How to be socially successful.

Do you ever idolize someone that seems to have it all? Beauty, health, husband, kids, career, house, pets, friends and more? I know I have! It would be easy to be jealous of these women, if I wasn’t aware enough to realise that with a little more effort and motivation I could have more success in some of these areas too!

A dear friend recently confessed to me that she had been feeling lonely in her life, and she was so envious of the amount of time I spend with my friends. Laughing it off somewhat I replied that it was only because I was too lazy to work on my home as much as she does. During the course of the conversation it became clear that we were each envious of something about the other person, not because we weren’t capable of having the things we want, but because we weren’t working towards having them.

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I could go into the state of my home, but let’s just say that it is a stereotypical writers space, as disorganized as my thoughts! I did spend a whole Sunday afetnoon organizing and cleaning a specific area in the house, however you wouldn’t know it now, as my motivation to keep it that way is lower than my desire for it to stay that way. What I do want to talk about is my friend putting more effort into her friendships!

My friend has one friend she considered a best friend. She has other friendships, however they seemed to operate more like acquaintances than actual friendships. My friend was feeling a bit down and lost, because her “bestie” was not really available for friendship at this time in her life. What I mean by that, is that she didn’t appear to be making my friend a priority. Always “busy” with work and family commitments, she wasn’t spending any quality time with my friend. Although they often talked daily, it seemed my friend never really knew anything about her “besties” life or anything that mattered.

Their connection seemed to be dwindling. My friend tried to talk about this with her “bestie” but somehow it always seemed accusatory and often ended in an argument. Her “bestie” would become defensive and list all the other things she has to worry about and do, and nothing would be resolved. This left my friend feeling anxious, pining for time and connection from her “bestie,” needy, even. My friend would overthink the situation and could not fathom the idea that this was not personal. It felt like a rejection.

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In talking it over with me, she was able to articulate that her “bestie” was no longer able or willing to meet her friendship needs, and she didn’t know how to make her “show up” for their friendship more. Over and over again, she would come to the same conclusion “I just have to try and enjoy it for what it is, and forget about what it isn’t.” Alas, no matter how many times she tried, it was hard to ignore what it wasn’t.  I put it to her that it may be because she still had an unmet friendship need.

This was a light bulb moment for my friend. “You’re absolutely right!” she exclaimed, surprised by this revelation. She finally came to a different conclusion, that would ultimately help her come to peace with the situation with “bestie.” She needed to invest more time and energy into different friends. Friends that could potentially meet her need. Almost immediately, she set up a few lunch dates with different people, to test the friendship waters, and see if any of them would grow! Well guess what? Some of them really took off. She now enjoys a weekly catch up with one of them, and it has changed her life and her perspective, significantly. She no longer over thinks things with “bestie” and is actually capable of accepting and enjoying it for what it is. What it isn’t no longer bothers her as much, because her friendship needs are still being met.

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Interestingly, my friends “bestie” has now started showing signs of jealousy. She has made snide comments about my friend having “a new best friend” and “forgetting” about her. It’s interesting how we can always sense someone’s change in attitude towards us, but sometimes can’t acknowledge our own behaviour that made them change!

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“Bestie” doesn’t make friendships in her life a priority, the same way I don’t make housework a priority in mine. I can have a dazzling home if I really want it, but not if I don’t make a plan and work towards achieving that goal. The trick to being socially successful, is making friendships a priority and giving them the same time and attention you give to the more successful aspects of your life.

“Bestie” likes to claim that she is an awesome friend because my friend can call upon her anytime of the day or night. The kind of friend you can call in a crisis, even if you haven’t spoken in years. The kind who takes off straight away wherever you left it last time, regardless of how long it has been. (My experience of friends who say this, is that they value the low maintenance quality of our friendship, which translates to “I’m glad I don’t have to put in much time or effort.”) This may very well be true, however my friend didn’t just want someone who shows up in a crisis. She wants someone who shows up anyway.

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That’s not to say she wont call “bestie” in a crisis. Perhaps she still would. Essentially their friendship hasn’t changed, except my friend no longer has unrealistic expectations that “bestie” will suddenly change and meet her other needs. If “bestie” wants the same level of connection my friend now shares with her new friend, she will have to make time for it.

So what did we learn? Firstly, don’t flog a dead horse. If someone isn’t making time for you, find someone who will. Secondly, if you want to be socially successful, make it a priority; a goal, and set about making it happen.  If it’s important to you, you will. If it’s not, that’s ok, but know that sulking that you aren’t socially satisfied, and doing nothing about it is, to quote the Baz Luhrmann in the the Sunscreen Song “As effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum!” (I love that song, if you haven’t heard it, click the link!!)

Well, I guess that means I wont be getting thin by eating cupcakes either? Darn! Haha As a good friend of mine likes to say “If wishes were fishes….” Then she spouts about making wishes come true by setting a plan and sticking to it. She might be onto something there!!

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

PS Social success is a personal measure. If you are happy with your social situation, I’d say you are successful!

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She loves me, she loves me not…..

When I speak to my husband on the phone, it has become habit to say “Bye, I love you,” at the end of the call. Same goes for family….. but it can be a bit awkward sometimes if you end the conversation with friends, and especially random sales people etc…. in the same affectionate manner. I know, because I have done exactly this, more than once! Haha

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That said, in most of my friendships it isn’t abnormal to express love verbally in this way. It’s actually a really beautiful and comfortable thing when we can express such deep affection for one another, and know that the sentiment will be (and is) reciprocated. That said, I have noticed a tendency to avoid the “I” in the statement among friends, or make the statement slightly more casual to make it less romantic perhaps. We might say “Love you” or “I loves ya” or “Love us” or LUVU” or “we all love you” or “love you longtime!” Very rarely do we ever say “I love you.”

I think in some cases, it probably is acceptable. I thought for example, it was ok to say it at big life events where emotions are running high, like births, deaths and marriages. So I tried it at a good friend’s wedding. As the bride and groom left for the evening, and did the rounds saying their goodbye’s to all the guests, I leaned in, hugged the bride, gushed about what a wonderful wedding it was and how beautiful she was, kissed her cheek and whispered in her ear “I love you.” Yeah. Awkward. It felt like I was preparing my own creepy proposal at her wedding to someone else! Lol Thankfully I’d had enough to drink that the bride probably assumed I also loved the lamp post that night and we didn’t speak of it again!

 

It doesn’t matter if you tell your friends, as long as you show them and they show you.

It doesn’t matter if you tell your friends, as long as you show them and they show you.

And that was with a friend always willing and open to expressing affection with me. I don’t know exactly why saying a direct “I love you” seems to cross a line, but I do know if you accidentally slip up and say it, it feels instantly creepy and actually quite embarrassing. I wondered if this only happened to me, because my friend may question if I mean it in a more romantic than platonic way based on my more fluid sexuality. So I was secretly thrilled lately when a friend confessed she made the same faux pas in another friendship, and she didn’t know how to handle the situation.

Apparently, after a group gathering, my friend said her goodbyes to a female friend. They hugged and exclaimed it was good to see one another. They said they should catch up privately, then they each went about saying their goodbye’s to other members of the group. A while later, despite having already said goodbye, they were finally walking out of the venue together. So at the exit, they once again hugged, and kissed on the cheek. As they broke apart to go their separate ways, my friend called out to her friend “I love you.” My friend has no explanation for this sudden and unexpected outpouring of love for her friend.

She described the way her cheeks were burning as she returned to her car, and that she wondered what her friend would think! Would she think my friend had lingered around on purpose to say an extra goodbye? Would she think my friend was harbouring a secret lesbian crush on her? Would she avoid my friend in future? I was laughing (hard) at my friend’s awkward misfortune when she shared this, before I finally asked her if it was common among her female friends to say this to one another? She said she’d probably never even said that to another member of the group whom she’d known the longest!

I teased my friend considerably, because she has in the past admitted to having a “girl crush” on this particular friend. For those of you who don’t know, a girl crush is a term heterosexual girls use to describe feelings of excitement and admiration for another (usually) heterosexual female friend. Someone they want to spend lots of time around, they want her approval, wish to look and be more like her and may even get a bit giggly around her. They insist they do not want to kiss or be sexual with her! I have my doubts! Hehe)

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Anyway, I eventually said her friend probably didn’t even hear her or think anything of it, and not to mention it or it would indeed seem weird. Too late! My friend had already sent her friend a super awkward text message apologizing for professing her love inappropriately and assuring her friend that she was not indeed a lesbian!! I think the lady doth protest too much, don’t you?! Haha Awkward! At the time of writing this, her friend had not read, nor replied to the message.

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Essentially, she has tried to revoke the “I love you.” This is just as awkward as blurting it out in the first place. Awkwardly trying to say “I love our friendship, but not you as such” puts her friend in the position of feeling she must now respond to the awkward “I love you.” She must reassure my friend that she loves her too, and doesn’t think my friend is a secret lesbian… all the while probably thinking exactly that!! Lol Alas, if their friendship is true, I’m sure that’s exactly what my friend’s friend will do, because I’m sure she does love my friend, even if they don’t usually say so.

What I value most about my friends with whom I express love, however awkwardly, is that I trust them, and they trust me. We know exactly what is, and equally, what isn’t meant by the sentimental exchange and even though I am not heterosexual I never have to explain my feelings or myself.

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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Are any expectations reasonable?

Hello readers! So this week, I wanted to talk about something that has been happening in my friendships for quite some time, and something I’m not too sure how to handle. On the one hand it is possible that my expectations are too high, but that does lead me to the question, what expectations are reasonable?

As many of my friends are busy working mothers, and I am a stay at home mother, I do my best to fit in with them and structure my availability to their schedule. I do understand their time is limited, and if I want to see them I need to make it convenient for them. This means some I see of an evening, although it is past my bedtime almost by the time I even get there, some I see once or twice a fortnight or even a month, and some even less frequently than that. It all depends on their circumstances and what time they can afford to share with me.

I do not expect my friends to “make time” for me. I try not to ask them for too much time. I used to be a bit needier, and struggled to spend time with myself. I realised I sometimes used my friends as a way to fill time and avoid myself. I no longer do this, I am perfectly happy to be in my own company and do my own thing. All I ask, is that if we do schedule time together, is that my friends do their best to show up. I know life happens and I am forgiving and understanding when people have to cancel sometimes….

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That said, it has dawned on me recently that this has become somewhat of a pattern among my friend group, and I have started to question if they also understand that just because I am a stay at home parent, that doesn’t mean that my time is somehow less valuable than their own.  I do not arrange catch up’s with other friends on days I have arranged to catch up with them. I don’t book appointments or my grocery shopping during their time, or anything else for that matter. As much as I can, I just want to connect with them and give our friendship the attention it needs and deserves.

My friends, however seem to think it is acceptable to schedule all their appointments in our time, or change the plans at the last minute, or spend our time running errands and don’t seem to understand, or perhaps care that these things impact my own time too. Take this week for example, I made plans with one friend, who had to cancel. It is school holidays here at the moment, so I wanted to schedule in a playdate with another friend, which I did. That friend however, was unsure of her own schedule and asked me to wait to hear back from her. In the meantime, the original friend said her other plans had changed and we could still get together. In the end I had to let somebody down. I really don’t like being in that position!

What struck me, as I pondered this, is both my friends expected to put me “on hold.” I am not comfortable with this particularly. Although in the end both friends ended up asking for my time, it could have just as easily turned out that I had no plans at all. It feels like the insinuation is that I have nothing better to do than wait around for my friends. It’s not just the insinuation that my time is less valuable, but also the feeling that they don’t value our time together as much as I do which hurts me.

