Friendship Answers

What is wrong with me?

Thank you so much for sharing your honest feelings and questions. That is a hard place to be in, when you don't feel really all the way present in the world or your own life. I also think you're not alone in feeling this way, as many are feeling disconnected emotionally and socially following the pandemic.  Let's start with some techniques that can help you turn off autopilot and feel more involved in your own life. Grounding techniques can be very helpful here to bring awareness to your body and your environment. Deep breathing is one of these grounding techniques. You can try simply taking deep breaths, or you can try square breathing where you inhale for a given amount of time (i.e. four seconds), hold it for the same amount of time, exhale for the same amount of time, and hold that for the same amount of time, forcing your breathing to be slower and more controlled. You can also try the "5-4-3-2-1 technique," in which you will identify 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. Strive to notice small details that your mind would usually tune out, such as distant sounds, or the texture of an ordinary object. Another idea to go along with this is being intentional about the activities you choose to engage in and making sure you do something fun or exciting for yourself each week. This can be anything from getting your favorite coffee to going on walks outside, as long as it evokes that positive emotion for you. You also brought up the challenge of connecting with people and making friends. This can be an intimidating thing, especially in adulthood, when it feels like there are fewer opportunities to spend time with new people. When you feel up to it, busting out of your comfort zone might help you interact with new people, which could be potential new friends. Think about activities you’ve always wanted to try but never have. It could be as simple as taking your dog to a new coffee shop every weekend or maybe you finally try going to that book club that your cousin is in. You could also just spark up a conversation with the people you regularly cross paths with at work, the gym, the library, or wherever. If you feel more comfortable starting connections online, there are now several different social platforms where you can joins groups related to your interests. For example, if you like cycling, join a cycling Facebook group or follow a cycling TikTok page. You could also use social media as a jumping-off point for developing friendships with people you follow by replying to people’s stories if they post about activities you’re interested in, or leaving kind comments on their posts.
Answered on 11/16/2022

Why do I feel the way I do?

First step is the "why". I feel that you may not understand the way that you feel. It could be due to childhood issues, past trauma, previous relationships, stress... the list goes on and on. I want you to work on trying to sit there and thinking I am ok. Do you ever ask friends what is going on? Or even framing it as "maybe I am in my head but I feel stuff is off because of x y z."  I would also encourage you to recognize that rejection, fear, and anxiety. What has contributed for it to impact at such a heavy degree? I would want you to evaluate the friendships. What brought you all together? What do they provide for you, what role do they serve? One key too would be working on trying to recognize who you are. It would make sense to start utilizing positive self talk and trying to build up self-esteem. Maybe spending time with individuals who build you up too. The big focus here is maybe asking questions of friends. You are in charge of your behaviors and responses and if they do things that bug you, make them aware of what they are doing. You are not in charge of how they perceive this. If they are true friends then you should be able to go into a discussion and talking about what changes need to help everyone.  As odd as this might sound too but trying to work on calming yourself down when recognizing feeling any type of emotions with friends. Yoga, journaling, going on walks, listening to positive music, light exercise. I list all of these because it's finding what works for you. There are other options too but this is where I start. These can help you work on calming yourself down and trying to center yourself and being able to redirect thoughts to more likely rational outcomes. I hope this has provided you with some support. I feel I am never able to fully provide all the thoughts I would like to. I hope you are able to find some support and help down the road. Therapy is a good start. 
Answered on 11/13/2022

I'm good at meeting new people but after time we meet i feel like i did something wrong

Hi Solly! Thank you for asking this valuable question on the BetterHelp platform! It is a really good sign that you are reaching out for support on the "Ask a Licensed Therapist " forum. I can tell that you are able to recognize your strengths, including that you are good at meeting new people. What are some of your other positive traits and qualities? It appears that after you have initially connected with someone new, the connection does not seem to be sustained. When did you begin to notice this trend happening? I hope that I can offer you some guidance and direction in response to your question. Based on what you shared in your question, I can tell that you would like to improve your socialization skills and learn how to foster healthy friendships with others. It sounds like you would like to make long lasting, positive connections with the people that you meet. This is a wonderful goal that you have set for yourself. I would be interested in hearing more about your experiences with meeting new people. What are some of your personal strategies for building rapport, gaining trust and establishing connections with the individuals whom you meet? How and where do you like to meet others? Take some time to reflect on your most recent experiences, as well as your past experiences, when it comes to meeting new people. I understand that you have been noticing these thoughts arise that you may have done something wrong after you have already met someone new. This kind of thinking is likely connected to your neural network, particularly your core belief system. Core beliefs are typically developed in early childhood or during adolescence and can be pervasive in various aspects of life. Core beliefs can be positive, such as "I am a good person" or negative and maladaptive, such as "I am not good enough." Take some time to reflect on your personal core belief system because it may be different for everyone. Try to identify a touch stone (first time) experience that explains where your core beliefs may have originated from. The therapists on the BetterHelp platform have some really great worksheets developed by Therapist Aid that they can use on the topic of examining core beliefs. If you choose to start therapy, you can inquire about these resources once you are matched with a therapist. It also sounds like you could benefit from learning more about the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The foundation of CBT is that human thoughts, feelings and behaviors are interrelated and connected. It would be ideal if you could explore more in depth about the thought that you might have done some thing wrong after meeting new people. It sounds like the thoughts that you have been having are intrusive and may also be automatic. I would like to introduce you to the concept of Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs), which is a principle of CBT. ANTs are oftentimes pervasive patterns of thinking that cause significant distress and difficulty for individuals due to their recurrent and cyclical nature. The first few steps of managing ANTs are to recognize that these thoughts are disruptive, determine a willingness to explore the thoughts and develop a realistic plan for change. One way in which ANTs can be unraveled is through positive thinking, such as self affirming statements. Here is the link to an article that addresses the concept of ANTs: https://positivepsychology.com/challenging-automatic-thoughts-positive-thoughts-worksheets/ I realize that you have considered the possibility that ADHD could be a contributing factor for the situation. When were you first diagnosed with ADHD? What are some of your symptoms of ADHD? Would you say that the ADHD symptoms that you have been experiencing impact your social or occupational functioning? Ideally you could continue to explore more about this diagnosis. I would like to encourage you to take some time to explore some creative interventions. Some ideas that come to mind include: journaling, therapeutic drawing, collage, sculpting with clay and dance or movement techniques. Make an inventory about the qualities that you harbor as a friend. Make a list or reflect on this through therapeutic writing. You may want to draw a picture of your ideal friendship. Draw a house, a tree and a person. These projective drawing techniques can assist you in better understanding your personal world view. In addition, it could be helpful for you to create an identity collage as a means for advancing the process of self discovery. Build a sculpture out of clay that represents what you expect that you could be doing wrong. Dance while listening to music and utilize movement as a means to recreate experiences in which you have doubted yourself. As human beings, we tend to have a natural affinity to recreate experiences in order to more fully and consciously process what we have endured in our lifetime. At this time, I would like to recommend that you begin attending individuals therapy sessions on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. It will likely benefit you to have a trained therapist to talk with about your concerns, learn new strategies for social skills as well as explore your perceptions and beliefs of yourself and your world views. In addition, it would be wonderful if you could join a therapy group or attend a groupinar. Group therapy sessions have the added benefit of connecting with other individuals in a therapeutic setting. By joining a group session, you will also be able to practice and implement the socialization skills that you learn learn about in individual counseling. Thank you so much for your time reaching out for support on the topic of meeting new people! I am so glad that you have brought this question here. I hope that my response has been helpful for you in some way. I want to wish you all the best on your therapeutic journey of self exploration! Thank you again and have a great day! Take care.
(LMHC, ATR-P, MS, NCC)
Answered on 11/12/2022

