Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Parenting & Relationships

Tell Me About It: Friend wants bestie to share more feelings

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Q: I have a friend who is not good at expressing vulnerability. We've been best friends for three years and only once has she opened up to me about traumatic life experiences — and only then because we forced ourselves to talk about emotions by playing "Feelings Roulette." She never asks for emotional support, even for small issues, though she's great about giving me support.

Her reticence makes me feel awkward and too needy when I express vulnerability to her.

It also makes me feel unsure about the state of our relationship, like we're not as good friends as I want us to be, though I know she considers me her best friend and loves me deeply.

Obviously I don't want to pressure her into sharing more than she's comfortable with, but the current state of affairs makes me really unhappy. I want to demonstrate my love for her by giving her emotional support and care when she needs it; I want her to be vulnerable with me. What can I do?

Why Won't She Just Talk to Me??

A: First thing I imagined was a signature on her letter: Why Won't She Just Accept Me?? But that's funny because she wouldn't write to me. That's not how she works.

I can say this without knowing her because that's what you've told me she has been telling you, over and over: Gut-spilling is not how she works.

If your motivation is love for her, then please direct your energy to giving of yourself in the form she most appreciates. Consider that it's the companionship you provide her, the trust you place in her when you show your honest self, the respect for her ways that you demonstrate by not pressuring her to talk.

If these did indeed put the "best" in your friendship, then maybe the way to improve on it would be for you simply to trust that. As in, like her as-is; trust that she either likes herself as-is or will tell you on her own timetable and in her own way that she doesn't; and trust yourself to be likable too, without having to earn it through amazing feats of support.

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