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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » Supporting a friend when you really don't know what they're going through

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Author Topic: Supporting a friend when you really don't know what they're going through
fluorite
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Member # 109610

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A good friend of mine is married. I believe she has been with her partner for over a decade. Several times now she has referenced her 'struggling marriage' in passing. Talk of relationship difficulties used to make me absolutely panic. That is definitely less now. She just brought this up again and this was the first time that I felt really able to focus on her and not freak out and make it about me. I feel good about this but I am not quite sure what to do now. I don't think I want to ask her to stop talking to me about this. She knows my relationship history and she is smart so she knows that anything I say is coming from my own experience. My instinct is to just listen whenever she brings it up but I don't know if I should ask questions to make sure she knows that I am okay with her talking about it? (I do think I am ok, but if she starts talking about divorce directly for example, I don't want to panic). Should I ask her questions about how her partner is struggling? I did just ask her if I could do anything to help her but she has not replied yet.
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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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Flourite, can I ask you about the why of you asking questions like this?

It is totally okay to ask them, mind, there just seems to be a pattern here of what sounds like you struggling with how to interact with other people socially, and I want to make sure that in advising you around them, we are not missing something important, like you having social anxiety, or having something like Aspergers, etc. that may be playing a part in things like this where you feel so lost or feel like you need to second-guess your own instincts or go with your own flow.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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fluorite
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I guess I could have social anxiety. I think the main problem though is that I never saw my parents having friends while I was growing up. I mean they would see people maybe once a year but they didn't talk about having friends, except for one friend my mom sort of had and she was kind of joked about as pathetic. Now that I think about it I never really saw any adult having friends while I was growing up. I was really really shy and decided that I was going to put myself out there and then I met my ex. She maintained that me even saying hi to somebody I knew if I ran into them on the street was HUGELY flirtaceous. According to her having coffee or doing anything to show you liked another person at all in any way meant that I wanted to have an affair with them. I do have a hard time trusting that I know how to handle myself socially. I feel way out on a limb so much of the time.
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fluorite
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I think I have the idea in the back of my head that the only person one should really trust or like being with or feel like one can be oneself around is a romantic partner. I know that's not true, and I Definitely don't want to only have one person I trust in my life and I wouldn't say that's the case, currently. But I'm always scared that I'm sending the wrong message to people.
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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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You know, the thing is we will miscommunicate sometimes, or accidentally overstep boundaries we do not know about or be misunderstood. That is going to happen in any and every kind of relationship.

But the good news is not only that it is okay for those things to happen, other people can correct us, or we can correct ourselves, when it does.

In the time you and I have interacted, my sense is your social instincts sound pretty right on. So, my best advice would be to get some practice just trusting and following them, and giving yourself the same permission we all have to be human and misstep sometimes. [Smile]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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