Social interactions are always underpinned by multi-layers of social and internal cues, previous history, current feelings and stage of life. This can lead to great outcomes, poor outcomes or just plain neutral ones. All of us are social creatures. All of us want to belong and all of us want to choose where we fit. But what happens when we make a choice, only to find that we aren't chosen back? Yes, this happened for most of us at high school. But. It happens all through our adult lives too. We just develop a higher tolerance and recognition for what is happening.
If we live in the same town we went to high school in, it can be easier to stay within that comfortable circle. But these days, most of us move, which requires us to re-build. We also tend to move overseas, or interstate as part of our induction into adulthood. It's almost a modern day ritual. So, we tend to add new and often similar stage friends, as we traverse life (it's also why friendships can end when the stage finishes). For example, when we are young and single, we would like to have friends who are in the same boat. If we have moved in with our new partner, we'd like to make some friends that are couples. When we have our first child, we want to share that experience with someone who gets it. We seek others in the same space regularly. This assists us to feel understood, and safe within new terrain - it allows for 'me too'. And nothing feels better than the gift of being seen and understood.
So when you meet people that you would like to connect with in this way, who politely don't engage back with you, it can be upsetting. It can remind you of what it was like during those awkward teenage years. But fear not, I have a list that might help!
Here's my top tips for navigating these moments:
- Recognise that in this potential new friend, you don't really know what is happening in their life. Aka don't take it personally. Offer to meet up a few times, and if it's constantly declined. That's cool. There are plenty more fish in the sea. Or, maybe later, when the time is right for both of you.
- Self Reflection - have a look in the mirror at yourself. No literally! Look into your eyes and ask yourself if there is anything that you could do differently or need to understand about yourself. It sounds a bit new age-y, but there is something about being connected enough to yourself that you can answer yourself truthfully. Probably your good self will tell you that it's nothing to do with you, just the chemistry is a bit off. But, also, you might have a gem of wisdom. For more on this topic, you can hit subscribe at the bottom of this article. My free E-Book holds heaps of cool ideas around this topic.
- Try again - Chances are there is another fish in the sea that does want to be your friend. Stay open, stay friendly and connected to the people in your environment. Put your self in places where you can make regular contact with people. Remember it's proximity and sameness that draws us to want to connect with people. Keep showing up.
- Move on - I know I just said try again, but you must know when to call it quits. Sometimes the stars just don't align for whatever reason. Take a break, and/or try expanding your circle in different ways.
Have you ever wanted to be friends with someone who didn't want to be friends with you?