Navigating New Relationships and Old Friendships

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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

Dearest Ladies,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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Fractured Friendships Are NOT Failures!!!!



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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

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

Mixing Oil and Water or Friendship and Business!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

❤ Love
Your best Friend ForNever
xx

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

Funny, and not aggressive, well played! haha

Funny, and not aggressive, well played! haha

Rules of Conversation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

Friendships too?

Friendships too?

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

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

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

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

But I can’t tell you

But I can’t tell you

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

If in doubt, seek guidance from a trained professional!

If in doubt, seek guidance from a trained professional!

Friendship is NOT a Competition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I also refuse to feel judged by you.

I also refuse to feel judged by you.

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

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

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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When the friendship winds change

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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Need Friends, not Needy Friends.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go with the flow.  Keep Smiling.

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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Unloved, or unlovable?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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Are you scaring people away?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

❤ Love,
Your BestFriend ForNever
xx

 

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Love and Laughter

You may have gathered from my posts that I have a tendency towards being a little on the intense side, always pondering and contemplating. This is something I actually like about myself, but I wont deny that it can make me a little serious, or at least it can make me come across as someone who could “lighten up” a bit.

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I have always believed that intimacy was the key to friendship, and usually that is no laughing matter. Recently though, I have reached the conclusion that lighthearted banter and laughing can indeed inspire deep friendships, no less meaningful from the intense intimate ones I am used to. This really did surprise me, although it shouldn’t have I don’t suppose.

I tend to compartmentalise my friendships. The ones I really talk to, the ones I listen to, the ones in similar circumstances or with similar interests, and the ones I laugh with. That isn’t to say I never laugh with the ones I talk to or never share interest with the ones I laugh with, of course at times I do. But each friendship tends to have a dominant quality which lands it in the category it is in.  If I really need to vent I will contact someone in the first group, or if I need to chill and relax I’ll contact someone from the last 2 groups. This works for me, and I recommend it.

However, after returning home from a friend’s place last night, laden with thoughtful xmas gifts that I loved, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. Not only from all the presents, and the thought and time that went into them, but also from the great night we had just shared, filled with laughter. It wasn’t that anything particularly funny had happened, yet somehow we had spent the whole night laughing.

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It dawned on me that we always laugh. It doesn’t seem to matter if we are at home, at a comedy show or bingo, wherever we are, there is always laugher. Perhaps it is because we both share a heavily sarcastic sense of humour, or maybe it is because we share similar “realistic” life views, but I like to think it is just because we enjoy being together.

It certainly isn’t because we can’t talk about anything real, as I would have assumed. I love the way our real conversations are littered with lightness somehow, and once discussed the issues faced suddenly don’t seem as heavy. There isn’t judgement and each of us is free to be ourselves fully, and there is support and encouragement of each other to be the best that we can be, as people and in whatever our hearts desire.

As I reflect on friendships past, passed and lost, it is those with the most laughter that I feel I miss the most…. And I have to wonder if that is because these are the most easily lost, not because they lack value, but because I have failed to recognise their value? Perhaps I have subconsciously labelled these types of friendships as transient and easily replaceable? Certainly I am guilty of thinking these types of people don’t delve into the depths that I require to form intense bonds with them.

In reflection that really isn’t true, although it would be fair to say they open up more slowly and cautiously, using humour as an escape if things get uncomfortably deep. This is probably quite emotionally healthy and allows a balance sometimes lacking in my other connections. While I have friends to turn to when I really need to delve deep, and I love these friends more than words can express, I think I need to lighten them by making more effort to inject some fun and laughter into our time together. After all if they get too heavy, they may just sink, which would be devastating. Plus, when nobody has anything deep to share, maybe there is nothing to say?

Failing that, laugh at them! Lol And yourself! xx

Failing that, laugh at them! Lol And yourself! xx

There are certain friendships which seem to wane when drama or negativity escapes us, and although this ebb and flow of friendships is normal, I have to accept accountability for not making the effort to make those friendships more fun so the other person is motivated to seek out my company for entertainment not just emotional support.

