You are here:

Counseling/Friendship: Knowing what to do

Advertisement


Question
Hi Nori,

I have a complicated problem... I have a friend (we'll call her Alisa), whom I want to call my best friend, but have roadblocks that I need to get beyond.  I am 33 years old, and back at school online, so I have my hands full, and just can't have additional stress, or take on too many extra friendships, which is why Alisa is so important, particularly since she is one of the few friends I enjoy.  I have health problems too, which don't help stress.  To give you an idea of how things started, I have had a tough time these last 12 years.  My father died unexpectedly on an airplane, coming home from business.  To say the least, it was very devastating and emotionally draining.  Dad has a sister, whom I never liked, but she pushed me way over the edge after my father died.  She even took away my job.  As a result of my sheer dislike of my aunt, I developed an "aunt/ niece" bond with a friend of my mother that goes back to 1965 (we'll call her Rachelle), since Mom let me join them when going on antique outings, which I always enjoy.  Rachelle lifted my spirits, and we frequently made plans, sometimes simply during Mom's work hours, when Rachelle worked from home.  I was having a blast, however, things came to a screeching halt when Mom went on a kick of wanting me to make amends with my dad's sister.  I tried countless times to explain that I did not want that~ that I liked Rachelle, and don't want my dad's sister to be part of my life.  Regardless, since Mom and Rachelle likely talked on the side, Rachelle still pulled away, and it was like a closed door... I still hear the lock today.  Rachelle was worried about how it would effect her friendship with Mom, so she did what she thought was best for maintenance.   Mom had to learn the hard way that my dad's sister was toxic to me, and they have since cut ties, as well... we don't see my dad's sister.  Rachelle and I basically get along today, and Mom and I often go to dinner with Rachelle and her son.  Although I hope that continues, and at this point, hopefully prayers are powerful enough to make that happen, I still long for the old days.  This is where Alisa comes in...  Alisa kind of reminds me of Rachelle, though I can't explain why.... she is a decade younger than Rachelle (so still older than me, but I'm not looking for people my age, as I feel a lot of resentment towards anybody who got to enjoy their 20s from my generation, since most of my 20s were put to dealing with health problems), and Alisa is married, and a mom of grown children and has grandchildren, but not living with her and her husband.  I kind of feel like fate put Alisa in my life.  Alisa is a neighbor of my mother, so we have known each other for a while, just not on a personal level until now.  We started bonding more after I went through 2 difficult events.  Back in 2012, my "Surrogate Grandma" (Peggy, a niece of my actual grandma) passed away, and Peggy was basically my only friend.  I also cut ties with a hairdresser whom I used for 20 years, as I can't have people creating me highly expensive damage.  I should explain that Alisa is a hairdresser, but works primarily in real estate.  She has since taken the reins for me.  I also get together with Alisa, and we have coffee, and talk.  I want to keep that going, but build a closer friendship.  Here is one of the biggest glitches.  We have another neighbor (we'll call her Sarah), who has close ties with Alisa as well.  Sarah spends her winters away, since her husband can't do business where we are located, since he runs a cement business.  I like Sarah fine, but I feel she does interfere with my relationship with Alisa.  I wish Sarah didn't know that I'm the same age as her daughter, as unlike me, her daughter does like spending time with people our age (it isn't that I dislike Sarah's daugther, it's just with my health problems, I feel old, and don't want to get involved with somebody raising 3 small children), and I'm so afraid she might use that as a way to make it so I can't spend time with Alisa.  Unfortunately, Sarah is coming home, and I'm so afraid that I won't get to spend time with Alisa anymore.  I've tried to prove I'm Alisa's better half... I recently gave her an expensive friendship bracelet (which I can't really afford).  I need to establish an understanding with Alisa that we are good friends, and explain to her that she is my best friend, at least in my eyes.  I want to eventually find a romantic relationship too, however, since I won't get involved with anybody my age, I'm thinking that Alisa might know some men her age, in that respect.  How can I explain my concerns to Alisa?  I don't expect her to cut ties with Sarah, and know that they're going to still be friends, but I don't want Sarah to have a closer friendship than me, or get more of Alisa's time than I get.  Please help!!!  I'm so stressed, as I worry every free minute.

Answer
Hi - I am going to answer you the way I answered last time you wrote to me.


