As you return to your normal life and embark on a life of recovery and sobriety you may find yourself floating through life with few if any meaningful relationships. Between your recovery and other middle-aged people’s commitments, it can be difficult to maintain meaningful friendships.
A lot of us are surprised when we stop and think about how most of the relationships in our lives are closer to acquaintances than deep meaningful friendships. Friendships are a hard thing to start and an even harder thing to maintain, but they are not impossible.
Despite these difficulties, it is still worth your time and effort to develop new deep, and meaningful friendships as you embark on a life of sobriety. Often you cannot simply return to your old friend group because being around those people can cause you to slip back into unhealthy habits.
This doesn’t mean that all of your old friends are off-limits, it just means you need to take your time and see which of those people understand what you have been through and which of those friends are willing to support you as you move forward in life.
So with all of these difficulties associated with friend groups what is the point of taking a risk? Well, luckily there are plenty of reasons to dive back into a meaningful social life.
1. Loneliness Is A Common Cause of Relapse
Being stuck with no one to hang out with or talk to can often lead to loneliness and boredom. While you having nothing to do and no one to talk you out of bad choices it can be very easy to slip back into old patterns and relapse.
2. Friend Groups With Common Ground Provide Support
Along the same lines as above, having people around you that sympathize with you and understand your journey will provide you with a laid-back support system. While being a part of a professional support system is a good idea nothing can really compare to having people around you that care about you and look out for your best interests.
Now that we know there is distinct value to putting yourself out there to make new friends and go deeper into friendships you already have, it is time to take action. Approaching both current and hypothetical future relationships with a distinct focus will help you start working towards developing deeper bonds with those close to you.
Who Should You Look For?
When looking for friends to establish meaningful relationships with look first at friends and family members that you are already fairly close with. Sometimes all you need is a quick catch up or heart to heart to dive back into a deep and meaningful friendship. After that look for people who are also living a life of sobriety or people who like to do the same activities that you do.
Generally, a shared interest or life experience is all you need to bond with someone and begin to dive into a friendship that could blossom into a meaningful relationship.
When and Where Can you Look?
Realistically you should always be looking everywhere to bolster your relationships or start new ones. Routine hangouts with your friends often have a chance to go deeper if you can stay a little longer, or your acquaintance that you usually only do an activity with may want to come over for dinner after. Always keep an open mind and look to build camaraderie.
If you are more in the situation of looking for new friends in general then reach out to your support group. There is a good chance that with your shared life experiences there could be someone else who is also looking for a new friendship to explore.
What Should You Look For?
As you start to develop these relationships it is important to look for people who let you share openly and listen intently. A key sign that things are progressing nicely is that you are able to share vulnerable thoughts and feel open with them. When they respond in supportive and thoughtful ways you can rest easy knowing things are progressing well.
Deep relationships are all about openness on a two-way street. If your openness is not met with similar openness then you may need to give everything more time and effort. If this trend continues then maybe the friendship is not meant to be and you should both move on.
However things seem to be going remember to be patient. Do not force openness because things start to go well and if openness is coming easily early you should make sure to remain patient and progress the friendship in an appropriate time frame.
How Can You Build Bonds?
Sharing deep feelings and insecurities with a person for the first time can be a daunting task. The first situation where you both feel comfortable diving deeper into the friendship often has to come naturally, as any other way feels forced.
To work towards this moment it is beneficial to hang out enough to understand where you both draw your initial boundaries. Through conversation, you will be able to pick up on signs that there is something someone wants to share but is unwilling to at that time. The key is to not pry and instead stay patient and wait until they share organically.
Deciding when you can share your deeper thoughts, feelings, and desires without scaring off friends is a little bit trickier. Some people choose to share after the other person, which has its obvious downfalls, while other people just go for it when they want to, which can also go poorly.
Unfortunately, there is no clear answer on when to share, it will come down to you reading the room and believing that your friend is ready for meaningful conversation when you are as well.
Despite the difficulties and awkwardness that can arise when you are building new relationships it is an aspect of life that never loses importance. Maintaining deep relationships with those near you will only benefit you in the long run as you navigate a life of sobriety and recovery.