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.
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.
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.
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!
Your Best Friend ForNever