Making friends is hard to do
In my last therapy group, folks were talking about the challenge of making friends. This issue is something that is on the minds of many people. How do you make friends? Especially as an adult when your life is full and busy. Should you trust people? How do you trust people? How do you figure out the rules of creating friendships? Or even hanging out and being with people? How do you deal with the kinds of nasty things that go on in relationships? One woman told the group about how shocked she was when going on a girl’s night out. While at dinner together, she noticed that every time someone at the dinner went to the bathroom, the remaining group would start talking about her, – behind her back, – and saying things that were not so nice.
When she returned, the group would welcome her back and act as though nothing was said. This occurred several times. My client was afraid to go to the bathroom, and more, to have dinner with the group again. This and other kinds of social interactions are commonplace in today’s world. Relationships take place with many unspoken assumptions, of what it means to be friends, what friends are, of the kind of expectations that people may have of friendships, and much more. There are also assumptions that we make about how to fit in, and suppress ones honesty with the people you are with.
We tend not to share our questions and concerns about how we are being together. We often make compromises with our selves, our wants, our basic values, in order to keep and hold on to people we may consider friends. The assumptions and behaviors we make often lead to disappointments, and faulty expectations about the relationship. Are there ways to break out of this?
One way is to learn how to create environments to be more honest, more open, with the people you are with. The group works on this all the time. Creating a place where you can openly, playfully ask questions about the basic unspoken assumptions that take place among people. Are you able to ask, “Why are we doing this together? Why are we talking about this in this manner (angrily, judgmentally, critically, trying to solve the problem, etc)?” We often don’t know how to engage in a philosophical dialogue where it is possible to play with the conversation, expose ourselves to the vulnerability of raising challenging questions.
This is one of the areas of life and work that we play with in social therapy group to create new possibilities with one another. And this work helps to create new skills for strengthening and deepening lasting friendships.
The Atlanta Center
For social therapy