Managing challenging problems with our friendships
By Michelle Liew Tsui-Lin
Repairing a broken friendship
I have become distanced from my friends because of:
“True friendship comes when the silence between two people is comfortable.” David Tyson, Gentry quotes
The above quote from David Tyson sums up perfectly the friendships that all of us strive for. This is so uncommon considering that the nature of two individual human beings is always so vastly different. Bearing that thought in mind, moments of comfortable silence between friends is a rarity to cherish.
Then, there are times when we will experience moments of comfortable silence with friends. As we get to know our friends better over longer periods of time, that silence becomes too comfortable and descends into anything but.
Two people are, and will always be, different. Friendships will, and always will, come with conflicts.Conflicts between friends are one of the greatest causes of emotional stress Knowing the causes of these conflicts and having some awareness of how to manage them can relieve a lot of tension.
What causes problems in friendships?
Many things can cause friendships, no matter how long they have been formed, to grow apart.
You will understand the feeling of suddenly no longer being as familiar or friendly with someone you might have known for many years. This happens, sometimes, with us scratching our heads and asking ourselves “Now why’s that?”
The causes of rifts in friendships may or may not be obvious ones to us. Whether they are or not, being aware of them can help us to negotiate the sometimes tricky business of managing them. Here are some of the common causes in friendships.
Causes of problems in friendships and their solutions
This must have happened to many of us all too often. We have run ins with friends, say or do something, not necessarily offensive, but rubs them up the wrong way.
Little misunderstandings like making a slip of the tongue and releasing a friend’s best kept secret. Or saying something tactless that rubs salt in a wound.
However big the misunderstanding is, it reigns as a top cause of rifts in friendship.
Misunderstandings all require time, a forgiving heart and a listening ear - rare commodities that sometimes need cultivating. For meaningful, long friendships, why not?
Friendship can sometimes get a little competitive. To a greater or lesser degree, we may feel sour when a friend has a better car than we do, or when our friends have climbed career ladders while we grapple with the rungs below.
That envy can start to consume and cause some very irreparable rifts. They can be very poignant when one friend tends to overshadow the other socially.
If we are the subject of a friend’s envy, the best thing we can do would be to give him or her a little space. Be sensitive to these rather touchy feelings.
Two friends may go in completely different directions in their lives. The develop new likes and dislikes, or need to pursue different paths.
As they walk on different paths, they grow apart and the friendship withers naturally.
I experienced this with a friend I spent my college years with. She was a top confidante in my junior college years, then we went to university. Pursuing different academic paths, we grew apart.
If encountering a similar situation, try to see if it is possible to establish a discussion about why there is a chasm. If not, try to maintain a distant connection without breaking off the friendship entirely.
Thankfully, the internet these days closes gaps somewhat. Still, distance does put a barrier on friendship.
The same friend I mentioned above married and moved to live with her husband who was posted overseas. Distance made communication even more impersonal and difficult and as a result we seldom speak to each other.
I am sure it is a familiar scenario to all.
We use the internet to cover the problems of distance these days, and some of my greatest friends are now writers who live in other parts of the world. But if that cannot be done, try again to see if a distant connection can be maintained.
Difference of opinion
Touchy issues like race, religion or politics are not the only culprits for rocking friendships. Difference in opinion over anything, no matter how sensitive or small, can undermine a previously solid social bond.
I know of friends which are no longer because of trivial issues like not eating in an agreed restaurant or being a tad late for a single appointment (mind you, not a series of them.)
While social politeness is important, it just might not be worth the rift. If the friend is close enough it would be good to work out an agreeable disagreement.
Ego and lack of compromise
People can be friends, yet be extremely competitive socially and professionally. Not being willing to back down in the face of disagreements can certainly put friendships to the test.
Again, if the friend is close enough, check each other’s ego by working on a way to disagree agreeably.
The lack of appreciation
A keen culprit for robbing a person of friendships is his own lack of appreciation. Being taken for granted by friends is bound to create distance.
Everyone likes and deserves a thank you, including our friends!
We may be excluded by two friends whom we have introduced to each other, or by a group of people we are trying to be friends with.
Ostracism can be a skilled saboteur of friendships. You can try to maintain relationships with individual members of the group, but if that is not possible, find a new group of friends to be with.
We have met the unreliable friend who cannot keep appointments with us or be trusted to keep to plans. And of course, we make quick decisions not to associate with him or her.
That lack of sense of security can make the building blocks of friendship stumbling ones instead.
If a friend like this is part of our lives, we should let the person know how it is affecting us. We can choose to dilate things by not seeing the person as frequently.
At some point in our lives, we will come across persons who leave us with the feeling of our shoulders being constantly looked over. The constant criticism can certainly throw a wrench in the works of friendship.
If we have such a friend and she happens to be a close one, we could always ask if she meant to be so critical. It gives her a chance to step back and think for a minute, as well as to save herself from a bit of embarrassment.
The yellow rose
The yellow rose is a symbol of lasting friendship, and many things do make it wither. Do enjoy this little sonnet.
The yellow rose, it does wilt
Its envious blooms now furl
Its petals inwards, now do curl
Blossom now, inward tilts.
Petals inwards, though may curl,
Diverge and wilt, come apart
Droop lifeless with the turn of heart
And wrath of hurtful insults hurled
These petals do open, each its way,
Now at once, each not so near
Their thorns of belief, temper and fray
Scratch at entwined roots, once so dear
Withered leaves of ego will not stay
The yellow rose droops, fond words it does not hear.
Conflict will exist for as long as there are two people, and it is no less between friends. Here’s to managing our relationships well!
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