I know this isn’t always possible, maybe the friends who understand you the most are not the ones with shared interests or humour, and the ones with shared humour may not always be able to provide you the intense sincerity you need at any given time. That said, it will be my new years resolution to try. To extend the friendships I have to make them even more enjoyable and well balanced.

I have always expected that love will lead to laughter, but thank you to the friends who have taught me that laughter can indeed lead to love. I love all of you, and look forward to laughing 2019 away with you soon.

Happy New Year Folks. Live, Laugh, Love.

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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When a friend doesn’t tell you what you wanted to hear, or show you what you want to see?!

I imagine we have all been in situations where we felt disappointed in a friend for what she said, or didn’t say, or how she responded to something we said or did. The experience can leave you feeling unheard, unseen, misunderstood and in some cases questioning the entire friendship!

Is it really fair to make people feel this way? Let people be who they are, not who you want them to be, and love them for it.

Is it really fair to make people feel this way? Let people be who they are, not who you want them to be, and love them for it.

Sometimes it may be something small, like that time she suggested the dress you carefully selected looks like a night gown, and sometimes it is something that feels way bigger, like minimizing your relationship problems or not showing sympathy or support in a time of difficulty or need. All of these things can hurt, and make it seem like your friend is careless with both her words and your heart.  Added to that it can be really difficult to broach the situation without seeming like a demanding drama queen!

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So, what is a girl to do? For a start, know your audience. Everyone in our lives have strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes tact may be a weakness and your friend may think she is being helpful with her blunt remarks about your style? If it really bothers you, a quick reminder that you didn’t ask for her opinion should nip this type of bluntness in the bud. If your friend is single, she may not be in the best emotional space to listen and understand about your relationship problems, especially if she is envious and feels you should be grateful just to be in a relationship. (Note this is by no means all single people, not even most.)  If she is suffering a tragedy such as a terminal illness, or the loss of a loved one, her perspective on “real problems” may have changed somewhat, and she may not realise that she is minimizing how you feel as she is too caught up in her grief.

Once you know your audience better, you will start to know which friends are the ones to turn to for certain things. I know I have friends in my circle that I can talk to, ones I can enjoy, ones I listen to, ones who’s advice I ponder and ones who I can rely on. They are all valuable and I do not expect any of them to be a jack of all trades. Keeping my expectations real has helped me not to be disappointed in people.

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If you thought you knew your audience and had the same expectations as always, but your friend let you down, it may be time to stop and consider what has changed for your friend. In your need to get her to be there for you, did you neglect to be there for her? Is she ok? Is she struggling with something? It is always best to try and understand and the likeliest reason has nothing to do with you, but what is happening for her. If she was tired, irritable, not feeling well or stressed, she may have been hoping to have a fun time, and been a little resentful that you asked more of her than she had to give. Which is usually what it boils down to. The issue isn’t in what you have asked for, just that the person in question couldn’t give it to you.

The next thing to consider is – are you asking for something that you would give, instead of what your friend would? Think about all the ways your friend shows her love and concern. Her values. If she values honesty she may feel like the truth is always better, even if her delivery is blunt. What is her love language? Are you feeling let down because she didn't drop everything and rush to be by your side, even though she sent flowers? If that is the case, perhaps your language is time and hers is gifts? What is her communication style? Maybe she is direct, while you prefer people to sugar coat things? Are you upset that she didn’t call, although she did message to check in? If your communication preference is verbal and hers is written, that may be where the mismatch lies. It may seem simple if all you needed was a hug….. but if physical affection is uncomfortable for them, you may be asking too much from them.

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Lastly you have to ask yourself, is what you are asking for reasonable? If you were in her position and her circumstances, would you have been able to offer whatever it was that you were asking for? Sometimes, without realizing it, we accidentally ask for too much because we fail to consider what other people have going on and that we are not the centre of any universe, least of all theirs.

