It would seem that today social networks connect us in seconds, and the absence of rigid boundaries in network communication allows you to quickly establish contact with any stranger, even on the edge of the earth. But finding a truly close friend remains an acute problem, which can only be solved by personal contact. Why is this happening?
At the beginning of the path
When we are born, we do our best not to remain alone. After all, for a baby, this is tantamount to death: he is helpless, and the world is dangerous … Of course, the symbiotic relationship with the mother, whom we crave in the first year of life, bears little resemblance to friendship. And the grandfather, showing the “goat” to his grandson, builds a completely different relationship with him than his neighbor in the sandbox.
Relatives, unlike future friends, love us just like that, because we are. But these very first contacts with loved ones largely determine how we will be friends when we grow up.
“The fundamentals of personality, style of behavior, habits depend on how our communication with significant adults developed in childhood,” explains a clinical psychologist, TFP-therapist1 Anna Afanasyeva. “And then we can look for the kind of friendship that will provide an opportunity to act out familiar scenarios of relationships or serve as an arena for playing out early emotional trauma.” Thus, the child of a rejecting mother runs the risk of forever playing the role of “second violin”.
And the one who was brought up by loving, sympathetic relatives is unlikely to agree to a subordinate position.
Find your flock
Whereas in early childhood the relationship with our parents is most important to us, in adolescence the priorities become different.
“At this time, the task of conscious separation from parents comes to the fore, creating a system of one’s own values as opposed to family ones,” says psychotherapist Anton Nesvitsky. “But at the same time, a teenager is still dependent on others, he needs his own group, subculture, a space where he could feel separate from his parents and receive support from others like him.”
The company of teenagers is a kind of flock in which everyone goes through a stage of formation.
“My first true friends are my classmates,” says 30-year-old Pavel. – We have put together a school “gang”, created our own circle, games, laws. It is a pity, now we practically do not communicate. From a large company, where there were about twenty people, a couple of friends remained, with whom I see only once a year. “
Perhaps friendship during puberty should fulfill its role and either wither away or develop into something larger, deeper.
There is an opinion that if we did not make friends at a young age, then later it is useless to try to find them.
“This statement belongs to those who remained at the adolescent level in their development,” explains Anton Nesvitsky. – And for them it is to a certain extent true. It is really difficult for those who agree with these words to find new friends: they continue to depend on public opinion, on the assessment of their actions by a familiar group. They hardly trust new acquaintances, constantly doubt themselves and compete with others, as they did during puberty. “
Mutual aid effect
In the post-adolescent period, we still value our own support group, but their functions are changing. We know ourselves better and we need not just a company, but like-minded people.
“Youth friendship strengthens our identity,” explains Anna Afanasyeva. – Friends often play the role of mirrors, peering into which we try to understand where our “I” ends and the Other begins. This is how we learn our own and others’ boundaries. In addition, friends are a sensitive audience, in whose eyes our life flows. “
Sometimes they remember those events and those our thoughts that we ourselves have forgotten, and help to see what we are changing and what is not.
The group supports young people taking their first steps in adulthood.
“During this period, interpersonal connections solve the problem of socialization,” says Anton Nesvitsky. – The development of communication skills, becoming in the profession, the search for one’s own landmarks in personal life – all this is difficult to achieve without the appropriate environment. At the same time, in both early adolescence and in later groups, interaction often has the character of friendly competition. “
Age of adoption
“We met my best friend Elena when I was 32 and she was 34,” says 43-year-old Polina. – At the very first meeting, we realized that we have a lot in common: favorite places, books, films, general views on certain situations. I like to communicate with someone who shares my interests, and not just happened to be nearby. “
The nature of friendships changes noticeably at a more mature age. Now we are looking not so much for support as for depth of relationships with close friends. After thirty, the unity of values finally comes to the fore. It is at this time that we may find that the seemingly immutable friendship from school or college has exhausted itself.
Should we stay in touch with another solely out of habit, based on the fact that we once had something to talk about? Can we be truly close if today we have nothing in common but pleasant memories?
“Demands for depth of communication and similarity of values can grow. This is how the need to find new people appears, – continues Anton Nesvitsky. – Now we especially appreciate support that is based on the acceptance of the other. The rivalry characteristic of friendship in youth gives way to openness and trust in adulthood. “
The coincidence of the pace of development with childhood friends is rather an exception to the rule, and this happens rarely. The social field has already been mastered, we feel quite confident in the profession, we have decided on priorities in our personal life.
