Were you missed when you were missed out?

There is nothing quite like the sting of social exclusion. It reeks of school children, and is commonly thought that is where it ends. Which is true…. To a point, assuming you surround yourself with good people. That said, we all understand and accept that nobody is included in anything all of the time, right? Knowing and understanding this universal truth doesn’t always stop the sting or the emotional backlash though, especially when we take it personally.

I have posted before about feeling excluded, and I have posted about unintentionally making a friend feel excluded. My experiences with either are not limited, and neither have my emotional reactions been limited. This depends largely on my expectations and to an extent, my mood I suppose, but I think we can all agree sometimes it is hard not to take it personally. Other times it is easier.  Sometimes it’s a wave of different emotions or a process!

I remember once, years ago now, a colleague had a party at his house, to which all the staff were invited, except me. I had no real relationship with this colleague and no real interest in his party. I had heard people discussing it, and really gave it no thought….. UNTIL, he came to me specifically to apologise for the lack of invitation and pointed out himself that I was the ONLY person not invited! Lol What an odd experience that was!

To give you a little background information, the workplace was largely male dominated. There were only 4 women working in the office, and 3 of them were dating a male member of staff. I wasn’t. So, as he put it to me, that was the reason I wasn’t invited, that the other ladies were only invited because they were partners of his male friends. Fair enough. Whatever. I didn’t want to go to his party anyway. But why come and talk to me about it? If you felt that bad about my exclusion, I wondered, wouldn’t it have been easier just to invite me? You didn’t want me there so badly that an awkward conversation about my exclusion was the best option? Then, it suddenly did seem personal. Even though I genuinely had zero interest in his party before, now I was hurt. Of course, if he had of invited me, (had I chosen to attend, which I would not have anyway) I am sure I would have still felt excluded and known I wasn’t really wanted there.

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On the Monday after the party only one person approached me to ask why I wasn’t there, said they missed me and I should have gone. I said I hadn’t been invited, explained the situation about the other ladies dating the men etc… and this person was outraged that this had been said to me, and articulated my own point – why not just invite me? I wont get into this story any further except to say that after that an unlikely friendship developed between me and the person who cared enough to ask after me.

As a different example of feeling excluded, a friend of mine recently travelled overseas for her friends 40th birthday. A group of people were invited, many went. My friend opted to go, however due to work commitments, family commitments and personal circumstance she opted to travel separately from the group and stayed at a different location. On the night she arrived was the party. Despite her best efforts, my friend could not locate the venue. She had her driver for the evening drive around for 2 hours before giving up and going back to the accommodation. She only had WIFI there to communicate with her friends.

She messaged them to let them know she had tried to find the party, however couldn’t spot them, so had gone home and given up. She was disappointed that her friends hadn’t seemed to notice her absence, however they said they were sorry she couldn’t find them, and that they had been close by, but that they understood if she chose not to try again. This is a perfectly reasonable response. However it is not unreasonable for my friend to hope, as in my story above, somebody would miss her and ask after her. A part of her had hoped that they would insist she went to find them, because it wouldn’t be the same without her there. Instead they accepted she wasn’t going without much fuss at all, and she spent the night watching the updates on social media about what a fabulous time everyone was having without her. 

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In her absence they have planned another group holiday and the messages and memories about the fabulous time that was had, the in jokes and the photos are still being exchanged and each one feels like a slap in the face. She travelled all the way to another country for them and they couldn’t be bothered to make the effort to include her? Now, my friend is the first to admit, she may have been left feeling this way, even if she were included.

The party was full of drunk women in bikinis, men eating chips and drinking beer, dancing and generally being loud and having fun. Nothing out of the ordinary, except my friend does not have a bikini body, does not drink, currently has a particularly restricted diet due to personal health issues and did not know all the attendees. She does not dance, and would likely have ended up sitting in a corner sipping water and being quietly judged as the uninteresting party pooper. This would not have felt better, or having to be “babysat” by her friend. 

Basically the whole experience left my friend feeling like her existence is a burden to their friendship, and that no matter how much effort she puts in, she will be disappointed with the lack of appreciation or effort in return. This is what exclusion does. It leaves us questioning our worth, and feeling like we have no value. Sadly nobody seems to have reached out to my friend to say they were disappointed she wasn’t there in the end, and are seemingly unaware that including her in conversations about it is adding salt to the wound.

To be fair, this exclusion was not personal. They had a party, they had a great time. This was the whole purpose of the trip. My friends experience was not their responsibility. They went to have a good time, and they had one. But I can still understand the sting my friend is experiencing. She knows it isn’t about her, but that’s what stings. She wanted it to be about her. Just a little bit.

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So many times social exclusion happens in minuscule doses like this, and our friends just go along with it and expect us not to say anything. To take it on the chin. Don’t be a drama queen. Don’t make it about you when it wasn’t. Which is much easier to do, if someone tells you afterwards that they noticed you weren’t there and they cared.  Simple really.

Friendship is all about showing people that you care; about them, about their experiences, about their effort, and about your relationship with them. So even if everybody really can’t be included all the time, let the excluded party know that you cared enough to notice and reassure them they were at least valuable enough (to you) to be missed.

❤ Love,
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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When your friend’s partner just isn’t into them.

As I have mentioned here before, quite a few of my friends are currently in the dating world. While I would love to say all of them met that special someone right off the bat and never looked back, sadly this isn’t the case. Actually they have met quite a few potential partners, however somewhere along the line those warm fuzzies inevitably leave them feeling cold.

The thing is, sometimes the signs were there from the beginning and my friends just didn’t see, or maybe didn’t want to see the red flags. I can understand it is terribly hard to accept rejections on this level and it feels really personal. Some friends have almost given up while others insist on analysing it to death to understand what is “wrong” with them that this keeps happening.

Naturally my friends are wonderful people, and there is definitely nothing wrong with any of them! However when I attempt to point out the fact that they overlook things too easily because they are attracted to a person, that they accept less than they deserve and make excuses for their mate,  and that they fail to recognise the signs or truly hear what the other person is telling them, they are not really interested in hearing me either.

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A friend might say she was ghosted by someone for example, when in fact it was clear that he had tried to end it several times and she just kept on saying she wanted to make it work. Or she’s shocked to find out he’s not as single as he claimed to be when they first met, even though he ditched her for his “ex” on several occasions. Or she may defiantly claim that she knows that he loves her, even though she is complaining to you about all the behaviour that suggests exactly the opposite.

Sometimes if you actually try and force your friend to hear you or see the truth, because you care about her and you don’t want her to get hurt, she may even shoot the messenger. She may accuse you of being jealous or unsupportive or just too negative. Which, to be fair, may be partially true. Because we love our friends and worry for them, obviously the red flags seem like stop signs to us way before she can read the writing on the wall!

So what’s a girl to do to stop her friend getting hurt? Just be there to pick up the pieces. To listen to her, and encourage her to see the signs in her own time. NOTE I am not talking about abuse, I am talking about when the person they are into just doesn’t seem to be as into them in return. I am learning this lesson by way of experience. When you really like someone, you are inclined to want to believe they like you back, and your brain seems to develop this uncanny ability to see what it wants to see and justify what it can’t ignore.

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Your friend isn’t ignoring your advice on purpose. She can’t help it. She want this. She is not ready to accept that the other person doesn’t want it as much as she does, if at all. She’s not interested in what causes her to consistently fall for narcissists for example, partly because she doesn’t want to believe this person might be another one, and partly because she doesn’t care why – really she just wants it to work.

We all fall down the “why me, it’s not fair” rabbit hole from time to time and you have to allow her to do that when it doesn’t work out…. Accept that although she might be asking the question, all she really wants is for you to validate her pain and suffering. Agree with her that it isn’t fair. Assure her it’s their loss. Reassure her there is nothing wrong with her, she is a catch, and never to give up.

Frustrating as it might be sometimes, it’s your job to listen to her Even if she complains about the same things over and over and does nothing to change it. This is her life. You have to let her live it. Let her learn her own lessons and draw her own conclusions when she reaches that enlightenment eventually… if she ever does. I know you want to help her. I know you want to save her. You can’t.

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If she has nobody to talk to it will be even worse and more isolating, so just listen. If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all. Ask her how she feels about it and if she says it makes her mad – tell her you should be mad. If it makes her sad tell her you understand why she is sad. If says she is happy, tell her you are happy for her. Just validate her experience. The more you emphasise what she is feeling, the more she might have the courage to act on what she is feeling and walk away from someone who isn’t treating her as she deserves.
 

The most challenging thing I have experienced here is that the other person isn’t validating her emotions. So although she is mad with rights to be mad, they may be telling her she is over reacting. When you are doubting your emotions and their validity it is hard to act on them. So don’t force her into making any decisions, just listen and validate. As often as it takes.

❤ Love,
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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The Sinking  Frelation-Ship

Frelationships; those meaningful relationships with our friends that fulfil our relationship needs essentially, mist often when we are single. Let’s explore that.

You’re single, but never short of a plus one, and you already know exactly who you will spend your Friday night with. You make a big fuss of holidays and occasions together, say I love you, have sleepovers and talk almost every day. You may even live together. This friend feels more like a soul mate on many levels and you are insanely comfortable with each other and know each other sometimes better than you know yourselves.

Basically you’re in friend love and the only discernible difference in your relationship aside from the label “friendship” is the lack of sexual contact. Usually. It sounds wonderful, because honestly, it is! Many people say that their ideal partner is their best friend and lover all wrapped up in one neat little package. Plus MOST people would agree that given the choice between 2 exclusive categories (if you could only choose one for life) – friend versus lover, that they would choose friendship every time.

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In theory this works, and we all live happily ever…. Except that fairy tales are lies. Even though these friends are happy together, chances are they are still searching for romantic love. This can be fun, double dates, helping each other swipe left or right, sharing profiles you think the other would like, and even commiserating over failed dates and ghosting. However, there almost always comes a time when one person finds the love they have been searching for, and happily pursues it.

It doesn’t matter that the 2 of you always did Mexican on Friday nights, it’s a fairly safe bet to say it’ll be tacos for one from now on. Maybe you always went to weddings as each others plus one? Yeah, chances are that wont be happening anymore either. Maybe you used to text all day, but now you only hear from your pal once a week or so – where it feels like she feigns interest in your life for a few minutes before launching into the latest in their relationship?

You’re a good, loyal, loving friend. You’re happy for your friend, and you understand you have to share her now. She has to make time for her partner, you totally get it. You wait it out for a few months. She’ll pop out of that love bubble soon enough, right? But instead she announces they’re moving in together, getting a dog, getting engaged, having a baby, or moving away.

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Your friend does feel guilty. She does care. She is well aware that she is shutting you out and turning away from you. You start to question your whole friendship if she could discard you so quickly and seemingly easily. The truth is that you were in a frelationship, and now it’s just a friendship. It’s natural to struggle with this transition as the person discarded and replaced. It’s sad and it hurts. You feel alone. It is ok to be sad.

I posted last week about convenience in friendships. This is the prime example of a convenient friendship. Say for example you and your friend-love both work 9 to 5, and so does her partner….before the partner, you used to have pretty much the same schedule and availability….. but now any time you are free…. The partner is also free and expecting her time and attention. Whereby giving you time and attention before was effortless, now it has become not just an effort, but a struggle. Which feels like the worst part of it all. Why doesn’t she want to make time for you?

