I’m going to be pretty vulnerable in this post. It’s something that I’ve been wanting to write about for a long time, but I never really felt like actually doing it. I wasn’t ready to be publicly vulnerable. One of the biggest things I struggle with in life is friendships and having healthy relationships. I’m about to explain why.
Growing up, I had pretty good friends. Early on, my two closest friends (not including my brother who was actually my closest friend) were my two girl cousins, Kaitlyn and Samantha. Seperately, I was close to both of them and got along really good with them. Kaitlyn is older, so I felt like I could have “big girl” conversations with her. She was cool to be around. I really admired and looked up to her. Samantha was younger, the same age as my brother. She was fun to play with and I didn’t get to see her quite as often, so I looked forward to the times I got to see her. However, when it was the three of us together, things always went very differently. Kaitlyn and Samantha had a lot more in common, because they both went to public school and I was homeschooled and couldn’t relate to the things they were talking about. I was often not included in their conversations and left out. I would get angry and throw a fit. This happened more times than I care to admit. I just didn’t fit in, but it hurt because when I was alone with one of them, things were different.
I never felt like I fit in anywhere. I was always the weird, quiet homeschooler. The only time I was able to make friends was if there was a mutual interest in horses. Even then, I had a hard time making friends. I wasn’t outgoing at all, so starting a conversation with a random person was way too far outside of my comfort zone. I only really talked to people if they approached me first. I didn’t like to talk, and when I did, it was very, very surface. I didn’t let anyone into my world. I hardly even let my family in. Horses were the only thing that got me talking.
I did have two best friends in elementary, Tori and Kimmie. We went to church together and did everything together. We were close and had sleepovers and stuff, typical girl stuff. We were friends for probably about 4 years. They both started attending different churches and we just kind of drifted apart. It just sort of happened, it was natural. I didn’t really think anything of it.
The longest running, and closest friends I’ve ever had were the daughters of my mom’s best friend. Tricia and Kylie. My brother and I were incredibly close to them for most of our childhood. We spent nearly every day together for several years. They have seen sides of me that even my close friends now haven’t seen. I was never that comfortable around anyone else. After Tricia left for college is when relationships started going downhill for me. I was really upset when she left. I felt like she had betrayed me. I knew things weren’t going to be the same again.
I was 15 and upset, desperately searching for a new friend. A new best friend. There was a girl in the choir at church that could tell that I needed a friend, so she became my friend. She was ten years older than me and married. This relationship became a huge turning point in my life, and a mile marker in my mind. For a while things were going good. I really looked up to her. But then I took things too far. I texted her every moment of every day, even when I knew she was at work. I went to see her at work a few times. I got more upset than I should have if she didn’t come to church or choir rehearsal. I posted statuses about her daily. I was legitimately obsessed with her. I idolized her. I didn’t see it at the time though. I made up excuses, like that she was mentoring me and drawing me closer to Christ. But I wasn’t focused on Christ. Then one day she told me that she couldn’t be friends with me anymore. I was an absolute wreck. For the longest time, I was angry at her, not having any idea what I had done. I held onto my pain and hurt for a very long time. It wasn’t until a few years later that I started to see what I had actually done. I realized that not only did I have to forgive her, but I had to forgive myself. But after that, I was terrified to have friends. I had messed up big time and told myself that I was incapable of having friends. I clearly couldn’t control myself. I didn’t want to hurt anyone again. I didn’t trust myself, and I didn’t deserve to be trusted.
Then Brooke came along shortly after. I was more cautious, but still not enough. I had gotten myself stuck in this endless cycle. I was so terrified of people leaving than I would cling tighter, which would turn into obsessiveness once again, which would in turn push people away. I didn’t know how to get out of this cycle. I was tired of hurting people, and of people leaving. Brooke had a lot more patience with me than I deserved. She continued to stand by me and encourage me. 7 years later and we are still friends. We don’t talk often, and she’s now married and about to have her first child, but I know that she’ll always be there and that I can call her if I ever need anything.
Next came Liz. Our relationship was different because we actually hated each other a few years before we became friends. We were really close for several years, but without going into details, we got in a fight because I confronted her about something and that was basically the end of our relationship. We’ve talked since then, and I’ve forgiven her, but we don’t really talk or have a relationship anymore. From this, I dealt with some hurt. I had considered her my best friend, and all of a sudden she was gone. I vowed to never have a best friend again. Clearly, it wasn’t for me, because it always ended up in hurt, either for them, or for me. However, I didn’t even let myself have friends in general. Sure, I had a few “friends” but they weren’t deep relationships, they were just people that I saw that I liked. None of them invited me to do things, or came to my birthday, or text me, they just were people that I hung out with occasionally. I didn’t even try to invest into them because I didn’t want to go any deeper.
It wasn’t until two years later, when Ashton told someone that I was her best friend, that I even considered doing the friend thing again. Even then, I waited a whole day before telling her that I considered her my best friend as well. I wanted to be sure that I was ready to try again. I had hoped that I had learned whatever lessons I needed to learn. There’s been moments where I have fallen back into old habits, and we’ve hit some speed bumps along the way. We’re currently on a break, a mutual decision after some frustrations on both ends, but we are still friends.
Now, I have three of the best friends I’ve ever had. They’ve taught me what a true friend is like. They are encouraging, supportive, loving. They push me, but in good ways. It wasn’t until I stepped back from my relationship with Ashton that I realized what God has placed directly in front of me. I had been praying for godly friends, to teach me how to have a healthy friendship, but I hadn’t realized that they were already in my life. Having more than one best friend has helped with the issue of obsessiveness. I feel like I’m finally at a good place in this sense.
Some things I have learned regarding friendships:
- Never, ever put anyone on a pedestal.
- If they aren’t drawing you closer to God, limit your relationship. If they are drawing you away from God, consider cutting ties.
- Evaluate your expectations. For me, I have a tendency to go far above and beyond people’s expectations for me, which is fine, but then I get frusterated when people don’t “give back” to me. They do give back to me, just not as much as I give to them. I cannot hold my expectations of them to the same standard that I hold myself.
- On the other hand, relationships are not one way. If you are the only one giving, then chances are that they don’t truly care enough to invest back into you. That being said, there are times where one person may be in a tough season and may need you to give more than they can give back. This is okay as long as it’s not this way all the time. They should be there for you as well.
- Be cautious of manipulative and emotionally abusive relationships. They sneak up on you.
- Guard your heart. Jesus comes first. Always. Every time.
- It’s okay to have more than one “best friend.” In fact, be cautious with the term “best friend”, it makes it a lot easier to put someone on a pedestal.
- Whether you feel like it or not, you deserve to be treated right. Your friends should treat you right. Don’t let them walk all over you.
- Friends are for a season. I’m not going to lie, I hate hearing this. But it’s true. This is one of the toughest lessons I’ve had to learn. I want nothing more than to have a lifelong best friend, but I may not ever have that. But I am thankful for each person that I mentioned in this post because I learned different lessons from each of them, and they were the right person for the season I was in. You have to trust that God knows what He is doing, because He does.
Here are two other articles that I found helpful regarding friendships. I highly recommend reading them.
More Than BFFs – When Friendship Goes Too Far
7 Characteristics of a Good Friend