Tips: Best Buddy Then, Alien Being Now
Dr. Dale V. Atkins, September 2011
You and your dear friend were inseparable when you were young. There was nothing you didn't share. You planned your lives, sharing all the things you were going to do and with whom you were going to do them. But now that you are adults somehow those connections aren't there.
Yes, people grow apart. However, for some of us, our critical judgmental nature takes over when we think about our friend with whom we shared so much. In part, because you were so close, his or her lifestyle, belief system, values, and almost everything else about them bothers you. You have a really hard time spending time with your friend now and you move at an entirely different pace. So is this reason to cut them out of your life? Is your shared history enough to keep your friendship alive in a meaningful way? You may still love this person even though your lives are so different. Is there a way to be with this person you love without losing your mind or your sanity? You can if you can engage, listen, learn, have open caring discussions without denigration and without trying to change them - all while being yourself.
Here are some tips to try:
Take a Cue from Star Trek. - That's right. Trekkies know the golden rule when visiting alien planets is to observe and never interfere. So when you go to visit your friend, pretend you are on their alien planet and you have no control over anything. Enjoy them the way they are.
Why Disagree? - Unless you are asking questions to really learn about why he or she believes what they do and to gain a better understanding, why bother going down the path of creating problems which you know will not be solved in a way that will satisfy you. You just know how you choose to live and leave it at that.
It's a Lifetime Connection. - The relationship obviously has something at its core and that can be supported and valued, so stay on that level of relating - it may only be a shared history; but that history is part of you and has helped to establish who you are and that can be invaluable.
With age can come maturity. Who is to say that all of our friends need to be just like us, with the same view of the world? Connecting with someone with whom you share a significant part of your past can teach you a lot about yourself and his or her view of the world, which you may not give yourself the opportunity to access if you didn't have this person in your life.