Social bonds form stabilizing aspects of our lives when built correctly. Like any foundation, this support structure, if it’s terribly faulty then it will crumble upon weight and need to be rebuilt or repaired again and again. We must have a standard for how we’re treated and how we treat others. Are your friends making your life better? Are you bettering theirs?
When you tell someone they do something that makes you uncomfortable, do they stop? Do you feel able to tell them in the first place? When someone brings up a problem to you, do you work to understand their point of view? Are you taking more than you’re giving in a relationship? Does anyone make fun of things they know you’re insecure of, or you them? These are signs that something is awry. Differences make the world turn but common values are what create equality.
Interpersonal relationships are one of the most seemingly complicated and confusing parts of living, there’s no handbook for them and every situation is different. Still, there are a few rules we can all live by. Try to be empathetic, have self respect, learn adaptation, boundaries, and effective communication. If any of these are lacking then the whole relationship is out of balance. These are pillars, they hold everything up.
Friends are important and anyone can make them, but time and learning is needed to make the struggle to gain friends worth it. Bad friends are not better than no friends, ever. You can take the time to become a friend to yourself so that you may have more fulfilling and uplifting relationships in the future. Building the bridge isn’t easy and it may take years to form that solid social structure you’ve always desired, but time will make it happen.
Over the course of my traumatized autistic life, making friends has been an ongoing exploration. With my fiancé I’ve found a deep bond of understanding as we’re similar people and our values are aligned at their core, but my fears and insecurities of the grand masses cause me to lock up when expanding my social life. I’m friends of my fiancé’s friends and I find them to be spectacular people but my fears of being ostracized for opening up keep me closed down.
We all must use trial and error to find what works and what doesn’t but also use research to ground us productively. I have great hope in my ability to build fulfilling friendships that last lifetimes, but I still fall in a pit occasionally. With a shattered bridge I feel like I’m drowning. “I’m not capable, not relatable, they perceive me as [insert self perception here], no one likes me.” This negative self talk works to actively isolate me. Realizing that this is only ever to my detriment is a way I focus on finding shore rather than letting myself sink to the bottom of the water.