A lot of people come to see me at the end of a relationship, feeling a bit broken by the ending (they’re never easy are they?), and somewhat rejected – what’s wrong with me? Why do I only attract narcissistic dick-wads? Am I going to become the crazy cat lady, found dead in my flat by emergency services because I am destined to be alone for the rest of my life? AND SO ON!!
But one thing rarely mentioned is how people feel about platonic friendships, and yet these have such a massive impact in our lives. Our mates are the ones still there when the romantic relationships end, to celebrate when we get the promotion or to support us when we find out we’re pregnant. And yet, we don’t seem to invest enough in these relationships, taking them for granted perhaps, until we realise that suddenly that bezzie mate is no longer available, doesn’t pick up the phone when you call, and asking them any kind of favour now feels like the wrong thing to do.
Apparently there is an epidemic of loneliness at the moment. I believe this to be true. And one of the reasons is that we are all investing so much in romantic relationships that we neglect the platonic ones. Taking a romantic view that all we need is this one person in our lives, and they will meet all of our needs! Of course no single person can meet all of our needs. We humans are pack animals, social beings, and even though we may not always feel like socialising, we do need people around us to make us feel normal, healthy and happy.
So why don’t we invest more in these friendships?
- Time. We never have enough time. Damn the humans that invented the concept of time! Why didn’t they create more of it? Because it is a made up concept of course, and we all run around sticking to schedules that someone else has created, and we can’t fit everything into!
- Energy. Due to our ‘lack of time’ we are also lacking in energy. Running that schedule and fitting everything in leaves us drained, exhausted. Also the food we eat comes in here, if we are not eating well (i.e. too much processed crap) we are not providing ourselves with the energy to move around our lives in the way we want to.
- Underestimating the value. This is a biggy. We underestimate how important these relationships actually are, and when we notice that we need them, is also when we notice that they’re not that available to us any more. Whoops.
- Fear of intimacy. Or should that say, fear of vulnerability? Being close to people can feel risky, they may not understand or get us. They may not like what we have to say if we are our true selves. And if there has been a drift in the friendship, it can feel uncomfortable to try to come back together – what if they pulled away on purpose? What if they actually think I’m a pain in the ass?
- Risk of rejection. Woah. Safer to not put myself out there, safer to just keep everyone at arms length, and no one will even notice. Keep going to the parties, surround yourself with people…
And then, shit – I feel lonely. Even if you’re in a romantic relationship, and all is well.
Loneliness is a strange thing, to be surrounded by people and feeling alone though is not uncommon. Apparently teenagers are feeling it, which is sad, but I get it. It’s that risk of rejection aspect – what if I’m my true self and they don’t like me? Which if you think about it, boils down to self esteem issues – I don’t know who I am, and I don’t know if I like me. Teenage angst. But this is carried into adulthood, as we all know.
So what do we do? Invest in the relationships that are important to us, pick up the phone, arrange that play date, find the time. Don’t just wait. Even better – have a conversation with your mate, tell them how you’re feeling – take the risk!
Also, don’t be afraid to let some platonic friendships go. There are people that come into our lives that are not meant to be around forever, and that is okay. We do not have time and energy in our lives for everyone (am I contradicting myself here?!), and we need to make sure that we do have enough for those who are important to us.
Does any of this ring true for you? How are you feeling about the friendships in your life, are you making the most of them? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so get in touch – post a comment below, or on Insta / FB.
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