By: Kaleigh Nobbe, Clinical Intern
Some people have been fortunate and met some of their lifelong friends when they were young children, others met their best friends in college, and many feel as though they continue to find it difficult to create those attachments, regardless of how hard they may be trying. Friendships seem to become more difficult as time goes on and there are three reasons that may explain why:
- When we make friends as children, often we meet because we are close in proximity. We live in the same neighborhood, we go to the same school, or we see each other often because our parents are friends. As we age, this quickly changes as we choose different hobbies, we move, or we select different areas to specialize (classes, college, jobs).
- With the change to proximity, there is also a shift in how often interactions are unplanned. Having frequent unplanned interactions, such as regularly seeing one another at your favorite restaurant, allows you to become more familiar with each other and bridges the gap between stranger and acquaintance. There is an exposure that allows us to see into small portions of one another’s lives, making us seem more familiar to one another.
- The really tricky part here is finding a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other. When in public or in a space with “unspoken expectations” on how we should act, it can be hard to understand how this person beside us truly thinks and feels. When we are able to reach a new level of emotional connection, the trust and friendship grows, creating a more intimate friendship.
It can be challenging to let our guards down because we’ve been hurt in the past, our friendships don’t ever seem to work so we blame ourselves, or we failed to communicate our expectations for the relationship. Friendships take work, a lot of work to make them sustainable, but one key element is the need for communication. Every friend started out as a stranger – communicating and sharing yourself with another person is a wonderful first step in gaining and maintaining friendship.
For more information on nurturing friendships, explore these resources.
To understand how communication is impacting your friendships, speak with your counselor.
Call Owens & Associates at (847)854-4333 for a free 15-minute consultation.