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Ep. 99 How To Create Close Friendships

by Claudine Sweeney
October 20th 2021

Do you have close friends? Do you desire close friends? Building close friendships take intention and creativity. We can feel we don't have the time or maybe there are past hurts that get in our wa... More

this Is Episode 99, How to Create Close Friendships. You're listening to the Rise up and Shine podcast with Claudine and Ashley as an empty nester and a mom with young kids. We have both shared very similar and very real struggles from chaos to coaches. We now help other women live an authentic and meaningful life. So tune in weekly for girl talk and tips on how you too can rise up and let your light shine bright. This is the Rise up and Shine podcast. Yeah, welcome back friends. Speaking of friends today, we are going to be talking about friendships, close friendships and I'm going to start us off by this fun quote that we found, it says forget pandas, close friends are the real endangered species these days. I love that because especially coming off this pandemic, we're still kind of in the pandemic.

I think a lot of us have really become isolated and I know for myself, I've even questioned my friendships, how close were we really when I thought I had close friends and so we wanted to talk about our friendships because believe it or not, our friendships can also affect our aging. As we spoke about last week. If we feel lonely, it can actually increase the risk of dementia and depression and as you age and become a senior citizen, it can also make it difficult to perform daily tasks And so friendships are so crucial. I mean we are social creatures. You know, we were designed to not live alone, right to live with one another. Um some of us, one of the reasons maybe we haven't, maybe we've wrestled in our friendships could be, you know, past hurt, be even some of our just trying to protect ourselves, right? Um, it can be, I know for myself in the past I would wait for other people to reach out. I want to be your friend, but I'm going to wait for you to initiate.

Um, so there's a lot of different factors at play here, but we wanted to dive into this because it is so important for our mental and emotional well being, our relationships. And how do we have a strong, healthy close relationships that we really enjoy? Right. That seems to come up a lot for me in conversations with clients or friends is close friendships. I think a lot of us have people, we can hang out with our co workers, but really close friendships, that is something that's different. And as you and I have talked over these last year certainly has been a challenge. You and I have both had friendship challenges, um, not with each other but with others. And for us, our two closest couple friends have moved to the east Coast. So here we are in northern California. So that's been a challenge. And then I have a few single friends and you know, it's, it's just interesting how it plays out, but it's so important and one of the things is how to develop a close friendship, like you said, it does help with aging.

It also research has shown that the unfriended person, the person who doesn't feel like they have friends may experience elevated stress reactions compared to someone who feels like they have a lot of friends and that affects our stress hormones and we'll have a chronically activated autonomic nervous system which will lead to dis ease right disease. So it's really important to have those close friends and were created and wired to have close friends. But how do we do it? And so that's what we're going to talk about today because through my many years and your years we've had the ebb and flow of friendships where there are times I felt like I had the best friends in the world and I felt so close and so fulfilled. And then other times I felt so lonely, right? And we're part of a church where friendships and relationships are encouraged in fact were often paired up with people as prayer partners. So we have that. Um, but sometimes you can still have quote unquote friends and still feel lonely. One thing, having acquaintances and friends and another having close friendships, which is what we're talking about today and it's really good to help take a look within, you know, and evaluate your friendships, you know, how are you as a friend and are you who you want to be as a friend and you know, what relationships do you have?

Are they beneficial for you? Are they healthy relationships? Are they mutual relationship? I think a lot of times we also don't have boundaries in relationships. I know this is something I've had to learn and I've had other clients and friends as well that we have to learn boundaries in relationships and sometimes even a boundaries seems selfish. Well gosh, it's like taking a little bit of me away and that's not okay, I need to be able to give my whole self right to any relationship. Gosh, I'm even setting up boundaries with my Children, you know how you can speak to me or this is my break time boundaries are so healthy, they're a good thing. Um and so really evaluating your relationships and I'll even share personally. Um I've been learning a lot, I feel like God has put it on my heart a lot and shown me different situations with different people that I need to focus more on my friendships and who I am as a friend. And it's kind of ironic because it started off reading letters from friends that we had written to each other back and forth in middle school, high school, even my cousins and I thought, wow, I don't even remember really doing this, I don't remember writing to each other and like writing and mailing, not texting or social media right?

