Making New Friends As A Female In Adult Years Can Be Challenging
From an early age, I had experiences of rejection from female friends. My first close, intimate friendship was around age 4, but her family moved to another part of the country. My next close friendship was with a girl called Sharon around age 7. When I say intimate I mean natural, honest, authentic when relating. Friendship where you are naturally yourself, spending a lot of time together; that you get to know one another relatively easily. You feel relaxed in that person’s company and are able to completely share who you are.
Sharon made a new friend some time after we had bonded; funnily enough her name was Kelly too. I have no doubt that this was an added blow to my wee ego. As Sharon’s new friend was a neighbour of hers, she saw her all the time and I was rather rapidly rejected, pushed to the outside of their friendship, a spare wheel in many a sense. At that age people buddied up quickly, mostly in 2’s, so now I was always on the outside looking in. This was a pattern I experienced throughout junior school, high school and even into college years. Being rejected so early on gave me a sense of not being accepted for who I was, and I did everything I could to try to fit in, to try to belong.
One common trait among people who are rejected or abandoned early on, be it from parents or peer groups, is that they either cling and become needy for fear of being left alone, or they close off their hearts as a self protection and become detached emotionally. Neither are easy paths to follow, but I chose the former; I became a people-pleaser and a needy person.
In my late thirties now, I am finally processing the pain of those patterns through presence and forgiveness work, but I recently experienced another friendship challenge. This time I allowed myself to feel the energy of the challenge and to see the dynamics taking place. Trying to form a friendship with someone who was more detached, and who was possibly unable to form intimate friendships because of her earlier experiences, I fulfilled the dynamic of neediness and rejection all over again. However, instead of hanging around to perpetuate this pattern, I walked away. It felt good to walk away. And looking back I could see that because of my earlier life experiences, many of my later attempts at friendship were with detached, unavailable women . I had projected my ideal of what a friend should be onto another human being, probably what I had been doing for a very long time, but unless we heal the hurts of the past, we simply revisit the same pattern over and over again.
I had tried to forge friendships with people who would never be friends. We were acquaintances who passed on the road of life, not people who knew one another intimately. Misjudgements all round.
Many people have acquaintances whom they label as friends, but with real friends you can not only wear your heart on your sleeve, but you feel safe to share your full range of emotions without fearing that they will reject you, or batter you when you share your vulnerability.The friendship is unconditional. We share our joys and our heart-aches equally. It’s the real deal.
So it’s an interesting experience, having no female friends in the city. I am quite proud of myself for being so accepting of ‘what is’ now. I like my own company and I like the simple things in life.
My question is now, can we make real friends as adults?
I feel the only way we can make a new friend in later years is when we become more at ease with ourselves. We begin to genuinely care and embrace all of who we are. As we tend to those hurt aspects within, we are then better able to go into new friendships without the judgements, expectations and baggage that we carried into friendships in the past. And we also genuinely want to get to know the other person, all of who they are, warts and all.
Those who have been rejected or abandoned need to reclaim and own those rejected parts from within. It becomes so important to be-friend the pain and suffering through acceptance and tenderness. Forgiving yourself for all your choices, and understanding that you did the best you knew how with the tools you had at your disposal (and this includes emotional tools).
Perhaps then we will meet other people with an open heart, and they will meet us with open hearts too. We will meet people ready for genuine heart-centered friendship and acceptance.