I recently saw a status on facebook asking “Anyone else guilty of staying in a one-sided friendship too long because you have too much understanding for why they’re like they are?”
This got me thinking about friendships.
Surely by the time I left the playground I should have got friendships sussed out?! I mean, I’m a grown up with kids of my own however, when I read the Facebook status I realised I had been guilty of this for a long time.
I work with young children in the counselling room, and friendships are often part of the issue that they bring along with them. Friendships help us to feel like we belong, that these like minded people get us, that they have our back; but the reality is that sometimes this can just be our perception of what the friendship is or what we hope it should be.
I sometimes hear parents telling their children that it doesn’t matter what their peers think; that they’re better off without them, they don’t deserve to have you as a friend, you’re too nice/good to them, or it’s their loss. All these things I remember telling my own children, and myself not so long ago, however it can be easier said than done to walk away from these one-sided kind of friendships.
Often we find excuses for their behaviour; they’ve got busy lives, perhaps they were having a bad day, it’s my fault I should be a better friend, they didn’t think you’d be interested in……. (whatever needs to go in the blank.) We still cling on, hoping that they might just remember or notice us next time.
This hurts. It hurts as a child and still hurts as a grown-up. We all want to feel noticed, important, liked, that we belong and that someone actually enjoys our company, or wants to know that we’re ok.
So, what do we do?
There is always choice and consequence. We can take back control - of ourselves and our friendships.
We can choose to continue being part of this friendship and accepting that this is the way it is and more than likely always will be, and that’s ok. Or we can choose to change - for example, this could involve talking with the friend and explaining how you’re feeling about the friendship. The result of this can then go one of two ways, either it improves or it deteriorates….
This consequence can often be taken out of our own hands - and here-in lies the fear of possibly being rejected and having to face the reality associated with this. But ask yourself this; could it really be any worse than it currently feels? Perhaps the connection is no longer there (for one or both of you, but both feel obliged to remain within the ‘friendship’). You have both grown and changed, and are different people now.
What’s the positive?
It could result in you being able to make new connections without the feelings of guilt associated with moving on in a different direction with new people. The friend also has the choice, whether to accept that you’re moving on, or realise they actually do value your friendship and that you do matter to them, they then realise how much they might have been taking you for granted and do something about it!
Either way it can enable us to feel alive once again. To start to live our own life, not waiting to be invited or standing on the side-lines just watching and wishing, but taking control and being who we were meant to be!
Cath has worked in private practice for the last year working with adults and young people. Previously she worked as a nurse, midwife and had numerous years supporting young people in educational settings. Using her own experiences of life, being a down to earth mum to two beautiful daughters and having a sense of humour gives Cath a huge wealth of experiences to draw upon when working in the counselling room.