Can your comrades cause conflict with your courting companion?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

❤ Love,
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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


1. Acknowledge that BLAME is UNHELPFUL.

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

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

2. Know the difference between thoughts and feelings.

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

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


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

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

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

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

❤ Love,
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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5 Secrets of Friendship

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

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

1. Embarrassing stories.

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

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

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

2. Private jokes.

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

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

3. Behind the scenes.

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

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

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

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

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


4. Naked Truth.

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

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

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

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


5. History.

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

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

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

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

Vulnerability is valuable, try it!!

❤ Love,
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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What does "space" actually mean?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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Do Broken Promises Equal Broken Hearts?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

❤ Love,
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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Making Friends at Different Ages and Different Stages

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

❤ Love,
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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When You’re The Last To Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

❤ Love,
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

❤ Love,
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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It doesn’t get easier with age

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prevention is always better than cure!

❤ Love,
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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Connecting through Conversation; Counterbalancing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

❤ Love,
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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In Sickness and in Health?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

❤ Love,
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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Are You Reminiscing or Rem-in-Missing Out?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

❤ Love,
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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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