But it was actually writing letters and mailing them and I had a friend, we went on a mission trip to Mexico as teens and she was from Jamaica and I don't know how we lost contact but I found those letters and that was really cool. But it really made me think like why do I sometimes feel, I don't really have those close relationships now and as we'll get into a little bit later in the episode and you kind of helped me see this is, it's a safety thing. So I have learned over time to protect myself, which many of us do and in my coaching with clients, this has come up a lot. We learn to protect ourselves, right? That's what our brain wants to do, be safe and comfortable. And so I've learned, wow, this is kind of my defense and what my defense, my safety measure in friendships it is, I will say, hey, we should get together soon and then I wait, I wait for them to reach out and then they don't reach out and then I get discouraged. Okay, I guess we're not friends. I don't care about me, but that's what I'll think, right?

And I've really learned that no, that is my belief. It does not make it true. So communication is huge. I did go to certain relationships and have a very honest open communication voiced what I would want in our friendship and ask them. So that has really helped, but it's taking awareness and the first step is evaluating your friendships, you know, are they, are they good for you? Are they healthy? And do you, do you want more in the relationship or do you need more friends? Right. Yeah. The other day we just moved to a new neighborhood and so I made some pumpkin loaves and I wanted to take it to some of the neighbors and my husband's like you do not need any more friends like well you know it was so funny that he said that but I think he feels like I can be on the go all the time, I'm having lunch with this person and I'm going here with this person and men typically don't have as many close friendships as women and today we are talking about women close friendships so he can look at me and go, the last thing you need is another friend. But again I have a lot of people I can go to coffee with and there's some, of course I can share my heart with but I do remember when I first became a Christian, one of the older women that was mentoring me really challenged me to have friendships.

Like Jesus did you know a group of 12 which would be like acquaintances and friends, you could go grab coffee with three which was your close circle three is like if you're having a bad day I need to talk who are your three and then the one like jesus, the one he loved but of course my one is my husband or jesus whichever way you want to look at it ladies. But The three and the 12 really helped me because I can get overwhelmed and research has shown there's actually been research on this. They they scientists have believed that we could have 150 relationships in our social spirit which seems super overwhelming. But then I look at my facebook group friends, I'm like I have more than that. But you know there are people I've known over the years but there are people have no contact with and then it says the closest emotional later layer, the one we would consider to hold the most meaning and connection. Those relationships are about five and then the second later layers 10. So it's funny this is more recent research but about 30 years ago I was told the 12 31. So jesus modeled it for us.

Like he had a circle of 12 had his close three and then of course the one that felt particularly loved by him. And it's crucial because like you said, it affects our emotional, mental and physical well being another study which I thought was fascinating. But we believe this because this is what we teach is that women with early stage breast cancer were four times more likely to die from cancer if they didn't have very many friends. I thought that was shocking four times more. So if that's not reason enough to develop close friends, I mean your physical health, that's a big one. Yeah, so cloudy and I'm going to ask you a question because I know this has come up for myself and has come up in other conversations you as the older wiser woman who's aging gracefully, right? Have you yourself said this or had conversations or noticed it? Um that we contend to think we don't have time to have close friends right now. Yeah, right now like in a pandemic or just in our life Stage, in our life stage.