And in friendship, we are now looking for an opportunity to deeper reveal feelings and thoughts, to do an interesting thing together, says Anton Nesvitsky: “At this time, connections are based on a conscious choice and a desire to negotiate. They will be much stronger than children and youths. ” Those who have a tendency towards conscious communication will retain it into old age.
Clarify your desires
To independently figure out what friendship gives you and what you expect from it, ask yourself a few questions, suggests psychotherapist Anton Nesvitsky.
As you ponder the answers, you separate what is worth looking for in a friendship from what is not found in it.
- What is the most important thing in friendship for me?
- What qualities attract me to friends?
- What am I missing in my relationship with friends?
- What needs are my friends meeting?
- Can other people satisfy the same needs?
- Can I meet these needs myself?
For 30-year-olds Ilya and Alina, a friendly company is a second family. “We are used to seeing friends as almost like brothers and sisters. We have been friends for many years, we communicate with relatives much less often than with them. For us, friends are a family circle that we have chosen and created ourselves, therefore the relationship in it is much kinder and stronger. “
It is natural to see “kindred spirits” in friends, to become attached to them, but nevertheless experts do not advise confusing family and friendships. In friendship, we have less obligations and more personal freedom: after all, friends do not depend on us as much as loved ones. But we also cannot always count on them, because we are not their only priority.
“It happens that personal life or relationships with relatives do not go well, and then we transfer our need for a family to friends,” notes Anton Nesvitsky, “but in this case we risk: friends can go into their own family life, causing jealousy.”
It is sometimes difficult for those who have had many problems in the parental family to build equal friendships: they become addicted and begin to “strangle” potential friends with closeness, forcing the latter to distance themselves.
The loss of a friend is a tragedy that we perceive only more sharply with age. “Most often, different vectors, levels and rates of development serve as the reason for ending a relationship,” says Anton Nesvitsky. – Over time, each of us forms a picture of the world, values, outlook on life. We gain personal experience, and often it is very different from the experience of friends. And what kind of friendship can there be with different worldviews? No more. “
It can be difficult to survive a collision with a changed vision of reality, both your own and your friend’s. But everyone has the right to live as he considers reasonable.
“Friendship is interrupted for various reasons, but we can only lose what we have,” says Anna Afanasyeva. “Others are not our property, they cannot be possessed. We just keep in touch with them for a long or short time. We are changing, we identify ourselves with other, different from yesterday’s ideas. The trajectories of our life paths converge and diverge, temporarily or forever. This does not discount what once connected us with friends. Most likely, at certain moments it was very important for us. “
And this remains: as an experience, a memory, as a guideline for future relationships, although, perhaps, already with other people.
In a changing world
Today, young people are increasingly turning to psychologists in order to understand what kind of relationships connect them with others, notes Anna Afanasyeva. Perhaps the reason for this is the world of high technologies that we have not completely lived in and the accelerating pace of life?
“Today, in order to navigate life, we need to know much more than our predecessors. We spend a lot of effort searching for what we need in a huge information flow. At the same time, one has to defend against this flow, says Anton Nesvitsky. – Therefore, communication often becomes superficial. But even in such conditions, there are many of those for whom it is more important to feel the depth in contact with loved ones, and not consume an extra gigabyte of information. “
On the other hand, the Internet gives us the opportunity to find like-minded people. Forums of fishermen and vegans, groups of anime and macrame lovers bring together those who would hardly have met in real life. And yet, sometimes it seems that meeting the perfect friend is even more difficult than true love.
“The idea that there is real friendship is a reflection of our longing for an impossible, ideal merging with another,” explains Anna Afanasyeva. – And yet everyone, I think, has a relationship that we consider to be true. In this case, we are devoted to friends, sincerely interested in them. They are so important to us that we are ready to sacrifice for them. “
According to a survey conducted by the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion (VTsIOM), Russians are not hindered by their age, gender, or income level from making friends.
- 84% of those surveyed reported that they have friends from another generation. This proportion is higher among people aged 35 to 44 (90%).
- 82% of respondents are friends with people of the opposite sex. This is typical for the group from 25 to 34 years old (92%), people with higher education (90%), residents of Moscow and St. Petersburg (89%).
- 69% do not see problems for friendships at different income levels. This was mainly answered by young people from 25 to 34 years old (79%), people with a good financial situation (74%), residents of medium-sized cities (73%).
1 TPF-therapy – psychotherapy focused on the transfer (English Transference focused psychotherapy).