Of course, the question remains, if you knew what you wanted to see or hear, why did you ask in the first place? We don’t get to dictate or control other people’s responses or reactions. We don’t have to take their advice or opinion on board. And if they can’t be there for you in the ways that you need, accept this and find people that can. You obviously know what you need from people to feel supported and cared for. That doesn’t mean everyone who doesn’t show you what you want to see doesn’t care, they just care in their own way.

If you know what you want to see, look in the right places to find it!

❤ Love,
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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Friendships are Happiness.


I don’t often write about my children here, but I wanted to share this. My son has Autism and a range of other conditions that impact his maturity, capability, intellect and social skills. He is nearly 11 years old at the time of writing this piece and this is his 7th year at the same primary school including kindy. In all of the previous 6 years he has not had much social success.

I never really thought it bothered him, as he seemed content to play alone and stick to his routines in playtime etc…. This year however my son made a friend! As a matter of fact, he made a few. The absolute joy on his face as they spend time together makes my heart feel so full. The excitement as he anticipates their arrival for play dates is like nothing else. If I could bottle this feeling, I’d be a very rich woman.

My daughter is more of a social butterfly, eagerly befriending every child she meets with equal joy and wonder. She is in her element when she is surrounded by her friends and has even asked to start her own friendship collage. I have always known friends would be a big and important part of her life, and being a girl, yes some of the friendship dramas have already started! Still, I never worry too much about her as she is such a social queen.

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I did worry about my son though, because of his challenges, and because he spent so long in a social environment and didn’t seem to make friends easily, if at all. Now that he has made friends, I can see him blossoming. I don’t just mean socially either. His grades have improved, his motivation has improved, his self esteem and confidence have improved, and his behaviour and attitude have improved too!

It really highlights to me how much friendship and social inclusion improves our health, happiness and well being! It is easier to make and maintain friendships at school age, I recognise this! Perhaps that is why older generations often reflect on school days as the happiest of their lives? Because they had friends, and they had time, and limited responsibilities! When my kids are with their friends, they are playing!

As I reflect on my own friendships, when I am with my own friends, I am also playing. Not as literally as my children certainly, but I am taking a moment away from responsibilities, chores, errands, and doing something that nourishes me and my soul. This is true even if we do nothing at all, or if we spend the whole time venting and discussing said responsibilities, chores and errands etc…. Time with our friends represents time that is our own. We do have less time as adults, so it is even more important that we make friendships a priority if we wish to feel happy.

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My mother recently commented that my husband seems content with just him and I, no friends really required. I would agree with this actually, he has always seemed contented. However, when he made a few friends in his previous workplace, I saw improvements in his mood, motivation and levels of stress. When we went to some social events with these friends, I saw a jovial boyish side to him that I hadn’t really seen before, which only made my love for him grow stronger.

Similarly, when he left that workplace for another, he became more sullen, not enjoying going to work anymore and somewhat restless. Although he still kept in touch with his best work mate, it wasn’t the same at work without friends! Thankfully he is able to transfer back to his old place of work soon, and the excitement he feels about this is just as palpable as the excitement my children feel before a sleep over or birthday party!!! Sure, he has experienced success, been promoted, earns a good wage and has a happy lifestyle with us….. but friendship was the key to really making him happy.

I am not suggesting friendship is all that matters. Maybe if you hate your job, you will still hate it even if you like the people that work there with you. You probably wont be happy until all the pieces fit. Friendships can’t save you from bad relationships, financial stress or many of life’s other tragedies, but it definitely helps!

To Quote Steve Maraboli, the Author of Life, The Truth, And Being Free “Happiness is not the absence of problems; it is the ability to deal with them.” What helps us deal with problems, is feeling confident, capable, valued, supported, cared for and not alone. Can we be content without friendships? Yes, I guess we can, but too much contentedness tends to lead to us just feeling a bit numb really. Friendships are the icing on the proverbial cake. The time we carve out for ourselves to self nourish, explore, learn, grow and play.

