Defriending,  Befriending,  and  Goodness  of  Fit    

By  Jane  Gilgun    

    There’s  a  lot  of  talk  these  days  about  defriending.  People  do  it  on  Facebook  all  the   time.  One  minute  someone’s  a  friend.  With  a  click,  someone  is  defriended.  This   happens  not  just  on  Facebook.  Every  day,  people  defriend  other  people.  Everyday,   people  make  new  friends.  The  purpose  of  this  article  is  to  discuss  what  goes  on   when  we  defriend  and  befriend  other  people.      Defriending  doesn’t  mean  you  are  an   eejit  or  jerk,  although  it  doesn’t  hurt  to  reflect  on  what  went  wrong,  Defriending   means  a  lack  of  fit.  Befriending  means  a  goodness  of  fit.  Mary’s  case  study  illustrates   these  ideas.           Movies  in  our  Heads     We’re  Rorschachs  for  each  other.  By  Rorschach,  I  mean  that  we  project  onto  other   people  what  is  in  our  minds.    It’s  as  if  we  have  movies  running  through  our  heads.   We  meet  new  people.  Something  about  them  gets  one  or  more  of  the  movies  playing.   We  think  we  are  seeing  the  other  person  but  what  we  really  are  seeing  are  the   movies  that  play  in  our  heads.  Sometimes  the  movies  are  happy  stories.  So  we  like   the  person.  Sometimes  the  movies  are  unhappy.  We  don’t  like  the  other  person.   Sometimes  the  movies  are  scary.  We  are  afraid  of  the  other  person.     Movies  that  are  happy  sometimes  lead  to  deeper  friendships.  This  happens  if  we  get   to  know  the  other  person’s  unique  qualities.  Sometimes  we  realize  our  first   impressions  are  wrong  .  People  we  like  at  first  may  not  suit  us  as  we  get  to  know   them.  People  we  started  out  not  liking  or  were  afraid  of  may  end  up  friends.  When   friendships  develop,  the  influence  of  the  movies  weakens,  and  we  get  to  know  other   people  as  individuals  with  their  own  quirks,  flaws,  and  endearing  qualities.  We  get   to  know  THEM  and  not  images  and  ideas  left  over  from  the  past.         That’s  what  the  movies  that  play  in  our  heads  are:  images  and  ideas  that  we  formed   often  when  we  were  children.  When  we  are  children,  we  think  like  children.  These  

carried  over  images  and  ideas  usually  serve  us  well,  but  sometimes  they  just  don’t   fit  the  new  situations  we’re  in.     As  we  get  to  know  some  people,  we  may  find  we  can  joke  and  be  playful  about  flaws,   our  own  and  theirs.  With  other  people,  we  simply  put  up  with  what  annoys  us  with   little  if  any  comment.  We  may  not  be  as  close  to  people  whose  flaws  are  off  topic.   Sometimes  the  annoyances  we  feel  around  others  are  like  thorns.  We  are   uncomfortable  with  them,  but  we  put  up  with  them.  The  good  parts  of  the  friendship   outweigh  the  annoyances.  Sometimes  the  thorns  are  too  much.  We  can’t  handle  the   relationship.  We  want  out.     Three  Ways  to  Defriend     We  can  defriend  others  with  a  cutoff,  a  standoff,  or  a  tapering  off.       Cut  offs  are  quick  short  chops.  People  who  do  cut  offs  have  made  up  their  minds.   They  don’t  want  the  messiness  of  discussion.  They  want  out.  Some  who  do  cutoffs   may  have  tried  to  work  things  out.    When  the  situation  appears  hopeless,  one   person  may  feel  forced  into  a  cutoff  even  if  the  other  person  wants  to  hang  on.     Standoffs  result  from  arguments  and  are  mutual.  We  disagree.  We  get  fed  up.    We   say  something.  The  other  person  says  something  back.  We’re  yelling  or  want  to  yell.   Or  we’re  silent  and  the  other  person  yells.  Both  people  are  butting  their  heads   against  stonewalls.  There’s  a  standoff.  The  defriending  is  mutual.  Sometimes  people   in  standoffs  stop  speaking  to  each  other.    A  standoff  becomes  a  cut  off  when  one   person  wants  to  end  the  relationship  and  the  other  person  doesn’t.     When  we  taper  off,  we  ignore  or  are  slow  to  respond  to  emails,  texts,  and  phone   calls.  When  we  do  respond,  we  are  brief  and  distant.  We  turn  down  invitations  and   don’t  offer  them.  We  are  courteous  and  kind  when  we  see  the  person.  Tapering  off   sometimes  is  mutual  and  sometimes  not.  The  receiver  of  the  tapering  off  can  be   relieved  or  sad  that  the  relationship  has  ended.  We  are  no  longer  close  friends  but   distant  acquaintances.  We  may  still  respond  with  sympathy  when  we  hear  of   difficult  times  or  with  happiness  at  good  news.  The  relationship  no  longer  has  the   enjoyment  of  a  friendship.     People  we  defriend  may  not  have  any  more  flaws,  quirks,  or  good  qualities  than  the   people  we  befriend.  We  are  friends  with  people  we  feel  good  with  and  who  have   qualities  we  like  and  flaws  we  tolerate  or  even  find  endearing.    If  unhappy  movies   spin  in  our  heads  when  we  are  with  somebody,  we  don’t  feel  good  with  them.  We   have  no  obligation  to  work  at  creating  a  relationship.  We  have  no  obligation  to   others  besides  courtesy  and  respect.  We  don’t  have  to  stick  around.        