I know how many times I have posted that we need to be aware that it isn’t personal. It isn’t, and even in this circumstance, I know it isn’t. What seems to be happening is a larger problem than just myself and my friends. When I examine it a little closer, it usually boils down to  the fact that my friends have been put on hold too, by someone else, making them unable to commit to anything either until the last minute. Or people change plans on them, causing our plans to have to change.

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So what can I do about this? What can we all do? I feel it is reasonable to have an expectation that when you make a plan with someone that they do what they can to honour that commitment. I also know to manage my expectations around consistently flaky friends, and accept responsibility for making plans with someone I know to be unreliable. I know flexibility is important and I try very hard to practice this wherever possible. However, we all have to be more considerate of each other and know every single one of us has important things to do, and our time matters.

Example. Let’s say I am meeting friend A for coffee at 9am, and have arranged to meet friend B at 12 for lunch. It is a half an hour drive between venues, so I need to leave Friend A at 11.30am to meet friend B at 12. Friend A calls to say she has been delayed for some reason, and asks if we can meet at 10am instead. I need to be clear to friend A that I can meet her at 10 but I still need to leave at 11.30am to meet friend B, instead of calling Friend B to tell her I will be an hour late, and in turn making her late for something else… the list goes on.

We also need to be responsible for our own time management. If I am seeing Friend A in the evening and we are out late, it is still my responsibility to turn up for Friend B the next morning as planned. If I didn’t want to do that, I should not have committed to both plans. Don’t over schedule things or people. While you are trying to please everyone, essentially nobody feels you really “saw” them. Yes, spending a day together running errands or doing grocery shopping is unavoidable sometimes, and helping eachother should come within the friendship territory. Just keep in mind that these activities alone are not enough to sustain connections. You must spend more time making meaningful mutually enjoyable connections than simply fitting people in, or the relationships quickly become unsatisfying.

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Lastly, remember that quality matters more than quantity. I would rather spend a meaningful hour with a friend a month than spend a whole day where I feel like she didn’t really have time for me, or feeling disappointed that she continually cancels because she feels she can’t give me all day. Offer what you can manage, and then show up and make it count.

I know it isn’t personal when my friends can’t or don’t show up for me, but I like to hope it is personal at least, when they do?! Ladies, lets please do our best to make sure we are actually present when we show up. Put the phone down! Post on that to follow!

How is time management impacting your friendships?

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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The fine line between friendships and formalities: Living together.

It sounds like a perfect scenario, living with friends. It is easy to imagine one big endless sleepover, pizza’s and icecream and giggling galore. Parties. Partners. Sharing clothes and accessories. Venting. Inspiring and motivating each other…. and so much more. Its really no surprise that so many of us move in with friends, at various stages of life.

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While there are times that definitely feature all of these things, let’s not forget that it’s not all rainbows and lollipops though. For starters, when you live with someone, habits that initially seemed funny or endearing, quickly become irritating. Or opposite character traits get in the way. What if you are very messy and she is always nagging at you to clean up? Or if you go to bed early and she stays up making noise til 3am? Do you have to inform each other where you will be, with whom, or if and when you will be coming home? Where are the privacy boundaries?

These small things are apt to become big things when amplified, not to mention the actual big issues that are bound to arise. What happens if someone can’t pay their share of the rent, or your pet cat attacks her pet bird? What if things start going missing, or her friends start conducting shady behaviours from your property that could leave you in trouble?

Not to mention the responsibilities. How will you divide the chores? What is who’s responsibility? Will she walk your dog when you are away? Will you cook dinner each night because you finish work earlier than she does? What if you own the house and she only rents a room? Do you pay half for the bills etc...?  If she breaks your washing machine, who is liable for the replacement or repair? What initially seemed like a dream, can easily become a logistical nightmare that could cause your friend to move out of your house, and your life if you aren’t careful.

Some friendships require more space than others, consider this carefully before you move in!

Some friendships require more space than others, consider this carefully before you move in!

That’s not to say I think it can’t work, it definitely can. However, you need to have clear boundaries between your friendship and the formalities of living together. What you may expect of your friend, must come second to what you expect of your roommate. While you may hope or expect your friend to bail you out if you are short for the rent this week, or she may expect you to cook for her boyfriend each night although he doesn’t live there or contribute, you must always ask yourself what is reasonable? What is your responsibility and how can you meet it, or avoid making your problems her problems?

You need to have a formal discussion and agreement on these important issues before you move in and both agree to committing to the agreement above all else. It seems very formal, and it is, but you may find it is actually protecting you both, and your future friendship.

If your friend gets mad at you for not pulling your weight, you need to be mature enough to acknowledge the issue and fix it instead of producing a list of all the things you have done for her. Yes, maybe you did buy the milk for the last month but does that really mean she should wash all your dishes?

It really all comes down to respect. Respect your roommate. Respect her things, her space, her privacy and her wishes as much as possible, and expect the same respect in return. Respect that you are sharing a space and pick up and clean up after yourself. Be as honest as you can and maintain open communication before little issues become big ones.

If she agreed to let you move in for a month, don’t stay longer than that without a discussion beforehand. If you agreed to move in to take care of the house and pets while she is on holidays, then stick to your agreement and do so, without making it seem like it is a big inconvenience for you. If you break something, you pitch in to fix it. If your boyfriend is there all the time, you pay extra for things like food, water, electricity etc…. Pay your way, on time, every time.

Priorities!!!

Priorities!!!

Life happens. Circumstances change. I understand that, which is why you may need to renegotiate certain aspects of the arrangement from time to time, but if you do so in a way that shows consideration to your friend, and not just yourself, your friendship has a better chance at success. For example, perhaps you got unexpectedly pregnant, and decided you wanted to move in with your partner, or back home. You wont be staying for the duration of your lease, it isn’t practical. As your friend, you expect support and understanding of your new situation, however you have to understand this impacts your friend in big ways. You need to be able to discuss what this will mean for your friend and what you can and will do to assist her. Will you find a way to continue to pay even if you aren’t living there? Will you help her find an alternative roommate? Does she even want to keep living there without you? If not, will you contact the agent and pay a break contract fee?

Living with someone is a responsibility, so if you can’t take responsibility for yourself, I advise against it. That’s not to say it’s any less complicated when living with roommates that are not friends, the same rules apply, it’s just you have less to lose if the relationship sours. If you stick to the rules either way, you should find you have a new friend, or an even closer one. If you can survive living together, there isn’t much you can’t get through.

What have your experiences of living with friends been like?

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

It can happen, with a little consideration and respect! Good Luck!!

It can happen, with a little consideration and respect! Good Luck!!

I don't want you to go

Hello! In the last few weeks I posted about some of my experiences of ended friendships and tried to give a picture of what that grief looks like, in terms of my thoughts, feelings and behaviours. In one of the posts, I mentioned that if someone tries to leave me, I am a firm believer in letting them go.

My post on the blog called “what to do when a friend is pushing you away?” is by far one of the most popular I have written, and received very mixed reviews. Some of you found it extremely helpful, while others found it depressing, to say the least. I can understand both viewpoints, as I have lost friends, that maybe I didn’t need to, because I didn’t try hard enough.

I like to believe that giving someone the space they need, and the freedom to come and go from my life is a healthy sign of respect for my friend, myself and our friendship, and that not making them ask me directly for space, but picking up on their subtle hints that they aren’t as invested as I am right now, and giving it to them is a gift. Potentially a final gift of friendship – I will let you go and not make you feel bad about it.

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To be clear, I came about this by doing the exact opposite, and becoming insecure when my friends pulled away from me. I became needier and pressed for answers. I demanded to know if our friendship was over or not. In essence, this often sealed my fate in the opposite direction I was hoping for to be honest. I like to describe it as handing my friend a gun, backing her into a corner, and making her shoot me with it, then playing the victim. Why, oh why, did I do this? Who benefited from this? They felt terrible for hurting me, but I wouldn’t let it go until they did. I felt no less terrible being certain than I had feeling uncertain, (but pretty sure! ) Nobody wins.

So, I adopted a much more casual attitude, in part when I tried this previous strategy, and failed. My friend refused to shoot me, but she also refused to step up and show me what I wanted to see.  I had no choice but to admit our friendship was less than it had been and move forwards emotionally. I could have ended it myself, but I didn’t want it to end. I wanted us to be what we had been before. So I endured far less frequent contact, which felt empty in comparison to what we had once shared, and accepted that while we still used the word friend, the sentiment had definitely changed. I found new people, in time, and it hurt less and less as my expectations of this person lessened….

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A few years later, a beautiful thing happened, and we once again became close. This time I keep my expectations lower, and my investments lower perhaps, but I am so glad this friend and I were able to reconnect. Reconnecting is something that proved much harder with my original strategy. So I learned, that when people want space from you, grant it. Let them walk away, and don’t make them feel bad about it. Allow them to feel free to live their lives without any obligation to you and know that they are in your life by choice, and you make it easy for them to go if they so choose. That you know it isn’t about you, but about what they are going through, their circumstances and their needs. When you learn to stop taking it personally, it really helps you let go. (Example, this friend had a partner at the time who demanded all of her attention. She could not please us both and it was unrealistic to expect she would choose me over him. Her distance was never personal, she just couldn’t show me what I wanted to see anymore.)

So from that I decided to have a more detached attitude to my friendships. That doesn’t mean they aren’t important to me. If they weren’t, this blog wouldn’t exist. At first it meant, because I was hurt, “I will no longer chase after people. If they want to be my friend, they will.” Not that I had much choice as many painful attempts had shown me, that you cannot force friendships on people. This alone as so powerful for me. I enjoyed my friendships, but a part of me was always quietly waiting for the end. Another reason this strategy worked for me was because I loathe confrontation, so letting someone go quietly actually felt safer. And mirroring is supposed to be fantastic for friendships. If I get more vulnerable, you get more vulnerable. If you get more distant, I get more distant. As a whole, it works.

In thinking about the people who really reacted strongly and negatively, I wondered, what were they hoping I would say? They were hoping for a list of ideas they could try to rekindle the friendship. Because the friendship was too important to just let it go as if they had never cared, when they do care so much! In pondering that, I realised that dealing with things this way, did indeed cost me a few friendships, perhaps needlessly.

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I have to wonder, if I had of just said to the friend I lost, because I let her walk away without another word “I don’t want you to go” if things may have turned out differently? It’s not asking her to stay if she must go, and it’s not intended to make her feel guilty. It simply shows that I noticed she was going and I cared enough just to imply “I’ll miss you.” I can think of certain circumstances where that would have made no difference, but yet others when it probably would have made all the difference.

So for those of you who are struggling to let go of someone who is pushing you away, meet their distance with your own, but perhaps be brave enough to say “I don’t want to lose you. I miss you and I hope we can be as close as we were again someday.” At least then you know there was nothing more you could do, you knew they were pulling back, and you cared enough to say “If this is what you want, I respect that because I love you, but just know, it isn’t what I wanted and I hope for something different in the future.” Then, if you can, keep an open mind and heart towards that person in the future.

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

 

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The Other Side.... How it feels to break up with a friend.

Last week I wrote a post about how it feels when a friendship ends; the heartbreak and how that may actually look, in terms of behaviour. That was mostly about endings of friendships that were ended mutually, loudly or quietly, or that were ended for you, by the other party, leaving you blindsided, alone, sad and insecure. This week I wanted to follow up with a post about how it feels to be the one who calls it quits on your friend.  Afterall, there are 2 sides to every story!