By making time for our friends, we are actually making time for ourselves, and making ourselves happy.

❤ Love,
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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The Group Gift

So, many women around my age, and probably your age too, are starting exciting journeys in their lives, such as engagement, marriage, pregnancy or even retirement. Of course, with all the excitement comes the celebrations, and many of these end up being quite costly for the rest of us in terms of gifts, meals, outfits, transport, drinks and the list goes on!

To help with the costs, or be better able to actually buy your friend something she may actually want or use, it is often suggested that a few mutual friends all contribute to one particular gift. While this seems like a great idea at first glance, and really is worth consideration, you have to be mindful of certain aspects that cause a moral dilemma.

If a few of the people asked to contribute have already bought something for the intended recipient, they may feel pressured to pitch in and give extra as well or alternatively they may feel excluded from participation. This is especially true if their gift appears to pale in comparison to the group gift, or is significantly lower in cost or value.

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Of course, everyone knows you don’t  put a price on friendship, and in most cases (I said MOST! LOL) the recipient will be grateful for anything and everything people choose to gift her. That said, finances are a fast way to fracture friendships! What each person can afford should be dictated by herself alone and not presumed by the organizer.

What I mean by the organizer, is that there is typically one member of the group who will start a group chat, often suggesting a desired gift, the price, and what the cost will be per person if everyone chips in. Example: “Hi Ladies! Jane mentioned this cute stroller that she wanted for the baby. It is $200. If we all chip in $50 we could get it as a group gift, I know she’d love it! Who’s in?”

The general assumption here is that each member of the group can afford to spend $50, or wants to. There is an implied pressure to participate. The organizer has chosen the gift, and will likely get it when everyone hands over the cash. This does pose the advantage of having the gift taken care of without much thought or effort on behalf of the rest of the group…. But what happens if one member says “Actually I already got her something, sorry.” Does everyone else’s share increase? Do you find an alternative person to go in for the gift? Do you select a different gift?

Sometimes the organizer may fail to take into account other factors or costs involved. What if the baby shower was being held at a high tea event, and everyone was asked to pay $58 a head to attend, plus chip in an extra $5 to pay for the guest of honour? When you take into consideration those costs plus petrol to get there and any extra expenses, plus a $50 gift, group members are looking at over $100 to celebrate.

Some of them may be in a position to do so, but not feel particularly inclined to direct the funds in that direction, or some may be too embarrassed to admit that they are not in a similar financial position. So how can we get around this issue?

If you are thinking of organizing a group gift, first think about the expenses already incurred. Invite as many people as possible to participate and keep costs to a minimum. Ask the other participants for ideas for the gift, even if you want to add a few suggestions too. If you have your heart set on getting something for someone, hopefully it is something you can afford to do alone. Ask people to donate as much or as little as they like for the gift, giving a date to get the money to you by. After that date, tell the group how much you have raised and again ask for additional ideas as how to direct the funds, depending on how much was raised.

It’s probably a good idea to start by acknowledging that some people may have already got a gift, or prefer to give the recipient something more private or personal, which is completely acceptable. Thank people for their input and try not to apply pressure to participate.

The other thing to remember, is to try and keep things relatively equal in terms of gifts. If you are a tight knit group, the chances are you are at very similar stages, and likely will all be celebrating milestones of your own in the coming months and years. It would seem unfair to raise $500 to buy Jane a new cot, but only $200 for Stephanie, even if the item Stephanie wants is lower in cost. People will remember what they chipped in for everyone else and may feel hurt if they discover people chipped in significantly less for themselves when their time came.

Again, that is not to say there is a monetary value that can be applied to friendships…. Just that the amount of effort and excitement for everyone seems equal. It might be very exciting when the first of you has a baby for example, and less so when the last of you has her first child but the rest of you are already onto your third. It isn’t the last persons fault her timeline varied, so try to keep the costs and expectations manageable to future selves for whom circumstances may well be very different!

