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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Blunt Friends Vs Diplomatic Friends

As with most things in this life, people tend to fall more on a spectrum between being direct and blunt or indirect and diplomatic in their conversation style. While you may tend to fall on the blunt side, that is not to say you cannot judge a situation when a more diplomatic response is required, or vice versa. However, in this post I wanted to explore closer friendships and conversations where we speak more openly and filter ourselves way less.

Where we fall on the spectrum, may be perceived differently by different people. While I feel I am definitely more indirect and diplomatic, often to the point I am lost in translation, I have at least one friend who often compliments me on my directness and authenticity with her. This would be understandable if she fell even higher on the diplomacy scale than me, but actually she would probably be my most direct and bluntest friend. 

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My friend values this trait in other people, and in herself. There is nothing wrong with that, and I am glad she can hear my point even when I don’t say it as loudly as she might. For example; my friend mentioned recently that she has gained some weight, and was starting some strategies to deal with this and change the outcome. She later expressed that she valued the fact that I didn’t immediately respond with the standard “You look great as you are, I don’t think you have gained weight.” In that situation, I didn’t need to agree, her body is not my business nor my concern, and she wasn’t asking for my feedback. However my friend heard in my silence “You have gained weight and I can’t deny it.”

It is important to note here I still think my friend looks great either way, but another friend has indicated in conversations that commenting on someone’s size, big or small, weight loss tactics or diet is unacceptable and it is the individual’s opinion on the matter that counts. So discounting someone who says “I’ve gained weight” regardless if they are a size 6 or a size 36 is unnecessary – they are expressing how they feel about themselves, which is ultimately what matters.

Anyway, getting back on point, I can see why my friend chose to see my silence as a clear statement. Where a part of her definitely wanted me to say “No, really? I can’t tell” she already knew the truth and confirming it for her, albeit silently, motivated her to take the steps she wants to for her future self. That’s not to say everyone hears the things I do not say, or even the things I do. While this same friend heard me on this occasion, I can think of a few occasions where I have felt the need to be very direct with her, and she still managed to justify and ignore me at the time because what I said wasn’t what she wanted to hear.

We are all guilty of this. This is the main reason I fluctuate on the spectrum, because I will offer my opinion or advice gently at first, and if the person shoots me down or disagrees, I know that they are either not asking for my opinion or my advice, or they are really only looking for me to support and confirm whatever it is they think they are right about. I cannot always agree of course, but I can always listen and tell them I understand their view point. Sometimes people need to learn the hard way.

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More direct, blunt people, can struggle here. Because they often start off blunt, they can cause rifts in friendships which are hard to recover from. What they are saying may in fact be perfectly true, however if the audience is not wanting to hear it, continuing to force your opinion on someone can come across as an aggressive attack, and indicate that you have no faith in the person to handle themselves or their lives because they are making choices you feel they shouldn’t be. It will usually lead to distance as both people heal their wounds.

What happens here, is that both friends feel hurt. Your direct friend is only being direct because she loves you so fiercely and wants the best for you, to help you and protect you. She is probably frustrated that you cannot see that and get angry and pull away from her. She was only trying to help you because she cares….. However for the more indirect friend despises hearing what she doesn’t want to, feels voiceless when her point is missed or invalidated, and feels weak and defeated. She does not feel loved, heard or seen. She wanted support and she didn’t get it. In future she just wont tell her friend what is going on in her life if it will lead to attacks.

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It’s not unrecoverable, however it will be the onus of the direct friend to be less direct in future, even if it is because her friend cannot handle the truth. Sometimes to love people more, ironically we have to love them a little less. This is true for both parties. The truth is, both people just want to be heard. Just because you hear someone, doesn’t mean you agree with them.  Maybe one friend likes chocolate a little too much, and doesn’t need anyone to tell her not to eat it, and the other is in a relationship which is equally unhealthy for her, but both people still want to be loved and validated. Neither is going to give up their drug of choice easily until she is ready to do so on her own.

So what is the answer? Just love one another, don’t tell each other how to live your lives…. Friendship is meant to be free of judgement for the most part, remember? We all indulge in things that aren’t good for us occasionally, and make poor choices, we all handle things differently, but usually we are doing the best we can given our situation and circumstances. We are passengers along for the ride on each other’s journey’s. Nobody likes a backseat driver! If you can’t get onboard, and speak to, and love someone the way THEY need to be loved and not the way YOU need to love them, then you probably can’t be friends.

Failing all else, choose to see the best – like when my friend chose to hear what I didn’t say, she chose to see my positive intention towards her (despite confirming a negative) without a single word spoken. Friendship is trusting someone’s positive intent and choosing to focus on that as much as possible. That is love in of itself.

❤ Love,
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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Copy of Copy of Friendship is the healthiest Easter treat, and it’s sweet like chocolate too!

Easter time is traditionally celebrated with family, and regardless of your religious beliefs or lack thereof, usually celebrated with some form of chocolate! You know what else is sweet like chocolate? Friendship, and it has less calories and more health benefits too!

Many of us fail to reach out to friends over this period assuming that everyone else is too busy with family for time with friends. I know so many people who go away for the weekend to make the most of this extended time off with their partner, children and even extended families. This makes sense. However, some professions like police, hospital staff, prison workers, fire and emergency services and many other industries soldier on as usual.

For my family, that means my husband works. While I will still see our extended family on Easter Sunday, that leaves me with 3 days to play with on my own. It would be easy for me to assume all my friends are busy with family, and not reach out, however it is just as easy to reach out and see who is available.

I would much rather spend this time enjoying social activities with my friends than cleaning the house out of boredom. (Ok those of you who know me I have never in my life been “that bored!” haha)

So don’t assume everyone is busy. ASK! Maybe your friend’s partner has to work, or maybe they don’t have a partner or any family around, or maybe they will be home but not planning anything particularly special. Don’t wait to be invited, plan something for yourself. Maybe host a group gathering one day or see a few friends individually over a few days?  
This is one of the few times of year when MOST people do get a break and a bit of extra time to play with. What better way to spend it than playing with your friends? You know what goes well with chocolate and friendship? Wine. True story. 

However you spend it, I hope your Easter and your friendships are sweet and filled with love and laughter.

Happy Easter

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

 

Is Omission an Omen?

A few years ago now, I discovered quite by accident that a few of my friends were organizing a girls weekend away with some other women we had gone to school with. While I was probably only an acquaintance or casual friend with the other women, I had always considered myself a part of that friendship group, so it came as quite a hurtful surprise to learn that I was not included in this particular event.

What hurt even more, was that my closest friends, who were going, seemed to have deliberately withheld this information from me. Clearly, I was hurt that they didn’t want me there, but more than that I felt that they had lied to me. Omission is grey like that, not a direct lie, but not the whole truth either. I am sure I had discussed upcoming plans with them, and while I can’t recall specifically if they had lied and said they were doing other things, or just vaguely said they were having a quiet weekend, either way I felt they had chosen to deceive me.

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Of course, many years later, I can see now that my friends may have had good intentions. Naturally they hadn’t mentioned it, because my exclusion would have been painful, and seemed mean, so it felt kinder, not to mention easier, just to keep the information from me. Basically they didn’t want to hurt my feelings, and it’s pretty hard not to say I understand that, because honestly, I do. I also understand that they didn’t want to hurt me, by telling me the hurtful thing that they knew they were planning to do to me. They knew their actions were hurtful and they didn’t want to make a different choice to spare my feelings.

I knew my friends had stronger friendships with these other women in our group, and I knew they saw them outside of me, separately. I guess I just didn’t realise that there were group events happening to which I wasn’t privy. I had other friendships outside of this group. I had taken to going on girls trips with at least one of these friends, so perhaps my friends thought it was no big deal – if I could go without them, why were they not allowed to do the same? However, I never lied to my friends about these other friendships, I didn’t expect to invite them as they did not know these other women, they were not mutual friends. (That’s not to say they agreed. Perhaps they were hurt not to be included?!) 

The expression “what we don’t know can’t hurt us” comes to mind....and maybe if I’d never known, I’d never have been hurt. I cannot say that I have never lied to a friend by omission, for lots of different reasons, I have. The reason this particular omission felt different is because it felt like the omission was our friendship - that they forgot to inform me I was no longer a part of it!

That’s not to say the truth wont cost you everything, either way it’s a risk your actions determined you felt was worth taking.

That’s not to say the truth wont cost you everything, either way it’s a risk your actions determined you felt was worth taking.

Those friendships ended after that, and although that was the catalyst, I can see now, in hindsight, that they’d been heading in that direction for a fair while and I guess I just didn’t want to see it. 

So, if I didn’t appreciate the omission, despite my friends best intentions, would it be fair to say I’d have preferred if my friends had sat me down and explained why I wasn’t invited? Ironically, not long before this, one of my friends did just that. She was having a housewarming dinner party and she’d sat me down to explain that she thought I’d be more comfortable not being included as she was inviting my ex fiancé and his new wife. 

That conversation didn’t go well either, leaving my friend unable to express why she’d chosen to invite him over me (because she was friends with his wife.)  I ended up in tears, which made my friend feel terribly guilty. I shouldn’t have done that, although it wasn’t my intention to make her feel bad, I was genuinely hurt. 