So, despite my tendency to play the victim in many of my fractured friendships, there have been a few times I have been the one to end things with someone else. To assume that this caused me no guilt, shame, angst, grief or loss would be easy, but it’s simply untrue. Even when I have ended things with a friend, for whatever reason, there has still been an emotional grieving process, before and after the event.

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My last post started with denial, and that is where this one starts too. I struggle to admit to myself when a friendship is unhealthy, or leaving me drained. My intuition, or gut, if you will, raises the uncomfortable feeling, but I try to ignore it and carry on. I make as many excuses for my friend as I can, and justify to myself that she is having a hard time and she needs me to keep doing what we have always done, and being to her whatever I have been. My friend may start to notice in this stage that I seem somehow distant, emotionally unavailable, although she can’t quite explain how things are different because at this point I am still showing up…. Physically at least.

Typical to the grief process, the second stage is anger. I feel weighed down by this friendship. I usually know why, although the reasons vary from one friendship to another. Everything my friend does irritates me, because deep down, my heart isn’t in it anymore. Everything my friend expects of me feels like she is asking for blood, and I am reluctant to offer much assistance. I am full of excuses. I cancel plans, take longer to respond to communications, and get quite busy… sometimes with other friends. Maybe it’s easier to be angry with you so I can blame you and feel less guilty? It wont work, but I’ll try!

I’m sorry I can no longer show you what you want to see. Someone can!

I’m sorry I can no longer show you what you want to see. Someone can!

Still following the grief plan, the next stage is bargaining. I think of all the reasons I liked my friend to begin with and mentally list all her wonderful qualities. I think of all the happy times we have shared, and try to convince myself that I still want to be friends. I reason that time with her isn’t as bad as I’m making it out to be and that perhaps, if I just see her less often, we can be somehow less than friends. I agonise over the thought of ending it. It seems so messy and hurtful and even thinking about it makes me feel uncomfortable and guilty. Plus, I don’t know how to explain it to my friend. I like her, she is a great person, so why don’t I want to continue on?

I write more letters unsent. Mostly. If I send something it is my last hope to salvage things, or respect you enough to give you a chance to try. I try writing direct ones where I explain what is upsetting me, and polite ones where I dance around the issue, trying to make it clear that I want to end things, or take a step back, without directly saying so. I struggle to find middle ground between the two. I wish that my friend would understand what I am saying without making me say it. I don’t want to have to tell her, so I feel annoyed that she does not meet my distance with her own. Many times my friend has been desperately trying to save us, which only makes me feel worse. And to be really honest, only makes me want to get away more. (It’s not that I don’t understand this, I have been on the other side enough times to know she means well and likes me enough to try…) I’m sorry. Honestly. I am and I say so, but that just confuses the issue. Sigh.

See the contradiction here. It’s impossibly real.

See the contradiction here. It’s impossibly real.

The next stage is depression. This starts when I accept that I want to end the friendship, or that I don’t but it cannot continue as it is, and I don’t see any way to change things more favourably. I’m sad, and guilty. I know I have to hurt someone I care about. I don’t want to do it. I will take as much space as the person in question will allow. (There have been times when the person in question met my distance with her own, and in years to come we were able to rekindle as though nothing had ever happened, or even talk openly about what we were both feeling back then…. Once the raw emotions of it all had passed. And they will, by the way. I promise.) If the person makes aggressive moves, such as demanding answers from me, deleting or blocking me on social media, or trying to provoke an argument or fight, I usually walk away. I tell them it’s over, or they tell me and then that’s that. It’s done. If however they are sad, depressed or needy, expressing that they miss me or that they don’t understand… I will ask that person for space.

Maybe not literally with the kissing, but if I don’t miss you, I have my answer.

Maybe not literally with the kissing, but if I don’t miss you, I have my answer.

I need time away from them. I need to compare how I feel without them versus how I felt with them in my life. I need a chance to miss them. And I always hold hope that I will feel that. That I will miss them and realise how much they did add happiness to my life. Unfortunately though that isn’t always the case. I feel guilty to even write here, but sometimes I just feel relief. That doesn’t mean I am happy that the person is gone, but happy I have done what I needed to do for myself. I still stare at the walls, ugly cry and rehash things over and over. I wonder if there was any way I could have made it work, and feel like a terrible person. I hang my head when I see her other friends, and try to avoid places I may see her. Leaving people, hurting them and letting them down doesn’t make you feel good. You feel just as miserable as the other person that you couldn’t find a way to make it work or a friendly way to end things. You are grieving the loss of the friendship, but also the version of yourself that you wanted to be, and for people to think you are. It’s hard knowing that person is sad because of you and you didn’t do anything to make it better, and lots of people are judging you for it!

Remember this goes both ways. You weren’t good for each other in the end, but that doesn’t define you!

Remember this goes both ways. You weren’t good for each other in the end, but that doesn’t define you!

Acceptance. Once some time passes and the depression fades, and I start enjoying my time with other people again, I notice, the heaviness is gone. I feel freer. I think of my friend with twinges of sadness, but I know I made the right choice for myself at the time. I don’t know if we will be friends again or not in the future, but I genuinely hope we both find happiness.  I hope my now ex friend can forgive me in time and find people who love her the way she deserves and I couldn’t.

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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Stages of Grief; HOW IT FEELS.

It came to my attention the other day, that while I have spoken at length about broken friendships, and how normal it is to feel upset by them, I have never spoken directly about my experience of the pain itself. I am not necessarily going to speak about one particular ending, but overall my pain and grieving process, which was pretty universally experienced with each loss, although at times in various orders to varying degrees.  They say there are 5 stages of grief; Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, in that order. For me, the order tends to be just a little different.

I'm a Leo.... so we do reach acceptance! I hope you all do too!

I'm a Leo.... so we do reach acceptance! I hope you all do too!

The first stage for me is usually shock. It may be fair to call this denial. Not wanting to deal with it. This is true regardless of the manner of the ending. If it ended abruptly or if it ended more as a slow fizzle, when I realise it is over, I kind of go into a state of shock.  I have no words, and almost a sense of numbness. I try to tell myself that I don’t care and get on with my life….

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That’s when I usually realise I am actually too distracted to get on with my life, because despite my declarations, I guess you could say I have entered the bargaining stages of grief. Typically this is the 3rd stage, but for me, I tend to experience it second! I always did like to do things a little differently! In this stage, I am rerunning conversations in my mind, looking for clues as to when the ending really started and what exactly happened. This is usually followed by justifying my position, to myself, and endlessly going over it with my partner, for moral support. I talk to impartial friends who didn’t know the other person about it to the point they usually wonder if I was obsessed with my friend or secretly in love with her. They know by now not to say “It was just a friend. Get over it!” My heart is broken.  I need reassurance that I behaved reasonably and that I am not the worlds worst friend or human! This is the phase with the most ugly crying, sleepless nights, and googling articles exactly like this one.  I talk to my psychologist and refuse to accept she wants me to accept accountability for my part in things, and insist on playing the victim!

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Once my husband, or other friends have suitably soothed me and assured me I am not the worlds worst human, unlikable and doomed to social isolation for the rest of my years, I reach anger. Anger is typically before bargaining in the stages of grief, but for me it comes after for some reason. I am so angry at my ex friend. I blame her for not being everything I expected her to be, or, ironically, for expecting too much of me! Lol I am angry at her because she walked away, or because of the mean things she said, or because she didn’t fight for us. Even if I didn’t fight either, or if we both said mean things. Everything is her fault! Maybe I am trying to hate her, because that would make it a lot easier somehow, wouldn’t it?

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Hate is just the flipside of love though isn’t it?  I think so. No matter how hard I try, I can’t hate my friend, because I love her. This is when the depression stage hits. Cue grief stage 4!!! I’m back on track! Songs remind me of her. Street signs, places, people, phrases, clothes, foods and even scents remind me of her. Bloody Facebook reminds me of her, as all my “memories” pop up to remind me that we used to have fun together and now it is all over. Thanks for that Facebook. Cheers. Lol I actually don’t think this happens if you block the person, or if they block you on social media actually, but I usually don’t block people. I guess that is because deep down I always hold even the tiniest hope that reconciliation is possible if you keep a window open.

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If reconciliation is possible, and desired, this is the most likely phase of me reaching out. I’ll be honest though and say it’s highly unlikely. This is the phase where I accept that I still love my friend, and I miss her. I miss what we shared. Things happen and I want to reach out and tell her or talk about it with her and she isn’t there. I wonder what is happening in her world, and sometimes shed a few tears that I no longer know anything about her or her life. I look at old photos, read old messages, cards or letters. I write many many unsent letters to her. I express sorrow for my part in things, and for hurting her and for not fighting harder for her. I wonder why she didn’t fight for me too, or if she also feels sorrow, sadness and regret. I express that I am not angry anymore. I let that anger go, finally. There is still guilt for my part though, that takes longer to dissipate. 

I wonder if I will run into her at our local spots (I have stopped avoiding them in fear of seeing her there) and quietly hope she will reach out to say happy birthday. (I hate it when her birthday comes first!) If it does I will compose a message or 12, and decided to send none of them, justifying that she may hate hearing from me and I don’t want to spoil her day. (Really, I guess I am just frightened of more rejection and of more potential ugliness and drama. By now I have gotten comfortable with the silence.)
I look her up on social media and try to make guesses about her situation based on the few scraps of info available now that we are no longer friends!

I’m the first to admit, these letters I write, are usually left unsent. I justify that I do not chase people anymore and if they wanted to talk to me, they would. (I wonder if they do the same thing…. It’s not lost on me that someone has to be the first to make her move.) I tell myself that if it is meant to be, somehow, some way, in time, it will be again. That it didn’t work for a reason and if there is no way to really resolve the issue in question, we were just incompatible. In these letters, as I end them, I tell them I love them and I wish them well. That I hope they find the happiness that they deserve, and resolve to go about finding my own happiness.

This is not helpful advice. It is something I do that I am not proud of and working on. There has to be a difference between chasing and saying "I don't want you to go" right? Post to follow. 

This is not helpful advice. It is something I do that I am not proud of and working on. There has to be a difference between chasing and saying "I don't want you to go" right? Post to follow. 

This is where I start engaging in my life again, making new friends, strengthening existing healthy connections, and freeing both myself and my ex friend of any blame or guilt. It didn’t work between us. It doesn’t mean we were bad people, and it doesn’t devalue what we did share. When I am reminded of this person I can smile, and I can accept that for now at least, our time in each other’s lives has come to an end. Our chapters have ended but our stories go on. I am open to hearing from them, but not waiting with baited breath, hopeful.  I guess this is me reaching the final stages of grief. Acceptance. This is where I let it go. Let it be what it was, what it is and what it will be. By now I have reached indifference, and we all know what I think about that.

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Some of these phases last longer than others. Or for some friendships I may spend longer in one phase than another depending on the circumstances. But believe me when I tell you that the pain was real and in all of the cases it took a long time to heal and reach indifference. With some maybe I never will, which is when the chances increase that one of those letters may even get sent! Lol I can tell you on average it takes me a good year to go through this process…. Sometimes longer. I have experienced one ending at least where I thought about that friend, our friendship, what happened and what I wanted to happen every single day for at least a year.

Grief has a general direction in terms of stages and timeline, but it is such a unique experience and there is no right or wrong way to grieve the ending of a friendship. If you feel stuck (because grief can be addictive) please speak to a trained mental health professional. There is no shame for seeking help for grief of any kind. There is nothing wrong with you for feeling broken hearted over a friend. It means you cared. Nothing more, and nothing less. You’re not strange, gay, or obsessed. Or maybe you are but this alone is not enough to define you as such!!!

