Counseling/friendship: knowing the approach
Here is my issue/ question: I have this friend whom I feel a particular closeness to, whom I'll refer to as Karissa. To give you an idea of how we met, I should explain that I am 33 years old, and she is 59; I am living at my mom's house, as I have no money, and Karissa is a neighbor. About a year ago, I had a hairdresser, whom I used for 20 years fry up my hair, so as a result, I cut ties. I should explain now that Karissa is a hairdresser, and she has since taken over (she works primarily in real estate. I feel like fate brought us together, as these things really don't happen a lot. Karissa and I have as a result formed a friendship with vulnerability.
At any rate, here is the glitch: It's very rare that I find a friend whom I can share anything with that is on my mind. I have tried to just ease into the friendship, as I've learned that manipulating a relationship of any kind does not work. I should explain that I am in a serious relationship with my boyfriend (who is actually 2 years younger than Karissa), however, I feel I need at least one girlfriend whom I can share my secrets with, and want to move things along faster. I should explain too that when my boyfriend's mother was alive (she was Peggy), I could tell her anything, and always felt like I had an open door that would never close, and her passing is another event that occurred when Karissa and I started talking more. Not having Peggy around has been very emotionally draining, and there was a certain mentor (we'll call her Rose) I once had, whom I was hoping would support me. To my surprise, Rose stepped away, wouldn't talk to me, and has not since. I really did not see that coming. I was with Karissa for the last two days, and so wanted to tell her how much she means to me, and that I want to keep the door open. I had mentioned this issue to a few cousins, and two told me to ask Karissa to become blood sisters with me... I don't really think in this day in age that would happen (at least not the traditional way), however, I'm thinking I would like to "seal" our friendship somehow, and just agree to treat each other as family, particularly since I come from a dysfunctional family, which is hard on me. What do you think I should do. Even with all of the time I've spent with Karissa these past 48 hours, I couldn't tell her. I gave her a friendship card, however, as I started to explain that I just want to make sure our bond lasts, I lost my courage. This is so hard!! Please help; I'm so lost, and if I knew our friendship was permanent, I would have so much more peace in my life.
First, we need to start up some basics. Very important that you understand this, before we proceed with some other issues.
We cannot control others. We can only control ourselves and/or our reaction to others. That means, that any relationship is an agreement between two or more people on how they’re going to interact. It’s important to understand that each person in that relationship can choose his or her own behavior.
Now, it is true that there are certain behaviors that most people exhibit when they react to behaviors of other people. That is, as an example, if someone smiles at you, the generic reaction is to smile back or to think that person favors you.
The reality is, in any relationship the other person can choose how he or she will react. Your choices are how you’re going to behave and how you react. That means, and that your behavior in that relationship will normally be what is good for you, and what you perceive is good for both of you.
You understand that certain behaviors elicit certain responses. You have learned that over the course of your life. However, that does not guarantee that the person you’re in a relationship with will react in the way that you expect.
Taking all that into consideration, in your relationship with “Karissa,” the best thing for you is a permanency of the relationship. The best you can expect out of her, is that she responds in that way and works to help you create that bond. That does not mean that she even wants to or is going to.
Your approach, understanding what we’ve been talking about, should be to be as direct with her as you possibly can. That way, you eliminate any guessing on her part. Any communication between two people involves one person make an expression, and the other person filtering that expression based on their socialization. What I mean by that is they hear what you say, and interpret it can based on their past experiences. Therefore the more direct and open you can be toward that other person, the less filtering that takes place. Then, you must allow the other person to respond in the way that he or she chooses.
Your attitude in this relationship should be something like this. I understand that I can’t control Karissa. Therefore, I will allow myself to let her make the response that she chooses without my judgment. I understand, and I can only control myself, which means my responses to her responses. I will let her know how I feel about our relationship in a direct, open, and honest expression. I will leave it up to her to respond and fully accept a response. If she does not respond in the way I expect, I will accept that as her free choice.
Katie, I have five cockatiels in my house. One particular female loves to come and sit on my shoulder. If I was to go to the cage and try to grab her and put her on my shoulder, she would try to bite me and run away. As long as I create an atmosphere where she is free to come in sit on my shoulder, she does that. My point is when you try to hold onto something, it wants to get away, to be free. When you let it go, and be inviting, it has the best chance to choose to be with you. That’s how your relationship Karissa should be.
Let go of the fear that she might not want a permanent relationship with you. Realize it’s her choice as to what con of relationship she wants with you, and that you cannot control her, you can only control you.
If any of this is unclear or you need clarification please write again.