Moving is hard. There are no mincing words about it and it's probably very obvious that change isn't easy. The other night I hosted the last Submissive Forum in my area. I've hosted them for 2 years, made a lot of wonderful friends and learned so much about myself and submission. There's something about friendship and support that feeds me in a way nothing else can. I find friendship important. These men and women had been my support system for 2 years and now I had to say goodbye to them.
I held myself together for the meeting, but inside I was saying goodbye and already missing people. They've changed my life, improved my submission and opened my eyes to even more unique and interesting ways to live. I'm so thankful that I can meet and get to know so many people and having to say goodbye is hard, so hard. I cried on my way home and vowed to make it back as soon as I could.
I'm already planning to start a submissive forum in the new town since there isn't one and I'm sure I will have many new friends and experiences. These new experiences and friends will definitely continue my self-exploration, open my eyes to more ways to live in D/s and certainly, I'll build more friends and a support system I can use here when I need it.
The thing is that I don't make friends easily and I'm even worse at keeping them. I've known this about myself since my childhood school days. I had one friend. While we were inseparable we've often said that if we met as adults we wouldn't be friends. We are so very different now. I think, also, that as adults, making friends is harder. You have work and family, children and other things that make you so very busy with life in general that feeding a friendship and making them a priority can often get pushed to the side. We've become an instant gratification culture - when nurturing friendships is a long-term commitment.
The Health Benefits of Friendship
Friends can really do a body good too. I'm sure you have heard of the health benefits of friends but let's go over them again. Friends are there to celebrate the good times and support you in bad. They help prevent loneliness and give you a chance to offer your own companionship too. They also:
- Increase your sense of belonging and purpose
- Boost your happiness and reduce your stress
- Improve your self-confidence and self-worth
- Help you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one
- Encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise
How does social media affect friendships?
Joining a chat group or online community like FetLife.com might help you make or maintain connections and relieve loneliness. However, use of social networking sites doesn't necessarily translate to a larger offline network or closer offline relationships with network members. How many of the people on your friends list do you talk to regularly and enjoy chatting with? 20%, 10%, far less? Even if you limit your friends list to people you've met face to face, how strong is your connection to these people?
How can I nurture my friendships?
Developing and maintaining friendships is about give and take. You have to find time to make them a priority in your life. It's about being there for them when they need it and accepting their company when you do. It's about connecting to someone in all phases of their life - good, better and worse. Let them know that you care about them and the bond will strengthen and grow.
To nurture your friendships:
- Accept yourself. Cultivate a healthy, realistic self-image. Work on building your self-esteem by taking care of yourself — eat a healthy diet and include physical activity in your daily routine. Insecurity and constant self-criticism can be turnoffs to potential friends.
- Accept others. Don't judge. Give your friends space to change, grow and make mistakes. Encourage your friends to freely express their emotions. Don't belittle or make fun of what the other person thinks or feels.
- Be positive. Think of friendship as an emotional bank account. Every act of kindness and every expression of approval are deposited into this account, while criticism and negativity draw down the account. Nonstop complaining puts a strain on a friendship.
- Don't compete. Don't let friendships turn into a battle over who makes the most money or who has the nicest home. Instead, admire their talents and celebrate their good fortune.
- Listen up. Ask what's going on in your friends' lives. Let the other person know you are paying close attention to eye contact, body language and occasional brief comments like, "That sounds fun." When friends share details of hard times or difficult experiences, be empathetic, but don't give advice unless your friends ask for it.
- Respect boundaries. Keep confidential any personal information that your friends share with you. Try not to ask questions that make your friends uncomfortable.
Remember, it's never too late to build new friendships or reconnect with old friends. Investing time in making friends and strengthening your friendships can pay off in better health and a brighter outlook for years to come.