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Anyway, my point is that telling me hurt no less than not telling me. The message was clear either way - I wasn’t wanted. There was not going to be an easy way to give me that message and either way, I should have accepted and respected my friends choice quietly and graciously. The reason I didn’t was because I made it about me being excluded rather than about the group dynamics, which would have been compromised had I been included.  I understood that, I just didn’t care. If I’d cared about how my friend was feeling, I’d have shown more consideration for the delicate position she found herself in. Unfortunately, as is human nature, we both cared more about our own feelings, wants and needs than each other’s. 

So, that brings me back to the question - is omission an omen? Yes, I do believe it is. An omen that your friends don’t feel they can talk to you without you making it about you.... An omen that they don’t think you can handle the truth, and an omen that although they knew they were going to hurt you in some way that they are going to do it anyway. It could even be said that it’s an omen that they wanted to avoid accountability for shady behaviour or choices that didn’t reflect well on them as friends or as people. If they are doing something that may change the way you view them, they are unlikely to divulge. 

That said, remember, life isn’t black and white, it isn’t simple. It’s ok to feel your feelings, but I’d advise against defining people or friendships as good or bad based on choices that made you feel a certain way. What is it they say “everybody hurts you, it’s just about who’s worth hurting for.”  

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Generally speaking people don’t walk around thinking of ways to hurt you, but sometimes you’re collateral damage, and sometimes it bees like that! Nobody’s perfect... not even you.... or me!! Lol I can think of at least one instance in my own life, whereby if my friend hadn’t told me something that changed the way I viewed her, and felt about her as a person, we’d still be friends. I guess that’s an omen too though, that she couldn’t be her true self around me, which is sad, but ultimately true. In which case we are better off this way.

The biggest issue with omission is the expectation that we were entitled to certain information. As I wasn’t invited to the weekend away in the example here, it really wasn’t any of my business I don’t suppose. I should have stayed focused on what I was doing and not what they were doing without me, as I would have been doing had I not known. Ironic. Lol 
These days I do my best to take a hint, if I’m not wanted, I wont be around, if you tell me or not. If there’s something someone isn’t saying, then I’d probably rather not hear it! The end.

 ❤ Love, 

Your Best Friend ForNever

xx

 

i’m not sure if I agree with this, but I suspect there may be an element of truth here.

i’m not sure if I agree with this, but I suspect there may be an element of truth here.

Friends With Benefits to Friends WITHOUT Benefits

The last few weeks I have been writing about friendships and relationships and unrequited love and the messiness that can occur when the lines between friendship and relationship are a bit blurry, either for one party or both, or just the ways in which relationships outside of the friendships all together can still impact those friendships. Then, as it happened, a new situation was brought to my attention along similar guidelines. Friends with benefits.

I know I have written about this a few times already, but it is worth a new post, I think. Friendships ARE Relationships, without monogamy or that commitment factor. However, if someone is engaging in these “with benefits” relationships it is usually because they are keeping their options firmly open, or because they are hoping for more, but settling for less, at the moment. Experience has taught me it is almost always a mixture of both these things; meaning one person is keeping their options open (not willing to settle for less) while the other person is settling for less while hoping for more.

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It seems harmless enough at first glance. When a friend has been flirtatious with you, and you are available and attracted to them, you see everything through rose coloured glasses. (We all know that means you don’t see the red flags, right?!) They are giving you glimpses of everything you have wanted and so it seems important not to push for more in case you scare them away. If they want to still call you a friend, while treating you like a lover, what do you care? You are so giddy with excitement they could call your relationship train wreck and you’d probably laugh it off and think it was cute. They could even deny its existence, but because their actions are speaking loudly, you feel certain the relationship exists no matter what they say. Most of us don’t lose sleep over it. Yet. Not for any negative reasons anyway!

However, the reason your friend is not labelling the relationship as such, is not for any of the reasons they have given you, and I am sure they have given you many which you have chosen to believe no matter how far fetched they seem. The real reason is because they are waiting for someone better to come along, and when that happens, they will feel no remorse in ending the benefits portion of your friendship. They will hide behind the fact that they never promised you anything and offer no explanations as to why on the basis that you were only ever friends to begin with. They promised you nothing and that is precisely what they delivered, even though it was deceitfully presented as something! There may not even be a conversation about the ending.

All this begs the question – can you ever really go back to being platonic friends – WITHOUT the benefits? Part of that, to be honest, will depend on the type of “friendship” you had to start with. Were you actually friends, or was it just hooking up? If the sum of your friendship was the benefits, then effectively you can expect to kiss that friendship goodbye until the new relationship ends at least! If they weren’t interested in spending time and chatting to you when you were sleeping with them, the chances that they suddenly will be interested when you aren’t are slim to none. This sounds like bad news really, but it’s not. You’re better off.

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After all, what is the alternative? They keep on hanging around – expecting you to listen to them talking about their new flame, how happy they are, or confused or frustrated etc…. and expecting you to be fine with it, because you were only ever friends anyway right? You should be happy for them? I can tell you it isn’t easy to hear, and it certainly does not feel like friendship.  That is the situation you may well face if you did have an actual friendship to start with. The kind where you hang out and talk about real things.  At this point you will be faced with the dilemma between being the friend you like to call yourself and being the jilted lover you feel like.

Therein lies the problem. Friends care about their friend’s feelings. It is going to be very difficult for the friend that is moving on to prove that they actually still care for the friend who wanted more. If they talk about the new romance, it can feel like torture for the listener, who may walk away, because suddenly, while they were ok for settling for less when there was hope of more, once that hope is removed, they promptly remember their worth and remove themselves. On the other hand, not mentioning the new flame, therefore not giving them an explanation for the withdrawal of the benefits is lying by omission, which will ultimately create distance between you anyway. (Post to follow) Plus not knowing is its own form of torture. Sigh.

Unless the ending of benefits and the timing of such happens to be seamlessly mutual, which is rare, the future is bleak. It can be a real shame, honestly, because two people who were once as close as you can be, suddenly find oceans of distance between them. However, if you are important to each other, all you can do is allow one other some space. One can focus on their new thing and the other can tend their wounds and emotionally realign. I’m going to be honest, it wont be easy. There is a chance you wont survive. Things will probably not be the same between you again for a very long time. Perhaps after a very long time though, it may be worth it.

Only time will tell. Have you ever successfully transitioned from FWB to FWOB?

❤ Love,
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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Unrequited Love in Friendships

I am a big believer in love within friendships and I don’t believe any friendship can survive if that platonic love is not felt on both sides, even if it is unequal in measure, it must exist. That said, as a woman who loves other women romantically, (and as someone with heterosexual friends who have friendships with men,) I have seen and experienced firsthand that sometimes one party feels a romantic love that the other party does not. This does not always mean the friendship will end, it is just an added complication to navigate.

Most unrequited feelings are unspoken. Either both parties know and they ignore it like the pink elephant in the room, or one party chooses not to disclose their feelings as they don’t want to risk losing the friendship, or because the other party is not single or there is some other obstacle that seems to make reciprocation unlikely, say for example gender or sexuality! Lol Less frequently both parties do know and acknowledge it, but awkwardly laugh it off, because, well, what else can you do? Laugh or cry right? Laughing is more fun!

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As I’ve said, whatever the circumstances, this does not have to be a deal breaker for friendship, but it can have its challenges. Last week I posted about Navigating New Relationships and Old Friendships. There is an exception to every rule, and this one required its own post! Every queer woman, I think, has at least one friend in her lifetime that she wishes were more than a friend. Typically this is called a straight girl crush, although personally I think that diminishes the feelings involved. Similarly most straight women I know have had feelings for a male friend although it never quite made it to anything more than friends.

Lets face it, we can’t help who we are attracted to and who we fall for. Sometimes we have to deal with the fact that we love a certain friend in a greater capacity than they can or will ever reciprocate. This can be a heavy burden to carry for the person who is not loved in return. Feeling small, worthless and irrelevant and or undesirable, is not a pleasant feeling at the best of times, and watching that friend loving someone else can be a somewhat humiliating and damaging experience.

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We all want our friends to be happy, and this is no less true in this circumstance than any other, however, when part of your heart was filled with hope that you could somehow bring that happiness to your friend or be a big part of it, learning that they have found happiness with another can be devastatingly heart breaking. Seeing them smile that smile, the one that reaches their eyes, the one you have never evoked in them, can leave you questioning your worth and value and wondering why they simply cannot see all that you are and have to offer them. It’s not easy to accept that for whatever reason, they do not want anything you are offering.

It can be even more challenging to accept that they do want what someone else is offering, particularly if that person doesn’t seem to be treating your friend as good as you imagine you have, do or would treat them. Sigh. If your friend does know about your feelings for them, you may be at an advantage, in that you can hope they will be understanding and gentle with your heart, however that will also require you to do the same. Regardless there will always be the need to smile a smile that does not reach your eyes, that masks a level of pain you probably cannot wait to get some privacy to reveal. If you’re a good friend, you will try and conceal your pain. If they know, and they are a good friend, they will acknowledge it. Hopefully, a private and reassuring hug, with a gentle conversation along the lines of “I know this isn’t easy for you, it must hurt to see me with them,” will be enough for your friend to show you that they cared about your pain and struggle, because that’s what good friends do. Notice, I did not make an apology. Nobody owes anybody an apology for being happy, and we don’t want the happy person to feel guilty about being happy. Because of this, it would be the friend with unrequited love feelings responsibility to be truthful and kind in return saying something like “Thank you for caring enough to address this. This isn’t easy for me, no, and I hope you’ll forgive me if I cry, but I am your friend and I do want you to be happy, so I want you to know, despite my difficulty with this for me personally, I am happy for you and I support you.”

