Friendship is like a garden that needs care and protection.
While a good friendship can be incredibly fulfilling, it are not immune to challenges. Various factors can put a strain on even the strongest friendship. Here are some common challenges that can arise in a good friendship. If your friendship is valuable then you can be alert to these potential difficulties and address them as soon as possible.
Communication issues can lead to misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and conflicts.
Different communication styles, assumptions, or a lack of clarity can create tension between friends. You may not laugh
or cry at the same point in a movie or reading a book. The aesthetic sense and emotional reverberations are not the same for everyone. If you are curious and open about your friend’s opinions and responses you can deepen your bond rather than have these differences create distance between you.
Change and Growth:
As individuals grow and evolve, their needs, interests, and priorities may shift. This can sometimes create a distance or divergence between friends if they are not able to navigate these changes together. A classic example is when two friends share the same addiction or disorder. This is a bond between them. If and when one begins recovery or moves faster on the recovery path a rift can occur between the pair.
Significant life changes such as marrying, becoming a parent, going for a degree, moving to a new city, starting a new job, or entering into a new relationship can impact the dynamics of a friendship. Time constraints and different life circumstances may make it challenging to maintain the same level of closeness. They may lose their ability to be empathetic with one another as their lives change.
Friendships can be affected when competing obligations arise, such as work commitments, family responsibilities, or other personal engagements. Balancing these different priorities can sometimes strain the time and energy available for the friendship. Sometimes this is happens because of a lag in the maturation of one. That person doesn’t appreciate the other’s rationing their time and energy so they can be alert for reliable for their other commitments. It’s possible for this situation to pass as the offended party mature and appreciates the need for being responsible. But there’s no guarantee that understanding will occur.
Jealousy and Envy:
Feelings of jealousy or envy can emerge when one friend achieves success or experiences positive changes, while the other may feel left behind or inadequate. These emotions can create tension and affect the overall dynamics of the friendship. This may be a momentary flash that can be worked out between the two. However, it could be the beginning of a long lasting resentment. Only open communication and honesty can explore this and make peace if peace is possible.
Disagreements and Conflict:
Conflicts and disagreements are a natural part of any relationship. How friends navigate and resolve these conflicts can determine the strength of the friendship. If conflicts are not addressed constructively, they can strain the bond and create long-lasting resentment.
Neglect and Lack of Effort:
Friendships require effort and nurturing from both parties. If one friend consistently neglects or fails to invest time and energy into the friendship, it can lead to feelings of imbalance and resentment from the other friend.
Betrayal of Trust:
Trust is the foundation of any healthy friendship. If one friend violates that trust through betrayal, dishonesty, or breaking confidences, it can severely damage the friendship and erode the sense of security and closeness.
Lack of Boundaries:
Difficulties can arise when there is a lack of respect for personal boundaries. Overstepping boundaries, being overly dependent, or intruding on each other's personal lives can strain the friendship and lead to resentment or discomfort.
Distance and Lack of Face-to-Face Interaction:
Physical distance and limited face-to-face interaction due to various circumstances, such as relocation or busy schedules, can make it challenging to maintain the same level of connection and intimacy. This can require extra effort to bridge the gap and stay connected. Friendships can last through letter writing, Internet face to face chats, text notes and phone conversations. Many ways to stay in connection exist today that bridge spatial distance. And correspondence can be done at times convenient for each and read when commitments have passed. A time difference no longer presents a formidable barrier to keeping in connection.
It's important to remember that challenges are a natural part of friendship. Addressing them can strengthen the bond. If a friendship has unresolved conflicts or recurring issues that are never fully addressed, it can create a cycle of tension and strain. Ignoring or avoiding these issues can lead to a buildup of resentment and a breakdown in trust and communication.
Good friends are willing to communicate openly, show understanding, and work through difficulties together, ultimately deepening the friendship.
When you are waiting for your friend to bring up an issue that has brought you discomfort, pain, sorrow, anger or self-doubt, stop waiting. Find a way to bring it up yourself. You may save yourself and the friendship more quickly and easily than you imagined possible.
See: Quality Friendship: how to recognize a friend who is good for you
Toxic Friendship: how to recognize a friend who is not good for you
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Joanna Poppink, MFT, is a psychotherapist in private practice specalizing in eating disorder recovery. She is licensed in CA, OR, UT, FL and AZ. She specializes in eating disorders, anxiety, depression, PTSD and self doubt.
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