How can I reach out to friends again after a long period of no communication (from my behalf)?

Hi there,  I hope you are well and thank you for sharing your question with us.  I can see that there has been a disconnection between you and your friends due to your own mental health, as well as the further challenges brought by the pandemic. There can be lots of reasons why we distance ourselves from our peers in times of difficulty. It can be a way of protecting ourselves or them, during our challenging times. This can also lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. From your message, I am sensing that the last few years have been filled with some challenges for you which led to you feeling unable to keep in contact with your friends, so you distanced yourself.  As time has gone on, you are now in a place where you feel ready to reconnect with them however, the thought of doing so, appears to be bringing up some internal struggles for you. I wonder what is preventing you from getting in touch with them? Perhaps you are worried about what they will think or say, after the time that has passed? Perhaps there are questions to be answered you don't have the answers for? Maybe they will just simply embrace you back into the friendship, just like old times?  It can be helpful to write down our worries or the things that are limiting us or preventing us from doing things we feel we would like to. Sometimes this can lead to a greater sense of what is troubling us and why? This can then lead to us finding resolutions... For example; you could ask yourself what is the worst that could happen if I get in touch with my friends? Equally, what is the best thing that could happen? Is it worth taking that step and trying? Understanding our worries or our apprehensions to situations can also help us to further understand ourselves and where we are at. It can also help us to seek resolutions to these challenges in order to overcome them.  It's ok to be apprehensive, scared, afraid, uncertain, unsure, stuck, worried, anxious, excited, nervous and a whole host of other feelings at the idea of reconnecting with people you have lost touch with. The choice is always yours as to whether to take that step or not. If you don't how would that feel? What would that mean? If you do how would that feel? What would that mean? Ultimately, there is no right or wrong way to say "Hey, I'm here, I missed you". There may be some questions to be answered - but again, the way you go about answering questions you may be presented with, is your choice. Ask yourself what you want to achieve out of reconnecting with these friends. That's your starting point.  Then consider how can you reconnect with them - there are lots of ways to do this... do what feels best for you at this time.  You've got this!!!  I hope this has been useful but please do get in touch if you have further questions.  Thanks  Kim
Answered on 11/01/2022

Why do I ruin my happiness?

Hi Mort, To me this sounds like hyper-awareness.  Basically you are overly in tune with yourself, your process and your thoughts are interfering with your ability to be in the moment and enjoy it.  A lot of people have the opposite problem which is that they don't think and aren't aware enough of the way they present to others.  Regardless, there are many people like you that present with hyper aware and detrimental thoughts that stop them from fully experiencing or enjoying interactions with others. I would say it may help to intervene on some level with affirmations and reframing.  This is basically cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and that means that you change the way you think and then you will experience and enjoy a different behavioral outcome.  Hence, when you become aware you are laughing, I would encourage you to first, figure out what exactly is your internal dialog that is "ruining the fun" for you?  To me, it sounds like it's thoughts like "I'm laughing now.  Am I laughing too hard.  There I go laughing again. Is this really funny?  Is this worth laughing about?  I can hear myself laughing..."  Maybe it is something like that?  Basically, any type of thinking like that is going to interfere with and ruin the moment in which you experience spontaneous laughter and humor with another person or people.  So, the reframing process involves you answering back to these thoughts with gentle, but disputing thought patterns such as "Yes, I am laughing and that's okay" or simply "I know.  It's good to laugh"....basically any intervening thought that is not hyper-aware or critical of yourself for laughing in those moments is going to help you to not ruin the fun as you say.   Be gentle on yourself and if this doesn't help at first, just keep trying and try to avoid patterns of self-criticisms - that's the crux of the entire problem in that you are thinking and being overly self critical and it's interfering with you being your authentic self in the moment.  I am wondering if you are aware of yourself laughing or hyper-aware of yourself in any other circumstance.  Some of what you are describing does sound like a sort of social anxiety or awkward feeling and that could just be a symptom of a larger issue. I am also wondering if there may be some part of you that thinks you don't deserve to have fun and just laugh?  Maybe you don't like the way you sound when you laugh or someone gave you feedback about your laugh that sort of ruined finding things funny and laughing for you.  If so, those are also ideas that need to be challenged and changed.   I hope you don't have more global anxieties or issues with social awkwardness/unhappiness.  If it is just limited to being overly aware of laughing, then that is actually a good thing compared to what some people struggle with in terms of social anxiety an awkward feelings.  Regardless, the goal here is just to let yourself be in the moment and to enjoy it without interfering negative thoughts.  Mindfulness is another therapy term for this process so you can look up more on both CBT and mindfulness practices and hopefully this will aid you to be more relaxed and spontaneous and at ease with your own thinking and hence, experience better and more rewarding social interactions.   I hope this helps!
(LMHC, CAP)
Answered on 10/30/2022

