Question: Dear Luise: I am in college and I’ve recently noticed a pattern in my life that disturbs me. For a long time, each incident looked unique and definitely not my fault, but now I am pretty sure something is going on with me, not just the other person. I make a new friend and then we get really thick. We live for and in our relationship with each other. This is not a romantic thing. It’s a “best friend” thing. Eventually, I start to see her faults and then I start to point them out. From there on it’s all down hill, and it ends up with a breakup and lots of hurt and anger. As I said, I thought for years that each situation was separate and explainable, but now I’m not so sure. Can you shed any light on this? Thanks, Mia
Answer: Dear Mia. Well, good for you! Do you have any idea how many people live their lives out and never see any emerging patterns to consider? Or if they do, it is always and forever the other person’s fault. The hew and cry is “it’s not my fault”…or something similar.
So, here we are facing it together, because I have “been there and done that”. First of all, new friends can often be a kind of non-sexual infatuation. We all like the whole wonderful concept of “new”, sometimes anything new. It can be heady stuff. The “getting to know you” thing is full of adventure and self-disclosure. We put our best foot forward and share tales that star us as the heroines of our own dramas. What fun!
“New”, however, does not stay new…it morphs into “every day”, and can disintegrate further into “mundane”. We begin to see the other side of the coin and so does the other person. If we are strong and well balanced, that can go well and we can learn and grow through the process. However, if we’re not, criticism can rear its ugly head. Often it is two-sided and who needs that? Then, we are disillusioned. What does that word mean except that we have separated from the illusions we made up in the first place? Poof goes the pie-in-the-sky syndrome.
The new-best-friend experience often has the flavor of a crush, and we love being seen through the eyes of adoration. Once we are seen as less than perfect, can a breakup be far behind? Who needs that, right? So, we attack and drop her first. Great solution…until you grow up.
I suggest that you use this insight as a wake-up call to slow down and go deeper. Tell a new friend that you don’t want to do that any longer. Suggest that you aren’t perfect and that you aren’t looking for that in her. Explore together the idea of mutual respect and patience. Get acquainted with tolerance. This is a new frontier and one that you are ready for or you wouldn’t have asked the question. Also, all of this growth can be used later on with romantic relationships! Blessings, Luise