Yeah, I think sure. I think I heard that a lot and certainly felt it. I was very lucky that our very best friends when we were raising our Children, they had seven Children and we have four. So between us, we had 11 Children yet we were one of the closest couples in our little church community and people knew that and I think we got really creative. So they were also very free spirited. It wasn't all, you know, rigid and it was the very last minute at like four o'clock, hey, do you want to go to a movie tonight? Let's meet in the middle of town. So we were about 35 minutes away, which in our small little community was actually really far and we would just meet in the middle of town. So we got creative and another woman, one of the women's ministry leaders that I was with for a time. She was great. She had a super packed schedule, but she wanted to spend time with me. And so she would say, hey, I'm doing laundry today, you want to come over while I do laundry or hey, I've got to take one of my kids to the dentist, you want to come along. So she paired me up with tasks. So a lot of times for me, I would compartmentalize, I'd be like today's laundry day, can't see anybody, today's my Costco day, can't see anybody.

And so that really taught me to bring my friends along. And I think that's how jesus lived life, like he didn't say, okay, this is my two hour time block for peter, this is my, you know, 1.5 hour tea time with john, I mean, I think he lived life and took them with him. So that was a great learning experience for me. It's like, what am I doing today and who can I take along with me, Who can I spend time with? So I had one friend, she had twins and my youngest daughter at the time was three. We lived across the street from each other. So we would do our Costco runs and our target runs together and it was a great time to squeeze in some time together because then, you know, by the time you run that errands lunch and nap time and then before you know it, your husband's home and it's dinner time. And so that's what we did. We took those times to do our errands together and it gave us the time because that's one of the thing research shows it takes a lot of time to to really build a close friendship. You have to spend time and in this pandemic.

It's been unusual. I mean I don't like phone timer, zoom time. Yeah, sorry to all my friends who like to phone and zoom. I'm an in person kind of gout. Yeah, I'm very much an in person as well. But yeah, I mean it's interesting because we forget to be intentional sometimes and we almost just expect it will fall into our lap or fall into our schedule. Right? Well there at some point time is going to open up and we can see each other. I've had to learn to with some relationships that I feel are when time is a challenge and our schedules are a challenge to plan way in advance. So we put it on our calendar like three weeks in advance for weeks in advance, okay, on this night we're going out just to make sure we get on the books right? Because a lot of times things just come on. You know, things just pile on our to do list and our schedules. And so being intentional and being creative, I like what you said, you know, run errands together, go grocery shop together. Um different things that you can do to be creative because it is possible, but it does take work and intention and as you said, it does take a while to build close relationships too because you need to build trust, right?

A close relationship with someone where you trust each other and you can tell anything to write no judgment and you feel like you're on each other's side and a good support and encourage her to each other. Yeah. That's huge. Yeah. Time. And it is there is value to building and developing these close friendships. Now my husband, I've moved a lot and we've lived in three different major cities. So our friendships have evolved and I lived in Nashville for two years and I have deep close friends. I absolutely love, I love them and I go back once a year and I see them, but it's hard because I don't live nearby so we can stay in touch with texting and phone call, but it's not the same. But every year when I go back I have intentional allowed time a nice pocket of time to spend with them and it's maintain those friendships, but now I'm here in northern California. So I have to invest more time with the women in my direct sphere of life, at least for me that's what works because I like to meet people in person, but and there are seasons, you know, we have friends that come in our life for a season and then they go, I prefer to have long term relationships, but it hasn't necessarily always work that way.

So you're not planning on moving anywhere are, you know, I'm giving us a good two years in this house. It was hard on me when you went to L. A. I was so sad, but we visited every month. We're back up every month for work. But yeah, so there's seasons for friendships to realizing. Um, because for me that was really hard in the beginning thinking that if I made a best friend, we were going to be best friends when we're 80 and that didn't work out in my twenties and thirties, it just didn't work out for whatever reasons. And so then I had to accept it's like, oh, I see some people are just here for a season. I try to stay in touch with as many as I can, but the older I get, the less I can do, you know, so it becomes a challenge. Yeah. Well, and you really just want your few close close friends. Um, I know one thing that's really helpful to that I share with my clients that I personally experienced our expectations and friendships. It's really important to be aware of our expectations because as I mentioned earlier, my expectation in the past was that while reach out and oh, you want to hang out sometime or we should get together and then expect them to be the initiator, you know, to jump on that opportunity.