Remember that your friendship is always the best gift you can offer, your love, support, kind words and excitement are all that are really required.

❤ Love,
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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Focus on Friendships Infantile?

It’s that time of year again where we all start thinking and talking gifts!!! A friend of mine asked me for some ideas of what to get me for Christmas this year. Keeping in mind that her budget is tight, I merrily tried to suggest things that were meaningful to me, but inexpensive, like the well known friendship collage. My friend had not heard of this, so I showed her a few examples I have received over the years, and also made reference to my dressing table mirror, which is bordered with a hefty collection of pics of my friends and family.

For those of you who have also never heard of a friendship collage, it can be a book, board, poster, frame or even virtual video. It generally contains pics of you and your friend, funny memories you have shared, tickets to events or shows you have been to, snippets of conversations you have had, quotes pertaining to friendship, letters expressing what she means to you, or anything else that is symbolic of your friendship. Not only is it inexpensive, it also shows you cared enough to apply time and effort into creating the perfect piece.

image from https://supportforoscar.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/friendship-day-collage-for-oscar/

image from https://supportforoscar.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/friendship-day-collage-for-oscar/

My friend scoffed at this idea, called it lame and said she had never liked someone enough to make a board about it!!! Haha Ok, fair enough, it’s not for her, and I’m sure there are plenty of you out there who share the sentiment that you wouldn’t thank someone for that gift. (Of course, I was suggesting things I would like, for ME, not things she would like. Something to be mindful of when gifting. See post “Friendship Is A Gift Of Giving” for more details.

It doesn’t bother me particularly that this idea wasn’t for my friend. This is the sort of gift that has to come from the heart, and if she wasn’t feeling it, then it loses it’s meaning. What did bother me more was the insinuation that my focus on friendships is infantile. Really? Her own home, and that of most of my friends is filled with pictures of family, parents, children, pets, weddings, siblings, holidays etc…. the people, places and things that you love? So why is it considered juvenile to extend that privilege to friends?

I certainly do display pictures of my wedding, my children, my pets, my extended family, and I do value these people and the relationships we share, that is no less true because I like to include my friends in the mix too. I think my friends perspective, is shared by our culture and society. Friends are important when you are young, until you have a family and “grow up.” After that time they cease to be important because other things take priority.

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I simply can’t and won’t accept this to be true, not for me, and hopefully not for you. Friendships are important. Study after study proves that they increase our happiness, productivity, mental health, and even lifespan. Many people of my parents generation spend time reminiscing about the good old days….. and when you probe into what was so good about those old days… the answer seems to be “friends.”

Added to this, as my parents generation finds themselves at the age of retirement, once again social interaction is craved and needed. They have the time and the means to enjoy themselves…. But with whom? While there really are clubs and things to make friendships later in life, which I value and encourage, prevention seems better than cure!

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That starts with us!! Yes, with you! Part of being an adult is being heavy with responsibility, and I know that isn’t synonymous with friendship particularly, which is associated more with fun and youth and frivolity. However, it is our responsibility to make sure we maintain friendships, for ourselves and for future generations. We can help end the loneliness epidemic we are facing, by facing each other. We can teach our kids what really matters in this world are our friends and our family. Wealth can buy you many things, but true friendship isn’t one of them.

I am not suggesting that we don’t need careers and homes and families, of course we do, but what good is that success if we have nobody to share it with. So please, do put up your pictures of your friends…. Don’t “keep your memories of yourself in a shoebox on the closet shelf” – Curtis Stigers, To Be Loved.   

Help me banish the idea that friends are only for the young. Friends are for YOU. Friends are for everyone in every stage, even if a friendship collage isn’t!!! Hehe

❤ Love,
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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Reflections

Previously I have posted about perspective and how we can change it. I have often commented in casual conversation with friends that the human mind is amazing in its ability to see and hear what it wants to see and hear….. however if this is the case why should we need to change our perspective at all?

