An interview with Dr. Andrea Bonior, author of The Friendship Fix

The core aspects of friendship are as important as ever

Posted May 23, 2011

I'm always excited when a new book about friendship surfaces and was happy to have the chance to interview fellow PT blogger, Dr. Andrea Bonior about her recently released book, The Friendship Fix.

Irene:

Andrea, briefly tell us about your book.

Andrea:

The Friendship Fix talks about friendship, "friendship" and everything in between. It's a handbook in some ways, giving tips on how to find good friendships, end bad ones, solve friendship problems, and make decent friendships better. It has chapters on things like friendships at work, friendship and life transitions, friendship and sex, friendship and technology, friendship breakups, friendship and mental health issues... and so on. It's also an exploration of all the ways that friendships can help improve our lives and hopefully makes the argument for making them a priority. And finally, it's got a good amount of juicy real-life stories of friendships, including ones gone horribly wrong (though hopefully for the greater good!)

Irene:

What were your motivations in writing it? 

Andrea:

I wrote this book because after years as a therapist, professor, and advice columnist (and also just as a person!), I noticed that friendship drama was where a lot of the action was, emotionally, for women. The highs and lows of daily life often seem to come from friend relationships-- and research shows they're so incredibly important to health and well-being. And yet a lot of books want you to believe that instead it's all about finding a man, attracting a man, keeping a man, breaking up with a man, getting over a man... (you get the picture. I always laugh that the only thing I haven't seen yet is a book on how to embalm a man.) We put so much effort into the search for a romantic partner-can't we put at least a fraction of that into this other important area of our lives?

Irene:

Who do you think the book would be most helpful to? 

Andrea:

I'd love to think that this book would be helpful to anyone who's ever had friends or tried to make them-- that is to say, pretty much anyone! But I think it can be most helpful to those going through transitions in their friendships-- maybe because they're transitioning in life (becoming a Mom or getting married, for example) or changing workplaces, relocating, or graduating college. I also think someone who is struggling with friendships that don't feel quite satisfying, but who can't quite put their finger on what's going wrong, could be really helped by this book. And finally, I think it's for people trying to figure out how the heck to not lose their lives to Facebook without getting off it altogether. 

Irene:

What is the biggest mistake you made in your personal life as a friend? 

Andrea:

I think I've been guilty of trying to juggle too many friendship balls, so to speak! I'm pretty extraverted and I admit, I love people in general. And sometimes I'm so eager to connect that my circle can get rather unwieldy and I get overwhelmed. I'm constantly striving to be able to bring new people into my life without biting off more than I can chew. 

Irene:

Are there generational differences in how we friend and befriend? 

Andrea:

I think generational differences have absolutely had an impact, though not in all the ways one might imagine. Social networking and technology have eroded certain boundaries and notions of privacy and formalities; people are willing to share things with their coworkers, for instance, that they wouldn't have dreamed of thirty years ago. And that technology affects how we stay connected, too-- now we're used to being able to stay emotionally close with someone in daily life even if we get virtually no face time with them, which is a whole new way of relating. Nonetheless, I think some of the core aspects of friendship: reciprocity, belongingness, trust, humor, respect-- are as important as ever. 

Irene:

When do people need to see professionals to work out friendship problems? 

Andrea:

I delve into this quite a bit in the book, but I think one red flag is that you consistently seem to have significant challenges in the majority of your friendships. We've all had a toxic one here or there, but when most of your friendships feel unsatisfying or dysfunctional, that might mean it's time to explore more deeply. Sure, it could just be bad luck-- but more likely there's something getting in the way of your choosing good relationships or being able to keep them healthy. It also might be helpful if you're feeling particularly emotionally affected by a difficult relationship, or friendship breakup. 

Friendship by the Book is an occasional series of posts on The Friendship Blog about books that offer friendship lessons. You can find others by using the Search Box on the right.