People say adulting is particularly hard regarding friendships, and I agree. Often adulting puts a strain on connections, not to mention significant changes that often come with creating the life you want, which may mean a loss of the friends you once had. Since adulting, I’ve found making and maintaining friendships increasingly challenging, but the coming year brings a new sense of hope. After reflecting on my needs, I will share my friendship hopes for the future. Hopefully, you will find this helpful when connecting with people.
Along with many other feelings, connection and understanding are what I generally seek from friendships. So it is important to me to make others feel connected and understood. A lot of this for me comes from feeling heard and seen, which I will explore how to do in this post.
- Active listening: Often discussed by people but only sometimes done is active listening. Often people fall into the trap of hearing what they want to hear, twisting what they heard or simply talking over what is said. The result of this is often poor connections with little understanding as to why. I hope the year brings a lot of active listening for everyone, as this is a crucial way to make someone feel heard, understood, seen and valued.
- Hold Space: Being one of the groups has benefits; however, it’s also important to feel recognised as an individual. Taking time to catch up one-on-one is essential to feel connected and vital, mainly if your friends are from different periods of your life or are more introverted than others.
- Make Them Your Priority: No one likes to feel they’re not a priority to someone they care for. Life can be challenging, especially if you have multiple jobs and responsibilities. But letting people down last minute for no real reason and constantly having to check your diary but never confirming is a quick way to make someone feel dismissed.
- Include Them: Have you ever been out with a set of friends, and they all start talking in code or an entirely different language you don’t understand? Often this is not on purpose; however, it is an obvious and easy way to make someone feel excluded very quickly. There are better methods than offering translation to overcome this. Remember that they are there in the hope that you create shared memories, so try to allow this to happen.
- Tell Them They’re Important: Many assume close ones know they are valued and essential. Rather than think, tell them as it is the most effective way to communicate this.
- Don’t Look For You In Them: One of the best pieces of advice I had was to stop looking for myself in others. A shared connection trap often results in people expecting others to behave the same way because they are ‘the same’. Everyone is unique and individual so even if it comes from a place of love, try and avoid projecting your expectations onto others.
Seek Therapy (if needed): Sometimes, we all need to rant and offload in hard times. However, some friendships strain because people treat friends like their therapists. Although many will provide space for their friends to do this, it is not always something people will feel comfortable with frequently making allowances. So, if you are experiencing a tough time, then be sure to seek Therapy if you need to talk it through regularly.
Let me know in the comments what makes you feel seen, heard and valued.
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