Friendship PTSD and how it Informs Future Relationships
Friendships are the cornerstone of various experiences that we will have in the course of our lifetime, it is important to know how to navigate them.
●23rd May 2023
Much like every other facet of platonic friendships, the ramifications of what a bad experience might leave with you are often ignored in favor of discussions about romantic relationships. To be fair, romantic relationships have more ‘PR’ in adult conversations because people aspire to them. Platonic relationships are, however, just as important and connections that go sour often leave a significant mark on the offended party. Consequently, these triggers are passed onto other current friendships and even the connections we may make in the future. As a person who has gone through severe friendship heartbreak, it is very important to be aware of how these triggers set in and make adjustments or concessions so they do not occur frequently.
A great way to manage friendship PTSD is by setting boundaries with your guys. For example, in cases where friends may have gotten too close to your romantic partners and then overstepped, it is important to analyze the behaviors that led to that. If your friends hang out with your romantic partner frequently, lessen the intimate gatherings and let your partner know that you need to have this separate time with your friends that does not include their presence. This way, your partner looks more unattainable to your friends, because there has been little to no chances of ‘see finish’. Unfortunately, you may always feel that your friends are plotting on your partner in the future, as a result of the past experience. Even when you gain new friends and an even newer partner, the thought tends to never leave the back of your mind. It is important in this case not to project and assume that all friends look to hurt you in this manner. Yes, set boundaries, but do not go as far as pre-emptively harming your friends by making them look awful to your partner or demonizing your partner in front of your friends in order to keep them off. Also understand that horrible people will be horrible no matter what, so sharpen your discerning spirit and always take time to process.
Currently, I do not ever see myself getting immersed in a new friendship the way I would when I was younger. As someone whom people are very drawn to, it is key to recognize your power in this sense. There are people who are just in your life to use up your energy and those actually invested in you. In the past, I was quick to just let anybody in and make space for their needs as well. These days, jumping head first into anything just seems like a recipe for disaster. Also, some friendships are designed to be more casual than others. Enjoy that and invest in those connections, but not as you would day one’s. If a friendship revolves strictly around outings and fun times, there is nothing wrong with that. Even acquaintances are great in this sense as they provide an avenue to have fun with no strings attached. Just be aware that these are not the people you would go to with your problems or try to confide real life matters in. Every friendship should have its purpose, identify it and put that to good use.
If you let your friendship PTSD work in your favor, it will help you make better decisions about the connections you have and the ones you will make in the future. Resist the urge to become jaded, as that is often what causes long-term issues and leaves you vulnerable to even worse people. No man is an island, and it is often impossible to exist without a solid community of friends. If you have a loyal and great friendship, focus on it during the bad times and let that person know that you are grateful for their steadfastness. Make sure that you prioritize their love language as they do yours. Do not get comfortable in the belief that just because bad things have not happened, that makes someone a great friend. If you are able to get through hardships or fights, that means they have been tested. Of course, this does not mean that you need to forgive them if they do something terrible just to preserve longevity. Most of all, remember that friendships are to be enjoyed and strive towards that. If things ever change, practice honoring yourself by letting go with ease and knowing that even better is yet to come.
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