Sadly, in my experience, it’s not always one or the other. Sometimes you have to be brave enough to tell them you love them, AND be brave enough to watch them love someone else. :(

Sadly, in my experience, it’s not always one or the other. Sometimes you have to be brave enough to tell them you love them, AND be brave enough to watch them love someone else. :(

If both parties can discuss it openly and gently, there is a much better chance of survival of the friendship. In this instance, the space that is created by a new relationship can actually be beneficial for both parties. Things wont be the same, and this will be more difficult for one person to handle than the other. A great sense of loss and a period of grief will be happening for one party, while the other fails to really notice at all. It’s all very unfair, but then again, so is life. Chances are we have all hurt someone in a similar unintentional way when they liked us a little more than we liked them, if we knew it or not.

A time will come, when the friend with feelings will probably be asked to meet the new partner, if the friendship is going to survive. This is a delicate and tricky situation. Personally I would rather stab myself in the eye with a fork than watch some man kiss the girl I loved, who will never love me on the sole basis that he is a man and I am not. To watch him take so easily something for which I have yearned is nothing short of humiliating. That is hard to hide, even when your poker face is as strong as mine. Lol All you can do is try not to blush and look away, casually not awkwardly, or make a joke about getting a room.

A key thing to remember is that your friend is not trying to hurt you, it isn’t malicious and if you can’t get on board, you can’t be friends. You can however, use it as motivation to put your energy into finding love with someone who CAN reciprocate, now that you have closure on that situation. Acceptance will be slow, but it will come.

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If you are the friend in the new relationship, and you know or even just suspect that your friend has feelings for you…go easy. Try not to rub your happiness in your friends face. You can and should talk about your new relationship, just be respectful and gentle and understanding if your friend finds it hard to hide some of their pain or discomfort. If you choose to tell your new partner about your friends feelings for you, you probably shouldn’t tell your friend about that, as they will only feel the new partner is parading you around them as some trophy they didn’t win. (I personally hate wondering if the friend in question and her new partner have a chuckle at my expense about how much I wanted what I couldn’t have. My feelings are not a joke to me. But I always did take myself a bit seriously! Lol) The truth is, your friend already feels defeated, and rejection shouldn’t be a public event. Plus, you want your friend and your partner to like each other, so it’s probably unwise to share the info. It’s not actually relevant at this point anyway, although how your friend is coping is relevant! Make sure you are checking in and make extra effort to still make time and give your friend attention. Not because you feel sorry for them, but because you acknowledge that your friend is going through a tough time and you want to show you still care.

If your friend doesn’t know you had unrequited feelings, control your jealousy. You chose not to disclose how you felt then, so you don’t really have any place to disclose it now. Don’t sabotage things or cause drama, deal with your feelings, if you need to, with a psychologist. Your feelings matter, they just don’t change anything. Try not to get lost in your pain and unhappiness and direct your time and thoughts to brighter things. Wish your friend well.

At the end of the day, you are friends. That is a beautiful wonderful connection and it needs to be enough. It is! Care about each other as much as you can, even if it feels like it is a personal expense to do so. It wont be easy, but hopefully it will be worth it!!! You do love each other, whatever that means… it does mean something!! In fact it means everything!

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

When it starts to feel like your friendship is not enough, remember this! Plus, Friendships usually outlast relationships! ;P

When it starts to feel like your friendship is not enough, remember this! Plus, Friendships usually outlast relationships! ;P

Navigating New Relationships and Old Friendships

As a few of my friends are currently navigating their way into new romantic relationships, it brings me to write a post about how these blossoming romances affect their existing friendships. In a perfect world perhaps, this would be a smooth transition, however the reality is, new relationships do impact friendships, and not always in the most positive ways. At first, anyway.

I have to start by acknowledging that it does seem to be human nature, at least at large, in the society in which we live, that the desire to couple up is the strongest desire. I am not insinuating the choice to  be single is invalid, just less common. As we age, the dating pool seems smaller, and singleness is less and less desirable. This is especially so for women in my age bracket hoping to have children, however in my observations of my life and the people in it, the urgency to be coupled up seems no less strong amongst women who have already completed their family in terms of reproducing.

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While it is easy for those of us not facing the loneliness and isolation that single people often face, to tell them to enjoy their single time and make the most of it, I think it is fairly safe to assume that in similar circumstances we would also be keen to find a mate. In the process of doing that, friendships become paramount. They become our source of human connection, enjoyment and conversation. We are suddenly available again for girls nights, coffee dates and movies.

I have found my conversations with my single friends, and our catch ups far greater than those of my coupled counterparts. It wouldn’t be uncommon to hear from a single friend on a daily basis, but only to hear from a married one on a monthly basis or sometimes less.  (This does not apply to ALL my married friends!) Communication only increases as a single friend enters the dating pool and wants to share with you his or her experiences with dates, the people they are seeing or chatting to, the disasters, heart breaks and funny stories. There is so much for them to share with you.

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The seeking romance and dating stages are actually good for your friendships, regardless of if the friends are both single, or if one is loved up. It’s not perfect, nothing is. If both parties are single there can be an element of competition and jealousy, whereas if one is loved up, the single person may ask for more time and attention than the coupled party has to offer. That said, I still feel like this particular phase of dating is beneficial to friendships.

Of course, single or not, we all want our friends to be happy. So when she finally meets someone, and they change their status from “dating” to “relationship” you are actually genuinely happy for her…. However, and yes, you knew that was coming… It is part of the human condition to interpret all information through the “how does this impact me?” lens. You cannot deny that it will impact you. Suddenly the weekly dinners or work out sessions start getting cancelled, or moved to slots when the new partner is unavailable. Whereas you may have heard from her frequently before, suddenly there is radio silence from her. In extreme cases you may actually lose her as she just doesn’t have room for both of you in her life, and wants to give every waking moment of her time to her partner.

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This hurts. I cannot and will not deny it. It can leave you questioning your whole friendship, did she ever like you at all? Was she just using you for something to do until someone better came along? Why doesn’t she value your time together anymore? Doesn’t she miss you? The truth hurts ladies. No she doesn’t really miss you, not at first. While there is a hole in your life, hers is suddenly fuller than ever. Do NOT take this personally. It is NOT about you!!! She is so busy thinking of her partner, she hasn’t even thought about you, and that has to be ok, at least for a while. Give your friend the space she needs to have this relationship and be happy. There is no point in fighting it or forcing it.  Make yourself busy and start spending time with other people and doing other things, do not wait around for your friend to come back!

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That sounds bleak. It isn’t. Be prepared to hear from your friend sporadically, when their partner is unavailable and they remember everyone else still exists, and be prepared to listen and be happy for her and supportive as she gushes about how happy she is. She deserves this. Resist the urge to be angry or resentful, to say unsupportive things or pressure her to be in touch more. Also resist the urge to compare. No relationship is perfect, not yours, not theirs. It seems to me, we have more to say when we are unhappy then when we are happy, so take the silence as proof that your friend is happy!

Keep your friend in your thoughts. Reach out to her with positive intentions and vibes, but expect very little. Have confidence that when the honeymoon period wears off, and it will, your friend will be back. She will need your support through disagreements, challenges and she will seek your advice about gifts, celebrations and family life. If you want to still spend time with her, do it willingly when her partner is unavailable. Be convenient, if you can be. Make it easy, not hard.

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When your friend does seek you out once more, be open, warm and honest. Tell her you’re happy she is happy, but you have missed her. Ask for what times are convenient for her, and see if you can match something up. Be open to seeing her with her partner sometimes too. Welcome them. Point out flaws and red flags with caution, gently and make sure she knows you support her whatever she chooses.

If you are the friend in the new relationship, you’d be wise to remember who your supports were, and nurture those connections. You never know when you may need them again. If you are not the one in the new relationship, be patient and understanding and don’t take it too personally or seriously. Be forgiving and open. The friendship can survive…..

I’m going to be honest with you, it’s not going to be how it was before…. But that doesn’t mean it can’t still be valuable.

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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An open letter to the friends I hurt by walking away.

Dearest Ladies,

It isn’t fun for me to acknowledge that there has been more than one friendship I have ended. This post is for you!

I know at least some of you think of me and you are confused and sad. There was probably some ambiguity over who exactly ended our friendship, but in my heart of hearts, I know you feel it was me. One thing is for certain, even if you walked away, I did let you go.

Something that has come from this is an understanding that was lost on me before now. Just because we are no longer friends, please don’t allow that to tarnish what we did share. You were important to me. I valued you. I cared about you. I loved you. I still do. I want you to be happy even if I won’t be there to share in it with you.

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I want you to know that it wasn’t your fault. I remember all the times that I myself have agonized over an ended friendship, wondering what I did, when it started, how I could fix it…. Why the friend in question suddenly hated me? The thing is, I don’t hate you. I like you. That’s why we were friends to begin with.

It’s difficult to explain then why our time ended. I know you have been over the events leading up to our ending in your head, searching for clues but only coming to the conclusion that you did everything right, and your mind is convincing you that I am evil and you are the helpless victim. Or worse, you are thinking of all the things I did for you and how much you valued me and blaming yourself for not being good enough for me, for failing me, and trying to accept that you’ll never have true friends.

