Therapists Share The Friendship Issues People Complain About Most
Sure, people tend to talk about their romantic and family relationships most often in therapy, but therapists also get an earful about friends. The negligent friends who never plan anything, the friends who go MIA as soon as they get a new love interest ― the list goes on.
Below, therapists discuss the most common friendship complaints that clients bring up during sessions.
I put all the effort into the friendship
The older you get, the more care and maintenance you need to put into your friendships. We all get busy, but put your bestie on the back burner one too many times, and you’re bound to get name-checked during the next therapy session.
“Quite a few clients have told me they always have to be the one who suggests a catch-up with certain friends, otherwise it doesn’t happen,” said Debra Campbell, a psychologist in Melbourne, Australia. “It almost always leaves them feeling unwanted and undervalued.”
She tells her clients to straight talk with their slightly lazy, schedule-challenged friends.
“Tell them you feel that you’re suggesting all the catch-ups lately and ask them how they’re feeling about the friendship and whether they’d like to take the lead sometimes,” she told HuffPost. “It’s possible they simply think of you as the leader when it comes to your shared social life and they might be happy to step up more with arranging events once they know how you feel.”
I feel jealous of my friend’s career
No one past the age of 16 has time for frenemies. But at some point while carving out a career, you might start to feel a little angsty about your friends’ professional strides, especially if your success is slower going, said Alena Gerst, a psychotherapist in New York City.
“It’s harder to see the long game when you’re just starting out. Many people succumb to envy or jealousy of their friends’ lives,” she said. “Some people have lucky breaks early on, while others struggle to get going.”
That unexpected jealousy is only compounded if you haven’t put in face time with your friends for a while. If you follow them on Instagram, you’re probably only getting the highlight reel of their lives; it may look crazy impressive, but if you caught up more regularly in person, they’d probably spend half the time ranting about their high-stress, high-stakes job.
“It probably looks like they’re living the life, but let’s face it, people’s lives are far more complicated and multidimensional than most of us share on social,” Gerst said. “It’s always important to keep that in mind.”
My friend never acknowledges my success and personal wins
On the other side of the coin, you might complain about how little certain people in your inner circle celebrate your personal wins — a promotion at work, a third date with a someone who actually seems worthwhile for once.
“When a friend can’t acknowledge the hard work you’ve put into achieving your goals, it’s a sign that this person is not part of your tribe and that they have their own issues to sort through,” said Deborah Duley, a psychotherapist and the founder of Empowered Connections, a counseling practice that specializes in women, girls and the LGBTQ+ community.
Friends’ indifference doesn’t mean you should cut them off entirely, but it may be time to scale back on what you share with them, Duley said. You work hard and deserve a core group of friends who consistently empower and celebrate you.
“If you ask your indifferent friend to be a little more supportive and they still can’t do it or their input feels forced or strained, it might be time to move on,” she said.
We used to be best friends, but I think we’re growing apart
We like to think that our closest friendships can survive anything — a big move to the other side of your traffic-congested city, marriage, kids, breakups and evolving interests. “Best friends for life” may be the gold standard for friendships, but the sad truth is that most friendships don’t have that kind of sticking power.
“The idea of a BFF is largely a myth,” Gerst said. “At some point, most friendships, even the closest ones, run their course. Sometimes they end in conflict, but more often than not, they fade away when people relocate, change jobs, become busy with family obligations or as interests and abilities change.”
They never invite me to things, then I see them out on social media
Instagram and Snapchat have made adult friendships a whole lot more awkward. You don’t want to see an Instagram story of your friends heading out to a new restaurant without you or admit you’ve dealt with FOMO, but it happens, said Campbell.
“Feeling left out is a painful complaint I hear about a lot,” she said. “Back in the day, we didn’t have instant knowledge of who was doing what with who at any given moment, so we were largely protected from experiencing this awkward situation.”
To guard yourself against friendship insecurity, talk to your friends and remind them you’d love to see them regularly. And if you’re feeling especially lonely or vulnerable, take some time off social media and start meeting your friends in real life, Campbell said.
“Call someone or have a face-to-face chat instead,” she said. “Make some social plans for yourself.”
My friends ditched me when they got a significant other
It’s almost a universal truth that you’re going to hear less from your friends when they fall head over heels for someone, but it stings nonetheless.
“A lot of people struggle with this because it feels like a rejection,” Gerst said, adding that this may be the most common friendship complaint she hears.
If you are feeling rejected by a friend in a new relationship, she suggested checking in to make sure the partner isn’t deliberately trying to isolate your friend. That’s often a sign of emotional abuse. Then, as with any friendship issue you’re having, talk about it openly and honestly.
“Make an effort to keep your friendship alive too, even if it involves a conversation that leaves you feeling vulnerable,” she said.
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