Why don’t we talk about Friendships?
Managing friendships is something that is rarely talked about. Psychologists often deal with family dynamics, coaches (like me) with self love, there are many books on romantic relationships and how to deal with any differences. Even books on parenting are plentiful. Yet friendships is often a topic that is not talked about much in a philosophical or psychological context. Friendships just seem to be a thing that just happen to us. They exist sometimes, sometimes not and there is nothing more to it. Movies and books depict them as a connection between people that just somehow exist. Thelma and Louise, the kids from Stranger Things, Sex & the City, Frodo and Sam, Harry Potter & Ron. Not to forget the most obvious one – a TV show just called “Friends”. These people just bump into each other, become friends. There is always a fall out, just the one, and they find back to each other. Yet friendships are far more complex than that. Just as any relationship between people, it is complex and sometimes confusing. Where two people exist, friction occurs. But we often do not get much guidance when it comes to friendships.
There is little discussion out there on:
- How do you make friends (especially when you are older)?
- How do you keep friends/ remain friends over time?
- Why should you become friends with someone and also – why shouldn’t you?
- How do you get rid of friends that turn toxic?
- How do you handle topics such as disappointment, jealousy, money?
- How do I get friends like in Friends?
- You lost a friend – how do you deal with this kind of break up?
- You want to be friends with someone but they don’t want to be friends with you?
- Can I live without any friends?
Friendships can be truly wonderful things. For many, they are a form of survival. Where parents or family lack, that is were often friends complete. Humans are herd animals. We want to be understood and excepted by our packs. At an early age this is family, yet already at puberty, the focus shifts outward. It is more important to be accepted by the herd than our families. But no one teaches us how to do it or what to do about it if you aren’t accepted.
Many teens struggle through this. And I will be honest – it does get a little easier with age, but it doesn’t go away. Friendships are vital to our existence. I fear often their importance is understated. We all carry around pain with us of a lost or disappointed friendship. Sometimes the pain is even deeper than the loss of a romantic relationship. Damaged or damaging friendships often leave us confused, insecure and hurt. It’s ok to mourn a friend just like you do a lover. Frequently we do not, hence the pain lingers around. Let’s try to let that go. Do as you did with an ex, give yourself some time to grief and work through that loss.
Join me for this series focused on friendship where we will answer all those questions mentioned above in that order.