Same as the previous post – because she didn’t really have to make time before. It was mutually convenient, and now it isn’t. If your fre-lation-ship is a boat then it’s sinking. If you hold on to it with dear life, you’ll sink with it. You must accept that the dynamics have changed. Your friend will have more time for people it is convenient to see. And she may be making time for other people, other couples for example where she wasn’t before.

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Her perspective has changed. Her situation has changed. She has probably changed. Holding on to how it was before is only going to hold you back. It isn’t like that anymore and it probably never will be again. You can still be friends, but it wont feel as safe and secure as it did before. Rest assured – this is a good thing. It will open your horizons to new people and motivate you more in your own life to take your own direction.

It isn’t personal. It’s not your fault. You didn’t do anything wrong. Technically neither did the other party. This doesn’t take away from what you shared together. It could be an ending, or you could adjust and make it a new beginning, by accepting whatever your friend can offer now, and being supportive.

The problem with frelationships is that they tend to have an element of dependence and exclusivity. So if you have a frelationship, and it’s working for you, that’s great. Be happy. For now. Just make sure you do have other friends too. Life boats. No one person is enough to meet all your emotional needs. Not one friend or one lover. Consider what you’d do without your friend and start filling any potential gaps you ,might see, because while no relationship comes with a guarantee, yours is almost certainly temporary.

❤ Love,
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

 

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When it turns out your friendship was more convenient than close.

Sometimes our closest friendships are developed from circumstances of convenience. Think work friends, neighbours, school mums, classmates, gym buddies etc…. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. In fact, I think convenience is probably one of the biggest factors that contribute to building close connections to begin with. If you see someone at regular intervals, consistency and time is mutually invested with minimal extra effort from both parties.

Small talk gradually changes to more meaningful topics, and you slowly open up and connect. You look forward to seeing one another and catching up, until suddenly you realise you really want to extend and grow the friendship outside of the original context and invite them into your personal world, or into a more intimate setting.

While it is fair to say, some friendships don’t survive this phase, because seeing this person in a different context opens you up to seeing different sides of them that were previously hidden, if you’re lucky, it also opens you up to seeing even more awesome sides of them and connecting on more different topics and levels.

If you usually talk at the office, having a drink after work exposes your out of office personality. If you both drink red wine and love dancing, you can expect the sparks to start flying. The more sparks you see, the more integrated you can expect to become into each others personal lives. It is usually easy and wonderful. You live close by, and share similar schedules, which makes effort minimal. If you had to think about it you would probably say that the convenience of your closeness is just an added bonus…. Not the glue that holds the friendship together. It feels true when you say it, doesn’t it? It felt true all the times I said it too, that’s for sure.

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However life has this funny way of changing everything. Sometimes slowly and subtly, sometimes suddenly and dramatically. Similar circumstances seldom last forever. If you are both single, one of you will eventually partner. If you are both working in the same place, one of you is likely to be offered a promotion, transfer or alternatively a better offer elsewhere. If you are both childless, one of you is likely to have a child. If you live locally, one of you is likely to move…. Eventually.

And sometimes these changes blindside us completely. Not because we didn’t expect things to change, but we didn’t expect the things that changed to change our friendship. I have a friend experiencing this exact thing right now in a very close and long standing friendship. This friendship has already survived one woman leaving work, getting married and having children, however the bond between the women remained so strong that my friend is actually godmother to her friends children.

My friend has always been supportive of her friend. She has babysat the children often, and made weekly visits to her friend. She has flown overseas for their wedding, and again for a big birthday celebration. Her friend has helped her with hair and makeup for events and always welcomed her into their home and life with her partner and children. The 2 women lived only 10 minutes apart, and my friend always felt welcome to pop in anytime to see them. She felt they were very close friends. And they were.

Notice how I said were. They were. Then her friend moved half an hour away. Where my friend used to feel free to pop over, she didn’t realise that she often did that on her way to and from various errands in the area. If her friend wasn’t home, it didn’t matter. Now it is a 30 minute drive there and back, so it really needs to be a scheduled visit as understandably, she doesn’t wish to spend an hour in the car if her friend isn’t even home. Added to that, if you are doing an hours travel, you don’t really want to pop in for a 10 minute coffee. You need to justify the visit by staying a while. In theory this isn’t an issue because you don’t see each other as frequently as you did before, so increasing the time you do spend should even things out right?

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Except, when you have to schedule a visit…. For a start you feel you have to be invited first…. Waiting for that invitation was the first disappointment in a chain of many small things that has led my friend to the crushing conclusion that her and her friend are not as close as she thought after all. To be fair to my friend’s friend….. she has continued to say “ you should have popped over on the weekend, we would have loved to see you.” However that is distinctively different to saying “would you like to come over on Saturday for lunch?”

Now, I can understand both points of view on this subject, but basically, what it appears to boil down to, is that suddenly their friendship is no longer effortless. It is no longer convenient to pop in. Each person has to block out at least half a day to make it worth their while either way. Even if they meet half way, that is still far less convenient than having a friend stop by while you continue preparing the veggies for dinner.

When it comes to putting effort into friendships, this is often where we falter. I have been just as guilty of this as everyone else. So how do we fix it now that we have acknowledged the issue? First off, don’t blame one party or the other for not making the effort. Neither of you really had to before, and now, someone has to go first, right? If you want to save this friendship you have to try. Your friend may or may not come to the party, but at least you can say you tried. If you don’t at least accept that things have changed, and you must change with them, the friendship will fizzle… and the flame may die out totally.

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So have a think about how you want to see this friendship unfolding in the future. Do you want to be friends who lunch instead of always going to her place? Do you want to see each other less but call more often? Do you want to do your grocery shopping together? Whatever it is, invite your friend to do that, and see what she says. If it’s not worth the effort to her, maybe you aren’t as close as you thought…. Or you wont continue to be as close.

At the end of the day convenience sparks closeness but it is up to you to fan the flames of friendship to keep it alive, because convenience is almost always temporary, and if you don’t your friendships will be temporary too.

❤ Love,
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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When your friend wants ALL of your time and attention to prove your friendship.

When we use terms jealous and possessive, the general assumption is that we are using them in reference to our romantic partner. While these terms have more serious connotations (hopefully) when used in reference to a romantic relationship, they are just as damaging and maybe even more frustrating when we are using them in relation to friendships.

Some people prefer one on one friendships. I totally understand this, because I am one of them. The danger in this tactic however, is only having one friend, or one main friend, and relying too heavily on that friend to meet all of your social and emotional needs. Some singles who fall into this category are the type who are hoping to meet a romantic partner that they consider their best friend and their long-time partner all in one neat package. Meanwhile these types of peoples are prone to, subconsciously, using friendships as sort of stop gap relationships.

If 2 of these people meet and become friends, even platonically, this can actually work. At least for a while, until one of them abandons the other for said love interest anyway. This happens, and it is an issue, but that isn’t the point of this blog. If you’re interested in that, you should read my post about FRelationships, and I’ll write about the ending of one of these soon.

What I am writing about here today though, is when one of these sorts of people befriends someone who isn’t like that. Someone who is very socially active, has many friends, enjoys their time with lots of different people regardless of romantic status. It’s important to point out here that this issue does not rest solely with single people. I have encountered a few partnered women who also require or expect too much from our friendship. It would be fair to say that I have probably been one of these people too, under certain circumstances, so rest assured I do understand it, from BOTH sides.

See, I’m totally credible, right? Lol

See, I’m totally credible, right? Lol

What happens when someone who tends to have one main friend befriends someone who has a much wider circle and way of connecting with people, and becomes emotionally invested or attached? The outcome is almost always negative. At first these 2 get along just fine, they like each other and enjoy one another’s company, but slowly, one person will encroach on the other persons space, time and boundaries.

It might start off as innocent enough, albeit annoying tendencies, such as the more intense friend texting (probably having some sort of personal drama or crisis) during a time when the social butterfly is engaging with others. The butterfly will be resentful of this. They told their friend they would be at a party, or busy doing something else during this moment, why are they texting now looking for support? The butterfly tries to be there for the intense friend, but is giving short answers and implying they will chat later. The butterfly is getting more annoyed, and the intense person can pick up on this. They may choose to ignore the signals, over apologise, or even turn to guilt inducing manipulation to keep the focus on themselves. The butterfly will feel guilty and withdraw, eventually neglecting to continue messaging.

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I want to be clear that the intense friend probably is not conscious of this, and is not necessarily a bad person. The butterfly, while annoyed, feels terrible about herself for not being a better friend, and this sets up quite an unhealthy pattern for these 2 people. The circumstances in which the situations continue to unfold, tends to be very variable, however the constant is that the intense friend always feels like the butterfly is about to leave them at any minute and this makes them feel terrible about themselves and they cannot understand why, when they is such a good friend, (and they ARE a good friend) their butterfly companion wont just love them back and show her that they matter via time and attention. After all, they reason, if they had an event to attend, butterfly is the first and only person they want to bring with them. Why does butterfly not want to invite them too, or attend their events? Do they not understand friendship? Being there for each other? Inclusivity? Is that too much to ask? Feeling liked instead of like a pebble in someone’s shoe? (That might be an exaggeration, but intense friends are prone to dramatics. Displays of emotion, positive or negative are almost always theatrical and loud in some way.)

The butterfly, on the other hand, feels overwhelmed, like their character is being questioned. They want to prove themselves to be as good a friend as their intense companion, yet they are also facing conflicting feelings of resentment, guilt and a need for freedom which prevents them from actually moving forward. It is actually causing them to be more withdrawn, which will only trigger more neediness from the other party. The butterfly will reason that this is strictly a platonic friendship, that they should be allowed to see other people and not have to justify time away from their friends, regardless of how they spend it.

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If you happen to be a male female pair, or if one of you or both of you have inclinations towards the same gender…. Or actually, even if you don’t, it wouldn’t be far fetched for the butterfly to start questioning if the intense party is in love with them. They will feel the need to consistently draw boundaries around this which continues to feel like rejection to the intense friend. Rinse. Repeat.

What happens, essentially is that these 2 people start to need each other, for self validation. Neither feels worthy or like a good person without the other. The intense friend needs to feel needed and wanted by the butterfly and the butterfly needs to prove her worthiness of such time and attention by reciprocating friendship. Interestingly, by this point both of them will be feeling like they wish the other person would just end it, but neither of them feel capable of it, without confirming their worst fears about themselves as people.

So what can you do? If you are the intense friend, take a giant step back. Invest in a few other people. Acknowledge that your friend isn’t your partner, and even if they were, no one person is capable of meeting your every need. It does not mean butterfly does not care about you, just that you are not the centre of their world, and nor should you be. They like you, but probably not as much as you like them. Or they express friendship differently, such as birthday gifts or doing favours. Recognise you are making butterfly feel bad about themselves and make efforts to stop and accept their friendship as best they can offer it. You can only accept this when you have other people to turn to aswell.

If you are the butterfly, please take a moment to acknowledge that your friend just loves you. Thinks you’re so awesome that they want to be around you. That is a compliment, even if you don’t feel exactly the same way in return. Your intense friend wants to feel important in your life, included and wanted there. You can achieve this without giving in to the relentless pressure for more time and attention. They just want to feel secure in your friendship. So make more effort, by inviting them, alone or with others every so often. Sending something that might make them smile. Letting them be one of the first people you tell about certain things, and words of affirmation about how great they are and how much you value them. Explain that you have many friends and you are so glad they are one of them, but that you also need much time to yourself and you hope they wont take it personally.