  When  We  Can’t  Defriend     Sometimes  we  can’t  defriend.    Children  are  difficult  to  defriend.  So  are  spouses,   other  relatives,  bosses,  and  co-­‐workers.  Self-­‐interest  and  the  well-­‐being  of  people   who  depend  on  us  demands  that  we  get  along  with  people  in  these  categories.      When  we’d  like  to  defriend  but  can’t,  we  have  to  figure  out  how  to  accommodate  to   people  we  have  commitments  to,  who  depend  upon  us,  or  whom  we  depend  for  our   livelihoods.  The  more  vulnerable  the  person  whose  flaws  annoy  us,  the  more   important  it  is  that  we  figure  out  how  to  deal  kindly  with  them.  Children,  for   example,  are  vulnerable  because  of  their  dependency  upon  parents.  At  work,  the   more  important  a  job  and  its  income  are  to  us,  the  higher  the  stakes  are  to  figure  out   how  to  get  along  when  we’d  rather  leave.  Accommodation  to  people  whose  traits   annoy  us  can  be  difficult.  A  lot  of  people  can’t  do  it.  They  get  stuck.     Feeling  bad  about  ourselves  or  getting  stuck  over  a  person  who  is  essential  to  our   lives  is  no  way  to  live.  Talking  to  someone  we  trust,  reading  self-­‐help  books,  going  to   self-­‐help  groups  like  12-­‐Step  programs,  or  parenting  programs  may  help.  Family   and  couple  counseling  can  do  wonders  for  family  life.  Journaling,  vigorous  exercise,   yoga,  meditation,  boating,  hiking,  and  anything  else  that  can  keep  us  on  an  even  keel   are  important  to  do.  It  takes  effort  and  interpersonal  skills  to  deal  constructively   with  people  we  would  like  to  defriend  but  can’t.     Defriending  Bullies  &  Abusers     Some  relationships  end.  We  are  better  off,  and  so  is  everyone  else  concerned.  We   may  love  the  person’s  good  qualities  and  the  good  times  we  have  with  them.  Yet,   some  of  their  qualities  and  behaviors  are  not  just  bad  in  our  imaginations.  Anyway   we  look  at  it,  what  these  people  do  is  hurtful.  Some  people  act  like  jerks  and  bullies.     Sometimes  they  are  abusive.  Some  are  dangerous.  If  we  are  married  to  people  like   this,  if  our  bosses  or  co-­‐workers  are  like  this,  or  family  members  and  children   behave  this  way,  we  have  to  do  something  to  protect  ourselves  and  anyone  else  who   depends  upon  us  and  who  is  being  hurt.    Finding  someone  to  talk  to  and  the   activities  discussed  previously  are  help  us  keep  our  heads  clear  so  that  we  can  make   good  decisions.     Sometimes  the  themes  of  movies  keep  us  in  situations  we’d  rather  get  out  of.   Common  themes  in  abusive  situations  are  the  following.       • I’m  at  fault.  I  do  things  that  make  other  people  angry.  I  have  to  do  better.   • If  I  were  a  better  spouse,  parent,  or  worker,  the  other  person  wouldn’t  act   this  way  toward  me.   • I  can’t  do  anything  about  this  situation.  I  just  have  to  put  up  with  it.  

• • • •

I  can’t  do  any  better  than  this.  If  I  leave,  I’ll  just  end  up  in  another  bad   situation.   I  deserve  to  feel  better.  I  think  I’ll  take  that  next  drink  or  swallow  a  few  pills.   I  think  I’ll  go  to  the  casino.    I’ll  take  a  few  bucks  out  of  my  kid’s  piggy  bank.   What  a  cutie.  If  I  get  a  chance,  I’m  going  to  shack  up.    Things  are  bad  at  home.   I  deserve  this.    