Can any of you relate to this? Please do share your own experiences of grief with me!

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

You'll be surprised what happens while you are waiting to see what happens!! Life! It goes on. You will smile again, and that is ok too. xx

You'll be surprised what happens while you are waiting to see what happens!! Life! It goes on. You will smile again, and that is ok too. xx

Do shared values make friendships more valuable?

How is it that most of us feel like we are generally good people, but yet we can actually all have such differing viewpoints on what constitutes good values? And how do differences in values affect our friendships? Without a lofty degree in some sociology or something, I am probably not really qualified to answer that question, however, I would like to explore the concept from my own perspective….

I have a wide variety of friends, most of whom I would say are essentially good people at their core, despite the fact that we do not value the same things in this life. Some of my friend’s value money and status, while others value veganism or living a green lifestyle. I can’t say I value either of these things fiercely, and yet it does not impact our friendship particularly.

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I have mentioned this several times, but in case you are just tuning in, I also do not identify as heterosexual. I have one friend who is very religious and did not vote in favour of marriage equality. Surely it would seem strange that this difference in values would not impact our friendship? Yet it does not. Why do I think this is? Because my friends and I do not push our values onto one another. We respect everyone has a right to live their life their own way and strive to see the best in each other.

At its core, I feel we all value the things that matter; love, kindness and respect. As long as we show these things to one another the rest shouldn’t be as relevant. Our differences just make us more special.

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That said, there has definitely been times when differences in values have changed or damaged the friendships. Clearly, I value friendships and make conscious time and effort to maintain them…. Yet I have friends who have demonstrated that they value romantic relationships and family above all else and disappear into these when the circumstances permit. Once I accept this about certain friends, I can keep my expectations of them and our friendship, in check, and try and maintain closer bonds with people more likely to show up for me even when they are loved up.

In other circumstances I have inadvertently condoned situations that didn’t involve me, merely by continuing friendships with people who didn’t share some core values like honesty in their other relationships. Although I always encouraged honesty and respect, by not forcing my values onto them and the way they lived their lives, they felt comfortable in putting me in positions that encouraged me to participate in their dishonesty. Our difference in values only became a problem when they wanted me to compromise my own. Then it became a deal breaker.

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At other times, I may have had reservations about people based on what I perceive their values to be. This may have been because I witnessed them being rude to wait staff, or it may have been because of gossip other people have shared with me. Regardless, I usually choose to get to know someone and test our compatibility based on my own experiences of them. Making a snap judgement based on one incident, which probably does not represent their best and true character, or listening to hearsay is the nemesis of connection.

That’s not to say I have never been burned because I didn’t listen to these warnings. I have indeed had to learn the hard way that someone was the bully that everyone warned me about, or that rudeness and a sense of entitlement did exist in a person, and the witnessed behaviour was not a once off 'bad day' kinda thing. Of course I have also been rewarded and pleasantly surprised by others who based on my experiences of them were wonderful people, even if the majority did not agree.

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The thing I try hardest to value in my being, is not to judge people. Not to jump to harsh conclusions about who they are and if they are right or wrong. I try to encourage people, see the best in them, and enjoy them so long as I am not in a position of compromising my own values, I show curiosity about theirs. I try to let go of the notion that someone is better or worse, based on their values or lifestyle, and instead, see if they add value and happiness to my life, based on my own experiences of them. No 2 people will have exactly the same chemistry or bring out exactly the same characteristics.

If a friendship adds value to my life, then it is valuable, regardless of if we value the same things or not. Our differences make it interesting. We have much to learn from each other, if we show openness and curiosity instead of judgement and fear.

How have valued impacted your friendships?

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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Consequences of Casual Language

Ok, I know I have posted about this before, but I feel it is worth revisiting, because casual language can be easily misinterpreted to mean a casual attitude about a friend, or friendships in general, when that may not be the case at all. Many friendships could have been saved if we really understood this concept!!

I have often used casual language such as "no worries" in my friendships, many times thinking I was doing my friend a favour in the use of my casualness. Usually such an expression would be exchanged when a friend is letting you down in some way. Perhaps they forgot to bring something they were going to lend you, or forgot to make a call that would serve you in some way. Maybe they cancelled their plans with you or even hurt you in some way.

Whatever the reason, even if you are actually upset, you may reply “No worries.” (Or some other similar casual remark.)  This is probably because you value your friendship with this person and feel it isn’t worth a confrontation over a minor slight. The issue at hand is yours, you take ownership of it and do not pass the responsibility over to your friend. All in all your intentions are probably good.

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How does the song go, though? “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions” – In Fear And Faith. More than once, my own good intention to causally relieve my friend of responsibility for my hurt, has landed me in hot water. Why? Because my friend knew what she wanted and expected my response to be, and “No Worries” was the opposite.  They WANTED me to worry.

There was the friend who needed more reassurance that I still cared. She took my casual dismissal of cancelled plans to mean that I was relieved not to have to spend time with her. She had hoped I would tell her I was disappointed that she had to cancel our time together, or offer up an alternative time/way to get around the hurdle. It was a simple miscommunication, and difference in values. I felt, as she was the one having to cancel, that it was her responsibility to make a new plan with me. After all, she may really have been cancelling because she just didn’t want to see me, and I wouldn’t want to pressure someone into spending time with me if they weren’t inclined to do so.

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Then there was the time when my friend had something pretty major happening in her life.  Whenever this impacted our friendship, I would try to be understanding and tell her “It’s ok. Don’t worry about it.” I was trying not to add to the burden in her life. I was trying not to place demands of friendship on her when I knew how much she had on her plate already. While I interpreted that what she had needed from me was time and space, she found this response crushingly isolating and careless.

What my friend had wanted, needed and expected to hear from me was “I’m so sorry this is happening for you. Is there anything I can do? How can I help and support you?” Or at very least “I am here if you need me.”  Of course, I thought she knew that. I was there. I always had been. However, it felt to her, that right when she needed me, I left the building.

No worries? Yes, worry about me? Please?! 

No worries? Yes, worry about me? Please?! 

Again this was a simple misunderstanding based on values. When I am carrying something heavy in my life, my tendency can be to draw into myself. I appreciate leniency and flexibility from my friends at these times, to understand that I don’t enjoy letting them down, but that it may be inevitable. If I need anything, I will ask, but what I value most is people just to be patient with me while I figure stuff out. I would find, what my friend needed, intrusive.  She needed me to show more interest, ask more questions, force my way into her life even when she was pushing people away. Almost as a test, which sadly, I had failed.

Although my friend and I had differing needs and expectations of these things, I can understand her viewpoint. Unfortunately she had trouble trusting my positive intention towards her, and it damaged our friendship. It left me questioning what type of friend or person she thought I was, and it left her with pretty heavy feeling of disappointment and disillusionment.

So what’s the answer to this dilemma? Try to recognize when your own expectations of what you wanted to hear are impacting your interpretation of what you did actually hear. If someone is your friend, chances are their intentions were good. If you wanted more interest, you can reply to your friends “No worries” with “Thanks for understanding. As you know I have so much going on right now. I’m not coping too well. Although I couldn’t make it to the event, I’d really love someone to talk to if you have time to give me a call later?” It is clear what you need. Most friends want to show you what you want to see if you make it clear to them.

Try to make sure you hear what was actually said and not what you think was said based on what WAS NOT said. 

Try to make sure you hear what was actually said and not what you think was said based on what WAS NOT said. 

If, by chance, you’re facing a friend who is more like me, who is pulling away despite your offers of help, of talking, of taking her out to relax…. What she needs from you is to pull back and wait for her to reemerge. She needs you not to take it personally, and to respect your different ways of coping.

Be clear about what you need and what your friend needs. And remember you both have a life outside one another. Expecting to be the centre of anyone else’s life is an unrealistic expectation. When people forget or seem careless, it’s not usually because they don’t care but because they’re caught up in their own stuff.

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

If you are going to have expectations of what you want the outcome to be, you need to clearly communicate that to the other party.

If you are going to have expectations of what you want the outcome to be, you need to clearly communicate that to the other party.

When to stop talking?!

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Ever heard the expression “speech is silver, but silence is golden.” When does this little gem of wisdom come into play? I can think of a few examples… shall we explore them?

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First off it has sometimes been said that we listen not to understand, but to reply. This is harmful to our friendships. As important as it is to be able to TALK to our friends, what good is that if we do not stop to actually listen to them too? Catch yourself if you constantly find the conversation returning to you, even if you think you are being helpful and offering a similar story to relate. Sometimes, instead of relating, asking more questions about the other person or situation they are talking about is a better way of understanding.

Sarcasm. Lol Stop digging, stop talking The damage is done. Put the issue to bed. Let it go!!

Sarcasm. Lol Stop digging, stop talking The damage is done. Put the issue to bed. Let it go!!

Next it is important to talk about when you have said something upsetting. Maybe you realised it straight away, or maybe someone had to pull you up on your insensitivity, but either way you are aware that your proverbial foot has landed in your mouth and you’ve upset the apple cart. The apple cart being one or more people. Unfortunately you can’t change what you have said or take it back. If you can offer a further, better explanation of what you meant rather than how it sounded… please go ahead and explain…. Briefly. Apologise to anyone who was offended. Say that you are sorry that you have upset someone and that wasn’t your intention, and you hope they will forgive you. If you keep going on and on, you will dig a deeper hole. At some point you need to know when to drop the topic…. And move along. Either they forgive you or they don’t, but real friends should give you the benefit of the doubt.

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Speaking of dropping the topic, that brings us to the next example of when it is a good time to exercise silence…. How about the expression, if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all?! If you find yourself needing to weigh in on a friends choices, about her lifestyle, her spending or eating habits, her clothing or her choice of partner, ask yourself why you feel your opinion on the matter is prudent? Remember, your opinion is just that, and opinion and voicing it may come off as a judgement. If it might actually be one on reflection, maybe don’t say it.

Some things are better left unsaid..... know this BEFORE you say them!!!

Know what they are, and don't say them!

Know what they are, and don't say them!

Then of course, there is the scenario when you think of the perfect comeback to some witty banter, but you know deep down that it will cut deep. Think before you speak people. Don’t hurt your friend in the name of a joke. Banter is supposed to be fun, let’s keep it that way. That’s some good advice.

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Advice. There’s another time to hold back, until you are asked for. Or at very least you ask if you can offer it. Most of the time people want to be heard and understood. They want to wallow for a moment and figure things out on their own. They don’t want to be rushed through. Even if you do offer advice, stay silent when they don’t take it.

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Do NOT say I told you so.

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Stay silent when someone else is talking. Conversation involves taking turns. Wait your turn. Do not interrupt people.

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You have nothing to say. Running your mouth to end an uncomfortable silence can sometimes make things even more uncomfortable. Friendships grow in comfortable silence. 

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Know your audience. If what you are going to say is going to be offensive, fall on deaf ears or unlikely to be understood, hold your tongue. If you are talking about something dear to you, you will waste your breath and end up disappointed if you don’t select your audience wisely.

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The last, and arguably most important time to stay silent is when you are contemplating your response or reaction to something triggering to you. Don’t let people push you into a reaction, you are entitled to take some time and space to decide how it is you are feeling and how you would like to respond to any given situation, whilst also running through the pro’s and con’s or possible consequences of what you do or say. Keep in mind though that silence can be seen as an aggressive move, and may trigger some people into leaving you if you wait too long to respond. Saying nothing is still sending a message and is still a choice with a consequence. Sometimes silence is louder than anything you could possibly say.