Should I stop being friends with someone who has repeatedly hurt me?

Tony, you present a difficult question of worrying how far to compromise your values in the effort to keep a friend.  This kind of dilemma is often related to insecurity when it comes to self-confidence and self-esteem. To ignore this challenge equates to being complicit in something that goes against your core values. Now imagine if you were able to feel fully prepared to respond to this problem; if you were presented with the necessary skills and strategic steps to reach your desired outcome.  DBT or Dialectical Behavior Therapy skills can assist in gaining a detailed understanding of how to more  effectively communicate the point you are trying to make.  I will outline some of the key components here, but if you have a BetterHelp therapist, you can also request DBT worksheets that pertain to interpersonal effectiveness skills.  "Effectiveness" in this case has to do with obtaining the changes one wants, maintaining the relationship, and maintaining your self-respect.  There is a slightly different emphasis depending on which aspect is most important in a given situation.  You can ask yourself, in this situation, which goal rises to the top: reaching a specific outcome; keeping the friendship; or prioritizing your self respect no matter what.  Additional questions help guide and discern whether it is a good time to confront the issue/broach the conversation, whether you have done adequate preparation, and whether the request is appropriate to the relationship.  There can also be factors that take away from effectiveness, including lack of skill, worry thoughts, emotions, indecision, and circumstances of the environment.   In DBT the acronym DEAR MAN, stands for describe; express; assert; reinforce and mindful; appear confident; and negotiate.  In other words, you would:  1)  Describe the situation.  Tell the person exactly what you are reacting to.  Stick to the facts. 2)  Express your feelings and opinions about the situation, using phrases like "I need; I don't want." 3)  Assert yourself by asking for what you want. 4)  Reinforce or reward the person ahead of time by explaining consequences.   5) Mindfully keep the focus on your objective.  Don't let yourself be distracted.  If needed, keep expressing your opinion over and over like a broken record.  Don't respond to attacks. 6)  Appear confident, effective and competent by using a firm voice and refraining from apology. 7)  Negotiate and be willing to give, in order to get.  Maintain your position, but offer to do something else or to solve the problem another way.  Focus on what will work.  This can include turning the problem over to the other person by asking "What can we do to solve this problem?" When a person's primary goal is to preserve the relationship, the additional skills can be remembered by "GIVE."   1) (be) Gentle, be courteous and temperate in your approach, with no threats or judging. 2)  (act) Interested, be patient. 3)  Validate or acknowledge the other person's feelings and difficulties. 4)  (use an) Easy manner in listening to their point of view.   When the overriding goal is to maintain your self-respect, then a way to remember the skills is "FAST." 1)  (be) Fair to yourself and the other person. 2)  (no) Apologies, be clear on what you believe is the moral or valued way of thinking and acting, and stick to your guns. 3)  (be) Truthful, don't act helpless when you're not and don't make up excuses.     Sometimes there are conflicts in priorities that make it harder to choose an effective approach.  You can ask yourself questions like:  What specific results do I want?  What changes do I want the person to make?  How do I want the other person to feel about me after the interaction? How do I want to feel about myself after the interaction? Being prepared with a skillful approach can definitely increase the odds of achieving the outcomes you hope for, without any negative consequences.  It may feel a bit contrived to have to think through all these factors, but once you become more familiar with the concepts, it becomes second nature. I support you in your search for a stronger sense of self and hope you can find some helpful ideas here.
(MA, LMHC)
Answered on 10/29/2022

What should I do to make a friend?

