Get together with your friends
Our society tends to place an emphasis on romantic relationships. We think that just finding that right person will make us happy and fulfilled. But research shows that friends are actually even more important to our psychological welfare. Friends bring more happiness into our lives than virtually anything else.
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When can we get together with family and friends? Maybe soon, but not yet, says VUMC expert.
WHEN Jeryl Brunner, a writer in Manhattan, was in her 20s, she had a friend who was just the sort of acquaintance people scoop up in their social net when they are young and trying to carve out a life in a new city. The friend was fun, outgoing and stylish, and always up for a night of dancing at Area, or a weekend jaunt to a Neiman Marcus outlet in New Jersey. But as Ms. Brunner neared 40, the reasons for their spending time together became less clear.
Brunner, now Her sense of joy came from owning a Gucci bag. She decided it was time to let her friend go. So Ms. After the friend made a few spurned overtures — and after some awkward conversations about why Ms. Brunner was always too busy to get together — the friend got the hint.
Years later, however, the breakup still feels unresolved. Brunner said. With a click of a mouse, you can remove someone from your friends roster and never again see an annoying status update or another vacation photo from a person you want out of your life. Not so in the real world. Even though research shows that it is natural, and perhaps inevitable, for people to prune the weeds from their social groups as they move through adulthood, those who actually attempt to defriend in real life find that it often plays out like a divorce in miniature — a tangle of awkward exchanges, made-up excuses, hurt feelings and lingering ill will.
Even the most omnivorous collectors of friends acknowledge that sometimes it is necessary to cross out some names from their little black book. But even for him, some must fall by the wayside. Psychologists consider it an inevitable life stage, a point where people achieve enough maturity and self-awareness to know who they are and what they want out of their remaining years, and have a degree of clarity about which friends deserve full attention and which are a drain.
It is time, in other words, to shed people they collected in their youth, when they were still trying on friends for size. The winnowing process even has a clinical name: socioemotional selectivity theory, a term coined by Laura L. Carstensen, a psychology professor who is the director of the Stanford Center on Longevity in California. Carstensen said. This is not, however, an issue that arises only as the temples start to gray.
People approaching 30 — many of them dealing with life changes like marriage and a first child — often tend to feel overwhelmed with responsibility, so they lose patience with less meaningful friends, said Dr. The process does not always have to be painful. Cardi said. It completely cleared the air, and neither of us left with bad feelings. But when the impulse is not mutual, it helps to undertake it with careful consideration.
The passive approach can work, sort of. Marni Zarr, 46, a substitute teacher in Mesa, Ariz. Zarr gave less of herself in conversations, stopped talking about her feelings, became vaguer about future aspirations. While the passive approach worked, ultimately slowly, the friend started to behave less like an intimate and more like a casual acquaintance , Ms. Zarr felt guilty about sentencing her ex-friend to a painful round of self-doubt.
Is Marni upset with me? Zarr recalled. Anyone can be busy. Horchow, who at 83 has been carefully adding and dropping friends since Franklin Roosevelt was president, prefers the gentlemanly approach.
Indeed, honesty may not be the best policy, Dr. The passive approach works with friendships in which the bonds are tenuous, said Jeff Newelt, a social media consultant in Manhattan. In his line of work, he considers it his job to make friends, but a couple of years ago, decided he needed to prune the overgrowth. Newelt, 40, recalled. I did not hate them. I liked them. So I dropped them.
Not harshly, because I like them; I did not want to hurt feelings. I just said I had other plans when they asked me to hang out, each time, time and time again, repeatedly, and they got the point. There was no conversation, no gnashing and wailing. But not all friends or ex-friends will go easily. By the time she was in her mids, Carolyn Miller, an office manager in Norwalk, Conn.
The friend called her and begged her to reconsider. Miller stood her ground. A few weeks later, when Ms. When Ms. Miller sent back the enclosed card declining the invitation, the friend called her and asked why. During that call, Ms. Miller knew it was time to administer the friendship equivalent of the lethal injection. Miller recalled saying. I met another friend for drinks that night and honestly, I was sad. I divorced a friend. Dorree Lynn, a psychologist in Washington, recalled that one woman she pulled away from because she felt they no longer shared the same values responded by spreading gossip in their social circle.
TO avoid backbiting and lingering bad feelings, many relationship experts recommend the same sort of direct approach that one would employ in a romantic breakup. A heartfelt face-to-face talk is better, said Erika Holiday, a clinical psychologist in Encino, Calif.
Holiday said. Yager, the friendship coach. Such a direct approach ultimately may be effective, but it still engenders the same pain and awkwardness as an actual breakup, said Erika Johnson, a blogger who lives outside Boston. A couple of years ago, she found herself running a cost-benefit analysis of a friendship from her early 20s that was starting to grind her down.
Every new choice she made in her life — whether it was to return to graduate school or move to the suburbs — was greeted with dismissive scorn by the friend. Johnson decided to end the relationship with a telephone call.
Johnson recalled. For months, the ex-friend continued to try to contact her. Johnson felt terrible, especially as mutual friends would tell her about the pain she had caused the woman.
Eventually, however, the reports from the mutual friends started to change in tenor. The old friend had been doing a lot of soul-searching after the breakup, they said.
The mutual pain might have been worth it, Ms. Johnson concluded — to the point where she might consider another attempt at friendship with her. He had enjoyed going to bars and pool halls with a certain friend when he was in his 20s, but now thought he and the man were growing apart. As an endgame tactic, Mr. Laing, now 46, seized on an extended trip to Europe as an opportunity to put both physical and emotional distance between the two of them.
He sent a couple of postcards over the course of three months, then nothing. It was over, he thought. Last spring, however, he was surprised to find that the friend was reaching out, for the first time in 15 years.
He friended him on Facebook. Is there a right way to tell a friend it is time to go? A trial separation can soften the blow. Which raises this question: is a friendship ever really over? Home Page World U.
Friends Are Breaking Up Over Social Distancing
WHEN Jeryl Brunner, a writer in Manhattan, was in her 20s, she had a friend who was just the sort of acquaintance people scoop up in their social net when they are young and trying to carve out a life in a new city. The friend was fun, outgoing and stylish, and always up for a night of dancing at Area, or a weekend jaunt to a Neiman Marcus outlet in New Jersey. But as Ms.
It can be difficult, however, to hear a friend criticize your life choices during an already high-stress time. People may become defensive. And because of the high stakes of this moment of history, the rifts created now may not be so easily mended. Joey Amaya, 22, watched in mild disbelief a few weeks ago as a friend of his texted a group chat of about 10 people to invite everyone to play soccer. On the group thread, Amaya reminded his friend of the risks; he mentioned his grandmother, and dropped a recent statistic about the nationwide death toll from COVID
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