Friendship: Connection or Neediness?By Dr. Margaret Paul
April 14, 2014
Do you have problems having truly connected friendships?
Friendship is a big topic. There are people who always seem to have many friends, and others who can't seem to find the way to make friends. Some people have deeply connected friendships, and others have only superficial acquaintances. What accounts for these differences?
A part of the answer lies in Jayne's question:
"When it comes to friendship, I sometimes hesitate to call a friend out of fear that I'm reaching out too frequently. Now that I have been practicing Inner Bonding, I am aware of how I have reached out to friends from a needy place. I really want to connect with my friends, but part of me hesitates because I don't want to reach out from an empty place anymore. How can I differentiate from my wanting to reach out for connection from a full place versus an empty place?"
This is a great question. One important thing to ask yourself when you want to reach out to a friend is, "Why do I want to get together with this person?"
If you are being honest with yourself and you are coming from neediness and emptiness, the answer might be that you want to get something – attention, connection, approval or validation. If you are questioning yourself about the frequency of reaching out, then it is likely that you are reaching out from an empty place.
When we want to get together with a friend to share something - fun, caring, connection, and/or support for each other - then we are likely coming from a full place within. We can't connect with another if we are disconnected from ourselves, so we either want to get connection or to share connection. Are you reaching out, as Jayne says, for connection, or to share from your connected place?
When we want to share our caring with a friend, we don't need to worry about how often we are reaching out. We all love genuine caring, and it never feels like too much – as long as it's true caring. But here it can get tricky: are you caring to get something back, or are you caring from a full heart that doesn't expect anything back?
Often, people who are needy will act caring in order to get caring – giving to get. When this is the case, the other person doesn't feel cared about. Instead, they feel pulled at and drained.
Sondra, another one of my clients, recently said to me:
"There is a woman in my life, Lacey, who I've known for a long time. She has no friends and she considers me her best friend. But I don't even consider her a friend. Whenever I talk with her on the phone, she talks and I listen and I end up feeing drained. She keeps telling me how much she loves me, but this doesn't feel like love. I don't want to hurt her, but I don't want to talk with her anymore."
There is a good reason Lacey has no friends. She calls to get attention, not to give or share caring. But she tries to hide her intent by saying she loves Sondra. Obviously, we cannot hide our intent. Sondra feels anything but cared about.
If you don't have friends, then start on the path of becoming your own best friend. As you learn to love and value yourself, you will naturally become more caring of others. As you learn to fill yourself with love, you will naturally have love to share with others. Then you don't need to wonder why you don't have friends, or wonder how frequently it's okay to reach out to them.
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Today, notice if your intent is to get love or approval from others or to give love to yourself and others. Trying to get love or approval will always end up causing suffering. Giving love to yourself and others brings joy.
By Dr. Margaret Paul