Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Not Alone Series: Vulnerability with friends

Do you find that your non-single friends struggle with relating to you or vice versa? If so, in what ways? How do you handle it? What is something that you would like them to know or understand that they just don't seem to get?

Recently I was on a retreat planning team and I was going through my phone lists trying to find friends, single friends, to invite to the retreat and I realised in the last two years quite a number of my friends have gotten married. I have a few that are very close to engagement and a few still who are engaged and in the middle of wedding planning, one of which is a guy who I thought would never be serious about anything.

I do have a married friend who I think I can relate to and be vulnerable to, her journey to love and marriage is nothing like what mine is turning out to be. She met her husband (or re-met since they when to university together) the day she left a discernment house. She had spent a year there, she had always thought she had a religious calling so there was no dating, no bemoaning being single, no anxiety about being alone or never having kids. She has never gone through anything I have (at least not to the extent) and yet I always feel at peace and easy with her. The bristles don't go up when she gives me the advice that I may think as condescending from someone else. It could be her calm outlook and presence or it could be that whenever she talks it doesn't go "Well when I stopped......finish the sentence".

Now don't get me wrong I have no problem with hearing other people's personal experience, it can be helpful and enlightening. However DO NOT give it to me in such a way that says because I did it this way therefore you should too because it was successful once it is going to be successful again, if it doesn't you're probably doing it wrong.

I have another friend who got married late in life, she gives me advice that doesn't come out as advice which I love. I also relate to her well by just being around her, I love to watch of she and her husband relate to each other that is the best testimony that I can get from anyone. While I'm contemplating how to borrow her son long-term I watch and I listen to them, they have a way of valuing me in simple ways that seem big just for who I am. She knows that I want to married and have a big family but doesn't give me a long list of to-do's or must try's (though I am not totally against all of them) she gives gentle and relevant support for the whole of me not just the want to get married part.

As I reflect back on these friends and the others who are non-single that I think I relate well too and those that I don't, I know there are things about me and my personality that may make relating awkward. I may take something innocently said the wrong way. They can't help their joy, they feel it and want to share it, I can try to take that into consideration when dealing with the newly engaged, newly married and newly pregnant especially. The "I'm dating the greatest guy ever"s need a little leeway also even if they are constantly trying to set you up with their ideal of a guy.

I love my friends, being around them, learning from them. We are not all in the same season of life and the paths we have taken do not all look the same but I think we all have something to teach the other as well as learn. We just need to take pride out of the equation as well as learn to be a little sensitive to each other.

See what everyone has to say on the topic. Visit Morgan for the link-up.