Hello R2D2! Thank you so much for bringing this vital question to the BetterHelp "Ask a Licensed Therapist" forum! You certainly have come to the right place. Developing social skills can certainly be a lengthy process and often takes some hard work as well as a bit of practice over time. I would be interested in hearing more about your experience with making friendships in the past. What are some of the barriers that you foresee as a challenge when you consider the process of making new friends? Based on your question, it seems like you are ready to make some changes in your day to day life in order to make new friends. From what you wrote, it appears that you are intrinsically motivated to meet new acquaintances and establish novel friendships. I am so glad to see you reaching out for support at this time and I am more than grateful that you provided me with the details about your current situation. Going off of what you wrote about in your initial question, it sounds like you would like to set a goal of making at least one new friend in the next few weeks, or so. Essentially, it will be up to you to begin this process. Are you willing to meet new acquaintances in your town or neighborhood? Would you be able to establish some connections with peers in an online setting? Have you considered going to a therapy skills group on the topic of social skills training? If you feel like you are struggling to meet new friends, is it because you are having trouble with reach out or interacting with others? Perhaps you can start by making a phone call or sending an email or text message to someone who you already know. Keep it simple and just say, "hi, how's it going?"I know that you mentioned in your question that you have been begun working and it sounds like you are doing fairly well at your job thus far. A great way to meet new friends is through mutual connections. Do you have a coworker who has a sibling or cousin that you could try to spend time with? Perhaps you can ask a family member if they have a suggestion for making new friends. It would be great to come up with a potential plan of action in order to start your journey of fostering new friendships. I also would be interested in hearing more about your strengths as a friend yourself. For example, what skills do you possess that would make you a good friend to some one else? What are some qualities that you value in a friendship? Have you considered going to a public place, like a museum or a park, in order to establish connections in the community? Perhaps there is a class you can take that would help you to make a new acquaintance. I like the idea of going to a paint nite, pottery class, or an art museum. Not only will you meet others who may have similar interests, but you may also have an opportunity to experience some of the healing aspects of viewing art or art making!What are some of your hobbies or interests? You mentioned that you have been watching a television series. What shows do you enjoy watching? Perhaps there is a fan group or a club that you can join that would help you to meet new people. It depends what you like but it would definitely be worth looking into!Also, you mentioned in your question that you have been spending time focusing on studying. What are you currently studying for? Are you taking online classes, preparing for an exam or enrolled in a college or university? Reaching out to others who are also studying would be an ideal way to meet new people. You can enroll in an exam prep course, go to a study group or check out resources at local colleges in the community. There could be many people around your age who are also looking to make new friends! Try your best to connect with peers in social settings when you have the opportunity to do so. You can do this by simply asking an individual how they are doing. Create a list of questions that you could ask a new acquaintance. An example of a question that you could ask someone you just met is, "How do you like to spend your free time on the weekends?" As you explore the meaning of friendship, I would like to commission you to create a therapeutic drawing of the meaning of friendship. Take your time to contemplate what a good friendship might look like. Utilize colors to symbolize emotions that you are willing to share with a friend. Perhaps you can create a thought bubble or talking point and add that to your drawing. You may find some new insight and inspiration through your drawing! By inquiring about this concept of making new friends, I can tell that you are at the point where you are preparing to make some changes. At this time, I would recommend going to individual counseling sessions as well as group therapy. Both of these modalities will be beneficial in your process of making changes for yourself. You will also have an opportunity to work on improving socialization skills, which I believe will be incredibly helpful for you! In addition, group therapy will be a wonderful opportunity for you to make new friends as well as help you to combat the feelings of loneliness that you have been having. Trust in the rewarding nature of the therapeutic process! Thank you again, R2D2, for your time in asking a question on the BetterHelp platform. I want to wish you all the best in your therapeutic journey on BetterHelp. I hope that my response is helpful for you in some way! Take good care and enjoy your day.
(LMHC, ATR-P, MS, NCC)
Answered on 10/24/2022

How does a person not be a loner?

I think as we get older, it definitely becomes more difficult to make friends.  We do not have as many opportunities to make friends like we do when we are in school as young children or even when we are in college.  I think we sometimes have to think outside of the box in finding ways to make friends when we get older.    First and foremost you have to get out of the house and put yourself in situations and places where there are people who you could eventually become friends with.  Everyone has the ability to make friends, whether you are an extrovert or an introvert.  Some examples of places and ways one can make friends include: volunteering in the community, meeting friends on apps such as Bumble BFF or meet up, getting involved in club or community sports, going to church or making friends at work. We need to try to find a place to meet people who may have similar interests as you do. Once we find a place to make friends, it is important to make connections with them.  We can make connections by being friendly, making eye contact, smiling, being curious by asking them questions about themselves, being a good listener, showing an interest in who they, what they enjoy, and also finding out the things that you have in common with them.  It is also important to share information about yourself with others and it is helpful to be vulnerable at times. Sometimes we have to push ourselves out of our comfort zone and put ourselves out there in order to meet new people. It can often be scary to put yourself out there to meet new people and make new friends. The most important thing is to be oneself and to not overthink what we are saying and doing and become too anxious.  Being overly anxious will often make us overthink things and cause us to be too hard on ourselves.  Remember, sometimes it only takes making friends with one person and this will open up opportunities to meet more people through them.  
Answered on 10/19/2022

Im the problem arent I?