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These are just a few scenario’s I can think of when silence is indeed golden. Can you think of anymore?

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

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Approval versus Acceptance

When your friend is just about to make a dumb decision or has already made one

Let’s be honest, nobody is perfect. We all make dumb decisions from time to time. Sometimes we know when it is dumb and decide to do it anyway with reckless abandon, and other times we really believe that whatever we are doing is in our best interests. To be fair, none of us can ever guarantee the outcome of any decision I suppose.

We all know it isn’t easy to make big life decisions. We generally turn to family for guidance, trusting that they really want what is in our best interests, and to friends for support. That is not to say that we do not want guidance from friends, of course we turn to each other for guidance, albeit in less direct ways. Essentially though, what we tend to want from our friendships is empowerment to make our own choices, and know that we have the strength to overcome any hurdles or mistakes along the way.

It is your friends life, they are her dreams and it is up to her to find her own happiness in her own ways. You're just along for the interesting ride :) 

It is your friends life, they are her dreams and it is up to her to find her own happiness in her own ways. You're just along for the interesting ride :) 

So what happens when we really don’t think what our friend is doing is a very good idea? It doesn’t matter if it is because she has decided to give up her full time job in favour of joining the circus, or if she has decided to go back to an ex that was no good, or if she has decided to become a he! Whatever it is your friend has decided to do makes you question if she has really thought it through all the way, and because you love her, you worry about the consequences for her.

You feel it is your responsibility to be honest with her, and try to express your concern, but all your friend hears is disapproval. Which, at it’s core is destructive to friendships. The thing is, both parties need to accept that concern is not disapproval, and even if it were, friendships are not conditional of approval, but rather of acceptance.

When our friends come to us to express what they are doing with their lives, they are looking for a safe place to talk things through, to make their own choices, to vent about their problems and to complain about the consequences of their choices. They do not want, need or expect to have to justify themselves to you, and they will resent it if you make it feel like they should.

Most of the time, your friend already knows if she is making the best choice for herself or not. I guess this could play a part in extra defensiveness or sensitivity to disapproval. Or perhaps she already anticipates the disapproval regardless of if you communicate it or not. That said, it could also be that you had already anticipated her choice and come into the conversation with negative vibes too, a combination sure to set off sparks.

Most of the time, your friend doesn't want your advice. If she is crying or contemplating... she just wants your attention.  To feel like you care enough to listen, and respect her enough to trust her judgement, and then listen some more, however it plays out. 

Most of the time, your friend doesn't want your advice. If she is crying or contemplating... she just wants your attention.  To feel like you care enough to listen, and respect her enough to trust her judgement, and then listen some more, however it plays out. 

Alas, it is not our role to make our friends choices for them, or even to understand why they have made those choices. It is our role to simply say “You know how much I love and care for you. I will always worry because I want the very best for you. However this is your life, your decision and I am sure you have given this much thought before speaking to me about it. I really hope this brings you the happiness you seek and deserve, and I know you are capable of navigating this on your own.”

Now, depending on the circumstances, you then have to decide if you can actually support this choice without compromising yourself, your values, your boundaries, your health and your safety. If your friend is making choices that in any way impact any of these things, then first and foremost you must distance yourself physically and or emotionally. If there are drugs, abuse, risk of harm to self or others, or any other serious consequences at play, take your concerns to trained professionals and authorities. Psychologists or counsellors or police etc… and advise your friend to do the same.

If however, you just don’t approve the choice… think back to a time when you were making some questionable choices. What did you want and need from the people in your life? Love? Support? Acceptance? Ask yourself what the choice is costing you? Are you really concerned, or are you tired of picking up the pieces? Maybe it is always you who ends up bailing her out, mending her broken heart, loaning her money or giving her a place to stay?

If the way you have been offering support has been draining you, then that is what needs to change, not your friend. Remember your friends consequences are her own responsibility. It is ok to draw clear boundaries and let your friend know that you expect her to pick herself up after the fallout if things don’t go as she hoped.  That is all part of being a good friend.

Remember to separate your friends choices from who she is as a person. 

Remember to separate your friends choices from who she is as a person. 

Instead of expressing worry and concern and disapproval when your friend brings you her choices, which can make the friendship start to seem very conditional and controlling, empower and free you both. Tell your friend that it is not your job or your place to tell her what to do, but that you love her and know she can handle herself and her life. That all choices have potential positive and negative outcomes and while you will always want the positives for her, that you know that even if it doesn’t turn out as she hoped that she can and will grow and learn and handle her business.

You will be much more able to console her if things go wrong, if you absolve yourself of any responsibility. Concentrate on living your own life, do not try and live or fix anyone else’s. When you reduce your investment in the outcome, sometimes it actually means loving more, not less.

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx

NOTE: Most of the quotes/meme's used for this post relate to parents and children. That is not a coincidence. We must remember that while we love our friends, we are not their parents!

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Friendships Matter!

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So, as I write this post, I am sitting in a hospital bed. I am groggy, and in pain. I have just come out of surgery and my future is uncertain. My life, temporarily on hold while more tests are performed….Before being admitted today, my phone was lit up from friends and family wanting to know what they could get me for my upcoming birthday next week. Always one to be helpful, shooting off requests and suggestions came easily, as I contemplated what ideas I had already given to whom. Not that I need anything. Anyone who has seen my house would agree I have far too many things already!

Now though, all of that seems irrelevant. Not because my future may be significantly different to what I had imagined for myself, but because none of the things I had asked for would actually bring me any happiness anyway. Not really. Although the fact that you remembered my birthday and wanted to celebrate it with me did! Post-surgery my phone is buzzing with messages from friends near and far with well wishes and requests for updates on my condition. And that right there folks, is a true gift.

Now, as a Leo, you have probably already thought about how prone to attention we can be, and I am no different! Yes, you are right, we also have a flair for the dramatic in this life!!! Lol Honestly, the chances are that I will recover and be just fine. For the sake of my children I need this to be true. However just the thought that things could have been much much worse for me is too much to bear.

Not because I wouldn’t get the things on my birthday list, but because I am not done yet with the people in my life, and clearly, they are not done with me yet either! It comes as no surprise to me that the things on my birthday list will not bring me happiness. What brings me happiness is not a neat home, or fancy clothes or expensive cars and jewellery. I have always known, ever since I was a young child, that the people in my life were important factors in my happiness.

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So much so, that I decided to write this blog about friendships! It has always been my priority, and on days like these, I am reminded why. Love. I know each and every one of my friends knows how much love I hold for her in my heart.  That is why they wanted to take the time to spoil me for my birthday and again why they were waiting with baited breath to hear from me again as soon as I was released from the recovery unit. My friends all love and care for me. I matter. Our friendship matters.

I do not need my friends to rally around me offering support and help, but it really is nice that they do it anyway. That these people have invested part of themselves in me, in our friendship, makes me happy to be alive. It motivates me to get better, so I can go about enjoying them again.  These people are able to bring a smile to my face, under challenging circumstances, just by letting me know that they were thinking of me.

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While I was unable to field the calls and texts myself, I had my husband on duty. He was completely overwhelmed. Inundated with requests and messages from people he doesn’t even know. In his own state of panic and confusion he found the demands for answers too much to handle… but it didn’t surprise him, because he knows how much of myself I give to my friends. He says he does not know how I do it.  The answer, I tell him, is simple. I know that the things in life that matter are not things at all. What matters in this life are people. Human connection. Love. And as you all reach out to catch me with your words of love and support and well wishes, I know that whatever happens I have lived well. I have loved. All of you. That much is certain.  And I really need some certainty in my life right now.  So thank you for your love, care and friendship.  You are what matters in this life, and if mine didn’t go on, I’d still have died happier because you were in it. Thank you for your friendship. That is the real and only birthday gift I need! Save it and give it to me again next year, ok?! :) 

❤ Love
Your Best Friend ForNever
xx
 

Still working on that last one.... so my time here is not done!!! Lol x

Still working on that last one.... so my time here is not done!!! Lol x

When Friends ARE like Family - or you WANT them to be!

Previously I wrote a post about friends not being like family, and that being the whole point of friendships and how they work. I stand by the article, however it raised the question, what if you actually want your friends to be like your family?

Some folks, for a myriad of reasons, are not close with their family. This may refer to closeness in terms of physical location, or emotional ties, or both. Such people may seek to form strong bonds with friends in an attempt to make a family of sorts, of their own.

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I grew up in a small family, because my parents emigrated here when my mother was pregnant with me. The rest of the extended family were still in the UK, with only my parents and my brother being in Australia. If my parents hadn’t set about making friends, it would have been a pretty isolated existence. Fortunately, when they emigrated here originally, they were housed in flats with other families in similar circumstances, and the friendships that were born there lasted the distance.

I grew up calling some of these people Aunty and Uncle, a habit which still sometimes sticks, and know that my parents consider them like family. They get up at stupid o’clock to take one another to the airport to visit home, entertain each other on a weekly basis for Sunday dinners, go on holidays together, visit hospitals, remember and celebrate birthdays and offer love and support to one another in all the ways that you can. Nothing is too much, if they can help, they will.

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It really is a beautiful thing. My parents used to fret because I didn’t really know my actual relatives.  Of course, they had taken me back to meet them after I was born, several times over the years, and some had come down under to visit us too. Those memories are special to me, but still they were visitors in my life, not permanent residents. I didn’t know them, or even feel comfortable with them like I did with the friends who we saw regularly. I never saw the distance between my actual family as a deficit because I didn’t feel short of family at all.

To be fair, this was all I had known, but my older brother remembered life with the family, and never much seemed to notice lacking in our lives from it either. If friends really are the family that you choose for yourselves, then my family had chosen well. These friendships still exist, and I must say, probably without much of the drama you may see in an actual family.

Which brings me to my next point…. Friends are NOT family! And actually this may be one of the best things about the family you choose for yourself. The expectations that sometimes burden us with actual family aren’t so prevalent here, because we choose to stay connected to these people. They don’t love us because they have to, but because they choose to. We do not assume to over involve ourselves in one another’s business, and respect the privacy and boundaries that exist simply because we are not actually related.

I’m not sure if my parents, or any of their friends, EXPECTED that they would still be close friends nearly 40 years later, it just so happened that way. There were indeed periods when they saw less of one another because life gets busy when everyone works and are raising kids. There were cons, like not feeling you could ask or expect too much in terms of financial support or babysitting etc… because these people were not family, they did not take each other for granted. But should we really consider that a con? I think not. These people were there for each other, when called upon, and actively offered support where they could…. However they also had their own lives to lead, and respected the autonomy of one another individually.

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My parents created a very healthy environment within the family they chose for themselves. While they felt welcome to pop in unannounced for example, they didn’t make a bad habit of it. They never outstayed their welcome or took advantage of their friends generosity. They also offered to help wherever they could and never wanted their friends to feel under appreciated.

Although it is less common these days for friendships to last the distance the way these friendships did, it is still entirely possible. So what do I feel was the leading contributing factor to their success? That all the families involved were in a similar predicament. They were all subconsciously looking for a new family and valued the same things born from it.  They came together in a time of need, partly out of necessity as much as desire. They held on tightly because for a time all they had was each other.

Many of my friends feel it is the highest compliment to be likened to a sister, or an Aunt to their friends’ kids etc... So, if you are looking to fill gaps in your lives where family isn’t, for whatever reason, choose your friends carefully. You may value reliability, whereas your friend with a huge family to rely upon may value spontaneity, for example. You may be looking for stability while the other person is just looking for fun. Of course it is hard to know exactly which friends are going to last the distance, and only time will tell, but I like to believe that if you depend upon each other in equal measure that is a pretty good start.