I feel like, oh ball's in your court. But I've actually been given this advice to be specific, you know, Hey, let's get together. What does your week look like next week we have time for coffee or is evening a better time for you? But to actually be specific and go after it and I had to learn what kind of friendships I want and to fight for it and it's not easy to fight one. I'm not a fighter, I'm an avoider and but I really learned what kind of friendships do I really want in my life, what kind of friend do I want to be in my life. And so that was my motivator to go after and fight for relationships. I am going to fight for time with this person because they matter to me and that I value that relationship. And so that was something I had to learn because I was thinking, is this relationship, I mean, gosh, like we have different schedules totally opposite. It's really hard to see each other. Was that friendship just a season And then now we've moved on and I really wrestled with that for a few months and then I thought, you know, I think I want to fight for this relationship.

Really value this person in my life and I'm going to fight for it. And so I had a very clear and open conversation with them about, you know where we are. And I thought we were closer than we really were or at least you know, I thought we were closer than she thinks we are and um you know, we used to be super, super close our kids were growing up together and so I thought, gosh, I am going to do what I can to fight for this relationship. Yeah, So and it takes intention. Sometimes. It takes you being the initiator. You know, if you really value that relationship and then and it's great and that I've been getting what I want. You know, we get more interaction, we get to see each other more often, but it does, it takes creativity. It takes intention. Yeah. To really go after those relationships time. Well, it's funny because initiating is not initiating is one of those safety behaviors you talked about and so we do that because you have to be vulnerable to have close friends, right? And so we engage in these safety behaviors sometimes unconsciously not even knowing right by not finishing, like saying, hey, let's get together sometime.

It's really vague. It's hard to get good results from that. Like I'd like to make money next week. You know, how how much, how are you going to do that? But um bragging is another one. Small talk actually. Small talk is very harmful because it keeps everything very shell not complimenting. You know, a lot of times we don't want to complement other boy people because we'll be vulnerable then and what if they don't accept it or reciprocate and avoiding eye contact. Those are some of the safety behaviors that we do. I think unconsciously to keep people at a distance even though we really desire really close friendships. I had one person that I talked to quite some time ago That is really negative. And actually that was me like 25 years ago. I remember one of the older women, she's like, you really see the glass half empty. She really had to help me because all I ever did with my women in my life was complaint like my husband, my kids, our finances and so she had to help me see. But this particular person the same thing. They're very negative.

And so no one really wants to be close to them and I think subconsciously they do it as a safety behavior, just wine and complain and, and no one wants to really hear that all the time. Like we have our own challenges and struggles, thank you very much. I don't can't hear yours, which is very different than once you have a close friend and then you do share your struggles and there's a difference between sharing. Yes, there's a difference between sharing your struggle and vomiting your struggles on someone else. Yes, they don't really want help there just like, right? But um, you know, when we do that, when we keep the realist protected, this actually does more harm than good and we can't feel close to people because they don't really know who we are. And it takes that vulnerability to be our real authentic self to have those close friendships and that can be very scary. Well, you know, what we tend to do is we believe that if they cared, they'll reach out. Yeah. You know, and I know I've seen this over and over in my own life and in other friendships, if it's like we're waiting on each other, you know, well if you really care about this relationship, then you be the one to reach out and initiate and plan something for us.