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It wont be easy. It will be worth it. However, don’t think for one second that either of you is a bad person or friend if you can’t achieve this and it has gotten to breaking point. If you need to end it, then do it. Maybe it will be forever or maybe the break will be good and remind you both that you do like each other enough to continue, but not as it was.

Neither of you is right or wrong. All relationships take compromise, which, by definition means neither of you will get exactly what you hoped, but enough that you can agree to understand each other’s view points and accept what each of you can offer the other, however much, or however limited as the case may be.

Like anything though – if it is going to work, you are going to have to stick to your end of the bargain!

Stay Strong!

Remember, most of us are actually more like this, depending on the people and dynamics at play….

Maybe you’ll be on the other side of the story soon enough and then you’ll know how it really feels!

Maybe you’ll be on the other side of the story soon enough and then you’ll know how it really feels!

❤ Love,
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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Are you literally paying the price for friendship?

Have you got a friend who is terrible with money? The kind who is always complaining about having none, then telling you all about the purchases or expenses she didn’t need? Even if she earns a good wage? The kind who “forgets her card” at lunch or “will get you next time” but never does? The kind who suggests an expensive event with you because she knows you will get the tickets and she can pay you back later? If she does.

This friend is usually heaps of fun to spend time with, because she is carefree. She isn’t as concerned with responsibilities as everyone else, and somehow it seems to work out for her. She is usually a pretty good friend, on the surface. She says all the right things, lifts your spirits with her love and adoring words. Most of the time you don’t even mind buying her lunch, even if she did suggest that expensive winery with the $100 lunch special! Ha!

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You definitely don’t consider yourself a score keeper, yet you find yourself wondering when the last time she paid for herself was? You don’t want to seem stingy or to embarrass her, but you are starting to feel a little used. You don’t want a confrontation and you don’t even want her to pay for you necessarily, just for herself would be nice.

If this is sounding familiar, chances are you have already tolerated this problem, which has added to the pattern of behaviour. The good news is that you also have the power to change it. If you want to maintain your friendship, without feeling like you are paying for it as such, here are some things you could do.

Enmity - a state or feeling of active opposition or hostility. I didn’t know either! Lol

Enmity - a state or feeling of active opposition or hostility. I didn’t know either! Lol

1. Confront your friend. Tell her before you make plans that you paid the last few times, so it is her turn to pay. If she says she can’t afford it, tell her that is not a problem, you are happy to have lunch in her home, or even just a coffee. Emphasise that it is about the company and the conversation not the food or the finances.

2. If you don’t feel comfortable raising the issue directly, ask your friend if she is struggling financially. If she says she is, assure her that you don’t think less of her for it and thank her for opening herself up to you. If she asks why you asked, just say you have noticed a few little things that made you wonder. Suggest free activities for a while until she gets back on her feet. Anything from a walk in the park, to a visit to a local museum or just a chat on your lounge or hers!

3. Determine how much you are willing to spend and stick to it. Sometimes it’s not about paying for your friend, maybe you really don’t mind that, it’s just getting expensive? Either way, you can be clear with your friend. I’m cutting back on my expenses. I only have $20 left to spend today. You can get creative in looking for 2 for 1 deals, discount coupons or $10 lunch specials. Your friend may even learn a thing or 2 about being more thrifty as an added bonus!

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4. Change the timing of your catch up’s. Instead of getting together for lunch, tell your friend you will see her in the afternoon – make it clear it will be after lunch. If she still suggests food, you can tell her to go ahead but you are full from lunch.

5. Start saying no or winding down the amount of time you see her. You don’t have to suddenly end the friendship, just change it. Perhaps you could spend less time in person, but message or call more often? Your weekly lunch could become a monthly after dinner drink, or morning tea?

However you decide to handle this situation, stay strong. You should not be pressured or manipulated to spend money. Friendship should be free, and is it’s own reward. If that isn’t enough for your friend, she’s not a wise investment, emotionally or financially.

❤ Love,
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

 

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10 Signs that SHE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU!

I like to imagine we have all found ourselves in this predicament…. But maybe it’s just me? Lol Either way I have definitely found myself questioning, overthinking, analysing and justifying the words and actions of someone I thought of as a friend, and whether or not they felt the same way about me.

After reading this article on www.sciencealert.com, written by Bec Crew on 01 May 2018, entitled “Only Half Of Your Friends Actually Like You, Science Reveals.” I thought it was time to write a post describing some of the signs I have experienced or friends of mine have experienced that let you know your friend may fall into the half that doesn’t really like you that much. Sigh.

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It’s important to note that any one of these signs does not qualify as conclusive proof that your friend doesn’t like you. We all get busy, have stuff going on, withdraw due to stress or drop the friendship ball from time to time. Some of us are flakier than others and show friendships in different ways. But if you recognise most or all of these signs from a particular friend, it may be time to start growing some different connections.

The only other thing I want to add before we go on, is to question yourself too, and make sure your expectations are reasonable. Neediness will make people with healthy boundaries quite uncomfortable, so if you are asking for too much, again, the advice is grow more connections in different directions instead of asking one person to meet ALL your friendship needs. Not meeting one or 2 is not a sign that your friend doesn’t like you, it is a sign you must make new friendships to meet those needs in other ways.

1. She takes DAYS to answer your messages.

So you texted your friend to see if she wants to go to the movies Friday night and she doesn’t get back to you until the Sunday after. She either comes at you with an excuse, or just acts as though it never happened. If she gets back to you at all. The first time it happened you let it go and gave her the benefit of the doubt, but now it seems to be becoming a pattern. You want to believe whatever excuse she gives you because it hurts less than accepting this: She’s just not that into you!

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2. You always initiate plans, and she usually cancels them.

If it is starting to feel like you are bothering your friend when you ask for her time and attention, it might be time to accept that she doesn’t want to give you any. Either she is too polite to say no, so she says yes and cancels later, often at the last minute, or she never has any intention of following through. Granted there are people who jam pack their social calendar, agreeing to more than they can actually do, and always letting people down as a consequence. If however it always seems to be you who gets dropped off the list, that tells you everything you need to know.

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3. She never makes you a priority.

It doesn’t matter if you just got a promotion at work, had a baby, or broke a leg, you just know that she wont be there for you. She will forget to call, make excuses not to attend the party or the hospital, and will never send a gift or a card. She never checks in just to see how you are, and spends most of the time you do see her spouting on about how busy she is and how much SHE has going on. She expects you to be there for her, but puts no effort in, making you question what you actually get in return for your friendship? She will find another audience, time for you to exit stage left!

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4. Your time together is limited.

While she does make the effort to catch up with you once a month or so, it is always somewhere impersonal like a café, and there is always a reason it can only be for an hour or less. She spends the time checking her watch and you feel as if she is relieved when your time together is over. She probably is. This is more common with long term friends who have drifted apart. There is a sense of obligation to keep up your connection, but nobody likes to feel their friendship is obligatory do they?

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5. Conversation is strained.

Sure, some people are more private than others, but if it feels like you are interviewing your friend and she is giving one word answers (in person, on the phone or over text/messaging/email) then you are probably not wrong in assuming she is trying to end the conversation. There is, of course, a difference between not wanting to talk about a certain subject, than not wanting to talk to you at all. So if you change the subject and still find your friend seems to be avoiding engaging and continuing the conversation you’d be right in assuming she wants it to end. We all have times we can’t talk right now, but if she always communicates like this with you then I believe she is trying to tell you she doesn’t want to keep communicating with you.

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6. Her body language is closed.

Assuming you’re not sitting in the snow, and your friend isn’t autistic, folded arms, lack of eye contact, lack of appropriate facial expressions, or nodding, or being glued to her phone etc… are all signals that your friend is disinterested, and probably not listening to you. Obviously asking if there is something on her mind, would be the first response, however if this pattern of disinterest continues each time you encounter her, and she never remembers anything you spoke about last time, then you have your answer. No she wasn’t listening and no, she probably doesn’t care that much.

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7.  They never ask you to do anything, but are always telling you when they do things with others.

Or they forget your birthday, even a big one, yet make a big fuss of another friends birthday, host a party and invite you to it! If every catch up they tell you how much time they have spent with everyone else, what they did to celebrate, what’s happening to whom in their life, but never seem to know what is going on in your life, that is a pretty big clue that they are capable of showing interest in friends… the ones they like anyway!

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8. They only talk to you when they want something.

Now I sound disturbingly like my mother, but her point has merit. If you only ever hear from someone when they want something, like babysitting their kid, yet are busy whenever you need a favour, you might well start feeling a little used. While your friends love language may well be acts of service, if she is not speaking to you in your love language then you are within your rights to start declining to help her out much more often. If she just wants a babysitter there are services she can call.

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9. They never call, and they never answer when you call.

Ok, I was reluctant to write this one because I don’t much like speaking on the phone. I wouldn’t call it a phobia so much as it just isn’t my preferred contact method. That said I have at least 2 friends who much prefer a call to a text. They do understand that where I can I will text them back if I couldn’t answer… but if I can answer, I will, and if I need to, I will call back. This is even worse if they are always taking their other friends calls when you are with them. There’s no avoiding this one, if someone is always glued to their phone, except when you call, they probably don’t want to talk to you.

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10. You just FEEL like they don’t really like you.

Maybe they quite bluntly criticize you, question your character, challenge you, put you down or make jokes at your expense. Perhaps they pressure you or try to change you, or just never seem open and comfortable around you like a guard is always up. Or maybe you can’t quite pinpoint what it is specifically but your gut is telling you that their friendship seems false or fake somehow. Follow your instincts.

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Your friend is not a bad person, but you deserve friends who meet your need to feel happy, safe secure, seen, heard and valued. If you are left questioning these things, get out there and see who else could fill the gaps! I don’t recommend having a conversation with your friend about this, as you meet new people you will genuinely pull back from these friendships naturally. If they want you in their life, they will notice your absence and do something to change it.

If people don’t want to be your friend, you can’t force it, but on the bright side, when someone does want to be your friend, when they do like you, you JUST know!! Honestly. If you don’t know, that might be your answer! Sorry!

❤ Love,
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

Don’t waste time worrying about this. Go find friends that like you just the way you are!

Don’t waste time worrying about this. Go find friends that like you just the way you are!

Children’s changing companions

A few years ago, back in January 2017, I wrote a post For My Mummy Tribe, pertaining to how vital these friendships were over the long summer school holidays. They are lifesavers, and it really helps when your children are friends and want to spend time together. Unavoidably however, children grow and change.

18 months on and I am staring down the barrel of the winter school holidays. These are much easier to fill as they are only 2 weeks instead of 7, however those of you across the globe will be facing summer!!! I thought this was a good time to reflect on the changes I am seeing in my children, and the children of my friends.

Some of these mothers were friends before we had children, and others I only met through the children, however the point remains that mostly we, as adults, haven’t changed THAT much in 18 months and still get along well. The same can’t always be said for our kids though. Some changes have been positive, some neutral but noticeable and others negative, but all of them have to be navigated anyway!

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One of my friends has a daughter roughly the same age as my son. They used to be very good friends, however recently I have noticed that my daughter and my friends daughter are suddenly much closer, almost, although not quite, to the exclusion of my son. This is not a complaint, I do realise that girls will be naturally drawn to playing with other girls, and boys to other boys at certain ages. What it does mean is that my son, and my friends son, who is quite a bit younger are often bored during our time together, and we have to find ways to encourage the girls to include the boys. I often tell my daughter she is in charge of babysitting my friends son, and tell my own son his screen time reduces each time he asks to go home!!