Thank you for your letter and for reaching out.
It seems like you are lonely and need a wider circle of friends. That would solve all your problems. You can find friends if you get involved in something. You might consider taking a class or volunteering in your community.
One of the golden rules of friendship is to give your friends space and let the relationships evolve naturally. You cannot force friendship to develop. Getting jealous, manipulative, or suspicious of your friends is self-defeating because it will drive them away.





Hi Nori
I have a problem with a friend, and just can't take it anymore.  I am 32 years old, and am stuck living at my mother's house, which is far from ideal.  Since I have arthritis, and I can't get away, I need a means of coping.  My mom has a neighbor, whom I'll refer to as Summer (she is 59 years old).  I started spending a lot of time with Summer at the start of this year.  Although she does kind of seem like having my best friend from high school around again (we'll call her Stephanie), I really don't have any desire to contact Stephanie again, as she is a mother of 3, and I probably never cross her mind anyway.  Really, I don't have fun with people my age, so it makes no sense to me to try to open doors in that respect.  At first, Summer and I would simply talk as friends, and to show that I value our friendship, I gave her a birthday card, with a Starbuck's gift card, and I wrote a note, inviting her to come to my cousin's restaurant.  Resulting from a tragedy that Summer had to go through, we never made our plans.  I have been really respectful of boundaries.  On the third Thursday of each month, us "housewives" in our neighborhood (Summer is self employed) get together for lunch.  I am always the youngest one there, which is good, at least in my eyes.  Here is what happened there:  I sat down next to Summer (I think it seemed a little bit like she had a shadow), and the lady on her other side asked her to make plans, and she just agreed right in front of me.  I am very hurt by this, but can't tell her, even though I want to, because nobody forgives for anything these days.  What is a good approach to convey this to her?  She may dismiss it, but I can't spend everyday of my life having crying spells, and wishing my life were something different.  No relationship ever works out for me, which is why I'm single, and Summer is my only friend.  It would be different if I could live in the state I want to be in, but since I can't, I tend to expect perfection around here.  We do have a neighbor, who has been saying horrible things about me for a long time, and she is basically the devil in disguise... she comes across as the sweetest lady to the Average Jane.  She may have said something about me to somebody who knows Summer well, whom Summer just would not doubt.  I know I'll never be a really, really important part of Summer's life, however, she means a lot to me right now, and I wish she would try spending a half an hour with me, even if it just means going to the local yogurt bar.  I know I can't force her, however, I think I need to at least find out what the problem is, because I cry all day long everyday, and struggle to cover up my misery.  It makes it hard to go on, knowing that I'm going to wake up everyday to an unwanted living situation.
Answer:   Hi Alyssa,
Thank you for your letter and for reaching out.
It seems like you are lonely and need a wider circle of friends. That would solve all your problems. You can find friends if you get involved in something. You might consider taking a class or volunteering in your community.
One of the golden rules of friendship is to give your friends space and let the relationships evolve naturally. You cannot force friendship to develop. Getting jealous, manipulative, or suspicious of your friends is self-defeating because it will drive them away.
Remember that it is none of our business what other people think of us. We simply need to cast a wider net. Just like in photography. Good photographers take a lot of pictures, then choose the best ones. Not everyone is going to be a great friend.

Counseling

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Nori Muster

Expertise

Art therapy, positive thinking, and abuse recovery.

Experience

I have been an expert at AllExperts.com since 2000. Before that, during college and graduate school, I put in approximately three hundred volunteer hours working at juvenile halls. I also worked in drug and alcohol counseling agencies. In addition, I have done art and writing therapy with young people who grew up in abusive religious groups.

Organizations
The International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA), helps families, people who grew up in cults, and people leaving cults.

Publications
Books by Nori:
Dreaming Peace: Your Thoughts Can Change the World, a history of positive thinking and how to practice it in the post-9/11 world.
Child of the Cult, a collection of stories about children who grew up in restrictive religious groups.
Cult Survivor's Handbook: Seven Paths to an Authentic Life, a recovery handbook for people who had a bad experience in a group.

For a summary of all writing, see http://norimuster.com/books

Education/Credentials
Masters of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies (psychology, counseling, and criminal justice), Western Oregon University, 1991.

Awards and Honors
Betrayal of the Spirit: My Life behind the Headlines of the Hare Krishna Movement won an award from Amazon.com for best selling book in its category.

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.