  We  may  need  to  find  someone  safe  to  talk  to  if  these  kinds  of  thoughts  spin  in  our   heads.  We  may  need  information  about  abuse  that  we  can  get  on  the  internet  and  at   family  service  agencies.  We  may  seek  specialized  counseling  where  we  learn  that   how  we  are  feeling  is  normal  in  these  situations.  With  the  help  of  others,  we  begin  to   see  things  more  clearly  and  make  some  good  decisions.  The  movies  that  keep  us  in   abusive  situations  fade  and  desire  for  something  better  gets  stronger.       Twelve-­‐step  programs  and  parent  support  groups  can  do  wonders  for  people  whose   movies  keep  them  in  unhappy  situations.  In  such  groups,  people  learn  that  it’s  not   their  fault.  They  learn  that  they  deserve  to  be  treated  with  courtesy  and  respect.   They  learn  to  stand  up  for  themselves  and  to  tell  other  people  to  stop  behaving   badly.  They  learn  to  recognize  and  show  appreciation  for  kind  behaviors  if  they   haven’t  been  doing  that.     When  things  are  really  bad,  we  may  have  to  leave  relationships  and  jobs.  Shelters   are  full  of  women  and  children  fleeing  abusive  situations.  Men  and  women  may  have   to  get  out  of  relationships  that  are  abusive.  It  tough  economic  times,  people  may   have  to  put  up  with  difficult  work  and  family  conditions.  Coping  with  difficult  issues   requires  turning  off  self-­‐blame  and  knowing  when  situations  are  unfair.  When  we   base  our  actions  on  self-­‐respect  while  thinking  through  various  consequences  and   accepting  them,  we  are  positioned  to  make  good  decisions.     Friends  Who  are  Not  Friends     If  we  want  to  keep  a  relationship  because  the  other  person  can  help  us  to  get  ahead,   it’s  time  to  think  about  that.    We  have  to  ask  whether  we  are  using  another  person   for  our  own  gain.  The  situation  is  unfair  if  the  other  person  thinks  the  relationship  is   a  friendship  and  that  mutual  regard  and  satisfaction  exist  when  they  don’t.  Other   people  may  have  no  inkling  that  this  is  a  relationship  of  convenience.       Sometimes  both  people  realize  that  the  relationship  is  one  of  mutual  self-­‐promotion.   This  kind  of  relationship  can  be  viable  and  even  temporarily  enjoyable.  It  can  turn   into  a  friendship  or  it  can  end  when  the  need  for  each  other  ends.    These  people   could  become  distant  acquaintances.      If  we  realize  that  someone  is  using  us  and  we  don’t  like  it,  we  have  no  obligation  to   continue  the  relationship.  We  can  defriend,  with  or  without  a  discussion.  A   discussion  might  be  mutually  beneficial  because  we  will  have  set  boundaries  and  

