Have you ever wondered why some of your friends don’t reach out to you? They seem to wait for you to do the heavy lifting, often a pattern formed from the beginning of the relationship. In other cases they are busier and more distracted than we can imagine, even if we aren’t.
Definitions of friendship vary widely. For example, persons emotionally wired as highly sensitive enjoy transcendent relationships—deep, focused, and satisfying. Yet they’re only 15-20% of the population. The rest of the population ranges from those who live in happy solitude with little human contact, to those who collect friends like business cards. And social media has created a very superficial definition of friendship fraught with peril for those who are seeking real relationships.
There are at least six explanations for why your friends don’t call you:
1. Friendships have seasons. They may begin with a prolonged period of intimacy and connection. Or they may have shared intense and even dangerous common experiences, such as the military, first responders, or medical staffs. But later the relationship may evolve into just a pleasant memory. People and circumstances change, and so do friendships, even the ones we imagined would last forever.
2. We have varying needs for intimacy and connection. We naturally think that our warm feelings for another will automatically translate into a reciprocal feeling. Not necessarily. Sometimes what we think are intimate friendships are more in our heads than reality.
3. Over time people change philosophically and spiritually. They may have belonged to one political persuasion and now they’ve gone in the opposite direction. They may have seemed very devoted to their spiritual/religious connections and now they are not. A shift in partner relationships can have a domino effect on collateral relationships. They may no longer have enough in common with us anymore to sustain a friendship.
4. You didn’t really know them, or yourself, as well as you thought. Our intuition is not always accurate. We may be working out of our own need for intimacy, to fill a gap left from childhood trauma or adult stresses. We may have been struggling with codependence without knowing it, trying constantly to please the other. We may have mistaken acquaintances for friends.
5. Something you said or did hurt them and you don’t know what. A friend who does not share how he/she has been hurt by another friend is having trouble defining what friendship is and may not be a good match for you in the long run. Unintentional hurt or misunderstandings need resolution. Once you’ve tried your best, there may be no other option but to let the person go.
6. You or they moved away. Frequently physical distance, despite social media, texting, and email, can be the killer of friendships. Out of sight, out of mind. Another great distancer is when a friend is burdened with the primary care of a chronically ill child or adult. They may be overwhelmed with responsibilities that push aside personal needs and friendships.
Best to keep in mind that most of us have fewer than five people who are true, kindred spirits, who understand us empathically, and who are able to pick up conversations where they left off even after months and years of separation. It is these kindred spirit who are the friends we need to concentrate on, even if they may not take the initiative to call first!
Ultimately you need to be your own best friend. Intimacy with self, unconditional love, and unrelenting self-care…these are the elements that make you a good friend to yourself and prepare you to be likewise for others. You are equipped to give yourself almost everything you need!
Challenged by friendship? Let’s discuss it. firstname.lastname@example.org or text me at 813-449-3904 My book can help: Life Interrupted: Taking Charge After Everything Has Changed