Friends, But Not Besties: Why I Struggle To Have Close Relationships
I'm incredibly social and love meeting new people, but recently, I realized something about myself: I’m not good at having close friends.
People who know me will probably become confused after reading that sentence, especially my friends.
So, let me clarify.
First, notice I said “close” friends — not just friends, not acquaintances.
I’m an expert in those fields. I think I have more friends in more places across the country than the average 21-year-old because my family lived in eight different places when I was growing up. And, I would say I’m pretty good at getting most people to like me.
I can walk into a brand new school as a stranger (as I’ve done six different times during my academic career) and successfully find some good friends by the end of the first day.
I don’t mean to brag, but I’m just scary-good at forming quick friendships.
Maybe this is a result of being relocated to new cities or states every two-to-four years for the first 15 years of my life because when you learn to expect to leave in a few years, why get super close to anyone?
Is that heartless? Maybe. But, it does help the separation hurt a little less.
So, what’s the difference, then, between making a friend or acquaintance and having a real close friend? The difference is the true intimacy. It’s those little secrets, ugly tears and honest, vulnerable moments you share with someone that form a special bond.
And, that’s what I’m bad at.
I let people in on the surface and share certain things I think they’ll want to hear. But, the second I start to feel vulnerable, something switches off and I shut down.
I am very careful not to show too much of myself. This is ironic because I love getting to know other people on that level.
I’m great at advice. You can tell me anything and I’ll give my honest opinion without judgment. My friends tend to feel comfortable sharing their deepest thoughts with me. I just rarely share back.
Maybe that’s selfish, I’m not sure. After some reflection, I think it’s probably unfair to build a friendship that way, with one-sided trust and a lack of shared intimacy.
But, as hard as I try, I cannot seem to get to that level with anyone other than family. Recently, though, there’s been an exception.
Someone broke through my mold, gently and carefully breaking down the walls of my subconscious in a way I didn’t expect.
I am happy to call this special man my boyfriend. For some reason, I am able to share things with him I would never tell anyone else.
At times, I even feel safer by sharing things with him, almost like telling him somehow gives protection to my thoughts and feelings.
So, why can I have this connection with him, but no one else? Maybe the sexual intimacy makes it different with him; it brings a level of closeness I could never experience with someone else.
I’m not sure. I’d hate to think I am only capable of a close friendship with someone who shares a romantic relationship with me.
Recently, I realized despite the fact I have made some good friends, I still feel that at any moment, I could move away and lose all contact with them without missing them.
Why is that? Most people don’t feel that way.
Maybe it’s because my lack of a home base growing up beget attachment issues. But, maybe, it’s just that I haven’t found the right group of friends yet; ones with whom I truly connect on a deep level.
Maybe, in finding the right people, I’ll be able to open up and share that same closeness I’ve come to experience with my boyfriend.
And, maybe, that’s why I was able to find true intimacy and friendship with him because I finally met someone who’s on the same wavelength. And, perhaps, that’s all it takes.
I don’t know for sure why I struggle with the “close friend” relationship. But, I think I am, in fact, capable of that deep level of connection with others if I find the people who are truly meant to be key players in my life.
That being said, I am truly grateful for every friendship I have now and those from my past.
Every one of these friends has been or is in my life for a reason, and I am so blessed for that.
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