You will. You’ll have friends way better than me. Friends that fight for you, friends that don’t let you go. You will have some that last the rest of your life, some that fade away to nothing and some that you will end, directly or indirectly. You probably already have ended some, if you’re honest. Which is hard, isn’t it. Owning up to the fact that you hurt people who probably didn’t deserve it.

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I have been in your shoes. I have been abandoned by friends and it has hurt me to my core, so I know exactly what I have done to you. Most of you have struggled with friendships just as much as I have, and that only makes it worse. I’m sorry. Really I am. There were so many little reasons I felt I had to go, but none of them were because you weren’t good people. Every single one of you has so much good to offer, and under different circumstances, perhaps we will offer each other friendship again in the future. Except that you hate me now?! Lol In time that will fade. I hope. Perhaps we wont ever be friends again, that is ok too. Even if we never are, just know, there is a place in my heart that is yours alone and filled with happy memories of you.

I still think of you. I still have pictures of you and I smile when I look at them. You were an important part of my journey and I will always remember you… fondly. No matter what happened between us. I am glad we knew each other, thankful for what you taught me and hoping that you have found happiness.

I have now learned an important friendship, and life lesson. What brings us together is almost always situational, as is what tears us apart. The good news is that situations change all the time, as do things that mattered. Anger and hurt fade, if you let them. Please do. Not for me, but for you!

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Even if I was angry at you, the chances are, I’m not anymore. I know you aren’t there yet. I know this will hurt you for a while longer, but my last request of you as my friend is to let me go. Emotionally. If I had to go, don’t hurt and blame yourself. Know it was something I had to do for myself, it was no reflection on you or us, and what we had was real. Know that I didn’t enjoy hurting you and it wasn’t easy for me to let you go either.

If you must blame someone, by all means go ahead and blame me. I did hurt you. I know I did. Still, you should know how unhelpful blame is. It keeps you where you don’t need to be. In similar circumstances I have often wished the person in question could understand just how much they had devastated me, broken my heart and crushed my soul by walking away from me. So the gift I give you is to acknowledge it. I DO know how much I hurt you. I’m so sorry. I hope you can accept that it hurt me too. That I do miss you. I miss knowing what’s going on in your life, if you’re ok. I see things I want to share with you and things that remind me of you. Your name comes up in conversation, and it’s painful to remember, oh that’s right, we aren’t friends anymore.

Still, just because it is painful, and what we had mattered, doesn’t mean it should or could continue. For now anyway. There is beauty in letting something be what it was, and then letting it go. Maybe it will be again, maybe it wont. Just know we will both be ok either way. Better than that, we will both be happy! I hope you already are.

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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Fractured Friendships Are NOT Failures!!!!



My friends and I often discuss our friendships, both the friendships we share and those we enjoy individually. Sometimes we hash out problems, share funny stories, or discuss options like how to best support a friend going through something or what to get for her birthday. I really enjoy encouraging my friends to make their friendships a priority and hearing how things are going.

It dawned on me the other day, at a catch up with one of my closest friends, that she had not mentioned a certain friend or their friendship for quite some time. I asked how things were going, only to be met with an awkward mumbling that “they don’t speak anymore.” We did go into the reasons behind this falling out between my friend and her friend, but that is not the point of this blog post. What struck me, was that my friend did not volunteer this information at the time, instead holding back and only bringing it up when I finally remembered to ask about it.

When I probed my friend about why she hadn’t felt comfortable in discussing it with me, when it was clearly upsetting her, she couldn’t really answer me, except to say that she was worried that “she was somehow at fault” and perhaps I may point that out. What I pointed out to my friend, and what I would like to reiterate to you readers, is that fractured friendships are NOT failures.

The whole point in this blog is to encourage us to talk about how we feel and not hide away in shame if we part ways with a friend, temporarily or otherwise. How will we ever reflect, grieve or decide what we should do if we cannot discuss these things? My friend seemed sure that she was somehow “in the wrong” and seemed scared of accountability and unsure how to proceed to reconcile IF she decided she wanted to do that.

I cannot tell my friend what to do, nor should I, but talking it through with me did seem to help my friend identify what triggered her and why, and left her to contemplate if missing her friend was good enough reason to come forwards and make a move towards reconciliation. As in all these situations, my friend was not BLAMELESS, nor was she AT FAULT.

Let’s be real about this. These situations never bring out the best in any of us. We have all acted in ways we aren’t particularly proud of, said harsh things, or let a silence last a little too long. It always takes 2 to tango, and while we are busy getting bogged down in the ABC’s (avoiding, blaming and contempt and confusion) of it all, the space between us is getting wider apart, and the silence getting louder. Not only that, but our sense of isolation grows too, not only with the friend in question, but with the others too because we aren’t talking about what is on our minds and hearts.

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Of course, if we go into the “D’s” of it all, we have to start with denial. So at first I’m sure it isn’t intentional that we don’t talk about it. It may take some time before we even acknowledge that there is a problem and by then we have already shamed ourselves for letting it get “this far.” The common opinion seems to be that one party needs to come forward to apologise, and we all know how vulnerable and weak that can make us feel. It also implies that we were wrong and the other person was right…. Which we know is never the case. So not only are we afraid to say I am sorry, we are afraid the other person will reject our olive branch, and that we will in some way justify their anger at us, at the expense of our own feelings or position?!

There is no denying this is no simple situation to navigate and there are so many conflicting feelings to muddle through. Which is the exact reason we need to talk about it with our nearest and dearest. Not so they can tell us what to do, but so we can sort through our feelings, separate the facts from the fiction and assumptions, get insight on what the other person may be thinking and feeling and decide if we want to try to reconcile.

To be clear there is NO shame in deciding you do not want to reconcile. If you have come to that conclusion and made an active choice to leave things as they are, then that is a valid choice. Not all friendships can or should be salvaged. However, more often than not, our choice to do nothing, which is reflected as a strong choice to each other, is actually just a refusal to deal with the situation at hand and make a clear choice about what to do, so we end up not doing anything. So many friendships could survive if we were just talking it through and making a choice.

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In regards to my friend’s situation, she decided, as there was no clear ending, and neither person is automatically at fault, an apology is too loaded. As their friendship was always light and jovial, an “I miss you” would be too heavy and raw, so my friend may send something funny or light, just to end the silence and show her friend “I’m thinking of you.” It also tells her friend “I didn’t want to continue the silence between us.” Her friend may not respond, or she may respond in a way that demands a heavier conversation than the friendship can handle, so it is a risk. Only my friend can know in her heart of hearts if the friendship is worth the risk to her.

Regardless, I’m really glad she finally opened up to me about this and I’m sorry it took a few months for me to ask. If nothing else, it had brought our own friendship even closer because I was able to support my friend through something and reassure her she is not a bad person who did something wrong, regardless of what happens. My friend commented that she was a little hesitant because I write this blog….. but let me assure you all that makes me no expert. I write this blog because of the mistakes, fractured friendships, miscommunications, self blame and doubt and isolation I have experienced!

We are all figuring this out together, and we should keep on talking about it because it matters. Friendship matters!!!!

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

If rejection was guaranteed not to happen, what would you do. The answer tells you what is in your heart of hearts <3 x

If rejection was guaranteed not to happen, what would you do. The answer tells you what is in your heart of hearts <3 x

Mixing Oil and Water or Friendship and Business!!

We’ve all heard the expressions pertaining to the fact that friendships and businesses should be separate, and mixing them is like trying to mix oil and water…. Yet so many of us find ourselves trying to mix them anyway.

It would seem like the natural conclusion for example, if you always get your nails done, that you would start seeing your friend if she happened to start her own nail salon, wouldn’t it? You would want to be supportive, and probably hope she would offer you a better price in return for your support, loyalty and word of mouth. Similarly, if you were starting your own business doing nails, and you knew your close friend always got her nails done, you would probably be hoping she’d be one of your first customers.

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If everyone’s intentions are good, then why are we advised against this kind of transactional support? Because good intentions can only take you so far, can’t they. Say the first time she does your nails, you aren’t too happy, but you don’t want to hurt her feelings. She’s newly qualified and you are one of her first paying customers. You rationalize that she will improve with more experience, so you pretend to love them. Only a few months down the track, you still aren’t happy with her work. You don’t really know how to broach the issue.

The next month a nail falls off, and several nails are chipped, so you finally decide you have to say something. You message her to say unfortunately a nail fell off and some are chipped, but if she is too busy to fix it you are happy to go elsewhere to have the nails redone. You hope she will be too busy. She isn’t. She tells you to come back the next day and she redoes the nails. Then she charges you for a full new set. You don’t want to pay. You want to tell her as it was her mistake she should fix it for free! However you’re worried about the impact this would have on your friendship if you say anything.

You either decide not to say anything, but to take your business elsewhere in future, or you decide to tell her you’re not happy and she is hurt and angry. Neither is good news for your friendship. You start to understand why they say not to mix business with pleasure. Even if you cancel your next nail appointment with good reason and make an excuse not to schedule the next one, surely she is going to notice you have had your nails done elsewhere?