Many of my friends with children the same age as my son had girls. As they are approaching their teenage years, this has also caused some shifts…. At times the kids are even more interested in each other, and at times less, acting as though each other have boy or girl germs. Each of them at times tries to impress and also “Outcool” each other with stories that are exaggerated way beyond any semblance of truth. I have heard my son at least refer to a few of these friends as his girlfriends to his mates, although he vehemently denies this if questioned! While I sometimes wonder if any of my friends daughters will  actually end up with my son one day, I do understand the chances are slim… not to mention that this could put even more strain on the adult friendships!

I have also posted more recently about my son’s friendships which have blossomed. While these are incredibly powerful and important connections for him, they sometimes cause him to ignore or exclude these friends I have kind of made and sustained for him. Take his birthday party for example, when he was asked to pick teams. All his school buddies and older boys were asked onto his team, leaving the girls and younger kids at a disadvantage, not to mention hurting quite a few feelings. This is an age where we learned why the adults select the teams!!!

Sadly, sometimes these changes and blossoming other social connections with new friends, mean our children no longer really get along, or play nicely together. It can be tricky to navigate this and maintain a friendship with the mother in this case. Depending on the severity of the rift, we choose to do activities together such as movies – nobody has to talk, or rollerskating, where it can be just as enjoyable solo as together. In extreme cases, we may choose to try and catch up without the kids. (Which, in my opinion is no great loss!)

However, sometimes having these conversations can be hard. How do you explain to your friend that your child no longer likes her child, or that her child upsets your child? Sometimes the best approach is not to address it specifically at all, instead just avoiding the issue, declining playdates and suggesting child free catch up’s instead. Sometimes all the kids need is a break from one another for a while! Other times it might be necessary to say that you have noticed the kids struggling to get along lately and you thought it would be best to give them some space, but reaffirm that you still want to maintain a friendship regardless of if the children stay friends.

The hardest thing is when you want to discuss her childs treatment of your child. I don’t advise this, except to tell her you think the kids need a break from each other and you hope they find ways to be friends again in the future. Acknowledge the hormones and changes going on, and ask for advice on how you can tackle the issue together, like should you agree to both talk to your kids about kindness, or expressing anger, or the implications of texting for example? Even if you think your kid doesn’t need the talk! Have it anyway. Show the kids maturity, not blaming or taking sides, and let them know your friendship is important and solid even if theirs isn’t. Also let them and each other know, your own friendship is not dependent on theirs, and they will need to be kind at times even if they are no longer friends.

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Be reasonable, not defensive and be open to the fact that your child isn’t perfect either. Don’t force them to be friends. My mother tells me my Nainie (Welsh for Grandmother, pronounced Nine- y) always told her “I’m not getting involved, because you and your friend will be friends again by tomorrow, but her mother and I may never speak again.” Wise woman, I wish I got to meet her. Sounds like she valued her friendships too! 

There is power in letting our kids sort these things out for themselves, and accepting that we can’t choose their friends for them. They turn to us for guidance so you better lead by example!

❤ Love,
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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Can your comrades cause conflict with your courting companion?

The other day, a friend sent me this video, from Jay Shetty’s Facebook Page; Don’t let your friends change your mind. I watched it and I immediately thought of my friends who are on the dating scene in particular. The video is aimed to demonstrate how our peers can influence our opinions of people with whom we see potential, and encourages viewers to be sure of themselves. It is a positive message.

What stood out to me though, was the ways in which we can unwittingly influence our friends opinion of someone, making them question their own judgement. Actually I have seen this scenario play out on plenty of reality television shows too, such as married at first sight. It might be that the person is not instantly attracted to their match, however feel reassured when friends or family imply directly or indirectly that their match is attractive, and suddenly the person who was initially disinterested becomes way more open to the idea.

Unsurprisingly, however worryingly, the phenomenon also works in reverse. A person might be excited about their match until someone close implies a lack of attractiveness or a better option. Then suddenly and subconsciously the person starts distancing themselves from their match and usually can’t even really explain why they have suddenly lost interest.

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Social status matters to most people, on some level, however small, which means we have a responsibility to encourage our friends, regardless of our opinion of the potential pairing. Of course, if you have genuine safety concerns you should voice them, if however your concerns are based on appearance, job title, housing or material possessions, perhaps keep your concerns to yourself for a while.

As explored in the video, each of us are unique individuals, and all sorts of things play into what we do and do not find attractive and acceptable. Perhaps you might not want to date someone shorter than you, or someone with more income for example, but your friend might be perfectly ok with it. In fact they may not have even considered these things until you plant the seed.

Most of us do want our friends to be happy, which means being happy for them. It also means accepting and encouraging their autonomy and believing in them to make the best choices for themselves. While my initial thoughts went straight to my single friends, this advice doesn’t stop there.

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What if your friend wants to give up her legal career to chase her dream of being an actor or he wants to sell up and move into a caravan? It is ok to talk through these decisions with your friends to see how far they have thought it through, but try and think of positive things to say, or redirect the conversation back to how THEY think and feel about it.

Honestly, we don’t all want the same things and that is ok! We all face challenges and most things turn out alright in the end. We all have separate paths and separate journeys even if they are parallel for a while, and we didn’t see their decision to turn vegan coming.

If you don’t agree with the choice, you don’t have to pretend that you do agree with it… you just have to ask yourself why your opinion should matter and if it is valid.  It may take some mindfulness, as we don’t even consciously know when we are giving disapproving signals. Say your friend shows you a picture of her latest online love interest and you make a face… sometimes that is all it takes. I’m sure you’d hate thinking your friend missed her perfect match because YOU don’t like beards, for example? Instead, you could comment on his eyes and ask what they think of the photo? Remember you are not living their life, so you don’t have to go through whatever changes your friend is making.

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The bottom line is just to let your friend know that you believe in them and support them, and will be there whatever they decide and however it turns out. Also be aware of when your own choices are being influenced by others and ask yourself if their opinion is valid before you take it on board!

Remember opinions aren’t facts, and at the end of the day, yours should only matter, to YOU!

❤ Love,
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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3 Steps to Repairing Trust in a Friendship after a Betrayal.


1. Acknowledge that BLAME is UNHELPFUL.

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Regardless of what the other person says, or what your mind is trying to tell you, it was not your fault that someone betrayed you. The nature of human psychology seems to be one that would like to blame oneself for situations, in an attempt to learn from them and therefore not get hurt again in the same manner. (Hence this blog was born! Lol) However, happiness is knowing that what other people say and do is a reflection of themselves and not of you. It is entirely possible, and in my experience, highly probable, that it actually had very little to do with you. Although it has indeed affected you, that does not mean it was intended to hurt you. Most betrayals are examples of carelessness at its finest! Which means you should be forgiving and understanding and not blame the other person either.

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I KNOW!!! Seriously though… Blame is unhelpful, and puts you in a victim mentality. In most cases a betrayal happens when the other person finds themselves in an unexpected predicament where they fail to consider that what they are doing is infact a betrayal – at least until after the event. This is true whether they confessed to you afterwards or continued the betrayal in some way. It is much easier to forgive someone if you acknowledge that their intention was not malicious, even if it was inconsiderate. It is easier to forgive someone for being selfish, inconsiderate or careless than for an action. If they have apologized, that is all they can actually do, the rest is up to you. If you wish to repair trust, then it is important to hold onto positive images of this person as a whole and acknowledge that they do not wake up each day asking how they can hurt someone. Most people would always rather not hurt someone, I’m willing to bet that your friend is no different. (If you disagree, you should not be friends with them.)

2. Know the difference between thoughts and feelings.

You might say “I feel I cannot trust this person.” But the truth is, you think you cannot trust them. You feel scared and anxious about getting hurt again. Forgiving and trusting are choices we make by changing our thoughts. If you continue to think negative thoughts about your friend, you will continue to feel negatively about them. If you make a conscious effort to have positive thoughts about your friend, your feelings will become positive again, in time. By choosing to think of their positive traits, the good memories you have shared and staying in the present moment with them (to create more positive memories) instead of staying stuck in what they did and how hurt you felt, you are choosing to move the friendship forward. This can be achieved if you have talked it out or not. Sometimes you cannot understand the reasons, or cannot get them to understand how hurt you are. This does not have to be a deal breaker. If you choose to move on from your pain, to stop thinking about it, or their reasons, you will be happier. Think of how you want things to be, and work towards that.  (Use the weight loss analogy. Is it helpful to sit on the couch and blame yourself for gaining weight, or your partner for bringing you food? Or is it helpful to start changing what you eat and go for a walk? Which will lead you to the outcome you desire? Just like with weight loss, start small and let it happen over time!)

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I know from personal experience how hard this step can be. After a reconciliation with a friend I felt the need to discuss what had happened between us to cause us to fall out in the first place. My friend was not so keen. Apologies had already been made, so what more could be done? Talking about it would only have dragged us back to that place and reopened the wound. I am thankful that I recognised “I don’t feel I want to talk about it. I think I want to talk about it, but I know talking about it will make us both feel bad. After a few months the need to talk about it subsided as we created new memories and I relaxed into our friendship again. I could get hurt again, but worrying about it wont change that, it will only remove the pleasure in right now. Which flows nicely into my next point….


3. Trust in YOURSELF that you WILL BE OKAY however this works out.

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You cannot control the outcome of this, all you can do is know that this person has betrayed your trust once before. If you trust this person again, it is possible you may get hurt again. If you trust someone else, they may also hurt you. However, you do know that you survived the betrayal, and should it happen again, you will be just fine. You must have enough personal security to know that. You do not need this other person. You are choosing to stay, you are not stuck. To loosely quote Pink “Try

“Just because it hurts doesn’t mean you’re gonna die!”

N.B: If there is violence, stalking, mental, emotional, sexual or physical abuse involved, you cannot trust this person. You must leave. Stop googling this and make a plan for your safety. Seek professional assistance in all avenues required.

❤ Love,
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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5 Secrets of Friendship

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The term secrets tends to be pretty synonymous with the term friendship! If there were some secret to making and maintaining close friendships I’d be sure to blog about it and fill you in. There isn’t a one size fits all solution to friendships, however a pretty important component is vulnerability. We all ideally want that close friend in whom we confide and trust, and who confides and trusts in us, but building those connections can be scary, embarrassing or even humiliating….that is all part of the fun though!!

Maybe you are closer to some of your friends than you actually think you are? Or maybe I just wanted to write a juicy piece about some of the best stories my friends have shared with me, anonymously of course, to make us all smile!

1. Embarrassing stories.

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You know you are close with your friend when you are the first person (and only person…. Until now anyway! Haha) she tells about last night when she had some people over for dinner. After the meal was finished, they moved into the lounge area where she squatted down to pet her dog. Unfortunately some of the dog’s fur traveled promptly up her nose, causing her to do a big sneeze. We all know this is dangerous enough as a woman over 35, when you add squatting into the mix, apparently it is a given that you will proceed to wee through your pants in an obvious, loud (tile floor, thankfully I guess?)  and uncontrollable manner, in full view of all your guests, while your dog tries to lick up the mess.  She then had to walk her guests to the door, with obvious sloshing from her urine filled boots…. Gives a new meaning to “wee wee wee, all the way home.” Haha

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Is there anything more embarrassing than public adult urinary incontinence? How about private…. Very private in fact, bowel incontinence! Hahaha. Yep. What are the chances that the same week, a different friend confessed that she had quite the crappy sexual encounter with her partner, and that she just needed to tell someone. Lol When someone says that, it is only natural to want to know more information, but I wasn’t expecting literal crap to be part of it! Apparently, during intercourse with her man, they decided to switch up positions with her on top. Not considering her food choices earlier that day, and caught up in the heat of the moment, she didn’t consider that things were about to get much much hotter in all the wrong ways. The sexually active among us know that sometimes our bodies let out embarrassing sounds and gasses spontaneously during love making (Yes, I just said love making?! Lol) and when you are as comfortable with your partner as my friend is with hers, you just let rip and laugh together. Unfortunately what followed came with little warning and lots of follow through…. All over him!!! That is one way to finish….. although I don’t recommend it…. And neither does he!!! Hahaha

Sharing your most embarrassing stories sometimes takes a level of trust and vulnerability you wouldn’t allow just anyone. I did have my friends permission to write this blog with their stories, but rest assured there are plenty more I would never dare to share! That leads us to point number 2.

