not everyone is capable of being a supportive friend and that’s ok.
Sometimes people are struggling and may go through periods where they are temporarily emotionally unavailable. That’s ok too.
But for the friend who is on the giving side, it is important to gauge, navigate and be mindful of how much energy you can really afford to give in these relationships.
Ultimately, we are our own best friends and best friends take care of one another. So treat yourself how you would like your best friend to treat you.
Have you experienced a one-sided friendship? Which side were you on?
Friendships & Criticism
Have you ever had that one friend who is constantly criticizing you?
Yup, you know the one.
You know that they love and care about you, but why are you always feeling bad when you are spending time with them? Why did you walk away feeling like garbage after hanging out with them?
I’m not saying that criticism is a bad thing. In fact, healthy, constructive criticism can be an amazing thing, especially from someone who cares about you and wants you to succeed in life. However, TOO MUCH criticism is no longer constructive; it’s destructive because it stops being helpful and starts being hurtful.
A “friend” who constantly has something negative to say about your job, your relationships, your appearance, maybe your family, spouse or kids is no longer giving you helpful or constructive criticism, and they certainly are not doing it because they care about you. Sometimes people who feel insecure in themselves, find it satisfying and confidence-boosting to put other people down, deflecting from their own insecurities and focusing on whatever negative attributes they can find in the people around them.
There is NO reason you should have to endure this kind of treatment from anyone, even someone who claims to love and care about you. Maybe a little communication is all that’s needed to repair the problem in your friendship; try telling your friend how they are making you feel! BUT, if this friend defends their words and actions and turns the focus onto you and your insecurities, this is probably not the healthiest relationship.
Have you ever experienced a friendship with constant criticism? Did you keep your friend or let them go?
How Can YOU be a Good Friend?
Let's talk about how you can up your BFF game! Check out my top friendship traits!
Am I missing anything? Comment below and let me know if I left anything out.
Friendships & Relationships
How can we balance friendships and committed relationships simultaneously?
Do you have friends that disappear as soon as they’re in a relationship? Maybe you still see them, but they are never really present because they are always on their phone texting their new SO or have nothing to contribute to the conversation because their thoughts are completely absorbed in their new “person.” Maybe you are the one this happens to - Do you find it hard to keep up with your friendships when you are dating someone?
For some, a new romantic relationship can be emotionally overwhelming and all-consuming. True friends won’t have a problem understanding that you may not be as available at the start of a new relationship. But, it’s never okay to ignore your friends.
1) Your friends will only be patient for so long. They may understand you have a new SO, but they also have stuff going on and aren’t going to wait around. If you are checked out for too long, your friends are likely to give up on you, and when you are ready to make time and energy for them again, chances are, they will probably have moved on.
2) Using all of your time and emotional energy normally spent with friends and devoting it solely to a new relationship will give your SO an unhealthy message that your needs outside of them are unnecessary. New romantic relationships can be exciting but the need for friendship and community will never fully be eliminated from your life. If your relationship ends in a break-up, you will need your friends’ support to get through it.
Always make time and set aside energy for the quality friendships in your life. They are the ones who will stick with you through all the ups and downs.
Do you find it difficult to maintain friendships when you are in a relationship? Y or N?
Many Friends or Few Close Friends?
What's your preference?
Not everyone needs tons of friends to be happy or feel fulfilled. Focusing on a smaller group of friends who you know and have your back no matter what is a way better use of your time than spreading yourself thin with shallow and meaningless friendships that come and go. Having lots of friends can be great if that's what works for you.
But if you have had painful experiences in the past and have trouble trusting or counting on people, limiting yourself to a small group of trustworthy and loyal friends can be comforting, fulfilling and nurturing.
Having fewer friends also means less drama, more time and space to develop deeper connections and the opportunity to experience meaningful lifecycle events, support each other through highs and lows and become like family.
Do you prefer a small circle of friends or are you more of a social butterfly?
Opposite Sex Friendships
Can men & women be friends?
The short answer is: Yes. Men and women can be platonic friends. Some sociologists even say that male-female friendships can be beneficial because you earn valuable info about the opposite gender.
Many of us prefer platonic friendships because they don’t get the same kind of competition and intensity that comes with female-only friendships. BUT, in order for these relationships to function without drama, there needs to be healthy boundaries, just like with any other friendship.
It’s come up more than once in my practice where someone becomes friends with the guy/girl they are secretly attracted to. They hope that the friendship might grow into something more and when it doesn’t, it leads to painful and confusing heartbreak. All this can be avoided if boundaries are respected and communication is prioritized. Being vulnerable about your feelings in the friendship is a key boundary to set.
Sometimes the trust and emotional safety that develops in platonic relationships does in fact develop into romantic feelings. When this happens, honesty again is key. Some of the strongest and happiest couples I know started out as friends!
Whichever direction your platonic friendship goes in, I will leave you with this thought:
The decision to be friends with someone of the opposite sex is also a commitment to respect this person for who they are as a whole individual; mind, body and spirit, and not just as a sexual being.
Healthy Friendship Boundaries
How do you keep boundaries with your friends?
My top five tips for healthy friendship boundaries are:
How do you keep those healthy boundaries in your friendships?
Introverts & Friendships
Why is it so hard for introverts to make friends?
They wait to be invited. They may see people they want to be friends with but don’t know how to initiate.
They have a hard time connecting with others because they don’t like sharing personal information.
They make friends with people who aren’t right for them. Controlling personalities are often attracted to introverts.
Introverts want that connection just as much as anyone else. But knowing how to navigate friendships can more often than not, be challenging and confusing for them. Many of the behaviours that form meaningful friendships can feel unnatural and uncomfortable. It’s not that all introverts are shy; it just means they have naturally more internalized personalities.
Most introverts prefer to keep their group of friends small and intimate, having one or two close friends to confide in and the rest for casual socialization.
Introverts also recharge by having regular downtime to themselves, so if an introvert politely declines your invite, it’s not that they don’t care about you or your event, it’s just that they can’t function for very long in overstimulated settings.
Fun fact: Most introverts are deep thinkers, so if you come across that strong, silent type of person who doesn’t say much, chances are, they probably have some amazing stuff going on in their head that you would love to find out about. If you are patient enough, you just might get a glimpse….
Don't forget to check out my IGTV where I went live with Sara Meckler who has an Instagram feed all about fashion, motherhood and everyday life. We spoke about all things friendship and answered all your burning questions like,
How to maintain those healthy friendships while being committed to your husband and kids?
What to do if a friend ghosts you?
How to have couple friends?
Breaking up with friends
How to make new friends as a mom?
It was my best live yet! I hope you enjoy it just as much as I did!
While I know this year may look differently, I am wishing everyone a very happy and safe holiday season no matter how or where you are celebrating.
See you in 2021,
- Anna Sherman, RP, MFT