stood  up  for  ourselves.  We  affirm  our  self-­‐respect.  The  other  person  may  learn   something.       When  Someone  Defriends  Us     Another  person  may  defriend  us.  That  hurts.  Most  people  take  it  well  and  don’t  do   anything  that  harms  others  or  themselves.  The  defriending  experience  may  even  be   a  good  lesson.    Mary  is  of  a  person  who  responded  well.  When  Bobbi  cut  Mary  off,   Mary  was  shocked.    She  didn’t  see  it  coming.  Bobbi  texted  that  she  was  too  busy  to   see  Mary  again.    Mary  was  hurt,  but  she  accepted  the  defriending.  She  texted  back   that  she  was  sorry  and  that  she  enjoyed  Bobbi’s  company.  Bobbi  didn’t  reply,  a   further  clue  that  this  is  a  cutoff  form  of  defriending.     At  first,  movies  from  Mary’s  childhood  played  in  her  head.  She  remembered  when   her  mother  scolded  her  and  how  bad  she  felt.  She  used  to  feel  that  not  only  her   mother  but  everyone  else  in  the  family  was  mad  at  her.  She  felt  bad  and  worthless.     The  cut-­‐off  stirred  things  up.    Mary  let  the  old  movies  run  their  course.  It  took  some   time,  and  Mary  was  uncomfortable.  She  carried  on  her  everyday  life  and  thought  she   was  kind  and  attentive  to  others.       She  then  reflected  on  what  she  may  have  done  that  merited  defriending.  She  is  not   sure  what  it  was.  Since  Bobbi  wants  a  cutoff,  Mary  can’t  talk  to  her  or  seek  to  repair   any  hurts.  So,  when  she  reviewed  how  she  had  behaved  toward  Bobbi,  she  realized   she  may  have  done  some  hurtful  things.  She  would  like  to  apologize,  but  the  cutoff   makes  that  impossible.  She  thought  Bobbi  probably  only  sees  her  flaws  and  does  not   appreciate  her  good  qualities.    There’s  nothing  Mary  can  do.  She  has  decided  to   respect  the  cutoff.         After  a  short  conversation  with  me  about  movies  playing  in  our  heads,  Mary  thinks   that  maybe  when  she  first  met  Bobbi,  good  movies  played  in  her  head  and  in   Bobbi’s.  Bobbi  liked  her.  She  liked  Bobbi.  After  a  while,  unhappy  movies  played  in   Bobbi’s  head  and  not  in  her  own.  So,  Bobbi  wanted  out  and  wanted  no  conversation   about  it.  End  of  story  as  far  as  Bobbi  was  concerned.         Mary  is  unlikely  to  see  Bobbi  often.    So,  the  defriending  will  not  result  in  frequent   awkward  moments.  Mary  said  she  thought  it  would  take  her  some  time  to  get  over   the  hurt.  Until  the  cut  off,  she  had  thought  she  was  in  the  beginning  stages  of  a  long-­‐ term  friendship.     I  saw  Mary  a  few  days  later.  She  no  longer  felt  hurt  but  was  angry  with  Bobbi.    She   said  Bobbi  was  not  who  she  thought  she  was.  She  thinks  she  may  have  projected   qualities  onto  Bobbi  that  Bobbi  didn’t  have.  She  hadn’t  known  Bobbi  well,  but  if  she   would  cut  someone  off  the  way  she  did,  she  was  better  off  without  her.  The  cut-­‐off   taught  her  something  that  the  movies  in  her  head  did  not  lead  her  to  expect.  Her   movies  told  her  Bobbi  was  great  and  that  their  friendship  would  probably  be  life   long.      

  When  we  parted,  she  said  she  on  her  way  to  dinner  and  a  movie  with  old  friends.   She  will  put  a  collection  of  photos  from  a  recent  hike  onto  Facebook.  Adjusting  to   cut-­‐offs  is  a  process  that  takes  time  and  has  various  stages.  Mary  is  on  her  way.     Handling  Unkind  Defriending     As  Mary  learned,  an  unkind  defriending  tells  you  something  about  the  other  person.   Mary  has  flaws.    So  does  everyone  else.  No  one,  however,  deserves  to  be  defriended   in  unkind  ways.  Being  defriended  in  unkind  ways  may  set  off  unhappy  movies.  The   best  case  scenario  is  to  see  the  movies  as  things  we  made  up,  usually  when  we  were   little.  It  helps  to  test  out  the  assumptions  that  we  put  into  our  personal  movies.  Are   we  bad?    Our  movies  may  tell  us  that,  but  we  probably  are  not.  We’ve  got  quirks  and   flaws,  but  we  are  probably  not  bad  through  and  through.    Do  we  deserve  to  be   treated  this  way?    No.  No  one  does.    Relax  and  let  the  movies  play.  If  we  do,  they  lose   their  power.  As  they  lose  their  power,  the  sting  of  being  defriended  goes  away.    This   takes  time,  however,  and  it’s  hard  to  do.  If  it  were  easy,  more  people  would  do  it   more  often.       Mary’s  story  shows  how  people  adjust  well  to  defriending.  The  feelings  that  arise   when  someone  defriends  us  can  be  powerful,  and  they  can  really  hurt.  Let  them  run   their  course  and  do  at  least  some  of  the  things  discussed  in  this  article  to  deal  with   them  constructively.  You  will  be  fine.  The  unhappy  movies  will  lose  some  of  their   sting.     Also,  along  with  letting  the  movies  play  out,  it  helps  to  think  of  the  people  who  like   us  and  want  to  be  with  us.    It  helps  to  spend  time  with  people  who  want  us  in  their   lives.  That’s  one  of  the  things  that  Mary  did.  It  helps  to  do  things  we  like.  Mary   worked  on  a  photography  project.  If  walking  is  our  thing,  then  we  can  do  that.    At   work,  we  can  make  an  effort  to  show  interest  in  other  people.  Ask  how  their   children  are  doing,  what  they  will  do  on  their  vacations,  or  where  they  grew  up.   Much  better  not  to  spin  our  wheels  thinking  about  what  we  did  wrong  when  we   might  have  done  very  little  or  nothing  at  all.       If  we’ve  done  something  wrong,  then  we  can  make  up  for  it,  say  we’re  sorry,   apologize,  listen  to  any  recriminations  and  accept  them,  and  hope  we  are  forgiven   and  the  relationship  can  go  on.     What  Not  to  Do  When  Defriended     Some  people  are  so  upset  with  being  defriended  that  they  do  things  that  hurt   themselves  and  others.  They  may  retaliate  by  spreading  rumors,  sharing  secrets,   they’ve  pledged  not  to  tell,  or  destroying  the  other  person’s  property.  They  may  get   drunk,  withdraw  from  others,  go  into  a  depression,  overeat,  or  be  mean  to  others.   They  may  try  to  speak  to  the  other  person  by  phone,  email  or  text,  or  show  up  at   work  or  at  home.  They  may  persist  even  when  the  other  person  tells  them  to  stop.  