2. Private jokes.

I will never forget the above stories, and although I would never dream of humiliating my friends by bringing these things up in inappropriate situations, let it be said that I will also NEVER let them forget either. Haha These confessions will soon turn to private jokes whereby the word “crappy” or the word “nappy” will always make us both laugh for reasons unknown to everyone else (Well, except you! Lol)
This simple exchange tells the world “We are close. We know things. We share secrets.” Some friends even have a whole secret language, full of words, phrases, facial expressions or movements with which they communicate, and often don’t even realize they are doing it. While I would advise against taking it this far, because it can become exclusionary to other people around you, I see no harm in a shared smile when someone says the word “average” or says the word medium, which prompts you both to say at the same time, laughing “average!”

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The jokes don’t have to pertain to anything gross, sexual or embarrassing, the point is that if you have a shared word with someone like that, it means you are probably closer than you realize.

3. Behind the scenes.

Jokes aside though, being close and vulnerable with someone isn’t always embarrassing, sometimes it is just difficult. When you are really close with someone you talk about the real things. The stuff you don’t talk about on a Facebook status. The behind the scenes stuff, that you can hardly bring yourself to say out loud as it is. Stuff like “I sometimes resent my kid, and wonder what life would have been like if I never got pregnant.” Or “I called in sick to work today. I told them I had gastro, but the truth is, I got on the scale this morning and I have gained 10 kilos and I just cried all day then ate pizza.”

This is a real conversation I had recently.
Me: You’re late, is everything ok?
Friend: Yeah, sorry, my vibrator broke, so I had to stick it back together with sellotape. I had to do it now before the kids come home from school later.
Me: Sounds like a sticky situation!

Cue laughter. It doesn’t have to be heavy, just private, real and unfiltered.

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Your closest friends are the ones you trust to show your real self. The ones who know you see a psychologist, and why, the ones who like your status about your fabulous weekender with your husband, but also know you are on rocky ground. The ones you actually talk to about what is really on your mind, without fear of judgment. These are the friends who have seen you cry, your ugliest cry, and are worth their weight in gold, because with them, you get to be yourself and not the image of yourself that you show the rest of the world.

If you have a friend who talks to you about the real issues, close to her heart, she considers you a close friend. That is a privilege and an honour. I really hope she can return the favour if you are brave enough to open up and be vulnerable in return if you haven’t yet already.


4. Naked Truth.

Naturally being real and being naked go hand in hand. Nothing sparks a person’s insecurities more than being naked. Mine anyway. That said, most of my friends and I have seen more of each other than we care to admit! Between visits to day spa’s that often require a fair amount of co-nudity, breast feeding, or sharing tips on how to capture the elusive sexy selfie or the impossible pretty pussy pictures, it is fair to say we are reasonably comfortable with each other!

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Of course, you don’t always even mean to be so comfortable. Sometimes you are just innocently swiping through your holiday snaps with a friend, without remembering to filter out your naughty nudes, and your friend sees more of you than you bargained for! Haha

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It’s not always about lack of clothes, you see, sometimes it is the type of clothing you’re wearing that indicates a level of closeness. I recently went to a friends house for dinner and she greeted me in her pyjamas! If that doesn’t say comfortable, I don’t know what does. I said next time I would wear mine too and she agreed that I should!

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Most of my friends are fairly comfortable changing clothes in front of me, despite my inclinations for the ladies, and we are actually all fairly tactile too. A hug hello, a kiss goodbye, or holding hands as we move through a crowded street. Although these things are seen to be too intimate for friendships, there is nothing like feeling close enough to touch.  Touch is Trust


5. History.

All these things aside, sometimes your closest friends are your longest standing ones. Even if you don’t have private jokes and you keep your personal or embarrassing stories to yourself. These people can be closest because they know who you are from experience. They knew who you were, who you tried to be and who you became. They are likely to know who you will become too. If you can start a sentence with “Remember when we were young…” then you probably have a close friend in your midst.  Sadly even the closest friendships don’t always last, so a lasting one is close by default. It is reliable and measurable to some degree.

Whatever stories you have, the people in them are probably closer than the people you tell later, no?

Whatever stories you have, the people in them are probably closer than the people you tell later, no?

If you can’t relate to any of these points, then it is time for you to start. Tell someone something real or embarrassing  and maybe before you know it you will have a long history of private jokes!

Vulnerability is valuable, try it!!

❤ Love,
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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What does "space" actually mean?

No, I am not an astronaut, and I have never been to actual space! I do own some land on the moon apparently, if that counts, and sometimes it has felt like I have been sent there to live. Other times I only wish I had been!  The term “space” when it comes to relationships can be create as much mystery and feelings of fear, darkness, coldness, loneliness and helplessness as actual outer space. So what does space mean, and how can we give it to people when they request it?

How often should you message? What should you say? Can you call? Should you let them know you are thinking of them? Is that pressuring them? …..

This post will be probably be popular and unpopular all at once, because I’m not going to sugar coat this for you. Space means “go away.” Sorry. It means “Don’t call me, I’ll call you.” (Even if they do call, you’ll probably be left feeling cold and confused and wishing they didn’t bother.)

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It doesn’t matter if this request blindsides you or if you saw it coming, either way it is highly likely to trigger your fears and anxieties. You will wonder what caused this request and how to fix it. You will not want to accept the possibility that it is too late to fix anything. It will feel like the end. So is it?

The answer to that, could largely depend on your ideas on how to give space, and how you interpret it. If you are the kind of person who calculates how many hours it has been since the person in question read your message and didn’t reply, space is probably not going to be an easy thing for you to give. If you are the kind of person who interprets space as the silent treatment then space is not something you will recover from easily. And finally, if you are the kind of person who needs a lot of space, you may struggle to maintain friendships in the first place.

All this is because space seems counterintuitive to connection. How we connect is through communication, body language, touch, expression and sharing. So how are we supposed to connect with someone and stay connected to them without any of these factors to support that connection? Honestly, the answer to that is, you’re not. If someone is asking for space they are asking you to disconnect from them. The more you fight this, the worse it will get. For you. If they asked for space you have it on pretty good authority that they have already disconnected.

You will probably want to check in with the person, asking them how they are, and if there is anything you can do for them. You want to let them know that you are still thinking of them and caring for them, even though the request for space is painful and difficult for you. The problem with that strategy is that you are in effect showing them “I am still connected to you.” As I just mentioned – this is the exact opposite of what the person has asked you for. If you are seeking validation, you’ll be disappointed. Look elsewhere.

It is going to feel natural to ask the person who wants space from you approximately how much space they will need from you. An hour? A day? A month? A year? 2 years? Don’t ask. Please don’t ask. The fact that you want to know, only proves their point – the fact that you are asking for more than they can give. The reason you want to know is because you are seeking reassurance that this is not the end; That they will be coming back to you after having some space.

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If they can’t give you that, does that mean this IS the end? I wont lie to you, it might be. Maybe they think asking for space is the kindest way to end things and not assign blame. Maybe they think hiding behind the vague pretense that space implies they will return is kinder than ending it. Maybe they really don’t know themselves. Most likely they want to avoid hurting your feelings and an ugly confrontation. If you prefer to have one and just end it, then go ahead and call them on it.

I don’t recommend it though. At least wait until you aren’t as angry and hurt and otherwise emotional. In my experiences nothing good has ever come out of pushing someone who is already on the verge of walking away. Their cup is empty, they cannot pour you anything from it.

You’ll probably be thinking things like “I am not a phone call, you can’t just put me on hold!” Which is 100% true! So don’t put yourself on hold. Keep on doing your thing, living your life and focusing on your goals, because, well, what else can you do, really? Even if they end it officially speaking, you’d find yourself in that same predicament anyway? What’s the difference? Yes, you’d get to express your feelings, but if the person in question is asking for space, be real, they don’t care too much about how you feel anyway at this point. (Maybe they don’t, maybe they can’t. Either way….)

It is not their job to deal with your feelings. That is your job. Let them deal with their own feelings, and don’t waste time guessing what those feelings are. Maybe you did something or said something that changed how they saw you or felt about you. Maybe they don’t like you anymore. Maybe they had feelings that you didn’t know or understand and being friends with you is too painful. There could be lots of reasons. If you have reason to believe your friend is at risk to herself or others, seek professional guidance from your local Mental Health Emergency Response Line (1300 555 788 here in Perth Western Australia) or checkout the Beyond Blue Website here for other ideas or support.

What you need to hear, and understand is that you are going to be ok. This is not as urgent as it feels. You’re going to survive even if your friendship doesn’t. Your happiness does not depend on the outcome of this situation. Just because it hurts doesn’t mean you’re not going to be ok. You will be.

Space = no contact. “Don’t call me, don’t write, don’t show up in the middle of the night….” Kim Sozzi – Letting Go.

Give your friend a chance to process and deal with their feelings and their own life. If they are angry, hurt, upset or confused, drained or depressed, give them unlimited amounts of time to feel those things until they dissipate. Give them time to miss you. If they want to be in your life, they will come back. If they don’t, then you had no control over that anyway.

If It hurts it’s probably because you don’t want to say goodbye. (Even if they do?!) So don’t say it? Or maybe it hurts because you want to say an official goodbye while they don’t? You may regret that later. Let go and breathe. On the bright side, friendships are non-monogamous, so you are free to move on as soon as you like. (And so are they… infact, they probably already have, so you better get a move on and catch up! Literally, with some other friends!!!)

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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Do Broken Promises Equal Broken Hearts?

I see the tears welling in my daughter’s eyes as she yells at me “It’s not fair! You promised!” Her words are angry, but it’s easy to see her little heart is breaking. You see, I said she could play with her best friend after school on Friday’s and this week, her friend can’t make it. Naturally, I didn’t “promise” that things like this would never happen, but I do understand how valuable these play times are to her. It’s sometimes easy to forget how powerless children feel to get the things that they want, and remember only how simple and blissful it was to shoulder none of the responsibility of decision making and consequences.

Anyway, my point, is that although I didn’t promise my daughter, we did make an agreement and this time I was unable to fulfil it. I hated disappointing her, and I hate disappointing others too. If I say I will do something, I try my best to do it. To be reliable. It would be fair to say, that because of this commitment to follow through with the things I say I will do, I am cautious about what I offer, and carefully consider the plausibility and consequences of any agreements I make. I am willing to bet MOST people are pretty similar?

Of course, we probably all have that one friend who agrees to everything without thinking it through and usually flakes until you learn to stop asking for anything important. And many of us also have a friend who takes on everything, too much even, often at her own mental expense. However, for the most part, I think it would be fairly safe to assume that people don’t deliberately let each other down. While we rarely make promises as adults, we do make assumptions all the time. If past behaviour is the best predictor of future behavior, it feels safe to rely on someone you have always relied on in the past.