You know, sometimes we do feel like, gosh, I'm the only one that's initiating and then it does, Maybe it's time to take a look at that relationship. Is, is really something that's, you know, realistic. Um, but yeah, I mean we have to be very careful and just be aware of how we believe, you know what we believe in relationships and ourselves and also with our friends and what do we expect, right? We can expect something and not communicate. That's what I learned with evaluating my friendships. I can't expect a close relationship but not communicate, especially communicate your expectations. Hey, I would love it if you reached out more or maybe you can plan the next time we get together. You know, I'm not in a rude, condescending way. Just, hey, you know, I plan this one and have it, you plan the next get together and communicate. Hey, I, I did that recently just with two relationships. I actually three relationships. I said I really value our friendship so you feel the same and let's, let's find a way that we can talk to each other.

And one of them I actually talked to at 6:30 AM. That's great for school before work. And so that was the way we were able to get time together and we play together and we chit chat and you know, on her drive to work and it's been great because we both value that relationship and so we had to be creative and make time make time for it. That's awesome. And that's part of it. I mean we talked through a lot of the practical one is spending a lot of time, you know, it does take time to build a close friendship. It's like going to gym, It's not going to happen in one workout. You know those biceps that six pack don't appear with one workout unfortunately and neither does a close friendship. I forgot where I read that study, but it was like 100 plus hours or something or even more. I don't know, it's a large number and I don't have it in front of me, but that's how many hours it takes of spending time with someone to feel developed a close friendship and be creative, creative to get that time in because it is, it is hard, it's hard to juggle all those, all are responsible for all the things, there's so many things and then even the pandemic was difficult and we had friends on different ends of the spectrum, on how they felt about safety.

I mean we had friends that were like, this is ridiculous, Everything's fine to others that were like, I can't see anybody until this is all over and you know, how do you bounce that and develop and maintain those relationships? Another one is extent the positive. Excellent, positive. Yeah, that's how you say that accent deposit was going to say accentuate, but that wasn't the word I was looking for. You know, really, I think of that scripture that says build one another up, encourage one another daily. Um, and I think that's so important. I really try to encourage my friends, like whatever. I see it could be something small, but I don't think we get enough of that, you know, in our lives we don't have people building us up. We don't have people, I don't anyway, maybe it's just me. I don't know, I'm thinking most of you out there probably don't have a team of women that just call and encourage you and build you up regularly, but that's huge. You want to be, you want to have friends, be a friend that was the advice I gave to this one person I said you want to have friends be a friend.

Just call people encourage them. Don't say one thing about yourself in the beginning, it's not about you and having venting opportunities, it's about you being able to encourage someone to build them up on their day to be a friend to them. I was the best advice I got as a young woman who was lacking friendships and I'm like I don't have any friends. And the woman was like well how many people have you been a friend to this week? And I was like, oh is that how it works? Surprisingly, yes, yes. And um be helpful. That was another thing that showed up in research is that helping your friends actually establishes a closeness when we help one another. I know your husband has come to help us on several moves. We feel endeared and close to him because he's come and sacrificed his body and his time to help us move. You know you guys to when we weren't living here when we're commuting has over for many, many, many meals that type of service and helpful helped make us feel close. So helping is another one.

Alright everyone, thank you again for tuning back into our episode with us and we count you all as friends. So we are glad that you're here. We hope that you take something from this episode and it has really helped you in your close relationships and speaking of relationships and friendships, we want to invite you over to our private facebook group. The Rise up and Shine facebook group. So head on over there on facebook and join an incredible community of women of risers and shiners. So thank you again for tuning in and we'll catch you next time. Thanks. Alright everyone. Thank you for joining in on our conversation today here on the Rise up and Shine podcast. If you haven't already, please take a second to hit that subscribe button. So you never miss an episode and while you're at it share this episode with a friend who you know it can bless today. If you want to visit us as well on our websites, you can catch Claudine over at Clotting Sweeney dot com. And Ashley at Mind over chaos dot com. Our links are in the description. We also have some free resources there for you as well.

So remember, ladies, no matter what you are facing in life, it is never too late to rise up and shine and live your best life. Yeah. Mhm. Thank you. Mhm

Ep. 99 How To Create Close Friendships
Ep. 99 How To Create Close Friendships
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