They  may  be  so  distressed  that  they  don’t  think  about  the  consequences  of  their   actions.         Sometimes  people  who  have  been  defriended  think  of  doing  things  like  this,  but  they   don’t  because  they  don’t  want  to  hurt  others.  They  know  these  actions  will  hurt   them,  too.  They  don’t  act  on  the  movies  that  run  in  their  heads.  They  might  enjoy   them  a  little  bit,  however.     The  best  course  of  action  is  allow  the  images,  thoughts,  and  feelings  that  compose   the  movies  to  run  their  course  and  come  to  an  end.  As  stated  earlier,  talking  to   someone,  self-­‐help  groups,  journaling,  meditation,  doing  enjoyable  things,  and  just   plain  acceptance  are  constructive  ways  of  being  dealing  with  being  defriended.     One-­‐Side  Relationships     Sometimes  we  are  involved  in  one-­‐sided  relationships.  Caretaking  and  one-­‐sided   romances  are  examples.  Caretaking  is  a  relationship  based  on  a  one-­‐sided  sense  of   obligation  and  duty.  One-­‐sided  romances  are  affection  and  desire  one  person  has  for   another  who  does  not  reciprocate.     Caretaking     Caretaking  can  work  well  when  the  terms  of  the  relationship  are  clear.  This  happens   when  there  is  mutual  regard  between  those  taking  care  and  those  being  cared  for.   When  the  terms  are  unclear,  problems  can  arise.    An  example  is  caretaking  based   upon  a  sense  of  superiority  on  the  part  of  the  person  doing  the  caring  work.  This  is   patronizing  behavior.  The  caretaker  may  view  the  other  person  as  needy,  and  they   want  to  rescue  them.  They  enjoy  the  role  of  rescuer.     The  caretaker  may  be  projecting  on  the  other  person  movies  running  in  their  own   heads.  The  person  being  patronized  may  believe  the  caretaker  is  seeking  friendship.     If  the  relationship  does  not  become  mutually  satisfying,  it  is  not  likely  to  last,  at  least   not  as  a  friendship.         These  are  people  who  socialize  with  another  person  because  they  feel  sorry  for  the   other  person  and  worry  about  the  other  person’s  loneliness.  The  movies  in  their   own  heads  lead  them  to  feel  responsible  for  the  well-­‐being  of  a  person  they  might   not  even  like.  Things  can  get  gummed  up  when  someone  takes  it  upon  themselves  to   be  a  helper  and  the  other  person  mistakes  the  relationship  for  a  friendship.       Caretaking  based  on  a  sense  of  superiority  benefits  no  one  in  the  long  run.  If   caretaking  does  not  change  into  mutuality,  the  patronizing  nature  of  the   relationship  will  become  obvious.  There  will  be  a  tapering  off  or  a  cut-­‐off.        