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This is where things get tricky. Say for example you work 3 days a week, and to save on child care costs, you turn to family and friends for support. Your mother watches the baby Monday’s, the baby’s father’s mother watches the baby Friday’s and your best friend watches the baby on Wednesdays. This has been working for you for over a year. Except now your baby is 2 and getting into everything. Your best friend sits you down and tells you she has been asked to volunteer in the school canteen on Wednesdays from now on, so she will no longer be able to help you….

The title of this blog pertains to broken hearts. When our hearts are broken, the grief cycle kicks in….

For a start, this news will probably come as a shock. Because you had always relied on her before. Denial will be brief.  Then bargaining may start to take hold, with you justifying that any of the other parents could volunteer, why does it have to be your friend? Couldn’t she volunteer another day? Cue anger. Why didn’t your friend refuse the position? It doesn’t pay any money. She has a commitment to you. She has never showed any interest in volunteering at the school before? Depression comes next. Maybe she just doesn’t value your friendship? You thought she loved watching your child. You thought she loved you and your child. She obviously doesn’t care about you or what you are going to do now….. The last stage is acceptance. In this scenario, you wont reach  that until you find an alternative solution to your problem. The longer it takes you to reach acceptance, the less chance there is that the friendship will survive.  This is basically true regardless of the scenario, so acceptance is key.

In the above example, nobody promised anybody anything, nobody owed anybody anything, and both perspectives are valid. The idea that breaking a promise is wrong, is unhelpful. There are many circumstances in which breaking a promise is the right thing to do, if not the only thing. When we focus only on the broken promise, we fail to recognise all the other factors and circumstances that influenced the outcome. Put simply, none of us like to be told no, to feel helpless or to be let down, and a period of grief, however small scale will always be the result.

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Others may view this as an adult tantrum, however we are all entitled to how we feel. Instead of focusing on the broken promise, we would be better to remember a time when we had to let someone down. Sadly it is unavoidable. We need to acknowledge that while nobody likes to feel let down, similarly nobody likes to feel like they let someone down. The quickest way to mend the broken heart is to acknowledge to yourself, and to the other person “I understand. I know you wouldn’t let me down if you didn’t have to. Thanks anyway.”

Not only does this highlight to the other person that you ae understanding and forgiving, it demonstrates that you trust you can still rely on them and trust their positive intent towards you. It also remind you that your friend didn’t make the choice lightly and although you may not understand a valid reason for letting you down, that she has to put her own needs first, and for whatever reason she needed to let you down. Acceptance comes much quicker when you don’t try and understand the reasons behind another person’s choices. Easier said than done, I know!

In answer to my question, do broken promises lead to broken hearts, I think the answer is… yeah, sometimes they can. But only if we look at them as promises, instead of expectations and assumptions. If you assume someone let you down because they didn’t care about you, you are probably breaking their heart too.

❤ Love,
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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Making Friends at Different Ages and Different Stages

I want to start this post by stating that many of my friends feel envious that I am a stay at home mum. I wholeheartedly agree that we are very fortunate that this is a financially viable option for us and want to publicly acknowledge how hard my dear husband works to support us and provide a comfortable lifestyle. That said, it was never my intention to stay at home.

Initially the plan was to return to work part time. I was under the impression, perhaps naively so in retrospect, that I could return to my position after maternity leave on a part time basis. Unfortunately that was not the case. It was a full time role, and I would be expected to return on a full time basis or not at all. I chose the latter, obviously, but that was not an easy choice. If I had of known this before I went on maternity leave I would have had time to prepare myself for whatever choice I made, however, with only a week or so to decide, I felt I really had no choice at all.

The first year off, on maternity leave was hard. I was suddenly available during the day while all my friends were at work, and I had a difficult plus one over weekends. While my friends were all planning fancy dinners, I had to be putting the baby down for bed by 6.30pm – because he would only sleep in his cot. (Yes, I made plenty of fairly obvious first time parent mistakes… like patting him to sleep for hours at a time in said cot… groan.) Anyway, my friends were going to movies, talking about dates they went on, and slowly excluding me from group events. I can understand this now, but it was difficult back then. My friends didn’t ask me how I was, only about the baby, although their eyes would glaze over if I actually talked about him. Sadly he was pretty much all I had to talk about.

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I attended mothers group… I suppose because I felt I had to. They assigned me one and I thought the health nurse would give me a black mark against my name if I didn’t go or something? So I went. I didn’t bond with the other mothers straight away. It felt so competitive and everyone wanted to talk about how great motherhood was. I wanted to scream that I missed myself. That I didn’t realise how much I would have to give of myself to care for someone who didn’t seem to even recognise me let alone love me. (Autism.) My son wasn’t reaching the same milestones, he was different. But I kept going along, if only because it felt good to be invited, included. But slowly, I did make friendships. One mum who told me it was ok if I didn’t keep breastfeeding just because I didn’t like it, not to mention that he was failing to thrive. I confessed that I was lonely and she arranged some playdates…It helped, like a lot! Twice a week I got out of the house and spoke to other adults.

As people returned to work and mothers group was starting to fade away, I made a strong connection with another one of the other mums. She confessed that she was struggling with the same issues as me, and we went out for coffee, WITHOUT the babies. We realised a part of what we were mourning was our identity and in each other we found it. We discussed our marriages, our parents, our childhoods…. Ourselves. We had our second babies at the same time and we are still close. The subsequent years of parenting were made easier, simply because we had each other.

Still, we both had lives, full of appointments and family and commitments, so while I enjoyed our weekly coffee dates, and still do, I was still isolated, particularly when I wasn’t going back to work. My husband encouraged me to join a playgroup and so I did. Eventually! Oh how I loved playgroup. For at least the first 6 months I hardly spoke to anyone, but I kept going anyway, just to be around people. Eventually, slowly, I made friends. Strong connections with women I am lucky enough to still call friends to this day. At least I was back to having 2 outings a week! Again these friendships grew slowly, staying as acquaintances for a while, then being friendly, to casual friends, to deep meaningful friendships, all of which blossomed after playgroup, because whenever there was a group event, I always showed up. (This is big for me. As I have blogged about previously, I don’t do groups!)

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Then it was time for my son to start school, and again, after a few years of general chit chat with familiar faces, friendships slowly blossomed.  Some earlier connections had faded away, but new ones were fading in. All because I was THERE. However, my kids are older now, they don’t need to attend any group events and parents don’t stay at parties anymore….

This is probably the first time in my life, where I am not in a situation where I can just show up and make friends by default. I am not working. The kids have their independence somewhat, and I can no longer use them as an excuse to put myself in social situations. This means I have to make a conscious effort to do something to make friends. It can be a bit daunting, making friends with individuals, talking online to strangers, and just generally hoping someone will approach you and save you the effort!!!

Alas, if you want to make friends, you have to DO SOMETHING! Many women my age, decide to study. This is an excellent way to have a place to be around other like minded folks. However it is also expensive, and depends if you have anything you particularly want to study. Some of the women I know who did return to the classroom were disappointed to be surrounded by school leavers rather than peers. That said, some of them did form bonds with the few other mature age students and lecturers. If study isn’t your thing and you can’t fathom meeting people online like some sort of dating service, a hobby group, church, voluntary position in the community or exercise class may fit the bill. Again, if you keep showing up, eventually you will make friends. While I have indeed made a few friends online, not everyone feels comfortable doing this.

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It gets even harder, my mum tells me, as you get older. Most, by no means all, women in their 70’s have little interest in study or joining a gym. If they haven’t found religion yet, it’s unlikely that they are going to find it now. Many are not capable of volunteering due to physical limitations, and most of them are not online or on apps for meeting people they don’t already know. But many many of them are lonely. My mother has been lucky, or intuitive enough to nurture the friendships she made at different stages of her life. Friends from the immigration flats they stayed in when they first moved to Australia. Friends from playgroup when I was a child. Friends from my school years. Friends from back home who also moved here. And these people fill her heart. She is lucky to call these people friends, because she has been a friend. Yet, sometimes it is still lonely!

Ergo, what did she do? She joined a meet up club for people over 60. They go once a month for lunch or a coffee. She joined with a friend but they try not to sit together so they can meet new people. While mum hasn’t made any strong connections yet, there are plenty of people there she enjoys chatting to, and if she keeps going long enough… you watch, these people will grow into friends.

When we are younger, we are surrounded by peers, but each year that passes, makes connections slowly more and more difficult to form. So, what is the moral of the story? Show up. Show up to groups. Show up to events. Show up to class, and keep on showing up to the friendships you wish to maintain. Even when they start to feel a bit stale, go through a rough patch, or you’re both busy. If you isolate yourself, you’ll feel isolated…. Plus you never know when an acquaintance seed is going to suddenly sprout into a budding friendship. So show up and find out!

❤ Love,
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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When You’re The Last To Know

A few weeks ago I wrote the post “Is Omission An Omen” which pertained to the things we cannot or do not tell a close friend. In the post I referenced a situation where I found out some information that made me question the validity of my friendships with the people involved. In that post I felt that the omissions were a lie, and I took it very personally that my friends had chosen to keep me in the dark, even if their intentions were not to hurt my feelings.

I also noted in that post that I have in fact omitted certain things from friends too, so I could not say I didn’t understand, only that, at the time, that reflection did not help me forgive and forget. I wanted to expand on that further today and explore the reasons I have omitted facts from friends, or why they have chosen to omit facts from me. I wanted to do this because it is so easy to take it personally when you are the last to know, and easily question the validity or closeness of your friendship, which isn’t always justified.

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Take my friends who are currently online dating, for example. Some of them are just more naturally private about these details, wanting to nurture a connection with someone and seeing if it becomes anything worth talking about before they choose to share much about it. Others feel like they have had so many first dates and so few second ones that they feel embarrassed to keep on spelling out all the details. They worry that they will seem like failures, not because I will judge them necessarily, but because they are judging themselves. These friends may be having coffee dates or one night stands, it’s really not the point, the point is their choice not to disclose this information is not about myself, or a reflection on our friendship. If they choose to share, with me, with others or with nobody at all is personal.

Timing. Sometimes it really is that simple. If a friend had a crisis or celebration or any big news to share, the chances are high that they chose to turn to whomever was closest at the time to celebrate or commiserate, or for support. We all lead busy lives. If you only see your friend once a month for example, and she wanted to talk to you about it in person, it is unreasonable to expect that she would sit on it alone for a month so you can be the first to know. You may argue that she could have scheduled something in sooner, which is true…. Or maybe she tried and you were unavailable? Either way the timing of the circumstances dictated who she told at what time.

Speaking of circumstances, let’s not forget that these are important. If your friend has found herself in some circumstances that she isn’t particularly proud of, she may choose not to tell you, for fear of judgement. She will want to preserve the image you have of her at all costs, and if she feels the information wont sit well with you then she is unlikely to mention it. For example, if your marriage has just ended because your spouse cheated on you, and she has taken up an affair with a married person, you can safely assume that it wont come up in conversation. This isn’t an indication that she does not value your friendship, moreso that she values your opinion of her and doesn’t want that to change or for her actions to trigger you. Basically she is worried you may change how you see and feel about her and choose not to be her friend, or that your circumstances will prevent you from being “the right friend” for that conversation.

There may be reasons that you weren’t the right person, or that someone else was.

There may be reasons that you weren’t the right person, or that someone else was.

