BFF: Not So Fast & Why You Care

Most of us think that friendship is a two-way street — but that’s true only half the time….If researchers can understand this limitation, companies and social groups that depend on social influence for collective action, information dissemination and product promotion could improve their strategies and interventions.*

These researchers found that reciprocal friendships have more sway than money over us and our behavior. That’s right, not everything is about money. Trouble is that, although 95% of participants considered their friendships reciprocal, this matching study found that only about 50% of these relationships actually were. This reminds me of something called “Illusory Superiority,” which means that we all pretty much think we are better than we are (better drivers, better looking, better friends?…) because not a lot of people give us authentic feedback, and it helps with our mental health to just go along with the self-delusions.

Maybe you already knew this, hard as you may have tried not to. After all, how can we hit 5,000 on Facebook if we get picky about things like quality and depth of relationship? The more the merrier some would say. Only deep down where it counts, it isn’t really merrier to fill ones life with so-called friends who aren’t really that at all. No matter how much we may try to reassure ourselves that we are not alone, and that we matter, good chance amassing friends who matter to you more than you matter to them just won’t do it.

Here’s the good news that I notice with my clients.** Many of these high functioning men and women begin our work together with some sense that something is just not right. What we find, again and again, is that people are trying with all their might not to feel what they feel, in a way that creates the very disconnect and void they are trying hopelessly to fill. You’ve heard of lonely in a crowded room. And, yes it is terribly lonely to be disconnected from ourselves, driving us to seek out whatever crumbs we can find to fill us up and make us feel okay, even if there is no end to it because it just doesn’t do it. And then they figure out that befriending the self with whatever feelings may arise this kind of self-respect and acceptance brings a feeling of worthiness that makes them want more than crumbs. A pruning process begins that results in real friends, true friends who care. It is a beautiful thing to watch.

So, if you care to, you may take an inventory to see how many of your ‘friendships’ provide that nourishing reciprocity rather than being the kind of relationship that can make us feel rejected, unworthy, and empty inside. Too many of the latter? Clear indication that it is time to become a more caring, connected, respectful friend to yourself. When unwanted feelings arise, rather than heaping rejection upon ourselves, we may greet them as worthy and welcomed parts of ourselves. What we resist persists. Better to let the feelings come, ask ourselves if there is something to be done, and let the feelings go like clouds in the sky. There is a wonderful Rumi poem, called “The Guest House,” that might help. Practice, practice, practice, and see what happens.

To work on this or something else, would love to hear from you. Write or call:

Email:  Madelaine Weiss

Phone:  202.617.0821

*Abdullah Almaatouq, Laura Radaelli, Alex Pentland, Erez Shmueli. Are You Your Friends’ Friend? Poor Perception of Friendship Ties Limits the Ability to Promote Behavioral Change. PLOS ONE, 2016; 11 (3): e0151588 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0151588

**Examples and illustrations are fictional composites inspired by but not depicting nor referring to any actual specific person in my practice or life experience.

Copyright © 2017. Madelaine Claire Weiss. All rights reserved.





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