  Caregiving       Another  kind  of  caretaking  relationship  is  mutual.  A  better  word  for  this  is   caregiving.    Caregiving  happens  when  someone  loves  the  person  who  needs  care   and  takes  satisfaction  from  giving  the  care.  The  people  who  give  the  care  are  family   members  and  friends.  The  receiver  of  care  knows  they  need  care  and  appreciates   the  efforts.  They  love  back.  No  one  feels  superior  to  the  other.     This  is  a  terrific  situation  for  both.  Caregiving  relationships  of  this  type  may  have   some  challenges.  The  person  being  cared  for  may  be  cranky  and  uncooperative,  for   example,  but  the  persons  who  does  the  caring  work  has  love  in  their  hearts  and  they   persist.  They  may  sometimes  get  cranky  and  exhausted  themselves  but  love  and   obligation  maintain  the  relationship.     Professional  helping  relationships  are  different  from  patronizing  relationships.   Professional  relationships  are  not  friendship.  Examples  are  relationships  with   nurses,  social  workers  psychologists,  or  other  health  care  workers.  The  terms  of  the   relationship  should  be  clear,  including  how  and  when  the  relationship  will  end.    Any   unrealistic  expectations  get  cleared  up  quickly.  A  type  of  love  may  exist  in   professional  relationships,  but  there  are  clear  boundaries  and  expectations  of  what   is  acceptable  and  what  is  not.    When  what  is  supposed  to  be  caregiving  becomes   patronizing  caretaking,  then  the  professional  needs  further  training.     One-­‐Sided  Romances  and  Friendships     Another  kind  of  one-­‐sided  relationship  happens  when  one  person  projects  romantic   desires  onto  a  person  who  is  uninterested  in  a  romance.  There  is  no  goodness  of  fit   in  terms  of  desires  and  expectations.    Sometimes  one  person  wants  a  friendship  that   the  other  person  doesn’t  want.    In  each  case,  whether  romance  or  friendship,  the   person  with  the  desire  for  a  relationship  would  do  well  to  test  things  out,  to  see  if   the  other  person  shows  any  interest.  If  there  are  few  or  no  signs  of  interest,  it’s  best   to  move  on.    No  need  for  discussions  or  drama.  Nothing  happened.  The  other  person   has  no  obligation  to  have  a  long  discussion  with  us.       It  might  be  kinder  not  to  have  a  discussion  if  one  person’s  connection  to  another  is   not  based  on  anything  other  than  desire  and  projections.  Better  to  deal  with   unrealistic  wants  and  desires  rather  than  to  continue  on  with  them.    The  movies  the   person  has  are  not  working  in  their  favor.  Better  to  know  that  and  let  go.     Infatuation     Sometimes  the  happy  movies  are  unrealistic.  We  are  infatuated.  We  think  we  are  in   love.  We  think  that  if  this  other  person  is  in  our  lives  in  a  special  way,  we  will  be   fulfilled,  happy  forever.  Being  with  the  other  person  is  thrilling.  The  movies  are   spinning.  There  can  be  mutual  infatuations.    If  the  relationship  lasts  and  becomes  a  

friendship  or  a  romance,  the  movies  have  faded  and  each  person  knows  and  loves   the  person  in  more  realistic  ways.     Sometimes  in  infatuations,  the  other  person  doesn’t  live  up  to  our  expectations  or   our  expectations  scare  them  away.  Eventually,  we  see  that  there  is  a  lack  of  fit.   Sometimes  we  don’t  live  up  to  the  expectations  of  others.  Unless  one  or  both  change,   we  may  get  dumped  or  the  other  person  will  dump  us.    In  time  there  will  be  a  cutoff   or  a  tapering  off.  When  things  work  out  and  become  mutual,  the  movies  have   stopped  spinning  and  expectations  are  realistic  and  based  upon  experiences  with   each  other.     Befriending     Making  friends  starts  when  both  persons  set  off  happy  movies  in  each  other,  either   right  away  or  over  time.  We  want  to  know  each  other  better.  As  we  get  to  know  one   another,  the  movies  fade  away.  If  a  friendship  develops,  we  like  what  we  know,  and   we  put  up  with  each  other’s  flaws  and  quirks.  We  become  friends  based  upon   knowing  each  other  and  not  based  upon  unrealistic  expectations  left  over  from  the   past.  There  is  mutual  acceptance  and  sometimes  appreciation  of  quirks  and  flaws  as   well  as  appreciation  of  good  qualities.  There  is  a  goodness  of  fit.  We  feel  known  and   loved,  not  only  for  what  is  good  in  us  but  also  for  our  flaws  and  quirks.    We  know   and  love  the  other  and  the  other  knows  and  loves  us.     Everyone  has  flaws.  We  can  work  on  changing  them,  but  we  also  have  to  accept   them  along  with  acceptance  of  our  good  points.  In  the  meantime,  we  seek   friendships  where  there  is  a  goodness  of  fit.  Other  persons  know  us  and  love  us  and   we  reciprocate.     Befriending  and  Self-­‐Centeredness     Accommodating  to  the  flaws  of  others  usually  means  we  have  to  take  a  hard  look  at   our  own  movies.    These  movies  develop  when  we  are  very  young  when  we  don’t   understand  much  of  what  goes  on  around  us.  The  way  our  brains  work  leads  us  to   develop  explanations  that  center  on  us.  Little  kids  are  naturally  centered  on   themselves.       Each  person’s  movies  are  unique  to  them,  but  there  are  some  commonalities  in   almost  everyone’s  movies.    Here  are  some  of  the  themes  of  our  inner  movies.  Notice   how  many  are  self-­‐centered.  This  means  they  developed  when  we  were  very  young.     • I’m  a  bad  person.   • The  other  person  is  a  bad  person.   • I  am  bad.  I  deserve  to  be  treated  badly.   • The  other  person  is  bad.  It’s  ok  to  treat  the  other  person  badly.   • I  feel  bad.  I  can  do  whatever  I  want  to  feel  better.  