Hello and thank you for asking a question here on BetterHelp. This is a very good question to ask, it shows that you have some really good insights that there could be a problem with the way you are engaging with people. I would also like to say that it's awesome that you want to change this, I will explain it more in detail later, but I tell everybody I work with how incredibly important it is that we have good interest for the friends in our life. Essentially what I'm saying is that I agree with you that this is something you need to improve. Now to answer your initial question, is it you that's the problem? Maybe, maybe not, but we do know that you are the solution. The key to you to getting out and making more friends and having good close friendships is completely up to you, you are the only person that can fix it. I'm going to have some words of advice for you but I think it's best if we talk a little bit about therapy first. Whenever you start talking about just usually this it inevitably leads to other issues you didn't even think about. Because of this I would strongly recommend that you talk to a therapist about this concern and see what else lies at the root of the problem. It's very easy to get linked with a therapist of your own with BetterHelp- all you have to do is click on the get started button on the homepage and follow the prompts from there. You will answer several questions about yourself and will then be matched with a therapist. If you don't like the therapist you are linked with, then you're more than welcome to choose one on your own or ask to be paired to somebody else. A therapist can help you recognize toxic behavior in your life that maybe you thought was completely normal, and they can help you recognize barriers in your life you didn't even know existed but are stopping you from becoming the person that you want to be. A therapist can also help you develop better relationship building skills as well as help you better understand your values, making it easier to meet people who have the same value as you. I hope you'll consider getting linked with somebody soon. When it comes to making friendships there are a couple things you need to always remember. The first one is that you are not in control of how somebody else responds to you, you are only in control of how you act or respond to them. This is very important because we could easily put ourselves out there, meet somebody new and feel like there's a good friendship developing, only to be ghosted by the person for no apparent reason. You must accept that some friends in life will come and go. You might think you will have an excellent friendship developing and then it will slowly fade away over a couple months. It doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you, it is just the way life works. I really want you to understand this because I don't want you to beat yourself up if a friendship ends up not working out. The second really important thing is that you have to be willing to put yourself out there, you have to be willing to take the risk to get out of your comfort zone and meet some new people. Otherwise you'll be in this exact same predicament 10 years from now. One of the best ways you can do this is to get online and find a special interest group in your area that meets together once in a while. I know people that have met lifelong friends through bouldering groups and chess clubs. There are tons of people that you could connect with and develop the friendships with, but you have to be willing to go out and meet them. Along with that, you have to work to keep the communication going. You can't depend on the other person to make plans and to contact you. Something I regularly hear in therapy is, "my friends don't call me anymore." And I always have the exact same response every time, "You are fully capable of using the phone yourself and you can contact them". You have to be willing to put in the effort to grow the friendship.   Two things I really want to emphasize at the end. Be aware that there are toxic people out there. If you see some red flags pop up, like somebody being really rude to their spouse or becoming belligerent, then don't ignore those red flags! If you are not comfortable being around somebody because of their behavior, then make sure you keep your distance from them. The goal is to grow friendships, but not at your expense.  The second thing I want to end on is that your self-care is just as important as anything else I have mentioned. The better you feel in your own skin, the more confident you are then the easier it will be for you to develop friendships. Self-care is really hard but makes you the person you want to be. Good self-care means making smart financial decisions and preparing for the future, it means recognizing toxic behavior in your own life and making an active effort to change it, it means taking good care of your body and watching what you put into it, it also means making sure you are productive and satisfied with what you are doing in your life. When you take care of yourself and you are more confident who you are, then the easier it will be for you to be a good and trustworthy friend. I hope you were able to find some thing in here that helps and I wish you the best of luck as you put yourself out there and make new friends!  
(LPC)
Answered on 08/16/2022

Why do I feel the need to talk to other people to heal my emotions vs enjoying my own company?

Hi Zena, Thank you for sharing this with me, I am very glad that you sought help from a professional. I can understand that it is hard for you to find meaningful connection with people. This is a very common issue that a lot of people face. First we need to know what human connection means. It is a deep bond that is formed between people, this bond is based on feeling valued, being heard, exchanging positive energy, and forming trust. It's very easy to have pleasantries with people, and that is important for our social life however, humans need a much deeper connection in their lives with other people. And I can understand that it's hard for you to find suitable people who are willing to make a connection, especially because it takes time and effort, which can be draining for many people. Humans are social animals, while many people do prefer their own company over others, still they need connection with others. We need human connection for the better of ourselves. We need a strong support system around us, people who can motivate, listen to and positively influences. That is the nature of humans, and we really can't change or try to fight  it. We need family and friends who can listen to our emotions and make us feel heard. They can help us with motivation and encouragement, in times where we need guidance, these are the people we turn to. We can share our joy and moments of happiness with them, and at times, sorrow. If we don't have these meaningful connections in life, it can be harmful for us, both mentally and physically. It would be hard to deal with day-to-day stress and anxiety, or any difficult situations that arise.  When it comes to friendships, there are three kinds that Aristotle describes: friendship of utility, friendship of pleasure, and friendship of the good. Friendship of utility is a friendship between people who are in someways useful to us. For example, it could be a person at work who often helps you with technical difficulties, and you help them by going on a coffee run. Or you could be friendly with your neighbor, because he or she keeps a watch at your house when you were away, and you help babysit their cat, whenever they are away.   Friendship of pleasure is when you enjoy someone's company. It could be your hairstylist, how you enjoy talking to and even comfortably share a few jokes with. It could even be a bakery owner near your house, where you go regularly. This is different than friendship of utility, which exists mainly because the person can be of used to us in someway. Friendship of the good is actually based on trust and love.  This friendship takes a lot longer to build, and unlike the other two, it is not solely based on pleasantries. This is the person that we can depend on at all times, to help us in our hard time, whether it is emotionally or physically. This type of friendship mainly exists between people who share same views and values. We need to also be empathetic and be there for them at all times. This is the person that we can be sure about, that they will look out for us. Of the three types of friendship, what you were looking for is the friendship of the good.  This is what requires time and effort to build, it won't sustain without either of them. Think of this relationship is a plant. We need to plant a seed into the soil and give it both time and effort. We need to routinely water it, and make sure it gets sunshine. And slowly from the seed of plant will come which then takes time to grow slowly into a plant, some thing which is still fragile. As we give it more time, it becomes sturdier, and it's been able to endure rough environmental conditions such as the cold weather.  This is how we should approach this type of friendship. If we don't give it the time and effort it requires, it will never build into the strong and reliable emotional physical support we need. This is what you need in your life. The reason you are feeling the need to talk to others to heal your emotions is because all human beings have a need to be loved and to be cared for. You are good with friendship of pleasure, where you can have talks with them for the fun of it. However, you need to make the effort to build a connection with the person.  And remember, these relationships aren't one-sided, you need to know that the other person is also putting the effort to build a connection. So, take the step forward from friendship of pleasure, and try to create friendship of the good. Best, Dr. Saima 
(PHD, MS, MA)
Answered on 07/18/2022

Why do i push everyone in my life away and lie to them constantly?

