In group the other day, a member said, “How do I find a friend?” She was “desperate” for friends. As she shared her history, she admitted that she gets into a friendship, is used and abused, and leaves reluctantly, disappointed. The cycle happens over and over again.
Learning to avoid the old cycle
Digging deeper, she acknowledged how she overlooked the warnings from people around her about the character of people she was choosing as “friends.” They were unreliable, dishonest, and untrustworthy. It was easier to get involved with them, because they were familiar in some way; she knew her role, because she had been practicing it all her life. It takes a certain desperation to change our familiar patterns — they have to get uncomfortable enough that we just don’t want to do them anymore.
To have healthy friends, where we can be interdependent and not codependent, we must first recognize our familiar attractions and learn to avoid them. Much easier said than done! Ask yourself, “Do I feel nurtured, cared for, valued by this person? How do they show it?” If you have a commitment to meet for lunch, do they cancel at the last minute? Do they always talk about themself and never ask about you? Do they demand your time but aren’t available for you when you need them?
Finding a true friend
True friendship is a commitment to be intimate. It’s an investment where you gradually learn to create safety through honesty, build trust, and practice having each other’s back. It takes time to develop, time where you learn to listen inside to your “still small voice” for guidance. Why? Because it is important to value the relationship that you have with yourself more than you value the relationship with another.
As you spend more time together, you’ll learn more about each other and make time together a priority. You’ll see if their actions match their words. You’ll feel safe to share your true thoughts and feelings, even when you’re afraid that your new friend might not want to hear them. Because, ultimately, you know that you are both invested in sharing a deep relationship with each other, a relationship where you can honor your similarities and your differences.
If you are tired of choosing the wrong relationships and would like some guidance in finding healthier friends, I would love to help you. Please give me a call at 404.518.0828. I look forward to working with you, Dr. Sharman Colosetti.