My close friend likes me
# FragR29: Why can't I make close friendships?
Photographed by Sungjae Cho
I constantly see on Instagram how other people spend time with their close friends on weekends. In the photos they are laughing and appear heartfelt and happy to have each other. I, on the other hand, have big problems asking other people if they'd like to hang out with me at all. I know that it would be good for me.
As soon as I only think of writing a message to someone I know and asking if he or she would like to have a coffee, in the second step I ask myself why the other person should want to see me at all . Or I imagine the situation in which we meet each other and immediately feel one hundred percent responsible for ensuring that the other person feels comfortable and has fun during the meeting.
The very thought of it puts me under so much pressure that I often don't even try and withdraw from other people. That depresses me. When I see others who have a lot of friends, I ask myself, “How do they manage to meet up for coffee and just go there without being afraid that they won't have a good time together without committing to it to feel responsible that this meeting is going to be totally fun? ”Why does it seem like no problem for everyone else to make friends? And why can't I do it?
I'm not a loner. For example, I really enjoy going to parties with a lot of people, where I can chat with all kinds of people. Probably no one who saw me zipping from person to person would guess that I am shy. In situations like this, I even manage to be pretty charming for a limited amount of time. Before my counterpart can realize that I am actually the bad or boring person I think myself to be, I have already moved on to the next party guest. As a result, I have a lot of acquaintances, but not anyone I would call a close friend.
So it's quite a dilemma. On the one hand, I am self-confident in large groups and behave in such a way that others may even envy my looseness. On the other hand, I slow myself down, judge myself harshly and am afraid of being judged by other people. I am afraid that I will not meet the requirements that I believe others are making of me.
But where does that come from? I talked to a psychotherapist about it. She asked me to think about what my role in the family was when I grew up. Did I have a demanding parent who asked a lot of me? Sometimes the demands we are exposed to are not that obvious, and especially as children we do everything to please our parents. Sometimes this leads to the fact that we find ourselves in the role of cheer up a depressed parent - keyword sunshine. Or, if we were an introverted or sad child ourselves, felt that our parents were disappointed in us.
Why does it seem to be no problem for everyone else to find friends? And why can't I do it?
Early relationships define how we perceive ourselves in later life. The therapist noticed that I often use the word “responsibility” when referring to social interactions. When others are happy in my company, I feel empowered and less anxious. Your reaction makes me feel in control. At the same time, I feel envious of people who do not feel responsible for the feelings of their counterparts in society. People who can just spend time with others without nervousness, pretensions or shame even scare me a little.
And what does that mean for me now? I have to learn that there is a middle ground between a bolt of charm who enchants all party guests and a depressed outsider who does not dare to approach other people.
My therapist advised me to honestly question the situations in which I feel extremely charming. Am I really that adorable? Or do I constantly drive others over their mouths out of sheer fear that they might see the 'real me'? Doesn't the fear of vulnerability speak out of me that much, which turns me into the supposed party bomb that I may not even be inside? Realizing that I am not the best version of myself when I am invulnerable is the first step in the right direction.
But then the real work begins and I have to turn to what is arguably the most difficult part of my problem. Why do I actually feel like a boring person with a bad character when I'm 'just' myself? Do I feel uncomfortable with myself and am I afraid that others will see this side of me when they get to know me better? By keeping others at a distance, I stay in control and don't have to face the problems I have with myself. My therapist therefore advised me to ask someone who is close to me if they feel that I tell something boring more often. Of course, that's absolutely nothing I want to do. However, the therapist believes that the experience of trusting someone with positive feedback, namely hearing that I am not perceived as boring, could mean a big step forward for me.
The second step will be to entrust my feelings and my fears not only to people who are very close to me, but also to those whom I have only known as acquaintances. My therapist's assumption is that I will not meet with rejection, but rather that I could find out that other people sometimes have similar worries as I do. Perhaps it is precisely my "dark" side that you will perceive as an enrichment. I find it very difficult to imagine gaining the affection of anyone like that, and it scares me as hell to make myself so vulnerable. On the other hand, I would like to try.
In the end, the therapist advised me to deliberately keep meetings with acquaintances short, because that should take the pressure off of having to find a topic when there should be an embarrassing silence. Furthermore, not all meetings need to involve intensive discussions. Rather, excursions, museum visits or concert evenings can be a nice shared experience that you can talk about later. The topic of conversation is practically built into the meeting.
I will try to reflect and work on myself. I will look at the various topics step by step. Hopefully this will help me meet other people without feeling like I have to portray or please something in any way. To learn that I am who I am, lovable and enough, is certainly still a long way to go. Nevertheless, I am convinced that it will be worth it.
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