"I have to warn you, I've heard relationships based on intense experiences never work." (Jack Traven, Speed)
As a psychologist and coach, my mantra has always been "Awareness is half the story - it's what you DO with that information that counts". For many years many schools of psychology have talked about the importance of realising the issues at hand. Of course this is important, but if you do not then take steps to manage them, your life still feels stuck...exept you now know why. (...and the "why" is immaterial because that bit can no longer change). Therefore as a coach my focus is then on how you can navigate your next move forwards. It never has to be big nor dramatic (in some cases it can be) - but it's about living life again, after all - you only die once, you can "live" as many times as you like...Kylie's regenerations have been pretty successful right?
This difference between doing and being can also help when it comes to finding a balance within our relationships (intimate or otherwise).
Many friendships - and deeper partnerships - are formed through a hobby or the workplace...it's a good way to meet people with something in common. However, as life goes on, a number of things many change and a "new balance" needs to be found.
Bonds of Friendship
If work or hobbies were simply what happened to get you in the same place at the same time, then the chances are, the connection is on a deeper level. In these cases, it is often easier for both parties to that relationship to become used to taking different careers, pursuing different interests. Fundamentally, what you bond over is the same - sense of humour; love of family; foods; fitness - things you can enjoy as a unit.
Binds of Work
Sometimes it is an understanding of the industry you are in - especially one which is high pressured - that forms the connection. When that pressure no longer exists, or if one of you moves, this shared intensity can change. As such, unless you find a deeper bond of connection, that partnership will be less stable.
Sadly, at this point, many people may try to "force" one. Perhaps they might holiday together, or even go into business together, or attempt a new hobby together. If the extra time allows you to find common ground beneath what you are doing, the relationship may well find a new footing. If not, you both may need to appreciate it for what it was and perhaps settle on a more casual accquaintance.
Bundles of Play
Perhaps it was a shared interest that brought you together. This has more of an opportunity to grow because your persuit of that interest is more fundamental to your core. Here one of the things to keep mindful of is "friendly" rivalry and also the importance of you both trying to keep doing that interest together in some way when life changes. For example, if you both enjoy running and one person, due to injury or illness is unable to do it - perhaps you can find a way to adapt, or find a similar form of release more suitable to the current situation.
All these hugely reduced thinking points are without any consideration of personality, willingness to adapt, and any emotional baggage, but they are a good start for thinking about where you are and who with - right now.
"A new 'salon'"?
I was advised by my coach "perhaps it's time to seek a new salon" - a new group of people who share your current interests, and it is a common concern I hear myself from clients - "I don't seem to connect with my old friends since we moved away/changed jobs", hence this blog.
I am lucky - I DO have deep bonds of friendship - a group of friends (and an even closer group of girlfriends) with whom I can meet up - who will say "oh why not" to "Will you be part of our wedding first dance Rocky Horror Show flash mob", "I'm in the area, fancy a meal?" or "group holiday??" - and although our lives are vastly different, for that afternoon tea/wedding/break it is as if nothing has changed.
These are people with whom I can BE...and whatever we DO is immaterial, we're simply doing it together. They are people who I can phone up and ask for advice should I need it (and they me), and everything they do fills me with a sense of pride for them, and gratitude that they are my friends. I just don't see them enough - and I need to work on that.
I have - or had work friends who were at the time very close - from whom I have grown apart. I miss them deeply, but my attempts to shoehorn them - and myself - into doing things with me such as being part of my community shows was simply exhausting to little avail for friendship outside. They are fundamentally different to who I am, and that's not better or worse, it's just different. We just aren't meant to BE and no amount of doing will mask that. I'm saddened, but I am finally accepting.
I also have people with whom I do things - partly through my new work-based pursuits, partly because they have interests I am vaguely curious about...but I'm also lucky to see that some of these contacts I also connect with, irrespective of what I do. I hope to see more of them in my life - just being.
The bottom line
If you want to see work friends socially, try it but don't force it if you don't connect (ie. Conversation is only work).
Conversely business relationships from good friendships don't always succeed.
If you want to explore a hobby, don't force current friends to do it, especially if they aren't really interested...and if you feel you're being forced to 'do', suggest alternative options...it may be they feel all they can offer is the hobby...you know they are more.
Make the extra effort to see the people you enjoy being with.
It is hard to make something superficial deeper - no matter how much it was because of what you did together at one time, or perhaps needed from each other at one time. If you have some fundamental points you connect on, there is more of a chance, but doing - in this case - is NOT the answer, it's finding where you can be...and with whom.
Audrey is a Chartered Psychologist (CPsychol), and the author of "The Leader's Guide to Mindfulness" (Pearson & FT series) and "Be A Great Manager - Now" (Pub Pearson, 2016 and Book of the Month in WH Smith Travel Stores). She is a CPD Accredited speaker, trainer, and qualified FIRO-B, DBT and NLP Practitioner. She is the founding Development Coach and Trainer with her consultancy CLICK Training, and the resident psychologist on The Chrissy B Show (Sky191), the UK's only TV programme dedicated to mental health and wellbeing. She presents at National and International conferences in the fields of leadership and team cohesion, and is part of the Amity University conference panel. She currently lectures and consults on, and writes about Personal Development, Wellness and Mindfulness.
Photo: Nick Freeman Photography