Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Viewing friends as family -higher chance for dissapointment?

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  • #850154 Reply

    I have been having a curiosity lately, analysing myself and other posts here on the forum, which a lot of them are related to friendships and the struggles and dissapointments related to them.

    What caused me to think about this is a video I saw online where a guy was sharing his life story and among other things, he said he was raised only by his aunt and grandmother (which when he was close to be a teenager, both passed away) and by his mother who was working abroad to provide a better life. So his friends were very important to him and because of friends he had in his town, he refused to go to a university in another country because he had his friends there.
    And this got me thinking that people for whom friendships are so important are the people who didn’t feel they had a stable family and they started instinctively considering as family their friends, which is why they formed this attachment to them, valuing them sometimes more than thei actual relatives.

    So I am asking you, if you are very attached to your friends, how was your family life? Just curious to see if it is tied up to what I said. Because I am also a case where I am attached mentally and emotionaly to friends and I feel that it is normal to invest in them and then end up dissapointed and sad when they change their behavior maybe and I don’t understand how.
    And also, those of you who had a healthy family life as kids, how do you view your friends? Are you attached to your friends or you don’t get as easily hurt if they change towards you? Are you more detached towards them in this regard?

    #850161 Reply

    My childhood and family left much to be desired in view of what families are meant to be. I too probably put too high a value on friendships – which by proxy has left me feeling more hurt than probably reasonable when some of those friendships haven’t worked out.

    The people I consider my family now are of course my child, but also my ex husband – whom I get along great with. We have always looked after each other and been there for each other like family. I also have a couple of friends who I met online (but have since met in person multiple times) whom I also consider family as I have known them for years and years. Their behaviour and contribution to the friendship has always been consistent – which I view is what a family is supposed to be (consistent genuine care and support).

    Perhaps that’s not normal – but that’s me lol x

    #850162 Reply

    I don’t think you have to have iffy relationships with your family in order to place a high importance on friends.

    I grew up in a complicated dysfunctional family, but never got super over-invested in my friendships, either. Don’t get me wrong, I have a handful of friends that I’ve either had for years (decades even!) and value and love them as family, but people grow and change. That’s even includes your family. Some change for better or for worse. There’s one constant in life- change. I think I just got used to change, surprises and even upheaval early on and I mostly roll with the punches. The lifelong friends, themselves and our relationships have changed over the years. I have as well. I’m in a better place with my dysfunctional family, too.

    I don’t think you should ever expect everything to stay exactly the same, even your relationships or feelings about someone. Becoming too reliant or dependent on others often leads to disappointment. But for me that doesn’t mean close friendships aren’t worth it. Enjoy the good times when you have them, you’ll have sad times, too.

    #850170 Reply

    I’ve got a solid family, both biological and logical. I’ve got a fairly wide social network, despite my social anxiety. My family has always brought non-biological, non-in-law friends of the family into the fold and treated them like we’d grown up with them and known them all of our life.

    #850171 Reply

    And to your point that you have been reading a lot of posts on here and analyzing them…Most people don’t write in because everything’s going right in their lives. So you only see a portion of what typical relationships are like and most are probably (at least) a little dysfunctional, often without boundaries, often with huge issues.

    #850180 Reply

    I grew up in a supportive family that I love. I also have very close friendships. Like anonymousse, it’s not one or the other for me. I love and enjoy both my family and friends. Similar to bloodymediocrity, I’ve always included friends in family gatherings and friends have included me. We’re all inclusive.

    Of course, life happens and circumstances change. I’ve grown apart from friends. It’s sad, I mourn the friendship then move forward. I’ve also stayed really close with friends despite life choices or distance.

    Anyway, to answer your question, I’m able to maintain various kinds of relationships without any type in particular suffering.

    #850187 Reply

    I think family members can be really disappointing too, but if you grew up with a really fucked up family, you may have this idea that other people’s families are great and perfect and never let them down, and you might think you can achieve that type of security with friendships. But it doesn’t work that way. My experience with friendships is they change over time, just as you change as a person. And friends are people and have their own issues so yeah, they let you down sometimes. And some friendships are just situational, and not meant to be more.

    #850189 Reply

    I don’t think there is any more or less room for disappointment. I guess it’s all about managing your expectations. My folks divorced and one side of the family, the family that I lived with full time – I call my “Sit-Com Family” because for the most part, problems can be resolved in about 22 minutes. Mostly just clearing the air and remembering that no one can read your mind and letting stuff go because in the long run, it’s not really important. The other side I referred to as “the Dynasty side” after the 80’s evening soap opera, where everything was over the top dramatic. Grudges, manipulation, blah blah blah exhausting.

    My friendships and my family relationships cycle, sometimes they’re more intense, sometimes less. However, the people I hold dear are those that similarly avoid drama and deal with things kindly but directly. No relationship stays the same, so if you’re not getting what you need from the relationship, and you’ve discussed what you need, then you need to determine if you can live with that or not.

    #850190 Reply

    I disagree with your conclusions, LW. Coming from an unstable family doesn’t necessarily mean you place more value on friendships. Coming from a stable family doesn’t mean you don’t feel hurt when friendships change.

    My nuclear family is fine. Nice on paper but not without a fair amount of dysfunction. They’re good people and I knew I was loved, but had a hard time *feeling* it. I know I could’ve been dealt a far worse hand, though, and I do love them. My extended family on my dad’s side is great. I barely know my mom’s side.

    I do have some friends I view as family, and these are the friends I’ve known for many, many years. We’ve had our ups and downs as friends, but they’re people I am confident will always support me and be in my life.

    I was probably more reliant on friends when I was younger. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that friendships change, and I’ve learned to accept this. It’s still sad when friendships change, but that’s part of life. I am very self-reliant.

    Everyone is human, which means that your family members can change and disappoint you, too.

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