Lonely Friendships? Maybe They’re Not Real Friends

It was hard for me to wake up to the realization that I have “friends” who don’t want to connect with me emotionally.

“You must be willing to walk away from those spaces that make you feel perpetually lonely.” — Rebeca Ansar in P.S. I Love You

We have to be willing to walk away from spaces that make us feel perpetually lonely, whether those spaces are workplaces or simply the company of acquaintances who keep us at arms-length.

I was actually talking to a close friend about this exact subject yesterday.

If I have trouble getting to know someone, is it because I lack the social skills, courage, and desire to get to know someone? I frequently feel that way.

But how can that possibly be true when I have had dozens of close (or “best”) friendships in my life that were truly effortless and very intimate?

I’ve been reading a book on the subject of lifetraps (or “schema”), which are dysfunctional patterns — almost always from childhood — that we frequently attempt to recreate in our day-to-day lives as adult.

Your article reminds me of the lifetrap of “Social Isolation”:

“In a group you may pretend you’re more like the others and you want to give a good impression of yourself. […] In [c]lose relationships you’ll feel more confident and calm — you can be more truly yourself. The repeated experience of being an outsider makes you avoid more and more unpleasant social situations.” — Lifetraptest.com

I usually felt “different” as a kid for numerous reasons, including being frequently ill, having asthma, and skipping grades.

Indeed, this lifelong dysfunctional pattern (lifetrap) leads me to overvalue the approval and like of acquaintances (such as at work) and undervalue the rich, close ties of intimate friendships.

I usually go back to the well of wanting people at work to be my friends, even though I usually feel incredibly lonely and isolated around them.

Then, once I’m overwhelmed with loneliness, I start believing that I am unable to form or maintain real friendships.

Thankfully, as I’ve begun to practice more self-compassion and self-acceptance, I have become grateful for those experiences.

They taught me the valuable lesson that you shared in your article — that feeling lonely around others is probably a sign that they just don’t want to have a deep friendship with me.

And, while I easily talked to my friend for 45 minutes of the phone yesterday, I struggled to talk to an acquaintance for 3 minutes over the weekend.

Is that a problem with me? No, I was just taking things personally.

As my friend told me yesterday, “There are billions of people.”

Thanks again for sharing your perspective and wise take-aways!

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

🤓 The physical therapist who writes JavaScript 💪 Web Developer 😎 Mentor 🧠 DPT 😄 SEO Expert 😁 React 😆 Jamstack 💬 Ask me anything 👉 DoctorDerek.com 👈

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