“Anybody can sympathize with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathize 8 with a friend’s success.” – Oscar Wilde
Which of the following is true for you?
1. Intimacy was not modeled to me as a child – so how am I supposed to know how to have a close friendship?
What we learn as children are often what we live out as adults. So, if you witnessed the dynamics of close and intimate relationships with parents and other role models in childhood, you will likely have the skills and capacity to repeat the same behaviors as an adult. But if you never observed such relationships as a child, you will not have any prior programming to help you develop the behaviors associated with close friendships in your adult life.
In addition, what we receive as a child becomes a value and what we value is what we spend our time and money on. (Some words of wisdom: if you want to learn what someone’s real values are, follow them around and see what they spend their time doing and their money on.) Having close friendships requires you to place a high value on them, not taking them for granted or pretending you don’t need them at all.
2. My Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) cause me to fear close friendship out of fear of being hurt again.
When a young child goes through any or all of the five Adverse Childhood Experiences* listed below, they will end up placing an additional financial burden on the health-care system because of their mental and physical health issues as adults. They will also experience many problems when facing life’s challenges, including difficulties having and maintaining close and intimate friendships.
The five adverse childhood experiences:
1. Verbal abuse
2. Emotional abuse
3. Physical abuse
4. sexual abuse
How ACEs Affect Your Friendships
A close friendship requires a high TQ (trust quotient). It also means understanding that getting hurt comes with the territory and developing the humility and skills to repair any fractures that arise in the course of a relationship.
But when you have been hurt as a child by important people in your life, trusting anybody is difficult. And if you have multiple fractures that have never healed, repairing fresh ones may seem impossible. Read the story of Sandra (next blog) to see how working through the issues that stemmed from her ACEs allowed her to finally experience close friendship.
* The ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) study was a large-scale investigation conducted over several years, representing some of the most significant in-the-field research ever conducted on mental-emotional health.
Read our next blog to know useful tips to create a close friendship.