Only ever invest as much as the other person and keep expectations real.

Only ever invest as much as the other person and keep expectations real.

So make sure you are someone who can be relied upon, who offers support and puts in effort for no other reason than that you care, if you wish to attract people who do the same. You may find someone who has a large family that welcomes you in, or you may find people in similar circumstances who value friendships that little bit more and share the same expectations of it.

As long as you respect that these people are NOT actually family, you may find more success than people who expect too much, and take one another for granted, because they ARE family! Practice good LIStening, NATural compassion, JENuine concern and interest, EMpathy, support and BELief in them, reliability, SHARing, trust, avoid sLYNess, or MIScommunications, and treat them like gold not like BRONze. That recipe has worked pretty well for my sisterhood!

Are friends the family you choose for yourself, or are family the friends you didn’t choose but are grateful to have. Don’t take either for granted, or expect too much and maybe you won’t be disappointed either way?

❤ Love
Your best Friend ForNever
xx

Families are said to practice unconditional love; if your friendships do too, that seems like a winning combination. 

Families are said to practice unconditional love; if your friendships do too, that seems like a winning combination. 

When a friends partner is cheating and you find out before she does?!

Uh Oh, you’re in trouble, somethings come along and burst your bubble…. I’m showing my age again with that lyrical reference to the hit song Trouble by Shampoo, popular in the mid 90’s. But it does sum up pretty well how you’re going to feel if you suddenly stumble upon this particular news that you wish you hadn’t…..

As a matter of fact, it can be such a difficult situation to find yourself in that you decide to just pretend you didn’t hear it at all. And I can’t say I blame you. If you intend to pretend you didn’t know, justifying it to yourself that it is hearsay, or not your business, nor your place to get involved, then you will need to be very careful that you never mention it to another soul, and do not let on that you knew, NEVER!!

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If your friend finds out that you knew, particularly if you knew before she did, and you never told her and stopped her from playing the fool, you can almost guarantee the trust between you will evaporate, if not the entire friendship. Having said that, it seems most women believe that they would want to know.... 

Of course, believing something in theory, about how you will feel or behave under abstract circumstances which we all secretly believe, or at least HOPE, will never happen to us, can be quite different to how you actually feel when it does actually happen to you. So if you do decide to tell your friend, you best be prepared for her to shoot the messenger.

It seems only natural that her first instinct will be to trust and protect her relationship, especially if she is invested, for example living with, married to or has children with the partner in question. The news you bare threatens her very security and the core of the life she has been building. If this news is a complete surprise to her, she will be reluctant to take it in straight away.

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Tell her the facts, and the facts only. Either what you heard, or what you saw, and express that you didn’t want her to be the last to know. Deliver the news sensitively. Preferably in person, in private. If she is angry with you, or throws accusations at you about jealousy or gossip, tell her that you understand she is angry and hurting, and confused and scared. Assure her that you will respect her wishes and will not involve yourself further or tell her what she should do.  If she changes the subject, do not raise the issue again, except to check in and see how she is.

If your friend decides to stay, either because she doesn't believe you or because she is choosing to forgive, you must accept this choice.

If your friend decides to stay, either because she doesn't believe you or because she is choosing to forgive, you must accept this choice.

Let your friend know that you are there for her if she wants to talk about it. If she does want to talk about it, be prepared to listen. Ask her if she wants advice before you offer any. She may be trying to make excuses for her partner, or justify behaviours, or talk you out of what you think you know. The only time you need to step in is if your friend starts blaming herself.

If your friend asks you for details, tell her what you know. If she asks for your opinion, tell her you aren’t too sure what to make of it, which is why you brought it straight to her. (And make sure you do. Don’t tell your other friends, and if you do tell another friend to decide what you should do, either you both agree to NEVER say anything (risky) or you both agree to tell her together so she knows who knew and that you were NOT gossiping or laughing about it behind her back.   Tell her almost as soon as you know yourself. If you wait weeks or months “trying to decide what to do” this will be at the expense of your friend and she will not likely forget and forgive this quickly.

Be patient with your friend. Allow her to go through the grief, including denial and bargaining. If she forgives her partner, whether they admit the truth or not, that is her choice. This is not your relationship. I know you care and it can be painful to watch your friend stay with someone who doesn’t deserve her, but give her some credit. Acknowledge that this is her life, her journey and her responsibility and you respect her ability to make the best decisions for herself and her family. Empower her. This is nothing she cannot handle if and when she is ready.

Remember, you never really know the status of anyone else’s relationship. While the infidelity might seem like a deal breaker for you, your friend may see it differently. Perhaps they had an open arrangement that you didn’t know about or perhaps your friend turns a blind eye for financial security. Whatever the reason it does not concern you.

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Your job, after you tell your friend is to be there for her in exactly the same way as you were before. To support her while she navigates this herself. Not to become over invested in the outcome or over involved in her life or the situation.  DO NOT STAY FRIENDS WITH THE PARTNER if they separate. Loyalty ladies, don’t make her say it!!!

Speaking of her partner, if you are close with them or not…do not blackmail her partner to tell her. Blackmail is unbecoming and just as dishonest. If you want her to know so much, you tell her and take responsibility for that choice.

If your friend never mentions this to you again, respect that she is drawing a boundary and don’t push it. It may be too private or painful for her to share. Do not discuss it too much with your other friends after the fact, even once they all know. If it comes up, express concern for your friend then state that it is her private business and if she wants to discuss it with you all as a group, she will.

Have you ever had to tell a friend that her partner was cheating? Or had a friend tell you? What happened? Did the relationship survive? Did the friendship?

❤ Love
Your best Friend ForNever
xx

NB: As I was writing this piece, a Facebook Page that I follow called "Surviving Female Friendships" (based on the title of her book) written by Nicole Zangara shared this article about exactly this topic!! The article, published in Bolde by Giulia Simolo, was entitled "Telling My Friend Her Boyfriend Was Cheating Ended Our Friendship".  

Sadly this is a risk both of you have to take. 

Sadly this is a risk both of you have to take. 

Forever Friends or Friendship Flings?

I have said here, time and time again that for some reason we have the unrealistic expectation that friendships are life-long liaisons. If you look at a holiday fling for example, the people involved are generally in agreeance that when the time comes for one or both parties to return home that it probably wont be possible to keep the romance alive, no matter how intense it was.

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This is because we can acknowledge that a relationship requires time, effort and continued contact to keep it alive…. So why is it that we assume a friendship, borne of the same experience, or any other, would not need that same effort and attention? Is it that we have lower expectations of what it takes to maintain a friendship, or is it that we are less easily able to identify when a friendship is a fling?

I guess it isn’t always as obvious. When you embark on a romance, the clues that it has no real potential for future direction seem clearer. It could be that one partner is substantially younger than the other, or that the partnership is forbidden in some way, or even perhaps that illness or circumstance plays a role. The reason we see this is because when it comes to romantic relationships we are consciously looking forward for potential. We are wary and looking for red flags. We are assessing compatibility and values and how our lives will develop together for continued success as a couple or a family.

In contrast, we generally have no such foresight or social conditioning to do the same in terms of friendships. This does strike me as odd to be honest. Given that a persons friends can indeed impact the direction of their lives, especially if they are not the best influence, why do we have such a casual take on friendship? Not only do we not look for clues that a friendship may be a bit of a bad match, we actively overlook red flags that tell us when we are not well suited.

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This is likely because we want friendships to work. We want them to live up to the ideal that they are simple, require little time or effort, and that as we do not share a life with our friends, our compatibility, such as shared life goals, values and directions are irrelevant. However that is simply untrue.

Friendships do require effort, and if you wish to have and keep people in your life, even at a distance, it helps if you do share common interests, values and circumstances. It does not help to overlook red flags and it does not help to find yourself stuck in unhealthy friendships because ending them feels like an unnecessary evil.

I have had friendship flings. Far more than any holiday flings that much is certain. However I feel I would have coped better with the situations at hand if I had of been actively looking at the friendships realistically enough to know that while they were fast, fun, intense and meaningful, that they were flings. To cope with the ending would have been much easier if I had of seen it coming before it began and just enjoyed the friendship fling for what it was.

When you think of romantic flings, however prepared you were when they ended, it still hurts. I know this. But you have to admit that there was a level of acceptance or accountability that you knew the potential was limited…. That you knew this day would come, and that you chose to proceed anyway. Knowing it was likely to end in tears. You weighed it up and decided that the pro’s outweighed the cons and went ahead anyway. Lets be honest, if you have been there, it’s likely you don’t even regret it. These people often represent the best times in our lives and the fondest memories because it really feels like living!!!

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Perhaps it is a healthier approach to enjoy all our friendships as though they are flings. It is not inevitable that they will end, but it is probable. Alas we continue on, enjoying them for what they bring into our lives today, and knowing that we will remember them with fondness when it is all over.  Or perhaps the key is to look at all friendships in the same way as we screen a romance… are we compatible? Do we see longterm potential?

Either way there are no guarantees. A friendship is every bit as much a fling of fancy as any other human relationship, and there are no guarantees with any of them. Some may start as flings, but somehow never end, and some may start as long term liaisons that somehow never seem to make the distance. Some we feel stuck with and some we can never seem to grasp at all no matter how hard we try.

As all the advice before me says, yesterday is gone, tomorrow is unknown…. Today is all we have. Enjoy your friendships, your relationships and your flings, even if you can’t tell the difference.

❤ Love
Your best Friend ForNever
xx

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Mate in the Middle.

Many of my blog posts have focused on fractured friendships. This is because I believe we do not discuss this nearly enough despite it being a difficulty we all seem to encounter at one time or another. This post is no different, but it looks at what happens when the friendship of 2 of your friends fractures….

In this circumstance 2 of your closes friends have stopped speaking to one another. However they both still want to maintain a friendship with you. You may have already made your judgements and taken a side, or decided to completely disengage with both friends as disagreements of this nature rarely bring out the best in people.

Image from http://shamelessmag.com/blog/entry/stuck-in-the-middle-with-you-tools-to-support-your-friends-when-they-are-in

Image from http://shamelessmag.com/blog/entry/stuck-in-the-middle-with-you-tools-to-support-your-friends-when-they-are-in

However, usually, at least for a while, you try to be neutral. This can be really challenging to do, because each time you catch up with one of your friends she wants to discuss the other. She either wants to discuss the details of what happened, and justify her position, or she wants to know the details of your other friends current life or drama’s.

Straight after the fallout it is a tricky time for both of your friends, and for you to navigate. Naturally you want to help your friends and be there for them, and part of that is meant to be supporting them through drama in their lives, and validating their feelings wherever you can. However the more details they offer, the more uncomfortably involved you may feel and the more pressured you feel to tell one or both friends they are right and side with one or the other. This is particularly true with the first one who relays their side of the story to you. 

Of course, then you see your other friend who relays the same events, albeit in a totally different context from your other friend. She is also justifying her position and maybe you can see her point. You may try and explain to both friends where the other person may have been coming from, however both friends may get angry and defensive at you.

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You have a few choices here. The first on is to try and be the peacemaker. You may try and insist that your friends make up, or explain to each of them what the other was thinking or feeling. It may work, but it is a risky maneuver…. Because each friend will probably feel you are on the other person’s side, or you may just unintentionally make things worse or betray a confidence (to the enemy!) You have heard the expression don’t shoot the messenger? That is because the messenger often gets shot. You may even find that the 2 friends make up over their  now passionate joint dislike of you and you could have lost 2 friends from a fallout that actually didn’t initially involve you at all! Consider yourself warned. CAUTION: DO NOT GET INVOLVED!!