I am not sure if it is because people like myself (pessimists! Lol) are naturally always drawn to the negative conclusion while I imagine optimists are drawn to the positive conclusion, or if we are all realists at heart and talk ourselves into or out of whatever it is we don’t want to accept.

I have also posted about reflections and how all of us want to see a positive reflection of ourselves in our friends. This makes sense; we all have an ego and an image to maintain. I have to question though, how this fits in with accountability. If the only reflections we ever see are the positive aspects of ourselves how will we ever change, grow, learn and expand into better people?

The overwhelming thoughts that compelled me to start this blog were simple. I noticed a few patterns in my own history which led me to believe that I was the common denominator in the failed friendships equation and therefore I needed to change. When I explored this thought further I realized I have a few unhealthy patterns in friendship. Not spending enough time really getting to know a person before I thought of them as a friend. Getting lost in an intense bonding phase too quickly and wearing rose coloured glasses, which prevent me from seeing red flags. (Meaning I see what I want to see.) Lastly having impossibly high expectations of my friends; then feeling let down when they fail to meet these expectations, and internalizing reasons which have nothing at all to do with me.

And so I have practised being less needy of friends’ time and attention and spending time on my own. I have exercised the ability to challenge my perspective when I am internalizing some perceived slight against me by a friend, which actually hasn’t got anything to do with me. I have sat and looked at the uncomfortable ugly parts of me when my friends hold me accountable for my misgivings, and pondered how to be better, both for them and for myself. I have tried to always see my friends’ positive intention towards me because I know deep down people are good. Most of us don’t walk around wondering how we can hurt each other.
I have tried to understand rather than forgive. I have tried to overlook poor behavior and cast it off as human nature. I have tried to see the good in my friends; even at times blindly. And I have tried to write this blog to help other women do the same!

While I do stand by that and everything I have written here, I have to say that sometimes it takes 2! As much as I can learn and grow and be flexible and understanding, we all still have to have boundaries and know what we will and wont tolerate. It is a part of self respect, and sometimes happiness lies in knowing when enough is enough and things have gone too far.

Constantly changing my perspective to continue to allow people to treat me badly and cross those boundaries which make me uncomfortable is unhealthy. I walk away from people and situations that are no longer positive.  I cannot and will not continually validate other people’s feelings at the expense of my own, or consistently show them a positive reflection of themselves if it is not what I see.  I can’t take accountability if it means accepting full responsibility for problems that were co-created.

Here is one of my boundaries. If I come to a friend with my feelings I deserve to be heard and validated and treated with love and respect. Nobody deserves to be told their feelings are silly or be made to feel small. That is not a part of friendship. I don’t appreciate having my romantic intent questioned because I dared to have expectations and needs, or share that I felt let down by a friend’s actions. So many of my friends have said to me “This is not a relationship.” This is a way to tell me that I don’t get to have needs or expectations, and especially not feelings in relation to friendships?!  Alas, I do have them and I am not sorry. I knew it wasn’t a romantic relationship, and yet I catered to their needs anyway. Whether you like it or not, friendships are relationships! They can and do break up. If we end them silently or with a goodbye, we do end them. There is sadness when they end. I am proud to say I feel sad when they end. I am so tired of being told it is silly. It isn’t.

The people in my past didn't make it to my future for a reason. I played my part and I have explored that, but often the reason we failed is because they couldn’t do the same. Mostly, it isn’t about me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t deserve consideration and respect or for my feelings to be invalidated. Neither do you. Nobody does.

Yet, I AM changing my perspective! I have standards, and values that I won’t compromise on. If they are different from yours that doesn’t make me right, but it does make us incompatible.  I don’t have an unhealthy pattern of leaving healthy friendships behind. I have a healthy pattern of standing for what I believe in even if it means standing alone. And I encourage all of you to do the same.
 

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

 

Missing a Friendship, if not a Friend?

Most of us know the heart break of falling out of favour with friends, the torture of FOMO (Fear of missing out) and the awkwardness of picking yourself up and trying again at new friendships. Many of you continue to follow these people on social media, and feel sadness at the isolation you feel as a result of seeing their happy snaps as life goes on without you. I don’t know why we do this to ourselves, honestly.

