Creating and sustaining true friendships
It is always so interesting how themes come in waves in a therapy practice. Lately, the nature of friendship has emerged as a frequent issue for my clients.
Clients in their late 20s and early 30s who are maturing emotionally tell me how people they thought were close friends in their early 20s now seem superficial and overly casual. They complain that these friends are often unkind to others and feel successful only when others in their lives are not doing well.
These clients know they need to make new, more caring and supportive friendships. At the same time, they have trouble distancing themselves from old friendships that no longer nourish them. They need to become more aware of who is really trustworthy and who is not in order to make important decisions about friendship in their lives. Becoming able to do so ensures healthy connectedness in their 30s, 40s and 50s.
Clients in their middle years have their own unique set of issues. People in their 40s and 50s have to be careful about two potential problems:
People living in New York often work such long hours that they don’t see their close friends enough.
People get so involved in romantic relationships that they ignore the friends who mean a great deal to them.
These problems must be addressed in order to keep existing friendships alive and well and restore balance to life.
Clients in their 60s and above have the opposite problem to those in their late 20s and early 30s. They have developed deep friendships, but some of those friends are becoming sick and dying. They suffer the very sad loss of friends who knew them very well and whom they knew very well in return. These clients must grieve the loss of deep friendship and then risk the process of making new friends in the latter part of their lives.
One can make new friends at any age. Although the challenges for the young and old can be very different, clients in these different age groups share the vulnerability of staying open to the possibility of new friendship.