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When to give up on potential friendships?

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  • #55674
    Jessa
    Participant

    I work in a fairly close-knit workplace, and really enjoy the company of my coworkers. I’m really clumsy at forming friendships (I tend to be really independent), and even though I’ve tried my best, no close lasting friendships are happening. I’m not the type to be satisfied with a lot of shallower relationships; I prefer to have a few really good friends. I’m starting to become a little resentful,because I feel that I give very focused attention to others, but when I pull away and don’t give as much energy to those relationships my coworkers ask why I’m suddenly being distant. I also have this horrible habit of, whenever I do start getting close to anyone, I start feeling paranoid and looking for reasons why they really don’t like me, and are maybe just being polite. Messed up, I know. This just makes it more confusing and harder to trust my feelings about the situation.

    I feel stuck. I’m not getting what I need from these sorta-friendships. Should I be asking for more of what I need? Is it even worth it if I’ve been around these people for a few years and no one has really stepped up to the plate? Should I just cut my losses and put my energy into looking for other friendships? Am I missing opportunities to connect because I just don’t see them?

    #55675
    Cassandra
    Participant

    Hi Jessa,

    I’m a lot like you in that I crave really close, lasting friendships and I don’t just befriend anyone. This sort of approach has positives and negatives – one of the negatives being that it’s HARD to find those kind of friendships. The good thing is that when you do, it’s well worth it.

    I’d say that if you’re giving and giving to these people and not receiving anything in return, look elsewhere. Relationships are give and take and you deserve the kind of energy you’re giving them in return.

    As for feeling paranoid, well…I’ve been there too. It has to do with self-esteem and knowing your worth. Ask yourself, “Do I form relationships with people because I’m being polite?” Chances are you’re not. People become friends because they like each other! Trust yourself and your friendships.

    #55680
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Hey Jessa,

    Here are my two cents. I realize this need to have deep relationships. However, one needs to acknowledge that such closeness is indeed rare and not everyone can be on such a wave-length with us. Additionally, deep friendships take a great deal of time and trust which will not happen in a day.

    I feel that you need to let go of this consciousness of “oh, this rabbit could be a close friend, let me do nice things and totally get along with them” Just be genuinely interested in people and their thoughts. When they see that you do care about what they have to say, chances are they will open up more to you. If not a deep friendship, you would have the chance to know an unexpectedly wonderful person. Who knows, you might just bond more deeply more over time!

    Also, i would like to add that your behavior may often send confusing signals to people around you. Consider a co-worker of yours who is very friendly with you for some time, talks normally and then just pulls away. You would wonder what is wrong with her? Was it something you did? But you cant really ask her too directly and assume she wants her space maybe. The net result is that there is a strain created by wrong signals.

    Now the act of pulling away is something you need to look into. Its a sign that you arent confident about how worthwhile you are. A part of you is already guarded despite your seemingly amicable nature and the moment you sense that there isnt sufficient reciprocation, you invariably start feeling it could be due to your nature. Thus, as a defense mechanism, you pull away – the thought is “why get rejected when i dont even want it?”

    The point is, even if you supposedly get “rejected” of your need to closely bond with that person despite your efforts to be nice and polite, remember that you arent really being yourself and people have different bonding thresholds. Not everyone clicks that easily but different friends have various roles to play in our existence. Not all friends are meant to be the “till death do us apart” type.

    The more you appreciate yourself, the more you will realize how nice it is to bond with people without too many pre-set notions and expectations. Be genuinely interested in people and trust yourself.

    – Moon

    #55758
    Jessa
    Participant

    Hi Moongal,

    Thank you for your thoughtful response. It has really made me think.

    If I’m honest, I guess I know that I send confusing signals to people. They don’t understand why I can be warm one day and then isolated and shut off the next. I just don’t know what else to do.

    You’re right about my self-worth. I have come a very long way in the last year, and probably love and accept myself more than I have in years, but relationships still especially bring out that insecurity for me. Pulling back is a way of protecting myself from the hurt that happens when I realize the other person just isn’t as invested as I am. Often that imbalance isn’t even their fault. Because of my anxiety and fear about making connections, I kind of start with a handicap. Something like saying hello or asking to spend a few minutes with someone I like used to give me panic attacks. When it takes enormous effort just to do the basics, it’s easy to feel perpetually unappreciated. Instead of realizing that being openly social might have been the hardest thing I did that day, people just wonder why I was awkward and left so quickly.

    Some of my nicest connections lately have happened with people I haven’t had any expectations for. Maybe I can focus more on just having that genuine interest and enjoyment of getting to know people. I’m still confused about where that leaves me with my needs (hope that doesn’t sound selfish) but I feel happier anyway when I’m focused on the other person and not how they may be failing to meet my needs or desires.

    I’ll keep thinking about this for a while. Thanks again and have a lovely weekend 🙂
    Jessa

    P.S. I like your flower avatar, it’s pretty.

    #55778
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Dear Jessa,

    Thanks 🙂

    It is good that you have come so far in overcoming your fears. I know how hard that is and even i struggle with some of the things you mentioned. I did have massive panic attacks before and there are days that being around people, crowds is so stressful. Nonetheless, I have come to realize that i do want to be with people but not way too much. I used to get confused about it all. I craved deep relationships but at the same time, kept feeling a nagging sense of discomfort in closeness as well. It was quite a contradiction for me. I ultimately realized that i was indeed an introvert but i also suffered from low self-esteem. I definitely needed my space to reflect and recharge but felt insecure with people whom i was really close to. I was always looking for “proof” – i couldnt believe that they actually liked me that much. The shyness and anxiety with people of my age, happened because of inner insecurities.

    In the end, the more we practice, reinforce positive social feedback and continue to develop self-confidence, the easier it becomes to be with people. How i perceive what kind of person i am on a particular day has a massive impact on how i project myself to others.

    Focusing on people is something i learnt from one of my best friends. She’s like the sun – warm, exuberant and the kind of person who smiles with their eyes, their entire face lights up. She makes friends very easily and told me that i simply needed to stop thinking so much about what they thought. i simply had to be myself and smile more – ask people how they are and remember things they said.

    The more warm and positive you are, the better you will feel and make people feel comfortable with you. Your needs for a deeper connection will happen if you open up and allow people to do the same. Whenever you get confused with this, try to think of yourself as a third person…maybe a friend whom you’re trying to advice in such a situation. what would you tell her?

    – Moon

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