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What I do know, is it is quite common to miss your friend, or your friendship, even if you don’t really regret letting it go.  Why is this? You may spend months or even years agonizing over ending the friendship, then when you do end it, spend more weeks, months or years agonizing over that choice. Is it possible you regret letting your friendship go?

If the answer to that question is a hard yes, go ahead and try your best to reconcile. If however, like most of us, you are unsure about the answer to that question, you will probably find you actually miss the friendship, per say, more than you miss your friend in question.  This is usually much more about ourselves than themselves.

Most friendships do have positive qualities, even if they didn’t outweigh the negative ones. Most friendships do have shared laughter, memories and represented some sort of validation or met a social need. If you are looking at the person on social media and feeling resentful that they don’t seem upset, that they don’t seem to care that they lost you, or that they seem to have swiftly moved on, I suggest you take a closer look.

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For starters, most of us use social media as a highlight reel for our lives, capturing happy times that we would like to remember in the future. Many of us do not share the really awful heavy stuff, nor the mundane petty things. Some people use it to convince others, or perhaps even themselves, that they are living a much better life than they are, and many of the smiles you see on there were captured specifically for this purpose…. It doesn’t actually mean their life is the party it seems. The real question is why are you more concerned with what they are doing than what you are doing?

It is perfectly acceptable to miss the positive qualities of a person or the friendship you shared. That doesn’t mean that you necessarily want them back in your life, although it may mean you struggle to let them go entirely. Once you can accept that social media isn’t always what it seems, the next thing to consider is what did that friendship represent to you?

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Did you lose the one person with whom you felt you could be entirely yourself without judgement? Was it your only friend? Did you lose a group of friends as a result of the disagreement? Did your friend, despite her faults, always make you feel special, needed or important? What was the reason you held onto the friendship for so long?

Once you can understand what positives the friendship brought into your life, you can identify some of your core needs! This is really important in moving forwards, because knowing what you want and need is the first step towards getting it!!! If you are the sort of person who likes to feel needed, perhaps search for voluntary positions in your community. Not only is it a great way to meet like minded folk and make friends, it also serves a very important purpose and you will be needed by the organization much more than any one individual. If you need to feel like you can be completely vulnerable with someone, you know you need to start practicing a little more emotional vulnerability in some other friendships to see who may be able to meet that need. Often the answer to that surprises you! If you would like to feel more social, included and like you also have weekends full of fun, then it is time to start making plans of your own with people.

If the problem seems to be that you don’t have many other friends you can turn to, check out my formula for making friends called Let’s be friends. While I am sure that your friend, and your friendship did at one time make you feel happy, it is a trap to believe that they are the answer or the only person who can meet your need or bring you happiness. Thinking that way is a trap, and it can actually stop you from moving forwards with your own life.

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Yes it is normal and ok to miss the friendship and mourn your loss, but instead of placing your worth in their hands and judging it based on how much or little they miss you, place it in your own hands and know you’re worth the effort. If you know you are worth the effort it shouldn’t be too  hard for you to make the effort for yourself. By all accounts it probably seems like they are? Stop looking them up though, and if you can’t do that, maybe it is time for a reconciliation after all?

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

Your worth does not depend on someone else missing you… they probably do miss you, but how would you know anyway?

Your worth does not depend on someone else missing you… they probably do miss you, but how would you know anyway?

The secrets of friendship.

I used to watch a television show called Cougar Town starring Courtney Cox. What I liked about the show was that it featured a close group friendship. While some friendships within the group seemed closer at times, the general premise of the show seemed to be that there were really no secrets between the characters. In a perfect world, we could all be 100% honest and open with everyone like the characters of the show, but in reality that just doesn’t work. The closer you are with someone, it seems the more secrets you share with them.