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If you find yourself in this predicament, what should you do? Ok, if you are the business owner, firstly, don’t ask or expect your friends to bring business to you, and be cautious before you accept their business. In relation to services, keep in mind they are a client, not a friend. Do not take criticism personally. If they are unhappy with your service, treat them in the same manner as any paying customer, correct the issue if you can and cover the costs as you usually would. Do not offer services for a price that doesn’t cover your expenses, and do not slack off on the job because it is a friend or they are paying less. Always tell them you will understand if they get a better offer and decide to take their services elsewhere, but you would appreciate their support in gaining more business if possible.  Remember, you earn business, you don’t demand or expect it. Your friends don’t owe you.

If you are the customer, tell your friend immediately if you are unsatisfied. The first time. You can be tactful and explain you have been going to get your nails done, for example, at the same place for a few years and really like the way they specifically do it, and you hope she will understand but you think you’ll keep going to them instead. Be gracious and kind, saying you appreciate her effort and wish her all the best and you hope it will not affect your friendship. You may even quote the oil and water thing and point out that your friendship is more important. If you have already been going for a while, or you feel the honesty ship has sailed without you because you were not honest the first time, be clear about what you want need and expect. Tell her that you’re not finding her methods effective for whatever reason, she may actually value the feedback and change her products or methods.

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Your only other option is to take your business elsewhere and not say anything about it, and hope she does the same, even if she does notice. After all, you don’t owe her your business, nor an explanation really. Both parties need to keep this in mind!

Of course, this doesn’t always happen. Maybe you will use her service, be perfectly happy with it, get a good price and it may never be an issue. If  it is mutually beneficial it may be worth the risk…. Only you can decide that, and time will tell….

❤ Love
Your best Friend ForNever
xx

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What to say when you aren't saying anything at all?!

Is a friend not speaking to you? Are you not speaking to a friend? Are you “not speaking” to each other? How to handle yourself, and understand the silence between you and how it may feel for the other person.

During a recent conversation with my mother, she commented on her lifelong trait of “going silent” as her way to state her displeasure and avoid confrontation at the same time. I was able to relate to this tendency, however ugly it seems, so I wanted to write a post about it. I will explore my reasons behind this, and hope to give those of you facing “silence” some tips on how to deal with this…. If there is indeed a way!!!

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Usually when I withdraw into myself, it is indeed because I am upset, hurt, angry, confused and conflicted. I may think that the reason is perfectly obvious, even if my friend in question is bewildered by my silence. This may imply that my friend has done something wrong or hurtful towards me, when actually that isn’t always the case. If my friend reaches out, looking for answers, or a way she can “fix” the situation, sometimes I am unable to offer clear reasons or advice on how the issue can be resolved.

You see, the thing is, when I withdraw into myself it is not intended to be a punishment, although I can relate to the way it feels exactly like a punishment on the receiving end. Even if I know why I am hurt, upset or angry, I am searching my brain for the least confrontational way of telling the other person and drawing my own conclusions about how we can address the issue together. I never want to blame the other person. I want to search myself too and understand how I have contributed to the situation and how I can avoid it again in the future.

I want to calm myself, because if I am pushed when I am feeling very emotionally charged I know I am likely to say things I will regret and struggle to recover from. Things the friendship, and possibly even the other person will struggle to recover from too. So what I need is space. I may ask for it, if pushed, although I tend to resent being pushed when I feel it is clear that I need some time and space by my lack of engagement. Of course, this can get the other persons defenses up, or anger them, and if that happens, more often than not, they will say something triggering or provoking, leading to harsh words, followed by more silence, although the second round is typically mutual.

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If that silence drags on, or gets too loud, then that is often the end. So where is the middle ground? How should we handle it if a friend suddenly goes quiet? Having been on both sides of the spectrum on this issue, I do know when we feel someone has stopped talking to us, there is a sense of urgency around it and a need to defend oneself. If a friend goes quiet on me, I will be thinking of all the possible scenarios of why she could be upset. Rerunning conversations, catch ups and body language over in my mind, searching for clues.

I will reach out, fretting, apologetic, hoping my apologies for whatever offence I have committed are accepted despite the fact that I don’t know quite what I have done or said. I will ask if everything is ok, if my friend is upset with me. I will make guesses as to what the reasons could be. Example “I hope my comment about your partner’s haircut wasn’t out of line… I’m sorry if I upset you, I honestly didn’t mean to. Hope everything is ok?”

Continued silence from the other party will continue to haunt and trigger me, as anxiety slowly takes over! Any response is terrifying, but at the same time reassuring, maybe the other person is still speaking to me after all? I know many of you can relate to this. So I have to ask myself, when I am withdrawn, what do I need from my friend? If I don’t even know, how can they possibly figure it out!

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I need my friend to understand that I do not want to fall out with her. That I am uncomfortable with how I feel, and how to address it. I am nervous about addressing the issue with her because I fear she will be angry and defensive, dismissing my feelings and minimizing them instead of hearing and understanding me. I don’t feel safe to express myself, and I feel unsure how to. These are all my own issues, it really isn’t about my friend, even if I am upset with her about a specific thing.

Before I talk about it, I need time to let the issue go, so I am not so emotional about it when we do talk. I need time to miss my friend and remember all the good things about her and our friendship. I need time to stop blaming and understand my role. I need time to figure out solutions that I feel are manageable for both of us. I may even need time to assess if I do want to end the friendship, although my silence is not usually meant to signal the beginning of the end.

I do acknowledge this isn’t the healthiest way of dealing with conflict, or my emotions. It isn’t something I am proud of. It is a reaction rather than an action and it removes the other person’s ability to join in the problem solving or have a voice. I will resolve to at least tell the person, before I go quiet, that I need some space to figure myself out. The thing with space though, is that I don’t know how much I will need or how long it will take for me to be ready. It isn’t reasonable to expect someone to wait forever, however it also isn’t feasible to say “Give me 2 weeks” for example.

Valid point people, but aggressive and makes me not want to speak how I feel. Also a valid point.

Valid point people, but aggressive and makes me not want to speak how I feel. Also a valid point.

If I am the person asking for space though, I must also take responsibility for being the one to end said space. This isn’t always easy for me to do either. I can be too proud to say “I’m sorry I have taken some space, I just needed to cool down. Your friendship is important to me and I don’t want to lose it. I was upset because….” Also, honestly, I am a coward. If I have to say “I was upset because x” I am still opening up that confrontation that I was trying to avoid in the first place, because I am finally giving them the right of reply to which they are entitled.

So what could be the best strategy? When we are upset and withdrawn, acknowledge it to the other person. “I’m sorry, I’m too upset, hurt or angry right now. Because your friendship is important to me I need to take some space to deal with my emotions and calm down before we move forward, because I’m afraid I may over react and make things worse between us. I hope you’ll be willing to hear from me when I am ready to reach out again.”

If you are on the receiving end of the silence, you could try saying “I hope you are ok. I can sense you need some space, I just want you to know I value our friendship and I hope we can work through this together when you are ready. I don’t know if I have upset you, but I genuinely am sorry, I care about how you feel and I hope you will feel comfortable talking to me about it soon. “

Both approaches are gentle, understanding and reassuring that the friendship is not in jeapordy, that you still value them and ultimately want to make it work.

This is easy to say in theory, harder in practice, I know that, so if you do try it, please let me know how it works out!!

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

Funny, and not aggressive, well played! haha

Funny, and not aggressive, well played! haha

Rules of Conversation

I know we all like to paint friendships with this magical brush that makes it seem like we can talk to our friends about anything and everything. With some friendships, perhaps this is true, at least for a time, whereas with others, it has actually never been so. That doesn’t make these friendships less meaningful, it just means there are certain rules that need to be respected for the friendship to stay healthy and mutually agreeable and enjoyable.

Not exactly what I’m talking about here, but still handy hints! Lol

Not exactly what I’m talking about here, but still handy hints! Lol

I have friends with whom I discuss “#MumLife” and our conversations don’t tend to steer very far away from this. Perhaps that is because this is all we have in common, or perhaps it is because that is exactly where we are in life and what we need to vent about. It’s not necessarily that my friends without children couldn’t understand my trials and tribulations with motherhood, it’s just so satisfying when the other person RELATES in a way only other mothers can. It’s probably the same with friends you work with. Sure you can discuss your boss with anyone, but the people who work with you, who deal with the same issues, they really GET IT, and you naturally turn to them first to talk work.

In these situations it feels normal and natural to follow and respect the unspoken laws of conversation. Sometimes, it might be a little less clear though, what exactly the rules are, and why?! For example, I know my religious friend is in no way a prude, however it would feel disrespectful and wrong to turn to her about issues concerning the more intimate areas of my life, while we often talk finances. With other friends we almost always talk about our romantic and sex lives, but it would seem intrusive to discuss money. I’m not sure exactly why this is, it just….IS! As it has always naturally occurred that way though, I don’t question it.

When I make a new friend, I am always hopeful it will be with someone to whom I am free to discuss anything and everything as mentioned above, because I have had those friendships in my life, and they are by far the most welcoming. I have learned though, that things change. The person you could once turn to for everything can just as quickly become the person you can’t turn to. Maybe they are “the thing” you need to talk about or maybe you don’t approve or support what they are doing or vice versa. Maybe you think they wouldn’t understand your choices or behaviours on a certain issue one day and suddenly find yourself turning to someone else, or looking for someone else to turn to in regards to one particular issue.