These are all examples of sitautions whereby the omission is not intended to be hurtful to the party who wasn’t told, and isn’t an indication that your friendship has lost value. However, it is also possible that your friend has tried to talk to you before about things, and she found your comments hurtful, abrasive, uninterested or not comforting and understanding. Say for example she disclosed she was suffering with mental health issues, and you didn’t ask more questions, check in regularly to see if she was ok, or suggested getting out in the sun may help before changing the subject. If so, she may have already lost faith in your ability to support her in the way she needs. This will indeed make her pull away and talk to other people instead of you, and the chances are high that your friendship is not as close as you thought. Nor as close as she hoped… Not anymore anyway!

Sadly, things like this happen all the time, and these small issues can run so deep they start cracking the foundations the friendship was built on…. And more often than not, the person who felt unheard then didn’t address the issue, because suddenly they felt unable to get through to you. This is one of the main reasons I advise people to know their audience and surround themselves with the people that truly hear them, including the things they say and the things they do not say. When you have those core people, you can more easily still enjoy more casual or less intimate friendships because your core needs to be seen, heard and understood are being met.

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In my situation, I was excluded from a girls weekend away, and I was hurt by that. Although I knew that my friends knew I would be hurt and I understood that this is why they didn’t tell me about it, I felt that they should have invited me to not hurt my feelings rather than exclude me. Well, the fact that they didn’t want to invite me hurt most I suppose. Even that situation might not be as black and white as it sounds though. I know of at least one person who was so upset to learn her friends planned a party without her that she exploded with harsh words and criticisms aimed at her friends, without first learning that it was actually a surprise party for her, which is why she wasn’t told. The friendships were never the same and nobody felt good about it.

So if you find out that you have been the last to know, try not to take it too personally. When we are close friends, we sometimes feel entitled to the information, instead of respecting our friends choice to disclose details of her life to whomever she likes, whenever she likes without justification to us. If you think it’s an indication that your friendship isn’t as close as you hoped, focus on that and see if you can take steps to make it closer again instead of an ugly confrontation. What is it they say about a car out of control, steer into the centre, or something like that, even when your instinct is to swerve away to protect yourself.

Maybe you were the last to know, but now you do know, so choose wisely how you choose to respond.

❤ Love,
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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Jealousy – When The Greener Grass Makes You A Green Eyed Monster.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you I’ve never been jealous of a friend, as a matter of fact, I have probably been jealous of all of them at some point and I don’t think this has to be unhealthy. Of course, some jealousies are easier to laugh off than others. Feeling a tad envious because a friend has a better TV than I do is more easily overlooked than feeling jealous when a friend announces she is expecting when you have been struggling on IVF for years for example.

Naturally both types are valid, but usually only one will eat away at you while the other is likely to be a fleeting thought, which will probably motivate you to start saving for a new TV. The deeper issues, are harder to address because they make us feel in some way inadequate, or acknowledge that they have something we wanted for ourselves. It could be anything from a husband when you are still single, a holiday while you are struggling week to week, or a successful career when you put your dreams on hold to raise a family. Sometimes it may just be the way the person carries themselves, and betters themselves at all costs while you stay stuck in self sabotaging habits and cycles.

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Some of these things are really out of your control. And that Sucks. You are totally allowed to be bummed that you can’t find “the one” even though you do put yourself out there, when all your friends seem to be settling down into a future you saw for yourself that seems scarily uncertain right about now. It’s hard because you’re expected to feel happy for a friend, and if you are a true friend, you are actually happy for them. On the flip side, if they are your friend, they will understand that this news may be a bit difficult for you and not expect you to be all roses about it.

I’d say to some extent, at times my friends and I are jealous of each other simultaneously. While she may be jealous of my husband, kids, and the lifestyle we share, I am also at times jealous of my single friends freedom, independence and lifestyle! On the flip side, I can empathise with that same friend when she’s lonely after a long hard stressful day at work and comes home to an empty house. Naturally she’d love to melt into the arms of a loving partner to cook her dinner and tell her she should relax while he takes care of everything. She deserves that and it makes me acknowledge that I am so fortunate to have such a wonderful loving and loyal partner.  On other occasions she might ask me to attend something super fun, but I can’t go because the kids have therapy then after school activities and it starts at 6 and my husband doesn’t finish work til 7pm. Then she can see the grass seems greener on her side today.

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Knowing, and accepting who you are and what you really want is important when it comes to tackling this issue. I might be jealous of my single friend, but I don’t actually want to be single for example. I have friends who are so focused and easily achieve all the goals they frequently set, and while I admire them for it, I accept, at least for now that I’m happy being more slack. If something is important to me I will do it. I write this blog each week, right? It has to be ok if fitness or career isn’t a priority for me, or if reading my articles isn’t a priority for them. It doesn’t mean we can’t be friends, as long as we don’t push each other to be the same or share the same goals. Some people are more inclined to be proactive and others tend to think and ruminate for quite a while before acting. Each has merit. We need both types of people in this world.

Sometimes we may be able to use jealousy as motivation to identify and achieve what we want. If Sally’s relationship seems better than yours (although be wary of falling into this trap of assuming without fully knowing – no relationship is perfect) what can you do to bring some of that quality into your relationship? If Jemma has lost weight while you feel fat, how can you make some little changes to drop a bit of weight? If Tim makes more money than you, what could you do to boost your income. I don’t mean quick fixes, I mean doing the work. This can be scary. What if you fail? The only way you can fail is by giving up! So don’t. They are not perfect and you wont be either.

Being jealous doesn’t make you a bad friend. We all just want to be happy. So remember a friends success isn’t your failure and it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Each situation has pro’s and con’s. So think about the pro’s to your situation without assuming it means you will never achieve the things you want for yourself. Even if it means sometimes secretly delighting in the con’s of their situation. Be honest, laugh about it. Be real. That is true friendship! If you have that, many people are *Jealous* of you right now too!!

❤ Love,
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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It doesn’t get easier with age

With age brings wisdom and maturity, or so they say. However in discussing relationships, friendships and the psychology of human nature with my mother recently she quipped “It doesn’t get easier with age.” The comment stuck with me, as though she had burst my proverbial bubble that one day, if I work hard enough at this, I will solve the mysteries of human connection. Laughable really!

It’s not that I really think I will solve the mysteries as I know the issues we face are as individual and unique and complex as the people involved in them and no 2 stories or problems will be identical. Therefore a one size fits all solution is little more than a utopian pipe dream. Alas, mother was right, it never gets any easier to navigate other people. Added to that, we never stop having thoughts and feelings about it either.

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A man in his eighties is just as prone to feeling threatened and jealous of his wife’s friendship with a recent widow for example, and a woman in her sixties can just as easily be upset by a friend. At no age does it seem you get a magical birthday card containing a congratulations and an exemption from any further unpleasant feelings or taking things personally.

Actually, perhaps it can almost seem the reverse is true. This topic of friendships isn’t hugely popular among people my own age, and if I had to speculate, the reason would not be that my friends don’t care about friendships or each other, just that this is the peak time of life to be busy enough that it isn’t considered a priority. While I want to challenge this, and make people my age specifically try harder, that is because soon enough life will slow down again and it will start to matter to you again.

Talking with my friend’s mother, she expressed profound disappointment that several of her close friends had failed to remember her 60th birthday. I’m not sure if it is relevant, but she couldn’t recall if these same friends had remembered the previous year. This stood out, particularly as it was a milestone birthday. Of course, expectations come into play here, however it did not appear my friend’s mother was expecting anything extravagant. Just to be acknowledged, remembered and celebrated by the people she had celebrated along the way.

60 is a grey area. In more ways than one! It’s too old to be considered prime time and too young to be classified as old age. Most people are not yet struggling with memory loss at 60 and most of them do seem to participate in social media, although perhaps not as heavily as some of us! It seemed my friend’s mother wanted to be able to offer her friends an excuse for forgetting her special day, however she was coming up with nothing plausible for most of them.

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Although she chose not to disclose her hurt to her friends, my friend’s mother expressed that it probably still seemed petty and silly to be upset by it at her age. However, why would it be less upsetting due to age? Feeling forgotten, not valued, over looked or unimportant is not any easier to handle at an older age, where you are also struggling to still feel seen and relevant in society. My own mother’s words rang in my ears. “It doesn’t get any easier (or simpler) with age.” At this point in the conversation my friend chimed in that someone important to her had forgotten her birthday this year too, and although she understood (it was not a milestone birthday and her friend was currently navigating a separation) it was still out of character for her friend and didn’t feel good. Like their friendship was slipping away.

This prompted me to ask my friend why she never planned her birthday party this year, as she has done in previous years. She said it all seemed like too much hassle. Finding a time and place that would be suitable for everyone, would allow for groups to co-mingle and co-exist and would fit within her own and everyone else’s budget seemed more trouble than it was worth. My friend said “You don’t have parties, you know why!”

She’s right that having a party is not my idea of fun. She quipped that my good friends never forget my birthday, and indeed I have some very good friends who remember on their own merit weeks in advance and ask to plan something with me. That said if I had to guess I’d be willing to say more of them know my birthday is in August in general than the specific date it is on. That’s ok, social media will do the rest for them!

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It occurred to me as we discussed it further that my friends don’t forget my birthday because I don’t allow it. Not really. If they don’t suggest something first, I will suggest a catch up myself. Not for the gift or the food, but just as a welcome excuse to enjoy some face time together. Some years I may get 50 birthday messages on Facebook (ok that’s a total exaggeration! Haha) and other years I may only get 5. It doesn’t really matter because if we are actually friends, I’ll be seeing them in person sometime soon anyway.

So what is the moral of the story? Don’t sit back and quietly test your friends! Help your friends remember. Even if you don’t want to plan a party or a get together, mentioning your special day in advance in casual conversation. “Eeek I can’t believe I am going to be 60 next week!” Should be enough to help your friends along. It might hold more meaning if they remember on their own, but you’ll feel better if they remember regardless. And you’ll save them the embarrassment of forgetting too.

Prevention is always better than cure!

❤ Love,
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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Connecting through Conversation; Counterbalancing.

As I have referenced on this blog many times before, I feel most comfortable when I have 5 close, core friendships. While the degrees of closeness vary, and the 5 friends are interchangeable over the years, I have noticed that the biggest shifts in closeness occur almost entirely depending on the conversations we are having, and the dynamics at play between us in terms of speaking versus listening.

I have one particularly close friend, who always reassures me that she loves listening to my stories. As soon as we catch up, she asks immediately for the latest updates on my life, and is quick to follow up with questions about events I mentioned last catch up, or asking for more details to better understand the situations. I always leave our catch ups happy and re-energised. Sometimes though, I would wonder if our friendship was a little off balance, unequal, although it was hard to pinpoint why exactly. I adore this friend, so how could that be true? I best describe it as a niggling feeling that I was more invested in our friendship and time together than she was, although by all accounts, on the surface at least, she seems to enjoy our chats and catch up’s as much as I do.

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Although the feeling was there, niggling, I didn’t give it much thought, honestly. As I have discussed plenty of times before I actually understand that closeness is not always equal or reciprocated. There always seem to be friends to whom we feel closer at times, and friends who feel closer to us than we do to them. I also understand that things change and so do the people we feel closest to, usually circumstantially.

So anyway, getting back to my friend. There was never a lull in the conversation, and hours passed like minutes as we chatted away, smiling and laughing. Regrettably late in the conversation, I asked my friend a question. I noticed almost instantly the way her face lit up as she shared with me. It became glaringly obvious to me that my friend had something on her mind that she had been hoping and wanting to share with me, however she was waiting for the invitation. She was waiting for me to ask. Her face lit up, not only because she wanted to share, but because she wanted to know I cared enough to ask.