Having people to trust, turn to and confide in is a really important aspect of humanity, and it all helps us feel really seen, heard, and loved somewhat unconditionally, by the people we let in emotionally. It’s a wonderful feeling when you can finally confess your true heart and mind, even more so if your friend shares the same vulnerabilities with you. Sometimes, secrets are actually the glue that hold friendships together.

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So what happens when you share a secret with a friend, with trust and confidence that it will stay between you, but you later find out that confidence has been betrayed? When the pieces start falling apart in this way, the glue suddenly creates a very sticky situation! Is it a deal breaker? Can you ever learn to trust that person again? Can you forgive them? Can you still be close?

Honestly I think it depends on a few different things. Firstly, did you specify that this was private information, or were you working on the assumption that all your conversations were private? That seems to be a common misunderstanding between friends. When you are regularly open and vulnerable with a friend during your time and communications with them, you sometimes forget to be specific about what things are especially confidential. I know sometimes it seems pretty obvious, or you think they know everything you discuss is private. That said, you probably wouldn’t have minded if they mentioned to a friend that you recommended the Italian restaurant down the road, the reason you are upset is because they shared something deeper. What may seem terribly private to you, such as your menstrual cramps and what you use to treat them, may seem like shareable information to your friend. That probably depends on what values you grew up with or something, but I’m not going to delve into that now.

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Secondly, was this information secondhand to you before you shared it with her? If you repeated a rumour, or something you overheard that you shouldn’t have etc…. do you really have the right to get upset with your friend for doing exactly as you did and passing the information along?? Perhaps it has made you look bad now that it is out in the open, however if you shouldn’t have been blabbing, I suggest you go easy on your friend for the same faux pas!

Next, did the information in any way burden your friend? Did you share something that made her feel a moral or legal obligation to share? Loyalty does not come before personal safety or the law. You take a risk when you share information that burdens someone else, and if they felt obligated to act on said information, you probably wont have a leg to stand on, as your friend will feel morally she has acted in line with her values and beliefs.

If you were clear that it was confidential, it was your personal news to share and did not compromise your friends values by sharing, the next question you have to ask yourself was, why do you think she shared the information. I know you are thinking it doesn’t matter why, and you might be right. But to give your friend the benefit of the doubt, can you see any way she may have accidentally shared the information? Was she under a lot of stress at the time and needed to offload to someone else?  Who did she share the information with?

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Again, you may think it is irrelevant, but if she shared with another friend with whom she feels close, and that friend has no ties to yourself, she may have felt there was no harm in sharing. Although a confidence was betrayed, it may have felt inconsequential to your friend when she shared.

The last thing you need to consider was how did your friend react when you confronted her about the issue? Did she admit her mistake and genuinely apologise? Sometimes all we really need is to feel like our friend heard us, cared that they made a mistake and wanted to fix the issue between you. Regardless of her reasons, I think there may be hope if she was able to be accountable for her mistake and you had a genuine conversation about it. Hopefully that conversation led to you being much clearer about your boundaries around privacy.

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The next thing to touch on is rebuilding trust. Your friend does not get to dictate the speed at which you recover from this and trust her again. It is your responsibility to jointly navigate this, and she needs to understand if you need some time and space, or if the closeness between you weakens, even temporarily. It would be wise to be more cautious about what you want to share with this friend for a while, and although she would feel better if you just dropped it and instantly moved on, you now have to do what makes yourself feel better. If no harm was really done, it may be easier to forgive and forget, or even if something positive came from it in the end, however if there were adverse consequences for you as a result of this incident, you may take time to recover, or decide you cannot continue the friendship. Only you can decide that.

My best advice, if you want to continue and repair the friendship, is to concentrate on building positive vibes with your friend again. Fun things not necessarily intimate things. The more positive time you spend together, the safer you will ultimately feel to start sharing again at your own pace. It should happen naturally and should not feel forced.

Remember, whatever happens, keep your dignity and don’t drop to her level in revealing her secrets.

Have you ever recovered from a betrayed confidence? Don’t forget to share!

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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