So if the advice is not to get involved, how do you do this while still maintaining a friendship? If you are not interested in taking a side, and many women are, then you have 2 choices. The most obvious one is to withdraw yourself from both friendships, not because of the fight but because it has put you in a position you would rather not be in, or because your own crossed loyalties make it impossible to be objective and impartial.

The last hope is to stay friends with both women but to draw very firm boundaries about the topic. This is hard to do whilst being supportive, so I suggest reminding your friends that you are not a trained psychologist, and perhaps they would be best off speaking to one of those about it because of their removed stance from the situation and impartial objectivity. It is wise to acknowledge that your friend is hurting, angry and frustrated with the situation, but that is something she should really take up privately with your other friend, and it isn’t something you are comfortable discussing.

This can be a big draw card for some people. Try not to let one friend make you "hate on" the other, even if it brings you closer to the first one. 

This can be a big draw card for some people. Try not to let one friend make you "hate on" the other, even if it brings you closer to the first one. 

Sounds good in theory right? In my experience though, even that can significantly alter your own friendship with both parties. If you used to enjoy a friendship where you could discuss everything and anything and you are suddenly drawing boundaries around what is and is not acceptable to discuss, you may find that you end up being collateral damage anyway as both people move away from you and towards others more willing to hear them out.

Whatever you do, don’t insinuate that falling out with a friend is insignificant. Just because you aren’t the right person for the conversation, doesn’t mean it isn’t a much needed conversation all the same. If you do successfully navigate through this one, in the future be careful not to speak too much about one friend to the other or rub salt in the proverbial wound that you managed to stay friends with both of them.

I personally have found this situation so confusing and confronting that I tend to avoid friendships with people that know one another as much as possible, and when it does occur, I try and show respect for the “Mate in the Middle” and not tell them things that then put them in an awkward position.

If you respect your mates, don’t put them in the middle, and don’t put yourself there either if you can help it!!!

❤ Love
Your best Friend ForNever
xx

Easier said than done, but behave in a way, towards both people that leaves your conscience clear. Good Luck!

Easier said than done, but behave in a way, towards both people that leaves your conscience clear. Good Luck!

FRelationships

So, in some conversations with a few different people recently, the topic of the FRelationships has come up. The term FRelationship can be used in a few contexts.

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  • ·         When you are technically married or in a romantic relationship, however tend to behave more as friends than lovers.
  • ·         When you are technically in a friendship but tend to behave more like you are in a relationship.
  • ·         When you used to be romantic, however broke up and remained friends…. Still behaving in similar ways to when you were in a romantic relationship.
  • ·         When the status of the relationship is unclear to one or both of you, as nobody has defined the relationship
  • ·         An intimate friendship that exists between 2 couples.
  • ·         An unsuccessful attempt to turn a friendship into a relationship… where they do define it differently, but do not behave differently.
  • ·         A casual sexual relationship between friends without commitment or long term potential.
    (Sourced from the Urban Dictionary: https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Frelationship)

Let’s talk about these in more detail, shall we?

The first Frelationship, is the type you may find yourself in after a long term committed relationship. It started out romantically but seems to have dwindled somewhat to a stable platonic connection. I am a big believer in friendships within relationships and think it has to be an essential component… but remember you are in a romantic relationship and keeping the romance and spark going is essential for the health of your relationship. I am not only referring to sex, or feigned attempts at romance if your heart isn’t in it. If the romantic part of your love for your partner has ended, do you both a favour and set yourselves free to love again. If however, you want to save your relationship, make the effort to do something special for your partner that you would not do for just a friend. Remind them that you think of them and value them, and want to take care of them emotionally. Offer words and acts of positivity and appreciation regularly. Try not to stop kissing them, regardless of your sexual status.

Friendships and relationships require emotional intimacy. Save this before you become roommates. 

Friendships and relationships require emotional intimacy. Save this before you become roommates. 

The next type of FRelationship on the list pertains to people who only share a platonic connection, however behave more like they are in a romance. They flirt, they attend events together, they may even live together. They are very comfortable with each other in an almost intoxicating way. What differentiates this from the last Frelationship on the list is that they do not share physical intimacy. They feel taking that step would make it a relationship. They may do intimate things, like dance together… infact their whole relationship is a subtle dance. One partner steps forward, with the innate trust, knowledge and or acceptance, that this will cause their partner to naturally take one step back. The problem with this FRelationship is that while it embodies a romantic relationship, it usually threatens that very thing. Other partners either can’t compete with the friendship, or the friendship is discarded when romantic entanglements ensue, only to be picked up again when those relationships fail. It can be dangerously addictive, however be careful not to use one another to fill a void or avoid yourselves or real relationships.

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Speaking of real romantic relationships, that brings us to the type that exists because you used to be in one. With each other! You probably had separation anxieties and decided to straight away try and be friends. What usually happens after that is that you change the title of your relationship but forget to change your behaviours. Even if you are no longer physically intimate, the emotional intimacy and security is still there. It is preventing you from moving forward and letting go. Can you be friends with your ex? Yes, but it takes time, and space and change in your attitudes and behaviours. Your friendship is kind of stuck in limbo. Make your choice and act on it.

If you define the relationship as a friendship, make sure you act as friends. Friendly but not possesive or over invested. 

If you define the relationship as a friendship, make sure you act as friends. Friendly but not possesive or over invested. 

Alternatively, you may be in the reverse situation. You were friends, but decided to become a couple…. Unfortunately although you defined it differently, you neglected to change your behaviours. You might still find it strange to hold hands with them after a long friendship, or struggle to introduce them under the new title. Maybe there was a reason you didn’t progress to a relationship sooner? Often this happens because OTHER people, outside of your friendship have said you’d be great together and encouraged you to try. As you couldn’t see any real reason not to, you decided to go ahead. Ask yourself if the spark is there? If it isn’t, just be honest and go back to being friends. But do define that with the other person so they know they can start looking elsewhere. Embrace your friendship and at least you can say you know you tried.

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What if you don’t actually know if you are in a relationship with someone? Perhaps you met online, went on a date or 2, but never kissed. You kept hanging out, but it seems more like friends than lovers because neither of you has made a move? Or maybe you were friends, then you kissed one night (maybe more) but never spoke of it again and kept hanging out as normal. You’d probably (not definitely) like to be in a romantic relationship, but you are too scared to talk about it or act on it. Unfortunately this is another stop in Limbo Land. What are you waiting for? A written invitation from the queen? I know you are scared, because the answer might be “No” but if that is true you are wasting your time anyway, romantically speaking. DTR. Define the relationship. Make the move or have the conversation, and find out if your energies are best invested elsewhere or if this is going somewhere. Anyone who tells you “I’m not ready yet” is hedging their bets and using you til someone better comes along. If they like you, they will know. If not, you have your answer. You can still be friends, but cool it!

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Another way the term FRelationship exists is when you are part of a couple, and you have a very close friendship with another couple. It can be hard to tell sometimes who is partnered with who as you are all so close and do everything together. Maybe you should consider a quad relationship? (It’s a thing, google it?!) This is not an unhealthy FRelationship, just make sure you are getting quality couple time and quality time with other friends together and individually. The worst thing about these situations is that people sometimes lose their individual identity, so make sure you break out on your own occasionally too and look out for codependency.

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The last way a FRelationship comes into play is when you are basically good friends with sexual benefits. You may or may not act like a couple, but you do share intimacies friends usually don’t. You know. Casual sex. Lol Basically you are using each other, which isn’t the worst thing if you are both using each other for the same things. However if one of you is hoping it will progress and the other is looking for more elsewhere it is a recipe for heartbreak. The Rhianna song “Rehab” covers it quite well when she says “The only problem is that you were using me, in a different way than I was using you.” If one partner is using the other for sex and money, while the other is using the first partner for pseudo love, comfort, affection and attention, then the latter stands to get very hurt.

RED FLAG. Time to DTR.... Honestly this time...

RED FLAG. Time to DTR.... Honestly this time...

I personally have experienced almost all of these Frelationships, which I believe exist because relationships and friendships are so similar it can be hard not to blur the lines… or even know where the lines were to begin with. They can be lots of fun actually! Open and honest communication (even when it is difficult) and intentional boundaried behaviour are crucial here to make things work.  Have you had any Frelationships? What have your experiences been like? 

❤ Love
Your best Friend ForNever
xx

Friends can break your heart too.

Recently as I was listening to a CD I once made for an (ex) friend for her birthday, the Gnash song “I love u, I hate u” featuring Olivie O’brien came on. One line from the song just lingered in my mind “Friends can break your heart too.”

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When I think of all the heart break in my life, most of them have been from friendships if I am honest with you. I mean, the irony that the song was on the CD I made for an ex friend isn't lost on me! As I think back to it, the end was heart breaking, for us both! That’s a bold statement considering we haven’t spoken since it all went down, how would I even know what she was feeling? Because there was such love between us that it feels impossible that she wouldn’t be as heart broken as I was I guess. And because I need to take responsibility and accountability for breaking her heart too.

So many women have broken my heart, but to play the victim would be inaccurate because regardless of who did what or who officially ended things, if we even know, at the end of the day, I have broken the heart of many women too. We don’t talk about this heart break nearly enough. We hide it, because we are not supposed to feel it, and quietly ruminate over it in the deepest darkest corners of our minds and hearts.

So today I wanted to talk about it, and some of the reasons I have broken the heart of women I loved deeply. It’s not always what you think, and it’s not always even about you. As they say, there really are 2 sides to every story.

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Of course, for me, the most obvious conclusion is that one person had secret (or not so secret as the case may be) feelings a little deeper than friendship, and could no longer tolerate the sense of longing that comes from maintaining a closeness that feels simultaneously too close and too far away. That may cause the one with unrequited feelings to flee for any number of surface reasons, usually none of which relate to the root cause. Or it may cause the one who only wants platonic friendship to flee because the pressure to reciprocate or the guilt for not reciprocating is too great. 

Another obvious reason could be that, somewhere along the line, you have discovered that your values differ greatly to those of your friend, just making you incompatible. One of you may have been left feeling used, or just that time has passed, taking you in different directions, leaving you without much in common. It may end abruptly or slowly fade away quietly to nothing, but that doesn’t make it less heart breaking.

Then, of course, there are the less obvious reasons that a friendship may end. If your friend is doing something that she doesn’t feel she can talk to you about, chances are she will pull away for fear of judgement. This can be true even if you have always shared EVERYTHING without judgement in the past. Maybe she has tried to tell you whatever it is and you knowingly or otherwise shut her down. Or maybe she knows telling you would involve you in something that would put you in a terrible position. She might be doing something illegal or immoral and trying to protect you from the fallout, or she may just know what you are going to advise her to do, although she doesn’t want your advice, and is uninterested in following said advice. Sometimes when we can’t explain bad behaviour, we move away from people who hold us accountable for it.

