Let’s Talk About Friendship
Friendship is one of the most underrated factors that can either contribute to or relieve mental health symptoms. Whether it be someone we just met, someone we’ve known our whole lives, or built-in friends like cousins or siblings, we all have relationships that teach us about ourselves and the world around us. Friendship gives us a sense of belonging and purpose and combats feelings of loneliness and isolation. Even though creating and maintaining friendships are necessary for sustaining our well being, no one really teaches us what friendship looks like, which often leaves us feeling confused or upset when we see our friendships changing and evolving over time.
Our mainstream culture primarily focuses on the expectation for romantic relationships, which can make navigating friendships feel a little more confusing. Due to the lack of clarity surrounding roles within a friendship, it can be easy to shame ourselves for certain friendship experiences that are actually quite normal! Below are some examples of occurrences that are common and normal to experience in friendships throughout life.
1. Many different levels of friendships exist
No two friendships are not the same. Your connection with certain friends will be more surface level than others. People will play different roles in your life based on your level of friendship. You’ll invest more in some friends than others, and that is okay!
2. Friendship breakups exist and can be healthy
Friendship break ups can be just as painful as romantic relationships! There can be many natural reasons why friendships end. People move, they change their path, their values shift and sometimes that means the relationship ends. Sometimes people are just growing in different directions and need their space to flourish. Additionally, it can be healthy to remove people who you feel are adding a toxic presence to your life. Removing unhealthy friendships from your life can reduce your stress and ensure that you are surrounding yourself with others that help you reach your fullest potential.
3. Sometimes it comes in waves
It’s natural for long term friendships to have periods where you’re super close and then don’t talk as much. Life gets crazier by the day and sometimes it can be hard to make time to talk to our loved ones, despite our best intentions. If the bond is there, you can both understand it’s not personal and that you still matter in each other’s lives.
4. Staying friends because of history
Have you ever had the feeling your friendship has run its course? Maybe you feel drained after spending time together, but still do it out of obligation. Not all friendships last forever, nor do you need to make them. We as people are ever-changing, and sometimes the new versions of ourselves aren’t compatible with friends from our past. Make the effort to surround yourself with others that support you and feel effortless to spend time with.
So you’re still upset about that fight from a year ago. Maybe you’re mad they missed an opportunity to help you during a tough time. This doesn’t mean the friendship is over: talk about it. Like romantic relationships, communication is necessary to get back on track. Holding onto these feelings without communicating it with your friend not only prolongs the conflict but disturbs your peace as well.
Friendship is a powerful thing, capable of bringing both pain and immense joy. Once we start to learn and accept this, we can view our friendships with a deeper appreciation and understand that change, whether good or bad, is an inevitable part of the world in which we live.
To Learn More or Book an Appointment
For more resources and information about friendship and mental health, check out the resources below:
If you are interested in seeing a See You Through It Counseling therapist, book an appointment.
To discover what the therapists at See You Through It Counseling offer, please go to our team page.