Dear Ioana features sampled advice requests from the International Women in Berlin community on the topics of relationships, mental health, sex, and living between worlds as an immigrant. Got a question? Post your query in IWB with the tag #dearioana and our response will be published here every other week. Queries may be edited for accuracy.
Disclaimer: The advice provided in this column is solely based on my own research and life-long experience with being a human in the world. This is not to replace actual mental health/ medical services. Please be aware I am not responsible for any decisions made based on the contents of this column. Always speak with your medical care provider if you feel unwell. National Suicide Prevention Line 0800 181 0771 Emergency services 112
Women in my life make no time for me, and it’s ruining our relationships! Women in my life have been very busy this year, which I can understand, as we all have our independent lives affected by Covid. They all have contained schedules, in which I try to build myself into, only based on their convenient moments, but not so much on my own needs. I feel really unmotivated, and hurt, in pursuing these relationships. I love my girlfriends. They are all amazing people that I want to share my existence with. But on top of being busy, my friends are also quite passive. Which is why I find it really hurtful when I am the only one checking-in, following-up, and making plans to communicate, even just via text. I am someone who enjoys fruitful company, who loves to organize get-togethers, and who loves being part of a friendship group, but have been feeling let down by the X, Y, Z things that keep popping between my friends and I: work, relationships, kids, other events. The last three times I set-up a casual get together for us on Zoom, everyone cancelled, or forgot to show up… I have a hard time expressing my dissatisfaction to these women in my life, as part of me is afraid I will lose them if I don’t accept the current state of our relationships.
I am not sure if I should let it go, or try to make new friends."
Statistically speaking, the number of people who are passive in friendships exceeds the number of those who actively propose, organize and create context for interaction. It is not uncommon, even if it is frustrating. It's also important to consider your friends who are single as opposed to those in relationships or who have children. This is significant because it changes the dynamics of time spent with friends versus time alone/with a partner or kids.
Most of the time, people are going to be passive, even if they are good friends. They will be glad someone else took the role of creating meaningful contexts for them to socialize and have a good time. You can try to firmly but kindly express your views that you shared here to each of your friends. Or you can let it go and see what other people who share your interest will come up in your life.
I am somewhat like you, and was so until this year, when I really felt like it was the end of an era in terms of friendships. Not in the sense that they necessarily ended! Just that they deeply shifted for reasons related to age, family life, and social distancing. I also learned that it's important to keep being open to new friendships and social relationships, because one friend or group of friends will not cater to all of our desires or will not validate everything we want to experience.
Life is seriously not the American sitcom where friendships last and endure for a decade no matter what.
Sometimes they do, but that's not always the norm. In fact, in the Millennial generation, studies show that the span of a significant friendship is now 5-7 years, and we are lucky if we have one friend who remains in our lives for a few decades! Berlin is also a huge city and that contributes to the problem of "flakiness". If you go to a small city you may notice that friendships and social connections are easier to bind and maintain.
Also, have you factored in how Covid-19 has disrupted the way we relate, perhaps forever?Feeling lonely and left-out is a terrible feeling which has been exacerbated this year only to such great heights. Everyone has reacted differently to the inner crisis, but what binds everyone is a profound need for companionship. If you are single and alone, you may need your friends now more than ever. For your coupled friends, their families and partners may have become their rock right now. It’s a matter of emotional survival.
I hear your frustration with the way your friends participate in your relationships. This is normal. And it's fair. You are entitled to feeling that way. Try to voice it, kindly. Friendship is central to our growth and fulfillment, and it's a continual playground for learning to communicate and care for ourselves and for the others. Friendship is a two way street, it cannot work if it's a one woman show.
You sound like you really care about your friends AND your own needs. So be the great you that you are, and speak with your friends about this. I bet you will all learn something new and exciting.
IOANA CRISTINA CASAPU is an author, journalist, and artistic rehabilitation teacher living in Berlin since 2015. Her book"Heart Beats – A Memoir of The Millennial Generation on Social Media” is a deep X-ray of the Millennial Generation, a depiction of the way Social Media has re-wired the way we think, feel, act and connect.In 2015, she published a study about the psychology of online dating, after spending fifteen months on Tinder and meeting over 160 people in 5 countries.
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