• • • • • • • •

I  can  do  things  without  thinking  how  my  actions  affect  others.   I’m  so  unimportant,  what  I  do  doesn’t  matter  to  anyone  else.   I  feel  bad.  If  I  find  someone  who  will  be  nice  to  me,  I  will  feel  better.   Other  people  feel  bad.  It  is  my  duty  to  do  something  to  make  the  other  person   feel  better.   I  can  do  whatever  I  want.  I  don’t  have  to  seek  the  permission  of  others.   No  one  can  do  anything  better  than  me.   I  am  better  than  anyone  else.       Big  me.  Little  you.  

  These  are  examples  of  the  themes  of  movies  that  play  in  many  people’s  heads.  There   may  be  lots  of  others.       These  movies  are  hard  to  deal  with.  Try  as  we  might,  we  may  not  be  able  to  get  rid   of  them  completely.  In  long-­‐term  friendships  people  put  up  with  our  flaws  or  don’t   find  them  annoying  or  impossible.  This  doesn’t  relieve  us  of  our  responsibilities  to   deal  with  our  flaws,  especially  those  who  hurt  others  or  ourselves.  We  have  a  firm   obligation  not  to  hurt  others  or  ourselves,  to  think  about  the  consequences  of  our   actions,  and  to  change  any  behaviors  that  harm  ourselves  and  others.  Love  of  others   means  we  actively  promote  their  well-­‐being.  Love  of  self  means  we  promote  our   own  well-­‐being  while  we  also  the  well-­‐being  of  others  into  consideration.     Simple  Paths  to  Friendships     Movies  can  be  realistic  and  involve  anticipations  of  an  easy  friendship  that  involves   mutual  respect,  respect  for  boundaries,  and  good  times  with  each  other.  There  are   bumps  and  snags  even  in  realistic  relationships.    Somehow  we  work  through  them,   often  building  stronger,  more  trusting  relationships  as  a  result.  We  accept  each   other  as  flawed  human  beings  who  also  have  good  qualities.  There  is  a  goodness  of   fit.     Befriending  that  leads  to  friendships  follows  a  simple  path.  There  are  not  a  lot  of   variations.    Temporary  cut  offs  and  tapering  offs  may  occur,  but  the  two  people   repair  the  breaks  and  the  relationship  becomes  stronger.  Research  shows  that   satisfying  relationships  that  last  are  built  upon  goodness  of  fit  and  capacities  to   repair  breaks  in  relationships.  Disagreements  and  conflict  are  inevitable.  Repair   keeps  a  relationship  going  and  growing.     Discussion     Befriending  starts  with  happy  movies  that  run  in  our  heads  and  that  lead  us  to   anticipate  happy  times  with  that  person.  As  we  get  to  know  one  another,  we  get  to   know  each  other’s  quirks,  flaws,  and  good  qualities.  If  we  accept  them,  there  is  hope   that  the  befriending  will  move  into  a  friendship  and  that  any  unrealistic  movies  will   fade  away.  Goodness  of  fit  and  capacities  to  deal  with  misunderstandings  result  in  

