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Dear Panel,

I'm currently working on obtaining healthy friendships. Can U compare and contrast a healthy friendship guidelines and bad friendship guidelines. Being friends with folks in combination with a good deal self disclosure for me is a yelbtblk.giffrightening ordeal


Lefty Answers:

Dear Wilder13,

You are asking 2 questions here, and they are interrelated.  The first question is about good vs bad friendship guidelines, but the second question is about feeling uncomfortable with self-disclosure.

I don't usually think about friendship in terms of "guidelines".  The "Guidelines" concept feels too rigid for me.  My friendships are based on "liking" other people, often in conjunction with common activities, for how else can you meet someone?  So there is always SOME commonality between my friends and me.

But I have different types of friends.  I have tennis buddies, dance buddies, volleyball buddies, and closer friends who may share more activities/feelings with me.

If all you do is play tennis with someone then they are not a good friend.

  aliciaLtin.gifNow clearly I don't need a lot of guidelines in choosing my tennis friends. They may be on the same skill level as me and don't complain if I win a match.  And if they do complain or trash talk more than I do, then not only do I not have to be their friend, but I do not have to play tennis with them. 

But you bet I would feel uncomfortable with a whole bunch of self-disclosure with one of my casual tennis buddies.  And yet, when I've known someone for a longer time, and their interests span more activities with me, we get to know each other better and grow into sharing more.  Some of my casual tennis buddies have grown into being very close friends.

Now all this rambling gets us back to your question again.  "Guidelines" seems a little too stringent to determine friendships.  Friendships should form naturally from communicating with people who seem nice and share commonalities with you.  Close friendships can grow over time as people share their thoughts more.  But if you feel like you are forced into self-disclosures that you are uncomfortable with, then you shouldn't give out that information--you should  be comfortable with and within your friendships. 

If you find that you never feel comfortable with anyone enough to share at least some of your feelings, then you probably have issues with trust, bonding, and relating.  If this is true, then you may want to deal with these issues through therapy, support groups, and activities directed towards allowing you to build that necessary trust.


PS: Also check out what I told Monica about platonic friendships.

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