To start let me say that to really explore that question and find an “answer” we would have to look at why you think it “doesn’t feel like they [care about you]”. But without further exploration or greater depth, I would speculate to say that you can clearly recognize that friends and family behave in a way that indicates they care for you, yet their behaviors are somehow deficient in making you feel a certain sense of security about yourself. The first step in addressing this would be to determine what it would look like for friends and family to make you feel really “cared for”. What would they say or do, and how would you know you felt cared for? And second would be identifying why or how those particular words or behaviors make you feel more cared about than what the current words and behaviors being expressed by them do. Again, I am speculating, but it sounds like your interactions with others can be so discomforting to you that you feel the need to put direct effort into avoiding these interactions (lying to avoid encounters). This could indicate the need for healthier boundaries because there are legitimate reasons why these encounters are disconcerting to you, ie. other’s behaviors are inappropriate despite having genuine concern for you. Or it could indicate a need for increased self-exploration to improve your self-esteem and feelings of self-worth so that you are not projecting these feelings onto others as their own.  Or it could be an indication of social anxiety born out of some previous situation or circumstance that you are attempting to avoid experiencing again. But to truly answer the question of why do you push everyone in your life a way, that is an answer only you can correctly determine. All behaviors have a purpose, whether we consciously recognize those purposes or not. Any behavior we continue to replicate is significant to us, even if it isn’t always healthy for us, if it wasn’t it would become extinct.   So, to answer your question you will need to determine what the perceived benefit or expectation is from pushing people away. What is it that you believe this behavior is protecting you from? Once you understand that, only then can you begin addressing how to change that behavior to get the same need met but in a more appropriate way.
(LISW, LICDC)
Answered on 06/07/2022

Is it normal to randomly get distant/easily annoyed with those you’re closest to?

This is a topic I'm not sure I'll ever get tired of addressing. I spent many years myself feeling as if there must be something wrong with me when I just wanted everyone else to go away. Just as you have described, it wasn't necessarily that anyone had done anything to annoy me, but sometimes it just felt like too much to be around people. It was like I couldn't hear myself think, or at least I couldn't get a handle on organizing my thoughts.  But the answer is, yes, this is perfectly normal. It happens to everyone, it just so happens to occur more often for some than it does for others.  While there are many different explanations for why this occurs, one of the more common comes out of the work of Carl Jung and has been popularized by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality assessment. That is the concept of Extroverts and Introverts.  It's very likely that you heard people talk about this concept. What many people don't realize is that there is, what I'll call, a "pop-culture" understanding of these terms and then there is a less understood but more clinical definition, and they are significantly different from one another. The pop culture view is that extroverts are outgoing, charismatic, life-of-the-party types. Introverts are shy and awkward and quiet. Everyone wants to be or spend time with extroverts, "they're the best". Nobody wants to be labeled an introvert because they're just awkward. But from a psychologically clinical standpoint these terms aren't about how we behave in social situations, but in how we prefer to interact with the world around us. Extroverts like to focus on the outside world. Extroverts enjoy “being out”, engaging in activities that involve large groups of people, and maintaining as many social connections as possible. They draw energy and inspiration from being around other people. Introverts, on the other hand, enjoy focusing on ideas. They like to spend time with their own thoughts and while they still need social connections they prefer to have fewer, but deeper, social connections. They draw energy from quiet spaces and having deep, meaningful conversations with the few people they most trust. A person can be very socially awkward and shy and still be an extrovert because they love being around other people and get energized from being at a party. And just the same, an introvert can be very charismatic and appear to be the life of the party, but they will be emotionally and physically exhausted from all those interactions. At the end of a long stressful week of work an extrovert is looking forward to getting together with a big group of friends to go out to dinner, and then a concert, and hopefully an after-party. That's what they need to relax, re-energize, and get mentally ready for another work week. At the end of a long stressful week of work an introvert is looking forward to grabbing some take-out, going home, and settling in with a good book or TV show, taking a bath, or something of that nature. That quiet time to be alone is what they need to relax, re-energize, and get mentally ready for another work week. It's important to note that people are not strictly one or the other. It's a scale. A few people lean strongly to one side or the other, but most land somewhere in the middle. Sometimes they want people around, sometimes they don’t. Even if you generally identify as an extrovert, you still need short stints of quiet, every human being does.  So don't ignore that need. Give yourself permission to take some time alone to do something you enjoy. You'll find that it will help alleviate stress, make your social interactions more enjoyable, and help your energy levels overall.  I hope this helps you find an answer to your concern. 
(LPC, BC-TMH)
Answered on 05/09/2022

Should I apologize & rekindle the friendship or drop both of them?

I can understand why you feel confused by this situation and their responses to you. First of all, "Ben" was not honest with you when you asked about his relationship status with "Clarissa". You did go to him first and he was not honest. Knowing this may have been the case, it sounds like you approached "Clarissa" for more of an honest, clear answer and received one. You walked away feeling better about the situation, at peace with their relationship, willing to continue a friendship with both Ben and Clarissa, and made plans to talk with Ben about your meeting with Clarissa.  I am sure you were surprised by the turn of events when you learned they both were upset by your visit with Clarissa. It seems you are aware of an area you want to apologize for, which is hanging out with her to find out about their relationship as the true intention, instead of getting to know her more. If you are feeling led to apologize for this, then it is okay to do so. If you decide to apologize, I encourage you to only apologize in that area alone and not take responsibility for the areas that belong to them. For instance, you did go to Ben first about the relationship and did not receive an honest answer. Also, you did intend to continue to develop your relationship with both of them after you received Clarissa's honest answer. Clarissa led you to believe she appreciated the visit and felt the same about a friendship developing between both of you. I realize I am on the outside looking in and only see the information put in front of me, yet due to this information, they both seem to struggle with honesty.  You have outlined three plans you are considering. Which one gives you the outcome you most want plus helps you find some peace?  How much do you value your relationships with Ben and Clarissa? Given the circumstances, it is hard to determine how they may react to either plan you decide on. You have been placed in a difficult spot by them and they must also choose to be honest with you for a healthier friendship in the future.
(LCSW)
Answered on 05/04/2022

What does friendship really mean?