Hopefully realising it probably wasn't about you will help

Hopefully realising it probably wasn't about you will help

Speaking of protecting you… she may also be going through something. Health issues, relationship issues, mental issues, or family issues for example. If you are a particularly empathetic person, she may actually be trying not to involve you in her drama because it would hurt you to see her hurting. This might be because she doesn’t want you hurting, or it might be because she doesn’t have the emotional strength to deal with taking care of your upset and her own all at once. She may think hurting you with silence is better than telling you the truth. Alternatively she may know that if she told you it would cause you to become more involved in her life - albeit in a well intentioned way, when what she really craves is space to deal with whatever it is on her own. (Spell check is telling me intentioned isn't a word! It is now!! Lol)

Lastly, if someone feels that you are moving away from them emotionally it can cause them to lash out because they are hurting. If they are feeling insecure or threatened, for example, they may simply run away in an effort to try and avoid the rejection they feel from you. They may feel you have a new best friend, new interests which are taking you away from them, a new partner, a new job or location… or any other number of things they feel are threatening your bond. If they feel they are going to be rejected or abandoned eventually, they try to get in first and leave the friendship before you get a chance to hurt them first.  Sadly, this hurts everyone anyway, and usually brings on the very abandonment they feared?

As you can see, most of these reasons have nothing to do with you? Most of these reasons are about her, and what she is feeling, fearing or experiencing. You haven't failed her or been a terrible friend. So please stop hiding. There is no shame in heart break. It means you loved. And that is a beautiful thing, even if it didn’t last. If there was love in your friendship then it was true. Friends CAN break your heart too…. And they do. But they are worth it, and so are you!

If you have ever experienced a broken heart over a friendship, please know this is normal. It is ok. It may have been the first time, but it will probably not be the last time sad to say… Still, I truly believe friendships are worth it, so put yourself back out there and make amends or make new friends. Love. Learn. Live. Repeat. 

❤ Love
Your best Friend ForNever
xx

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Holding on VS letting go?

Sometimes letting go of a friendship feels like the right thing to do, or even at times, the only thing to do. This might happen after a falling out, or after some sudden realization that reveals that a friend, or the friendship itself, isn’t what you thought or hoped it was or would become.

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However, most of the time, the thought of letting a friendship go is painful, and even at times unfathomable. Most of the time it feels like unequivocally the wrong thing to do. While there is an acceptance that romantic relationships in our lives come and go, there is an unspoken and unsettling assumption that we never have to let go of friendships. You wouldn't even contemplate it.... or would you?

At first it starts as a niggling feeling. You’re not too sure why, but suddenly you are not really looking forward to spending time with your friend. You may find yourself cancelling plans (or hoping she does) or claiming you are too busy to lock anything in with her right now. You feel annoyed, then guilty for feeling annoyed, if your friend messages you, even if she’s not asking for your time. When you finally do agree to spend time together, either because it has been quite a while since you saw her last, or because she has asked you so many times you ran out of plausible excuses, you dread it. When the time rolls around, seconds seem to turn into hours as time with her drags on. Conversation is stilted and you have no idea how you are going to find things to talk about for the next few hours.

Sometimes you and your friend are on the same page. You both feel the awkwardness and either talk it out, or withdraw from one another almost at a synchronized pace. Sadly, it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes your friend seems oblivious to the fact that you just don’t feel it anymore, and she is still excited by your friendship.

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This in itself can be just as draining as you find her to be. Now you feel guilty and like a terrible friend. A terrible person. She really likes you and for no apparent reason, you don’t like her anymore. How can you explain it when she really hasn't done anything wrong... except to say that she really hasn't done anything right either? You must be a monster, right? Wrong. If you actually think about it, you probably still do like your friend. She is a great person, and you have likely spent countless hours building the rich friendship tapestry that now exists. Sadly, just because you still like someone though, doesn’t mean you haven’t grown apart or that you still have as much in common as you used to.

Having a rich history with someone isn’t a guarantee that the friendship will, or even should last the distance. It can, however, cause us to hold on a little too long, or cause resentments to build. Before that happens, you need to be honest with yourself. Do you want this person in your life in the future?

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If the answer is yes, then rest assured long standing friendships wax and wane through the years. Sometimes your paths cross, and you have heaps in common, while at other times they diverge leaving some space between you. The strength in these friendships being that the positive vibes between you remain the same. If you feel your friendship is going through a bit of a difficult patch, there are a few things you could try to see it through.

If you usually catch up for a coffee and a chat, but find conversation is a bit strained at the moment, perhaps try going to see a movie, a concert or a show instead. Less talking is needed, and afterwards you can discuss what you just saw. If your tastes are very different, then you could try an activity you used to enjoy together such as bowling or mini golfing. Alternatively you could go to a comedy evening, a seminar or expo, park or zoo, or visit a psychic together. You could work together as a team in an escape room setting, or even just doing a jigsaw puzzle. Sometimes just injecting a little fun into the friendship is all it takes to remember how much you enjoy someone’s company. You are still spending time with your friend, even if quietly at times the activity excites you more than your friend does.

If that doesn’t appeal to you, or you don’t think it will work for you, then another tactic you could try is inviting your friend to more group settings and situations. Have a dinner party with some other friends who energise you and invite your pal along too. Not only might she make friends with your friends, but they may bring out new sides of her that even you haven’t seen before? Or perhaps suggest you both join a club together. A book club, a scrapbooking or crafting club, or even some cooking or exercise classes. Things which get you together, but also in social settings with others to help lighten the mood.

You might be very glad you took these steps in the future, when your friend is still in your life and you have made more memories together! If, however, you really feel like it is time to cut ties with your friend, that is ok. Don’t kid yourself that you are doing her a favour by being her friend if your heart isn’t in it anymore. You are robbing you both of the opportunity to spend time with people who you enjoy and who enjoy you.

If you think a prolonged period of space between you would benefit the friendship, but you don’t want to end it entirely (essentially keeping the doors, and your options, open) then this has to be achieved mutually, gradually and with enough positivity and love to sustain the break. This will mean genuinely showing interest in your friend on a regular basis, even if you are not interested in spending time together right now. A bit like a long distance friendship. This works beautifully if both people stick to the unspoken rules, however if one person is hurt and demands explanations, or if the withdrawal is sudden and unexplained, it wont work….. In which case it might be time to walk.

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If it is time to walk, then have the talk. You can assure your friend that this doesn’t mean you don’t like her anymore, but that you need to move along with your life and you no longer feel there is a place for her in it right now. You can wish her well with genuine love and care, however, it will hurt – both of you. Sometimes letting go is painful, but that doesn’t mean it is wrong. It means you are growing. There is always a chance just having the talk will resolve the issue and you can find ways to reconnect together, but if not, at least you can say you tried.

❤ Love
Your best Friend ForNever
xx

 

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When your partner doesn’t like your friends, or you having friends at all!

We probably all know at least one woman who falls off the face of the friendship planet when she gets a partner. This is particularly frustrating for those of us who are still single, mainly because we value friendships as one of the main sources of social connection; Or for those of us who are already in long term committed relationships, well past the honeymoon 'can’t get enough of each other' phase… because we have realised that our partner can’t be the only source of connection in our lives, and we don’t want them to be either. Who would we vent to about our partner?! Lol 

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It is so easy to resent this friend for the apparent disregard to you or your friendship and feel really hurt and rejected. For the record I do not support this move in any way, shape or form….. however I do understand it. At first it is easy to give her the space and time we feel is appropriate to be all in love and stuff. Intense bonding is happening and we respect that and try to be supportive and not feel jealous or threatened.

After a while though, when our friend still hasn’t resurfaced, the blow can hit us hard, as we ponder what we did and if we were the only cast off? After we stop blaming ourselves, the blame lands pretty swiftly on our friend as we rewrite our once meaningful friendship to a meaningless time passer……

However, very rarely do we stop to consider her partner in all of this. Some women meet men (or women) who are not particularly social, who may be needy or possessive, and who either sulk when she goes out with her friends, or who spend the whole night blowing up her phone so she can’t actually enjoy any time away anyways.

THIS!

THIS!

It’s possible that maybe her partner feels threatened by your closeness specifically, or perhaps he just isn’t really comfortable with the idea of her having friends at all. He may insist that she sees friends with him as opposed to on her own. This could potentially work if you also have a partner who happens to get along with hers…. Although this has almost never happened to me personally! Lol However if you don’t, you probably wont be able to really talk to her the way you would if he weren’t there and she definitely wont be able to discuss things like relationship issues with you if he is there listening in!

Many of my friends have reported that their partner relies on them solely for entertainment purposes and just don’t quite know what to do with themselves anymore when their other half goes out to play. It triggers all sorts of insecurities and fears. The boredom for the partner left at home allows for a negative thinking spiral and more often than not an argument ensues when she gets home. All of this can make your friend feel like catching up with her friends just isn’t worth the fight with her partner.

Another common complaint is that her partner may set strange limits or expectations on her friendships. He might not like her to see more than one friend a week, or for her to see the same friend more than one time a week for example. If she spends more time than he deems necessary with one friend she will be met with a million questions, accusations and suspicion.

Ladies, I know this is hard for you. I understand. This could happen so slowly that you don’t even notice your isolation before it’s too late and your friends have given up on you. But if this sounds like you, it is time for some honest conversations. Conversations with your partner, conversations with your friends and conversations with yourself!! The truth is, we all need friends. Outside of our relationships. Friends make us happy in a very unique way, and your happiness is important.

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The first conversation with your partner should outline how you feel about them, to help them feel secure, but include what you need to make yourself happy too, and emphasize how important alone time with your friends is as a part of that equation. Make suggestions for ways they could spend their time when you are away and remind them that you are not responsible for their entertainment requirements. Suggest they spend time with their friends perhaps! You can’t be their only one. If they say they only need you, be sure and tell them that is flattering but too much pressure for any one person. Similarly they may feel you should only need them, so it is a good time to point out that we all have several needs that are best met by several different people.

The conversations with your friends wont be easier, sorry to say. To tell her you wont be spending as much time with her now because you have someone else is going to feel as careless as it sounds. But it is important that she understands you still WANT to spend time with her and you will still keep in touch with her, it’s just you have to consider your partners needs. When you tell her he makes it difficult for you to see other people she might well say that is a RED FLAG and an abuse tactic possessive eand controlling people use to isolate their victim in a subtle manner…..

And as caring and attentive and well meaning as your partner might be, that is where that self honesty comes in to play. Because your friend is right. It does not mean you can’t stay with your partner. It does mean you must resist the urge to stop spending time with other people and stop pandering to it if he or she sulks about it. You are allowed to have friends and you are entitled to be happy. If your partner loves you and feels secure in your relationship there is no need for this, and the best way around it is to remind them that you are your own person, that you don’t require their permission to see your friends and unless it is an emergency you don’t expect to hear from them when you spend time with other people. Once your partner understands you need friendships to be happy he or she should love you enough to grant you this freedom and not see it as a threat, but rather as a gift.  Below are the signs of emotional abuse, as described in this article in Mind Body Green on June 25 2014. 

AUSTRALIAN DOMESTIC ABUSE HOTLINE: 1800 RESPECT/ 1800 737 732

AUSTRALIAN DOMESTIC ABUSE HOTLINE: 1800 RESPECT/ 1800 737 732

To the ladies out there who have been seemingly abandoned by friends who found partners, please try and be understanding and forgiving. Your friend may be being isolated, and you being mad at her, however justified, only gives her partner more power. Please try and be patient, keep in touch, even when it seems she is uninterested and try not to take it personally. Don’t put your life on hold for her, but consider your friendship a little on hold and hope that in time your friendship will resume. Remember you can't tell her what to do or choose her partner for her, just as he can't choose her friends, but you can be there for her whatever happens.

So, leave the proverbial friendship door open, please? Many of you will say you didn’t deserve to be treated that way, and you might be right, but as DR Phil always says, "do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?" Sometimes it can’t be both.

❤ Love
Your best Friend ForNever
xx

Katy Perry PEARL , (with lyrics)  

Katy Perry PEARL, (with lyrics)