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Dr. Irene S. Levine

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Why Do I Always Feel Insecure with Friends?

Posted: 11/16/11 01:43 AM ET

QUESTION:

Dear Irene,

I am generally insecure when it comes to friends. I am frightened that if I don't cooperate or meet their requirements they will dump me. This was true during my college days and now I'm married with two kids and still haven't gotten over it.

The second problem is I usually don't say "NO" to them and get attached to them very easily. On the other hand when I see they aren't returning the same feeling, I get hurt and it bothers me for days.

Overall, I'm not able to sit back and relax and think that my friends are forever. I am constantly anxious and need reassurance that we are still friends. Please provide me with some advice.

Signed,

Insecure Friend

ANSWER:

Dear Insecure Friend,

You sound like a very nice, sincere person who values your friendships. But I can see how your friendships might feel agonizing if you always feel insecure in them. Here are a few thoughts; perhaps one or more will resonate with you:

1) Do you feel an excessive need to be liked in all of your relationships, including friendships? Do you lack self-confidence in general? Being unable to say "NO" is common among people who lack self-confidence. But if you don't learn when and how to say "NO" appropriately, you'll find yourself feeling compromised, bitter and unappreciated. Every friendship needs to have some boundaries to help people retain their integrity. Some of the links to prior posts below speak directly to that issue.

2) Are you feeling insecure with all your friends -- from distant acquaintances to very close friends? Everyone has a different friendship style. Perhaps you are spreading yourself too thin by getting attached to too many people and need to focus on feeling comfortable in one or two close relationships. Or, conversely, maybe you'll feel more comfortable in maintaining more superficial relationships with a greater number of people.

3) Finally, if you constantly seek reassurance from friends and are always worrying that friendships won't last, this can be pretty grating on other people and ironically, self-reinforcing by creating a distance between you and others.

Given that this pattern of relating seems to be pretty deeply ingrained and persistent, irrespective of the particular friendship, I think it would be very worthwhile for you to seek some counseling to find out more about why you're feeling so insecure.

I hope this helps and think it's great that you were able to recognize this pattern in your relationships with friends.

Best regards,

Irene

Read 7 Tips for Saying No on The Friendship Blog.

 
 
 

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