I do. I do care. That is true if I ask or not, however I can recognise that when my friend comes in and immediately asks all her questions about my updates, she is showing her love. I feel connected to her, as though she cares. How could I be careless enough not to actively notice this and reciprocate sooner instead of monopolizing most of the conversation? This could very well explain the imbalance I was vaguely aware of!

Perhaps it is true that we feel closest to the people that we talk to, the people that listen to us, not necessarily the same people that talk to us, or that we listen to. In this situation, it was my turn to listen to my friend. I would not say my friend was overtly disappointed in my efforts. I do genuinely enjoy listening to her updates as much as she enjoys listening to my own, however, on reflection, I could have listened better. Several times, in order to relate to the things she was sharing, I shared similar stories.  This is an important part of bonding, relating and sharing. I do wish though, that instead of redirecting the conversation back to myself, that I had of said something like “I know what you mean.” I should have asked more questions about herself, and what she was sharing, as she does for me.

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My friend and I are close and longstanding friends. Thankfully I have time and future opportunities to do better with this. To ask her to share with me before I share with her. To ask for the details and not redirect the conversation. To be more aware and create more space for her in our time together. Also to address the fact that I tend to subconsciously subcategorise my friends into the ones I talk to and the ones that talk to me.

I cannot change the friends I have who talk to me. Some of them are just not good listeners. Perhaps it is circumstantial and they do not have the emotional capacity to take on any more than what they are personally dealing with. Some of them are not interested or comfortable with the topics of conversation I might enjoy. It’s entirely possible that the rest of them listen to other people in their lives so much, that I fall into the category of people they talk to.

We all need to feel heard, validated and understood. I am grateful that I have the opportunity to make my friends that talk to me feel that way and I understand why that is so valuable to them. I cannot control their circumstances or their ability or willingness to listen to me the way I need. What I can do, is to make more effort to actually listen to the people who listen to me. To allow them to connect with me in the same ways that I connect with them and nourish a truly equal and reciprocal friendship.

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To do this, I need to:
Invite them to share with me.
Ask for the details.
Remember the details.
Wait my turn to speak.
Relate in ways that allow them to continue sharing about themselves.
Show them how much I enjoy listening to them.
Thank them for sharing with me.
Be mindful of how much time we have together when we are chatting and try not to talk about myself for more than 50% of that time.

Obviously, at different times, we all have different amounts of things to share. It is not realistic to expect that it will always be equal. There will be times when my friend needs me only to listen or times when I need the same for example. For the most part, however, with a little more self-awareness, and attentiveness to the details my friend likes and needs to share with me, and a little less zealous energy for sharing of myself, I think I can create a healthier balance.

Added to that, finding more friends that I feel I can both share with and listen to in equal measure is a definite future friend goal.

To the friend that I almost listened to, and no, you probably don’t know who you are, thank you for sharing with me. I did notice your need to share, and I’m sorry that my attempt was less than perfect. Your friendship is beyond valuable to me, and I hope with some extra mindfulness on my part that you will finally be able to say the same.

❤ Love,
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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In Sickness and in Health?

A friend of mine has a good friend we affectionately name “Wifey.” We call her this because she loves her friends dearly and takes her commitment to them seriously. This is a longstanding friendship, filled with a rich history. Wifey actually came into my friend’s life as a friend of a friend. (My friend is a well-known friend poacher! Lol) My friend’s best mate shares a house with Wifey. Slowly, over time however, Wifey has shown she is worth her weight in gold to my friend with endless support and kind gestures. Wifey soon became a solid friend of good merit.

Wifey is the kind of friend who gives of herself pretty selflessly wherever she can. She is the type of person who always remembers the details. The one who never forgets to call. She is the first to offer to drive you to the airport, babysit your kid, or arrange a cake for your birthday. At work she is the person who always arranges the collection for a group gift, buys it, and gets everyone to sign the card, and never gets acknowledged for remembering the birthday in the first place.

Wifey is an excellent listener. She enjoys a simple life, keeps to her routines and asks for, or expects, very little in return for her loyal friendship. She is just as happy to spend time walking the dogs with you as going to see a movie. The point is, all she asks for is your time. She enjoys your company and conversation, regardless of the activity or if either of you have much to share. Spending time together IRL is important to her, and if you can prioritise it, your life will be richer for it.

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Nobody is perfect. Wifey lives a quiet life, so sometimes she can be quiet. She doesn’t always have lots to say about herself, and can be somewhat mysterious in how little she shares. She seems like quite a private person, although is not private about how much she cares for and values her friends. So it was disappointing to her recently, when a sudden illness struck, causing her to need to call on people for more support than she usually would. Wifey, who is usually a strong independent character, has been struck with an affliction that has knocked her physical abilities, her appearance and indeed her confidence.

Turning to her friends for both physical and emotional support hasn’t been easy. Not only does it go against her nature to receive in the same ways that she gives, it also gives way to a deeply buried fear that her friends do not care about her in the same ways she cares about them.  Not only was she beginning to feel like a burden to the mate she lives with, but she also noted that there was no cards or flowers from her work colleagues, or even a single call to find out how she is.

There were no offers of help to walk her dog, cook meals or other practical assistance, and no messages from friends asking to come and visit. None aside from my friend of course. I think, most of us, under the circumstances, would begin to question the authenticity and reciprocal nature of our friendships. Is this fair? The title of this article is “In Sickness and In Health” which is clearly not a vow we make in our friendships. As a matter of fact we make no such vows or commitments, however heavily they may be hoped for and implied when it comes to friendships.

Human nature being what it is, seems to focus on what is not done, rather than what is. I think it is fair to assume that while Wifey’s friends’ do appreciate her efforts, that they take her friendship somewhat for granted. They probably wont notice her absence until it affects them negatively. When she forgets a birthday for example. Then people may start to notice she isn’t there and inquire after her. I’m certain it isn’t intentional, sometimes we just need to be awakened to the fact that we care, and have the opportunity to miss someone before we reach out to them.

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So what can Wifey do to restore her faith in her friends? She needs to reach out. She needs to let go of the notion that having to ask negates the good deed or intentions of others. A simple message telling her friends she is unwell although not contagious, but would love to see them if they could spare a few hours would go a long way in bridging the gap. Letting people help her would go even further.

Sometimes, as frustrating as it seems, we have to tell people exactly what we need, want and expect from them. For some people we will sadly learn that we asked for too much, and for others we might be pleasantly surprised. However, it would be a mistake to assume every person who does not visit you in hospital for example is a bad friend. Some people cannot tolerate hospitals due to their own traumas, and others may actually have valid and pressing other concerns at the time of your hospitalization.

The only way forwards is to ask for what you need and focus on those friends who can and do give it to you. To be forgiving of those who failed your expectations and readjust those expectations accordingly. To focus on the ways in which people do offer their support and friendship and not on the ways that they don’t. And to acknowledge that when we are sick, and feeling sorry for ourslelves, this impacts our thought patterns and feelings. When we aren’t keeping our minds busy at work, or on other projects and hobbies, they are known to wander to darker places.

When we are sick, we need to rest to recover and return to health. It is ok to enjoy this time off. Binge watch your favourite shows, eat your favourite foods if you can, meditate if you need to, read, write, colour, craft. Do the things that bring you joy, distract yourself, pass the time happily and relax you. Don’t let your brain trick you into thinking nobody cares. Appreciate the people who are there. They are your core people and they are who matter most right now.

Remember, hopefully soon you will be well again and everything will seem brighter. Until then, do what you can to help yourself feel better and focus on the positives!

❤ Love,
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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Are You Reminiscing or Rem-in-Missing Out?

When we first lose a friend, we have a tendency to be hurt and angry and lost in the details. At times, those details are so overwhelming they are all we can think about. Replaying the events over in your mind, conversations and how you could have responded differently. Wondering what actually happened and how it all started. Entertaining imaginary future conversations that will probably never eventuate anyways. As always with grief, it can feel like the world is spinning out of control and you can’t keep up. While you’re trying to focus on something that is further and further in the past, the things and people in your life at the present moment are blurred out. Numbness confuses you, and consumes you.

I like to think most of us are familiar with this concept. With other forms of grief, you are granted a period of grace, albeit not usually anywhere near enough, but with this particular form of pain, we are offered very little sympathy, if any at all.  I wouldn’t say this is the only type of grief that is minimized and ignored, or where you often feel like you can’t talk to anyone about it, but it’s definitely one of the few. Pretending like you’re ok when you are heartbroken and can think of nothing else is challenging to say the least. It’s asking a person to disconnect from themselves, to not feel their feelings. We all know how impossible this is.

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So what tends to happen is people withdraw into themselves, into their heavy heart and busy head space. They overthink the situation and struggle to focus on anything that is actually happening. They may even be called upon to support someone else through a more acceptable form of grief, and accidentally leave a friend a bit disappointed in their lack of effort. Grief is not a competition remember, it is an emotion we are all entitled to feel and process in our own ways. This should be true regardless of the reason, however, sadly, sometimes it isn’t.

While a person is withdrawn into her own mind, she may be missing valuable opportunities to connect with others. Not just by supporting them through their own issues, but by making new connections or strengthening old ones. Pretending you are fine is definitely one way to handle the situation. While it is harder to pull off, faking it til you make it definitely has merit. If you employ this strategy, you will somewhere along the line realise that while you started faking it to distract yourself, you are actually really enjoying yourself again eventually. This is a slow road, but it happens.

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Going out with friends is a great way to distract yourself and have some fun, even if you aren’t speaking your truth. The further away from that truth you navigate, the further away it can be from your mind, which is a welcome relief… IF you can actually force yourself to have fun. If, on the other hand, you are more like myself, connections are formed from talking about what’s on your mind. The only way to do this is to start talking to people. About “It.” Test the waters. Start small, and test the person’s reaction to it.  See if they can comfort you the way you need to be comforted or offer a perspective you may have missed. Be prepared for disappointment, most people will probably be uncomfortable with this particular conversation.

The people who tell you “it was just a friend.” They are not your people right now. If you’re lucky, you’ll find someone who says “Something like that happened to me once too….” Even if you don’t find that though, if you find someone who sees your pain and validates it and allows you to process it, that person will become valuable to you. Maybe valuable enough to actually fill a little piece of the hole that was left by your former friend. Not a replacement, not a distraction, but a genuine new friendship. Friendships, feeling connected, heard, seen, valued, make us happy. At first talking about this will make you happy, just getting it out. But remember this is not therapy. Eventually the conversation should naturally grow and change and activities should no longer be a distraction to cheer you up.

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Don’t forget, when we look back, we have this nasty habit of remembering only the good things and not the bad. Your old friend wasn’t perfect. New friends can’t possibly live up to inflated memories of old ones! Reminiscing definitely causes you to miss out – the bad things in the past and the good things in the present! Don’t forget, if you’re stuck, seek professional guidance. There is no shame in heartbreak over a friend, and even if you feel some shame, therapy is confidential! Tip – the therapist is not a mind reader. She can’t help you if you aren’t honest about everything. What he or she thinks of you doesn’t matter, that is the beauty of it!!!! They aren’t there to judge you, but to help you.

Reminiscing has its place, but don’t look backwards for too long. The future is ahead of you, not behind you, so do what you can to get through it, you never know what or who will be waiting for you when you get there!

❤ Love,
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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