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For the most part, I find I am pretty happy if I have an audience for each area of my life, regardless if it is the same person or not. The rules of conversation, are, ironically, all unspoken. I feel this is for the best, because I have really struggled in the past to maintain friendships with people who presume to imply rules of conversation to our friendship. I once had a friend, for example, with whom conversation was regularly directed towards relationships, dating and sex. My friend at the time was single. When she got into a relationship, she told me in no uncertain terms that discussion of her relationship or anything surrounding it was off limits and none of my concern. Added to that I was not to discuss it, or her, with her partner, with whom I was also friendly. While she was well within her rights to stipulate this and place firm boundaries to protect her privacy, I really struggled to find things to talk about and really resented the insinuation that I was restricted in my conversation to topics she approved of, as though she was the ruler of our conversations. Not just with her, but with her partner too.  Our words became harsh and sadly, we didn’t talk at all soon after that. (Note, this was not the sole reason we parted ways, just the catalyst for a bunch of crap that lead to each of us not feeling safe to talk about anything at all, especially not how we felt. Communication fail!)

Happily, there have been more successful examples of transitions. Like when I can see a person’s eyes glaze over when I talk about a certain aspect of my life, either because what I am saying is not something the listener can relate to, or because I have over talked about the issue at hand one too many times. (I am definitely a person who likes to ruminate over certain things longer than most find necessary and struggles to swallow certain truths because they don’t taste as good as I hoped.)

At a lunch with a friend recently, she exclaimed to me “I’m sorry, every time we talk, I seem to say the same things.” I have NO issue with this. I know my friend needs to talk about the issue until it comes to a resolution for her, at which point she will no longer feel the need to discuss it.  It was in fact, I think, powerful for her to come to that conclusion on her own and reflect that she seems to be facing the same issues over and over again, without me shining a spotlight on it. However, sometimes maybe you do need to light a candle to help your friend along and encourage her to perhaps make some changes instead of complaining about the same things over and over again. I see value in both approaches. If you must fall into the latter category though, remember Mary Poppins. “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” Try to phrase it in such a way that shows concern for your friend, and doesn’t make her feel as though you are telling her not to discuss her problems with you, or your friendship may not survive the fallout. Alternatively you could just not really engage her in the topic, and steer the conversation elsewhere.

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Then there are those other times when the rules of conversation change “in the most delightful way!” Maybe your “#MumLife” friend branches out and decides to confide in you about something deeper or bigger, and suddenly, you feel more able to do the same. Your friendship feels more meaningful although it never felt meaningless to begin with.  If you are going to try and extend your range within a given friendship, you might be glad you did. Just take it slowly, and be sure not to exhaust her with the new topic, until you are certain she is comfortable. Sometimes in our need to share, we forget to be mindful of the amount of energy it may be taking the other person to listen, especially if we are pushing their comfort zone.

Of course, some of the best friendships don’t have much conversation at all, and that is ok too. If you both enjoy events together, and there’s not much room for talking, except about the event, then there’s nothing wrong with that. As long as you are feeling heard and supported in all areas of your life, by one or by many, you will be happy if people seek and enjoy your company for any reason. Bottom line? Know where the boundaries lie, and if you want to push them out, or pull them in, do it slowly and gently, and try not to make a conversation about the rules of conversation?! Blog Fail?! Lol

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

Friendships too?

Friendships too?

Do your friends, or your beliefs, put you in a difficult position?

Maybe It’s both? I have, in the past had to remove myself from friendships because they put me in difficult, uncomfortable or seemingly impossible situations. I wont lie, the truth is I have usually blamed the other party for putting me in that position to begin with and  felt resentful that I “had to” end the friendship! As with all things in life though, sometimes some things come full circle, and you can see the other side a little more clearly.

What if there is something weighing on your mind and heart that you want and need to discuss with your nearest and dearest, but telling them would put them in an uncomfortable position? By not telling them, you are lying by omission and diluting the closeness you can share as you are not being your true self, and if you do tell them, you risk losing them because you have put them in a situation or position they didn’t appreciate?

I am not talking about breaking the law, or putting anybody at risk of harm, I am talking about moral dilemma’s. Say for example you have a falling out with a friend and you need to tell your bestie about it…. But she is also friends with the other person and if you tell her, you are seen as gossiping or bad mouthing, and putting her in the position of taking sides, even if that is not what you meant to do, you just wanted to talk to your friend about what you were going through?

But I can’t tell you

But I can’t tell you

Would your friend rather you were honest to preserve the friendship, or would she rather you keep quiet so she isn’t impacted or involved? Will she be hurt if she finds out through the grapevine instead of from you directly? These are difficult questions to answer, and as I reflect on situations from my own past, I can see that my own beliefs and values have contributed to me finding myself in a difficult position then blaming my friend for putting me there.

In the past I would have always said “I want to know. You can talk to me about anything.” However once the news was out there, I then felt stuck, involved, like a terrible person no matter what I did and really, really, resentful that my friend told me. So does that mean my real answer is “Don’t tell me?” How can I call myself a real friend if there are things my friend can’t tell me?  Because as it turns out maybe I really can’t handle the truth? I don’t like to think that there are things my friend can’t tell me?

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I think, part of the problem though, was that my friend told me without considering the position it was going to put me in, and did not ask my preference. I was unprepared for the position I was going to be in, and didn’t know that I was going to have to examine my values and make a choice on my behaviour based on those, and that I would be compromising at least one of them in favour of the other. For example disclosing a secret to one friend that would save her from heartache, but destroy the friend who confided in me initially? Or keep the secret for the first friend, knowing that my other friend was being hurt by things she did not know about right now but probably would find out about in the future? (And potentially lose that friend because I knew all along and chose to say nothing?)

Which friend do you value more? The first (longer standing) friend who confided in you? Even if the answer is yes, does that justify participating, even just silently in the hurt of the newer friend? If you want to call yourself a friend to both parties, what do you do? Is it better to justify to yourself that it was none of your business, and not your place to say anything. (To be fair, this is probably true.)

Having found myself in this situation, I never did say anything, instead I removed myself from the situation, by ending the friendships. Honestly I could no longer call myself a friend to either of them no matter what I did, and that upset me more than anything. Although I blamed my friends at the time for involving me, in hindsight I see that my inflexible beliefs on how to be a good friend meant I could no longer be a friend at all. The problem with this was that I assumed I knew the future outcomes… which I couldn’t possibly predict. (Would the second friend ever find out? If she did, would she ever know that I knew? Would she actually be as hurt as I imagined?) In reality I suppose I involved myself instead of remaining impartial and just watching to see what happened. Fight or Flight I guess. Sad but true.

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Putting myself in my friends’ situations, I really see no way in which they could act either, to save the friendship, so blaming them is unfair. Don’t tell me the truth, and create distance between us, or tell me, but put me in a difficult position by doing so?

So, what do I think the answer is if I find myself in a situation where I really want to talk to my friend, but the thing I want to talk about would put her in a terrible position at odds with her values and morals? Well first off I should try talking about it with my psychologist, who is trained and impartial. If I still feel the need to broach it with my friend, I should first ask her how she would feel if a friend wanted to talk to her about something, but the information revealed could put her in a position she would rather not be in, would she prefer not to know, hypothetically speaking.

If I did tell her, I’d have to do so in the knowledge that I was risking the friendship and accept responsibility for it if things had to end. Sometimes, whether we know it or not, we ask for too much. At the end of the day, no matter how close you are, we all have to be able to feel ok about ourselves, and usually a person’s values will win out, even if they wish they could have chosen differently.

Everything is better out than in, but please do choose your audience carefully, for yourself, for them, and for your friendships. It’s probably not worth the risk. Remember, psychologists get paid not to judge and are pretty confidential for the most part. Choose wisely.

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

If in doubt, seek guidance from a trained professional!

If in doubt, seek guidance from a trained professional!

Friendship is NOT a Competition

As I am lucky enough that I don’t have to work, I have been mostly able to avoid competitiveness when it comes to my friends. I say this because most competitiveness seems to come in the workplace, either through vying for more pay, a fancier office or job title, or actually competing for a promoted position. However, I have experienced snippets of competitiveness outside the workplace too, in terms of who has the best house, the best spouse, the nicer car, the smarter kids or the fanciest holidays.

Thankfully I am not competitive by nature, and I never have been. As a child my father would get upset during sports or games, as he wanted to teach me to be better, to increase my chances of winning. Although I can appreciate this now, as a parent myself, back then I just wanted to play the game and enjoy it… winning was an added bonus, but not something I was overly concerned about. (Note, this does not mean I was a gracious loser?! Lol) Perhaps this was because I expected to fail and wanted to avoid the pressures that come with being good at things, I’m not too sure.

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That’s not to say I have never felt envious. Of course, I have. A good friend of mine is currently on a wonderful holiday, who wouldn’t want that?!! The thing is though, I know we also go on wonderful holidays, and I could go ahead and book my own if I really wanted to. Another friend has been very successful in her weight loss journey and maintaining the size that keeps her happy. As always, I continue to fluctuate, and often feel a little jealous that she has been able to keep the weight off! Once again, however, I know if I made better choices, which I could potentially do, although it is extremely unlikely, that I could have similar results.

Then there are the issues that I probably couldn’t change, like my friend with the incredibly bright children. Hard as my children try, they never seem to achieve the seemingly effortless academic awards and sporting trophies that my friend’s children do. The thing is, because I love my kids unconditionally, I don’t need them to be as good as my friend's kids, only as good as they can be. In the end their only competition is with themselves.

