Do you ever struggle with friendships? Do you feel like you’re constantly putting all the effort in but getting very little back? Or perhaps you feel constantly frustrated with a friend?
When I was going through my CBT years ago I learned all about the importance of equal friendships. I’ll share what I learned below, as it made such a huge difference in how I view friendships now, which has made them a lot healthier.
Do you feel like you’re above your friend?
We often hear phrases about people being above, or below others. What does this mean? If an individual feels above another person, often they feel they are better, or in a more advantagious position to them. They may have feelings of boastfulness, or feel pity upon the other person.
However, when a person feels below someone else, they don’t feel as good, or good enough for that person. They idolise them, put them on a pedestal, and often they can do no wrong. The person may feel belittled, and often ‘small’ in comparison.
It takes an honest person to admit if they feel either above, or below someone else.
When it comes to friendships, where do you stand?
So, thinking about being above or below a friend may seem odd… but think about the people in your life. Pick a few of them, then go through them one at a time.
Ask yourself truly, how do you feel? Do you feel like you’re above them? Maybe you have qualities that you admire more than theirs? Or perhaps you feel that your job/ accommodation etc is better than theirs? Do you feel like you’re achieving really well, but they aren’t? Be honest with yourself. No one is judging you here, and the only way through this is to really be accountable for how you feel. No one else needs to know.
Likewise, do you feel below your friend? Have you put them on a pedestal? Do you look at what they have and feel envy? Do you feel worthless compared to them?
It’s really important to think about where you stand within your friendship. Acknowledge where you are. Only then can you start to move forward onto healthier friendships.
Do you ever think about how they may feel?
Mind reading is the worst thing to do. But often, we find ourselves doing it anyway. So, once you have reflected on how you feel, think about them. Do you get the feeling that they see themselves as above you? Do you think that they look down on you? Often when you are talking to them, do you feel a burden?
Or, do you think that they feel below you? Are you always trying to halt what you say so that they don’t become envious, or feel down because in your mind, they have put you above themselves.
Why unequal friendships fail
I know this blog post is difficult to read, with all the above and below references. But the jist of it is; if you have an unequal friendship, (regardless of who is doing the thinking), it will fail.
This is a difficult pill to swallow but unfortunately, too many negative emotions take place, or negative connotations. These feelings can range from bitterness, to resentment, envy and jealousy.
If you feel below a friend, you will always be scrambling to be better and will feel envy, jealously, and be a bit needier. If you feel above a friend, the opposite will happen. You will almost resent them being around you, as you don’t feel they bring your life added value. The same would happen if you believe your friend has either of these feelings and thoughts.
What should you do about unequal friendships?
If you feel like a friendship of yours is unequal, I would seriously consider the future of it. It isn’t healthy to keep chasing a friend, nor is it fair if a friend has to keep chasing you.
Try to have some time apart from the friend, but don’t burn bridges or close doors completely. Just try and spend some time on the friendships that are equal. However, if you do struggle, then try and keep some things light and laid back. As in time, you can find that as life goes on, friendships can absolutely level out again.
No one wants to be in an unequal friendship. Trust me, I have been there. When you see yourself as equal to others, and they see the same way, then the magic of friendship truly happens. If however, there is imbalance and inequality, the friendship will suffer tremendously. Work on yourself. Work on your self-esteem if you find yourself feeling below others. If however you feel above your friends, then take some time to yourself to truly reflect on what is important in life, and if it is fair to string people along.
Once you start to work on yourself, and what YOU can control in your life, you gain a lot of self-awareness. Once you feel equal to others, then a friendship flows naturally, with mutual respect, kindness and love. Those are the truly special friendships.
Don’t lose hope entirely, as I said above, take some time to focus on the healthier friendships in your life. But more important, to focus on YOU. Doors don’t have to be sealed shut, locked and key thrown away. Leave them ajar… until the levels can even out once more to be healthier for you both.