Friendship is an interesting relationship, and it flows into so many other relationships. When a child is born, the purest of relationships and friendship is between parent and child, even on some level. That quickly replaces parent and child, and if there’s too much friendship in between, the parenting suffers! Young children under five love to play together even if they are not engaging verbally, and friendship is reflected in their similar play styles and temperaments. As children age out of early childhood into grade school, many roles get formed, including the leader, follower, social, quiet, and everything in between! Middle school and high school friendships become slightly more complicated with socio-cultural and economic norms. In reality, boys have a bit more ease practicing forgiveness and moving on from the conflict that can arise from friendships, whereas girls can have a bit harder time doing this. As gender has majorly changed within the last few years, it will be interesting to see how gender roles and changes affect friendships.Friendship means different things to different people. Ideally, the very best friendship people create is with themselves. What does that mean exactly? It means that a person can genuinely enjoy their own company, whether it’s going on a hike, sitting in a restaurant, or watching a film. They engage their own thinking, feelings, creativity, and interactions as they enjoy life’s activities. Becoming engrossed in cooking, gardening, or reading allows the brain to escape and develop that inner friendship and relationship so key to joy.More traditionally speaking, friendships are extremely important throughout life. Whenever long-standing friendships are dating all the way back to early grade school, those relationships can be very supportive, binding, and help with esteem and identity. Friendships mean having people to enjoy life’s adventures with and having someone to talk to you in a time of joy or crisis. Friends CAN form in every stage of life, and it is never too late to develop connections. Friendships can make a commitment, and they can take some responsibility and ensure they continue, especially as people age into adulthood and life gets even busier. It’s important to understand what friendship means to each person to come together with similar expectations. And as people grow and change, it is natural for some friendships to fade and some that build anew.
(M.Ed., MA, LPC)
Answered on 05/17/2021

Why friendship breakups hurt?

Friendships can be such a beautiful companionship to take part in.  However, when friendships break up, it can be extremely hurtful.  One reason friendship breakups can be so hurtful is that sometimes they happen out of nowhere.  When someone is blindsided by their friendship, ending that can be hurtful and leads to a confusing lack of closure.  A lack of closure can be so confusing to go through and leave someone with unanswered questions.  These unanswered questions can ruminate over time if they continue not to have closure, leading to further hurt and pain.  When we experience a breakup in a friendship, it is important to allow ourselves to go through the grieving process.  However, if there is a lack of closure, it cannot be easy to get to a place of acceptance.  On that same note, it can be difficult to stop thinking of the friendship, keeping someone in the thick of their grief.  As with the typical grieving process, friendship breakups can feel somewhat hopeless at times.  The weight of the emotions can lead someone to feel somewhat hopeless and like they will never heal from the breakup.  It can also feel like other people do not truly understand what you are going through as you go through.  All of this combined can add to how heavy and difficult coping with a friendship breakup can be.  Our friendships typically involve a lot of time, energy, and emotion to explain why they are so important to us.  Therefore, when a friendship ends, it can be crushing in the sense that all of that time, energy, and emotion you put into the friendship are over.  Some people might even feel regret for how much they put into the friendship and feel like all of that was wasted.  That can be really hurtful and hard to accept, but if you can get to a place of acceptance, you can hopefully think fondly about the good memories that you did have with your friend.  On top of that, it can feel even more healing if you can take away valuable lessons from the friendship so you do not feel like you will repeat the same type of friendship.
(MA, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 05/14/2021

How friendship changes over time

Friendship evolves depending on the connection you establish and maintain with the people you identify as your friends.  Also, something to consider is the stage of life you are in and the stage of life for the other person(s).  Newer/recently began friendships usually entail more quality time spent together because there is a learning and growing process.  You are gathering information about one another and determining how you want to use this information to establish the type of friendship that will be maintained.  Usually, for those that have many common qualities and interests, there is a likelihood that the relationship will last longer.  Versus relationships where there is minimal common ground may not have the same longevity.  The age at which the friendship is established may have an impact on the evolution of friendship.  Friendships you established at a younger age may change because our brains develop over time, and the things that peaked our interests in connecting may change. That is not to say that the friendship will not withstand the test of time, but how you view that friendship may alter.  Friends that you had in grade school will always be your friends from that time, and you may seem that person from time to time, but perhaps the time spent with one another will change.  People advance in their life stages differently than others, which changes the quality of your friendships over time.  For some, their priorities will change to spend less time with friends and more time on other life goals, like getting married, starting/raising a family, and/or growing in their careers.  That time you spend on your interpersonal goals will pull away from the time you usually spend with your friends.  This does not necessarily mean that the quality of the actual friendship will be compromised, but more just the quantity of time spent with your friends will change.  At the end of the day, and friendship you desire to keep will require work and effort to maintain the friendship.  It will absolutely change, but how the friendship changes impact the willingness to contribute to the friendship by yourself and the other parties involved. 
Answered on 05/14/2021

Can friendship turn into love?

