Reply To: Friendships: It´s not me – it´s YOU(?)

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My teenage daughter has just been diagnosed with ADHD- inattentive, so I came to this site for help. I have no diagnosis but see myself in so much of what I’m learning here. I have struggled with friendships for years and am sad to watch my daughter with many of the same struggles. Fortunately for me I’m in a strong marriage, but relying on one person for support can be too much for that relationship. So here’s what I’ve learned to help me cope in hopes that it may be a small comfort to you who are also struggling.

There is so much research about the importance of women having girlfriends… not discounting men here, just talking about what I’ve read. So, that knowledge keeps me trying to make and keep friends.

It may be cliche, but there are seasons of friends. People move in and out of your life because of life circumstances. I try not to take this personally. (It’s hard, I know.) My daughter’s therapist said a couple things… we are like a tree. Some friends are like leaves and hold on for just a season, a short time. Others may start to be branches, but as soon as a storm comes they break off. We need roots to survive. If you can develop two or three roots, you will make it. Right now for my daughter that is me, her father and her sister. She said there are friends who are with you and those that are for you. Those who are WITH you are like the leaves, holding on while you’re fun or giving them whatever it is they need. Those friends who are FOR you are for you no matter what. They survive your storm of depression, lack of follow-through, over-sharing, whatever. The roots, the ‘for you friends’ is where we need to spend our energy.

I say the woman who just talks about herself could be a narcissist. Run, don’t walk. She’s not in it for you. Look for a balance.

Something else I try to improve my mood about humanity is to be nice. I try to strike up conversations with people most everywhere I go. It hasn’t developed any real friendships, but it’s a moment of connection that I can be grateful for.

Others are giving advice about joining interest groups… good advice, but there is more. Another therapist told me that it’s not good enough to just join. You have to show up early and look approachable- not looking at your phone. You have to stay after and be willing to talk to people. It takes time and effort. Sometimes I would just rather talk to the lady in the produce section.

I am working on friendships with two women, and the three of us meet together about every three weeks. I like them both very much, but I feel more secure meeting with both instead of one on one. It takes some pressure off the conversation. I have learned by listening to them that my memory is not great. One will ask about an event of the other that I know I was privy to but completely forgot. It’s not that I don’t care, I just didn’t remember. Now when I leave the date I put the event in my calendar… Call girlfriend about surgery on this day. That has helped me be a better friend. Wish I knew what else it takes.

Good luck!