I have come to accept we all have our strengths, weaknesses, defeats and triumphs, and I want my friends to have the best they can have to find the happiness and fulfillment they deserve. Just because a successful career isn’t on my priority list, doesn’t mean I don’t understand my ambitious friends for example. I want them to achieve the best they can, and will do what I can to support them. At the end of the day, I know they will be better friends, and better able to support me in my own pursuit of happiness, if they themselves are happy. After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup!

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So what can you do if you feel you have a friend who is always putting you down when you succeed, is openly jealous in a negative context, or who seems to need to one up you every step of the way? The simple answer is don’t play her game. Accept your friend’s nature and understand it is likely coming from a place of insecurity within herself. If she needs to feel better than you, than everyone, then let her. If you are genuinely happy and secure with where you are in life,nobody can make you feel less than by having more.

Perhaps you feel she looks down on you in some way, because her lifestyle is more extravagant than your own, but if you consider what you value and what would make you happy, her lifestyle probably isn’t really for you anyway. If she has to go on the same holidays as you do, but stay in the better hotels for example, accept that those luxuries are something she values that make her happy. Don’t look at it as bragging or putting you down when she mentions it, just be happy that she is living her life in a way that makes her happiest, where as you are happier saving the money for use elsewhere. And if you really would like to stay in those hotels, but don’t seem to have the finances to accommodate it, consider either her level of debt, or how you could increase your cash flow. Not to be better than her, but to be happier.

Sometimes you may have a friend who seems to need to bring you down rather than get above you. For example you might buy a new car and she is the first to tell you she read that it didn’t measure up in the safety standards than the other models, or says that sort of car would be too small for her etc…. consider her motives. Perhaps she is the motherly type, who is genuinely concerned for you? If so, consider asking her opinion before you do things, even if you don’t take her advice. She may just value being asked and feeling important even about things that don’t particularly concern her. Otherwise, consider that she is stating her own preference rather than crapping on yours. So that type of car would be too small for her, that doesn’t mean it is wrong for you.

I also refuse to feel judged by you.

I also refuse to feel judged by you.

Embrace yourselves and your friends’ differences. Know that sometimes we are up and sometimes we are down. We are all on our own journey’s and what we seek for fulfillment isn’t the same. What we value isn’t the same. If you are pretty happy with your life, you wont feel the need to get dragged into competition. If you aren’t happy with it…. Change it for yourself and compete with your past self, not your friends.

Remember, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, so help your friends achieve their best, and be happy to join in the celebrations with them when they do, and don’t forget to include them in your successes too.

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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When the friendship winds change

Last week, I spoke about changing friendships and going with the flow, so this week I wanted to talk about it a bit more, with an example to help explain what I mean. Let me start by saying I am known to be a creature of habit. I take comfort in knowing that I catch up with a certain friend for lunch on a Monday, or that I always play bingo with another for example. I like the inbuilt nature of it, and the security in knowing time together is secured and never far away.

I don’t consider myself inflexible, but I must say, as part of this blog I have definitely realised I don’t cope well with change, and am trying to  be better at accepting that friendships do change, as do routines. If someone can’t make one catch up for some reason it isn’t an issue, and although disappointing if we discuss the issue and confirm our next plans I usually stay comfortable.

What I really struggle with is when things change and we do not discuss it. I am not BLAMING my friends for this. I have been every bit as guilty of changing things without a discussion as they have. We all do it sometimes, perhaps without even realising or thinking about how it affects the other person or the message it sends them.

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What I mean is, if I play Bingo with Jane each second Wednesday, and I invite her as usual, and she tells me she is going with Jean instead, I might feel really upset and hurt over this, as trivial as that sounds. If she tells me Jean also loves bingo and she thought we could all go, I may reluctantly accept this change. If she tells me Jean usually plays on a Friday somewhere else, but it was cancelled this week so she asked to go with Jane this week, I will be understanding although hurt that I was not invited or consulted. If she has changed jobs or locations or something that would lead me to believe there was some cause for this change outside of me, I will handle it better. But if she just tells me she is already going with Jean, with no further conversation, I will be a bit blindsided.

In these situations, I never know if I should ask for more information, or express my feelings, or if they will be minimized. After all it is probable that Jane and I have never discussed the commitment in our arrangement or the monogamy as such. We’ve just always gone together. Will I seem petty to feel hurt if she chooses another friend over me?

I am the type of person, who, although hates confrontation would rather discuss future plans. Will Jane and Jean always go together now, or is this just one time? Can I include myself in their plans? Have I upset Jane in some way to make her exclude me? Why did Jane schedule time with Jean in time that already ‘belonged’ to me? These conversations can be fruitful, although awkward and with reassurance given and received can leave everybody feeling safe and comfortable again. They can also go the other direction, causing you to argue, and for Jane to point out that I don’t own her for example, or Bingo and she can and will go with whomever she chooses at the time. Sometimes this causes rifts that never heal.

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What I am learning to do is go with the flow of the changing winds. Using the above example, I would no longer advise initiating a big conversation about it, instead just finding someone else to go with and allowing the change instead of struggling against it. Next time I would ask Jane again, and if she was still going with Jean, I would smile and tell her “Ok, I might take Rose again, maybe we will see you there.” (Maybe you wont take Rose again. There is no law that says you must take the same person every time, maybe you will ask someone else.)

The point is, if you find someone else, you will be less upset and dwelling over it. The chances are, in the above example, Jane didn’t mean to upset me. She simply wanted to go with Jean instead. It doesn’t need to mean our friendship is over, just that it has changed a little to a more casual nature.  It is my job to take care of me. Not Jane’s. If I stop going to Bingo, I am more likely to dwell on it and over think it and blame myself, and the same is true if I go alone, with the added insult of watching Jane and Jean have fun without me.  If I simply take it at face value, and find someone else to go with, my friendship with Jean stays unscathed, as does my self esteem.

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When the wind changes direction, don’t waste too much time fighting it and asking why, just change with it as best you can and the current will catch you up much quicker. I know from experience that this isn’t easy, but if you take it personally, the only person struggling will be you. People change and grow, so do friendships. Change can be painful but it is ultimately positive.

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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Need Friends, not Needy Friends.

So, here in Australia it is Summer, and therefore the long Summer end of year school holidays are upon us. As such, I take refuge in the air-conditioned cinemas with the kids as much as I can, if only for the 2 hours peace it offers! Haha!! This idea is not unique to me, and thankfully the movie makers are aware of my predicament and choose to capitalize on it by releasing as many kids movies as possible over these holidays. I’m not complaining!

I can’t say I usually enjoy children’s movies. I usually find there is too much singing if nothing else. Lol However, sometimes I am pleasantly surprised, and such was the case for Wreck It Ralph Breaks The Internet. For a start, the graphics were appealing somehow, perhaps that was just the candy in the racers hair though… Lol. It was a really interesting and creative, and even amusing visual representation of the internet in a way kids could understand based on our day to day existence, and it was all about…. You guessed it… Friendships!!!!

This is actually great for kids, because these are probably the most important relationships for our children as they are growing and developing and exploring who they are as individuals. It is really important, I feel, to teach them the value of friends from a young age, and equally how to grow and change with them instead of away from them.

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The movie raised an interesting question for adults too, when we want to support our friends, but doing so might lead them away from us and what we need from them. What if they want to move away for work, or study or love, for example? In the movie, the characters were best friends, who hung out together every single day. A bit like a typical “work wife” I suppose, someone who makes your life more bearable by enduring the same old routines with you and somehow making them fun.

Many of us can relate to the feeling of losing aforementioned “work wife” when greater things are calling them. It’s confronting, both because they are implementing change, which is scary and has you contemplating if you should do the same thing…. And if you aren’t ready for that…. Will you be ok without them? Just like in the kids movie, you worry about being abandoned, forgotten and lonely. Their departure will definitely leave a hole in your life, alter your routine and impact your happiness.

It is such a conundrum. We all want our friends to be happy, but it really sucks when that happiness seems to come at our own expense. In the movie, Ralph, the character who feels, or fears, he is being left behind, tries to sabotage his friends chance at happiness to keep her right where he needs her…. With him! While that is unthinkable in terms of adult life, it does actually happen. It might be a small act, like telling your newly energized health conscious friend that your cupcakes are low fat when they aren’t, or a bigger one like giving a future employer a negative character reference if you are in a position to do so. I know that is low, but it does happen!

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The people who do this are generally not terrible people, they are just desperate to hold on to the people involved. On the lesser extremes, others just struggle to put their own sadness aside and be happy for their friends. (Think hoping something bad will happen to stop her plans for example, although not saying so.)  Sometimes all it takes is for our friend to reassure us nothing will change between us, and that they will miss us. Unfortunately we all know as adults that this is unrealistic and things will indeed change, which makes our feelings hard to ignore. So what are you supposed to do?  Your feelings are valid, you will miss your friend, your life won’t be the same as it was, and you will probably go through a period of transition that will be hard. However, if your friend is excited, in love, or full of hope for a promising future, dig deep and be happy for her. You can tell her you will miss her, for sure, but recognise that her leaving is not personal. It is not a rejection or abandonment, she is doing what she needs to do to grow in her life. If you allow your insecurities and fears to cloud your judgement, you may indeed become needy and clingy, causing her to pull away even more. Sometimes these fears lead us to think only about what we need from them, not what they need from us…. or as the case may be, away from us. Being a good friend means being aware of what others need from us, and hopefully your friend will be aware that you need some reassurance too.