Most relationships encompass some form of love within the dynamics.  The extent and depth of what that love is between the individuals involved can vary.  This may be important when the relationship evolves, specifically if the love develops romantic or platonic.  You can develop feelings of love for someone in a platonic way, meaning there is not necessarily a physical attraction but a love for the person as a whole.  When the love develops from a romantic perspective, this typically indicates some form of physical attraction associated with the love you have for this person.  Friendships turn into platonic love when the bond/connection between the individuals becomes stronger.  This type of connection is typically developed through quality time spent together; within that quality time, you learn more about each other and come to appreciate various aspects of one another.  At some point, the appreciation develops into admiration, which contributes to that feeling of love for one another.  Some people refer to this type of love as wholesome or non-romantic.  A friendship that turns into romantic love can be a bit different; usually, there was some form of physical attraction at the beginning of the friendship (although this is not necessarily always the case).  Over time the individuals involved will build a strong bond for one another, typically through quality time.  At some point, the connection will develop into feelings of admiration into love; but with a desire to be physically intimate with one another.  Again, this is not always the case as some people develop romantic feelings for someone but perhaps do not engage in sexual activities.  But traditionally, speaking, there is some form of physical attraction that indicates some form of romantic love. Something to also consider when it comes to friendships turning into love, in particular with romantic love, is whether or not the feelings are being reciprocated.  One person will develop a sense of romantic love in some instances, but the other person may not necessarily have the same feelings.  This is where communication of feelings is important, to establish a sense of boundaries within that friendship. 
Answered on 05/12/2021

Which friendships are the most valuable?

To a certain degree, time can make a difference as to what friendships are the most valuable.  Time does not necessarily mean in length, but more the quality of time you have established the connection within that friendship.  A friendship that has a solid foundation is not effortless; it requires work and commitment.  But should you decide to put in that time and effort, you will find these friendships the most valuable.  But what is it about time and effort to make the relationship worth more than other friendships? The time spent establishing a connection with your friend holds value because of those memories attached to the friendship.  The adventures you make with that person will last a lifetime and will always be cherished, even when you are away from that friend.  Taking risks and exploring life with another person is a method in which you feel connected with someone; these are the types of things that help you build a connection like no other.  These will be the moments that you look back on with genuine happiness; priceless memories are to be cherished. It is also those times of going through hardship together that make the relationship valuable.  Having that type of friendship where you know that the person will be there for you because you have already gone through some of the toughest moments is of great value.  Being able to console someone and be vulnerable with them, when maybe you would not want others to see you in this fashion; having a person you can do this is meaningful.  There is a sort of comfort within that friendship, a feeling of safety associated with this person.  As mentioned previously, putting in the effort to establish and maintain friends will be very important when considering the value of such friendship.  There will be times when putting in the effort may be more challenging and perhaps not necessarily a priority, and this is okay, but when you look at the big picture, the effort needs to be there, nonetheless.  If you are willing to put in the effort, and so is the other person, then there is something to be said about the quality of that relationship. 
Answered on 05/11/2021

Which friendship describes you?

This is a useful question because so many times, friendships are confused based on their level. Let’s look at the various levels of friendships. Levels of friendships are simply the depth in which the two people connect versus kinds of friendships which could be another article! The first level of friendship would be two strangers meeting. Connections have to begin somewhere, and this is a great place. Sometimes people make that immediate connection that this person can either become an eventual close friend or not a friend at all. The next level of friendship is the ever so confusing acquaintance. While this friend has a place in life, it can also cause issues when deciding between who to invite to a wedding or an event or what to share with this person. Boundaries are definitely useful with this kind of friend until a stronger bond has been formed. The next level is a casual friend. This friend might be considered a ‘sometimes’ friend having something in common with them like a book club or hiking and not necessarily a person everything is shared with. Then the next level is close friends, where many people fall once people meet strong connections in high school, college, sometimes the workplace, and early adulthood. Close friends offer up a strong connection and typically have a lot in common. They tend to be trusted with pretty intimate information though not necessarily considered a best friend. This could be because the person already has a best friend, or several people are trusted. And lastly, the best friend is a person who has the most intimate knowledge and is a consistent provider of compassion, care, listening, and friendship. In thinking about which friendship describes you, it is useful to think about your kind of friend to the people you care for and are around and what kind of friends they might be towards you. It’s not necessarily a limiting or close-minded practice to define and describe your friendships. In fact, this might actually help and address problems in the future for unrealistic expectations. Many people are moving towards having a small circle of close friends followed by appropriate socialization with casual friends and acquaintances. The energy and focus it takes to carry on many more close friends than two or three can work to some people, so it depends on how many people you need and would like in your life and how much effort you want to use to keep those friendships close. There is no marker for how often people have to see each other to be considered the closest of friends. The beauty of friendship is we can create it the way we want it to be for ourselves as long as both people are on the same page!
(M.Ed., MA, LPC)
Answered on 05/05/2021

Where does friendship begin?

Hi, there! Thank you for reaching out to us at BetterHelp. My name is Stacey Shine, and I am a Licensed Professional Counselor. I read over the question you submitted and am hopeful that I can provide an answer and some clarity for you. You asked the question of where does friendship start? I think this is a really good question that often time does not get answered and can lead to different problems socially. First, I think that friendship can start naturally and organically. It could be as simple as meeting someone at a supermarket and bonding over a shared interest in a certain food. You start talking, and a friendship is formed with no effort. This platonic friendship can grow and develop, but that takes some effort by one or both parties to initiate that bond going from a conversation with a stranger to building it into something such as friendship.  Secondly, I think that friendship can happen in a more arranged type of setting. You could have a friend invite you to meet someone new to you but familiar to them. You may have common interests and be in common social circles. This will allow time together and allow you to spend time together and invest more time into individually developing a friendship.  Thirdly, I think that friendship can happen without physical space involved. You can develop friendships even in virtual settings. It typically happens with that common bond or interest. It allows you to talk and begin to develop platonic emotions for someone. You do not necessarily have to see them and be in the same geographic location to develop and grow. I think that the concept of friendship has changed quite drastically over the last ten years. Virtual spaces allow friendships to grow deeper and develop initially without ever physically seeing the other person in the same space. I hope this was a helpful way to look at friendship. If you have any issues developing new friendships, I will encourage you to sign up with us at Better Help and work on some of those skills. I wish you the best of luck!
(MS, LPC)
Answered on 05/03/2021