How Do We Choose our Friends?
(As Highly Sensitive People)
As highly sensitive people, choosing friends can have some challenges. On the surface it seems like it should be easy, having a lot of compassion and enjoying deep connection. So what makes it challenging?
Because of the level of compassion we feel, and the fact that usually we don’t like others’ feelings to be hurt or for others to think less than highly of us, we can tend toward building relationships with, and holding onto, friends who aren’t supporting us or who just don’t resonate.
It’s so much easier for us to accept or at least tolerate or try to ignore behavior or comments of others than those of our own. We can think, “Well, there are a lot of other things I like about this person, I should just let this go,” or “Maybe with my sensitivities I’m just over-reacting and shouldn’t focus on this.” We can make a lot of excuses in order to be accommodating, understanding, the way we think we should be if we weren’t so sensitive.
We can also stop listening to our intuition, our gut feelings about a person early on in ‘hopes’ that we’ll connect with them. It usually takes us a while to process things, so we can tell ourselves to give it time, see what happens, etc., when if we just listen to that inner voice we know it won’t work. And saying no…opting to not begin a friendship, can feel harsh and unaccepting. Ending an existing one is that much more difficult.
If we’re so perceptive, why can it be so challenging to choose our friends? Why don’t we realize and accept that certain people just aren’t ideal to include in our tribe? Again, there’s that abhorrence toward letting anyone down, hurting feelings, disappointing, being seen in a bad light. This can become more important to us than honoring our needs and setting boundaries.
It’s so important for HSPs to honor our needs, to listen to our intuition and our feelings. Hopefully we accept the idea that we must take care of ourselves in order to take care of others, and that includes choosing to have those in our world who not only sustain us, but help us thrive.
Do you have a friendship that often leaves you making excuses or explaining away behaviors or comments? Maybe it feels strained or just like too much work. Or, do you feel like you can’t be yourself with that person? It might be time to move on.
Relationships do require some work and focus on communication, no question. It’s not good to give up on friendships just because you disagree once in a while. It’s healthy, and can be rewarding, to engage in debate and to practice good communication skills so both parties can be heard and supported. It’s good to learn about our friends and find ways to support them rather than jumping ship as soon as an issue arises. But if the frustration outweighs the positives of the relationship, that’s very draining, and unhealthy.
So, how do we choose our friends successfully? We pay attention to how we feel when we’re connected with others and honor when it doesn’t feel right. If we’re already in relationship and realize that we’ve been ignoring our reactions to the other, we re-evaluate and consider moving on. Yes, it can be uncomfortable to break ties, to explain ourselves and our reasons and maybe even see hurt in their eyes. But, if we’re not authentic, if we’re not true to ourselves, we use up a lot of energy, feel yucky, and can more easily fail to listen to our other needs…what we resonate with and what we find joy in. When we connect with what does resonate, and honor our needs for that, we can develop and maintain a healthy, supportive, uplifting circle of friends.
We can still be open to new experiences and willing to test out new connections. We definitely want to allow in those people who we may connect well with and eventually maybe forge deep, lasting relationships with. We don’t have to avoid or hide, resist getting to know someone out of fear that it won’t work, as long as we agree to honor ourselves if it appears that it’s not a good match. And we can have the understanding with ourselves that even if things seem good in the beginning, or maybe we even saw things differently than they really are, we may always change our minds without feeling guilty or wrong. Sometimes that’s just the way it goes.
So, yes…meet new people, make connections, enjoy your current friendships while listening to your inner guidance that tells you it feels right. Enjoy those deep connections; they’re priceless! And these ideas hold true for romantic relationships as well. It’s all about honoring…honoring the other, but first honoring yourself.