lasting  relationships.  We  have  an  obligation  to  work  on  flaws  that  harm  others  and   ourselves.  When  the  other  person  can’t  accept  our  quirks  and  flaws  and  doesn’t   appreciate  our  good  qualities,  the  friendship  will  not  last.       First,  we  have  to  accept  our  own  quirks  and  flaws.  When  we  don’t,  we  run  the  risk  of   feeling  guilty  for  them  and  even  feeling  guilty  when  we  didn’t  do  anything  hurtful.     When  we  are  clear-­‐headed  about  our  imperfections,  we  can  more  clearly  see  when   our  actions  can  be  hurtful  and  when  they  are  not.  We  can  take  appropriate  actions   to  repair  the  hurt,  if  the  other  person  wants  this.  Otherwise,  we  are  at  risk  not  only   for  free-­‐floating  guilty  but  for  imaginary  transgression  syndrome  when  we  think   we’ve  done  something  wrong  when  we  haven’t.     Abusive,  bullying  relationships  start  as  befriending  based  upon  movies  in  our  heads.   It  can  take  time  for  abuse  to  emerge,  for  the  unrealistic  movies  to  fade,  and  then  for   the  abused  person  to  identify  behaviors  as  abuse.  It  can  take  longer  still  to  figure  out   how  to  deal  with  people  who  are  abusive.    If  the  abuse  doesn’t  stop,  then  defriending   may  be  the  sensible  course.  To  make  decisions  to  defriend,  it  is  best  to  have  a  clear   head  and  be  on  a  even  keel.  There  are  many  things  we  can  do  to  ensure  we  are  clear-­‐ headed  when  we  defriend.     Relationships  where  one  person  patronizes  the  other  and  sees  the  self  as  a  rescuer   are  not  mutual,  although  the  receiver  may  not  realize  this.  The  receiver  may  think   there  is  a  friendship  developing.    Cut-­‐offs  or  tapering  off  are  inevitable  unless   mutual  enjoyment  and  then  friendship  develops.     The  terms  of  professional  helping  relationships  should  be  clear.  This  helps  to   prevent  hurt,  cutoffs  and  tapering  off.  Codes  of  ethics  prevent  professionals  from   becoming  dear  friends  who  go  to  movies,  bingo,  or  other  activities  together,   although  mutual  regard  and  a  sense  of  love  are  common  in  these  relationships.     When  family  members  and  friends  provide  physical  care  for  someone  and  the  terms   are  clear,  the  possibility  of  mutuality  is  there.  These  acts  of  care  are  acts  of  love  that   both  persons  find  satisfying,  even  as  inevitable  difficulties  arise.         When  friendships  last,  there  is  a  goodness  of  fit.    Friendships  are  mutually  affirming   and  are  based  on  acceptance  that  may  begin  with  unrealistic  expectations  but  grow   into  relationships  that  both  persons  want  and  value.  There  is  mutual  regard  and  a   satisfaction  of  knowing  each  other  and  being  together.       Life  is  full  of  goodness.  Each  of  us  is  full  of  goodness.  Sometimes  we  rub  other   people  the  wrong  way.  We  set  off  unhappy  movies  in  their  heads.    Other  people  bug   us.    Unhappy  movies  spin  in  our  heads.  If  our  friendships  last,  we  find  ways  of   working  things  out.    We  start  by  being  honest  with  ourselves.     References    

Cicchetti,  Dante,  Fred  A.  Rogosch,  &  Sheree  L.  Toth  (2006).  Fostering  secure   attachment  in  infants  in  maltreating  families  through  preventive   interventions.  Development  and  Psychopathology,  18(3),  623-­‐650.   Gearity,  Anne  (2009).  Developmental  repair:  A  training  manual.    Minneapolis,  MN:   Washburn  Center  for  Children.     http://www.washburn.org/pdf/WCCDevRepair-­‐Grayscale-­‐singlepages-­‐ smallerfile.pdf   Gilgun,  Jane  F.  (2010).    Case  planning  in  services  for  children  and  their  families.   Amazon  Kindle.  http://www.amazon.com/Planning-­‐Services-­‐Children-­‐ Families-­‐ebook/dp/B00307S0L6/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-­‐ text&ie=UTF8&qid=1374954143&sr=1-­‐ 2&keywords=case+planning+for+work+with+children+Gilgun   Gilgun,  Jane  F.  (2011).  Imaginary  transgression  syndrome.  Amazon.   http://www.amazon.com/Imaginary-­‐Transgression-­‐Syndrome-­‐ ebook/dp/B006VH1FEQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-­‐ text&ie=UTF8&qid=1375258436&sr=1-­‐ 1&keywords=imaginary+transgression   Gilgun,  Jane  F.  (2012).  The  12  Tricks  of  subtle  psychological  torment.  Amazon.   Kindle.  http://www.amazon.com/Psychological-­‐Torment-­‐Checklists-­‐ Everyday-­‐ebook/dp/B00AW7YOVM   Gilgun,  Jane  F.  (2011).  The  NEATS:  A  child  and  family  assessment.  Amazon.   Gottman,  John  M.,  &  Joan  DecClaire  (2001).  The  relationship  cure.    New  York:  Three   Rivers  Press.   Maiter,  Sarah,  Sally  Palmer,  &  Shehenaz  Manji  (2006).  Strengthening  social  worker-­‐ client  relationships  in  child  protective  services:  Addressing  power   relationships  and  “ruptured”  relationships.    Qualitative  Social  Work,  5(2),   167-­‐186.   Sanders,  Mathew  R.  (2008).  Triple  P  Positive  Parenting  as  a  public  health  approach   to  strengthening  parenting.    Journal  of  Family  Psychology,  22(3),  506-­‐517.     About  the  Author     Jane  Gilgun  is  a  professor,  School  of  Social  Work,  University  of  Minnesota,  Twin  Cities,   USA.    See  Jane’s  other  articles,  books,  &  children’s  stories  on  Amazon,  iBooks,  Barnes  &   Noble,  and  other  internet  booksellers.    

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