The Friendship Doctor

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No best friends but plenty of contacts

People differ in terms of the intimacy they seek from relationships

QUESTION

Hi,

I have grown up moving around a lot---five middle schools and six elementary schools to be exact. Always being the new kid conditioned me to meet new people. Once I hit a certain point with friends, I find new ones. I guess I get bored or scared. Is it okay to not have best friends but a lot of contacts?

Cindy


ANSWER

Hi Cindy,

It's okay to have lots of contacts and not have best friends---if that's what you want. People differ in terms of the degree of intimacy they seek from their relationships. Some prefer to remain reserved and private; in fact, they would rather have casual acquaintances than close friends.

However, if you WANT to bond more closely with friends and something's getting in your way, this is a problem you want to better understand and resolve. It's interesting that you mention your history of frequent moves as a child. Several months ago, I wrote about a study that looked at the number of times adults moved during childhood. The researchers found that the more times participants moved as children, the poorer the quality of their adult relationships. This doesn't mean you are incapable of forming close bonds---it just suggests that you might have more difficulties doing so based on your history.

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It sounds like you're skilled at making new friends but you stop short of becoming close. I'm not sure why and there could be a number of different reasons but I wonder whether you have a problem with trust. Do you feel comfortable and secure when you're with friends you like and respect?

I just finished reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (BTW, I loved it) and highlighted a passage that seems relevant. Blomkvist, the main protagonist is speaking to his friend Salander. He says:

Friendship---my definition---is built on two things. Respect and trust. Both elements have to be there. And is has to be mutual. You can have respect for someone, but if you don't have trust, the friendship will crumble.

I hope this gives you some food for thought.

My best,
Irene

 

Prior posts about the impact of moving on friendships on The Friendship Blog:

Why do some women have such a hard time making friends?

Changing places and changing friendships

 

 

Irene S. Levine, Ph.D., is a psychologist and professor of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine. Her latest book is Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup With Your Best Friend.

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