Essentially, what your feelings are, you see, are fears. Humans fear change at the best of times, and we hate it even more when other people force change upon us. I guess we hate feeling out of control too. When you can acknowledge that what you are feeling is fear, it is easier to conquer. Sadness feels all consuming and out of our control. Fear, on the other hand, is something we can face head on.

SPOILER ALERT: In the movie, Ralph’s friend does move on to find happiness, and instead of moping around, Ralph makes new routines and friendships with others. While he used to see his little buddy every day, he now only video chats with her once a week and sees her every few months. Because he has set himself up with new routines and people and found other ways to be happy, or at least distract himself from his sadness, he manages just fine. You will too. I promise. Sometimes it takes time.

So instead of moping and being sad, acknowledge that you are also going to need to make some changes. Are there projects you will have more time for or ways you could be more proactive and productive? Are there people you have overlooked because of the comfort of always having your friend around? Can you use your lunch break to finally catch up on that book you’ve been meaning to read instead of your usual gossip or shopping trip?

Keep your expectations realistic. Know that if you want to keep in touch with your friend, it will take real effort, positivity and they will be busier than you as they readjust to their new life. Do not take it personally! Have patience, reach out, and try not to make them feel guilty for wanting different things in life. Don’t struggle against it. Change will happen.

Go with the flow.  Keep Smiling.

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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Unloved, or unlovable?

My New Years post was about injecting some fun into friendships. This one is about how to do just that! Unloved, or unlovable? Hopefully neither, certainly not both.  Not me, not you, not anyone…. Yet in our darkest moments most of us have pondered the question. It is not lost on me that part of my need for friendships is to feel loved, cared for, enjoyed and valued. I have come to accept that I need about 5 extra support people, outside of my marriage to keep me feeling supported, heard, understood and fulfilled.

It seems natural that we all need to feel there is a network of people we can turn to, when things are good, when things are bad, and when we need help. Sometimes we might find all of those qualities in one or more friends, other times it takes a team of specialists to keep us well oiled! Whatever your preference, if you feel tuned in, you feel happier.

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However, even specialists need a break every so often. They miss things, let us down, take time out for their own lives and to see their own specialists or deal with other patients. When they do, this can trigger feelings of rejection, neglect, anger, sadness, fear, loneliness, anxiety and depression. It may be that all your specialists went on vacation at a similar time, or just the one you really needed and it’s tough to treat yourself even though you know what you need!

I know I go through times when I feel so happy and healthy that my cup is overflowing with love, nothing is too much and I can conquer the world. Other times my cup is empty and it seems like nobody can or will fill it, and my need for time, love and affection is too much for anybody, everybody and I am broken. I don’t even have to have a reason.

More often than not, there isn’t one. I am ok, nothing particularly good or bad has happened, I just crave some fun quality time with my friends, and it seems nobody is able or willing to oblige. As I am usually one of their team of specialists too, maybe we have reached a point where we are both in good condition and unsure how to be of service to one another when nobody needs anything?

So what is the answer? Fun?! Too often our friendships become mechanical, common place, a service to meet a need. Just as with relationships, we get bogged down in reality, shopping, chores, errands… what needs to be done. This can’t be helped, it is all a part of life, but what I need to do, and you probably do too, is schedule some real quality time together. The best part of friendships is their potential to escape reality together for a moment.

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Don’t get bogged down on who always plans what. Try to arrange an outing your friend would enjoy. Anything from a hike, to a movie, to coffee or drinks or a dayspa. Just time to relax and enjoy one another. Clear your calendar for a good block of time to just be in the moment enjoying your time together and do something that makes you put the phone down. This is maintenance we all need from time to time, and you will feel reenergized and refreshed and excited about each other again.

Try it, I promise it works. Part of the reason I sometimes feel unloved or unlovable is because my friends don’t seem enthusiastic about our time together. They may not have reached out for a while, followed up on something, or asked to spend quality time together. However, very seldom do I stop to ask myself what I have done to inspire them to do so? Have I put in any effort to make our time together a quality, fun experience? Remember the responsibility is shared. If you want quality time and attention, try and make it happen.

If you feel like you are always trying to arrange something and your friends are never interested or available, ask yourself why that may be? Are you fun to be around, or always a bit of a downer? Have you found events you can share which are enjoyable for you both? Are you asking for time that is convenient for you, but not for them? Are you asking for things that cost more than they can afford?

Try tweaking your strategy instead of giving up. If you usually ask for weeknight dinners at a restaurant, perhaps suggest a weekend pot luck brunch at your house. Or simply tell your friends, I miss you. Can we set up some quality time together soon? I really need some girl time. You will find your friends usually want this as much as you do, even if it is hard to coordinate.

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I assure you, you are not alone, you are not unloved nor unlovable and there is nothing wrong with you. You just need some time, love and attention, so give yourself permission to exist and to ask for it, instead of waiting for people to come to you. Remember what they say “Give to receive” Give a little quality time and attention and see what comes back in return. You are worth it, and I am positive your friends agree!

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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Are you scaring people away?

I remember what first drew me to quite a few of my failed friendships in the past quite well. Typically the person was an open book. I really enjoyed the way they opened up to me so quickly and paved the way for fast emotional intimacy and vulnerability through sharing. There have been various reasons in my own life that made me susceptible to these types of people. Sometimes I was just lonely and craving that connection with someone. Other times I had very little personal struggle going on, and therefore nothing much of myself to share. Maybe even sometimes I felt validated as though the person could already sense that I was a trustworthy individual and good friend material. And a host of other different reasons.

It is not lost on me that along my own journey I have been somewhat of a rescuer, drawn to people who needed saving in one way or another. (Note, this is different from requiring some emotional support, as we all do from time to time.) Often the types of people I was drawn to then, would give me a green light to go ahead and start rescuing them, rewarding me with praise and putting me on a pedestal. This would satisfy both of our needs for a time, and did indeed feel wonderful.

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Sadly, the thing about pedestals is that I don’t belong on one, and will soon fall down. The favours I once willingly offered, became draining and I felt resentful. Similarly my friend often felt less than, incapable and no happier or wiser than before I came along. The same intensity that brought us together would quickly burn us out.

My intentions were good, and my friends were also good people, it’s just that each of us failed to have boundaries or recognise the red flags, caught up in the whirlwind of intensity. Love grows, and blossoms, slowly over time. This is just as true in friendships as in romantic relationships. How could my friend know, without getting to know me that I was worthy of such trust? It was like a test, right at the beginning that I was desperate not to fail, triggering me into friendship rescue! Similarly how could I know that my friend was worthy of such time and effort right off the bat, or if she even needed rescuing? How could I know if she were capable of solving her own problems if I swept in to solve them for her….. how could she know?

So, how do you know if you have fallen into this pattern, from either end of the equation? Well, if you are a rescuer, you will probably identify with what I have already written, and recognise that you always seem to end up with extremely needy and exhausting friends…. Because you rushed right in. If however you are the damsel in distress, you may not even realise. A good sign is that you feel you are always friendly and open with people, yet they always seem to keep their distance from you.

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If you have a tendency to be too open with people too soon, healthy people will recognise this as a boundary violation. This may confuse you, as friendships are often based on vulnerability, right? The thing is, vulnerability is shared. In the situation you are creating, you are oversharing, and they are overwhelmed and scared away. They probably don’t know what to say or do or what you expect from them, and don’t feel you have earned the type of sharing you are engaging in. Added to that, you have probably not allowed any sharing on their behalf either?!

Telling someone the first time you meet them that your partner died of lung cancer and you are about to lose your house and have nobody to turn to, for example, is too much, even if it is very true. If you need someone to talk to that badly, I suggest a trained mental health professional who may actually be in a position to link you up with useful resources, and help you deal with your grief and stress.

If you continue to give your life story to everyone you meet in the hopes of making friends, you continue to run the risk of making unhealthy connections with unhealthy people. You don’t want friends who pity you, and although support is part and parcel of friendship, it is a 2 way street. Consider what you have to offer as well as what you have to gain from potential friends.

Most  of us love talking about ourselves. Make sure you keep the conversations light at first, and share small bits of yourself slowly. Allow the other person the chance to do the same. As I am learning, you want to show interest without making someone feel interrogated, but you also want to share just enough of yourself that they are left wanting to know more.

If you are in a place where you do require help, don’t burden people early on with heavy requests. Allow them to help you in whatever small ways they can and are willing and be grateful, rather than feeling resentful that they didn’t jump to your rescue. In my experience, this does no good anyway. You need to learn to help yourself or you will always feel too heavy and burdensome to others. They will be wary of you needing too much.

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This can be particularly tricky for those of you who speak the love language “services.” The way you identify friendship may need to change. I know you feel loved and cared for when people provide services to help you, but it is not the sole definition of friendship. Many others are wary of this as you may ask for too much, or they may not feel like they would ask you for, nor expect such favours.

If you can identify with either sides of this, be mindful of giving people space. Do not put people on pedestals, we all have strengths and weaknesses, and question how much you value this person compared with how well you really know them. People will always show you who they are, in time. Allow such time before you make any judgments or get too attached.

Remember it was the tortoise, not the hare, who won the race in the end.

❤ Love,
Your BestFriend ForNever
xx

 

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