Dangerous Compassions

friendship stress

ft person smiles in black

Hello, reader.  How are you doing today?  I’m thinking about friendship stress after a valuable conversation I had with a housemate friend.

how friendship feels

How do you feel in friendship?  Are your connections feeling

  • supportive
  • helpful
  • real
  • trustworthy
  • safe
  • enough

Do you have what you need with other people?  Are other people even worth it, to engage?

How do you characterize your relationships?

  • engage deeply
  • engage slightly
  • honest
  • detached
  • affectionate
  • playful
  • based on activities
  • based on values in common
  • long term
  • casual
  • committed
  • convenient
  • varied
  • consistent
  • random
  • with many people
  • or few

Does friendship stress you out?  Do you feel like you’re doing it right?

friendship stress

If you know me, you know I find friendship difficult.  So often I feel clueless–I’m doing it wrong.  But my heart is in the right place; I keep trying.

When I was young, I had very few friends.  Maybe it was an autism thing.  Now I have more friends than I can be responsible to.  Sometimes I feel bad I’m not following through with everyone.

Relationships are central to the meaning of my life and the work I’m here on earth to do.  Love, friendship, partnership, community, and family aren’t distractions from my life’s work–they are my life’s work.

Love is my favorite way to heal.  I live in it.  Love can heal individuals, groups, families, culture.

My body is made for love.  What is your body for?

Here are some ways I experience friendship stress, mostly while living in community.


Friendship stress is most real when I don’t match the other person in how they function socially and what they expect.  It stresses me to try to figure out how much to compromise my wants and needs for another person’s wants and needs.  I give way too much, or I get disgusted and don’t want to try.  Seems rare for me to get that right.

communication style

Consent means a lot to me.  So I don’t want to tread on boundaries–I want to stay honest and communicate.  But a lot of people are used to communicating much differently than I do.  They read my direct truth as pressure.  Or they get confused when I’m upfront about things that most people hide or dance around.  I can be considered intense or too much.


A lot of people are limited in how well they know themselves and know what they want.  Or they have strong values but lack follow through.  So I can seem demanding or judgmental when I hold others to standards that they find unrealistic.  I expect them to do what they say–yes, I demand the impossible.

hurt feelings

I have a lot of feelings and get hurt often.  Others can be fatigued by this, or downright horrified.  We all have different capacity for being hurt and for hurting others.

If someone can’t stand seeing me cry, our friendship might be toast, because I can’t keep it in when I’m getting hurt.  If they can’t endure hurting me, the friendship is not sustainable.

nothing is shocking

I guess that hurt feeling piece is partly why Ming and I are such a great match.  He’s extremely open to feedback. He has a hard time communicating sometimes, but his heart is gold, and his capacity for seeing others in pain is very high.

Yes, friends.  Consider marrying a nurse.  He is the best friend possible.   You cannot shock someone who has been bled on, barfed on, peed on, died on, etc.  I might be difficult sometimes,  but I am not the patient from hell.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

3 replies on “friendship stress”

I love what you’ve shared here Laura-Marie.
I like so much of it, but the thing I’m thinking about at this moment, is how getting close always runs the risk of hurting. Getting close and being in authentic relationship means also including being ready to work through, and be present for, and include, another’s pain. Pain we may have triggered ourselves. Which inevitably brings feelings of shame or remorse, and those can be hard feelings for many of us to bear in ourselves.

This is such a valuable essay. I wish everyone in the world could get to read it.
I love you,

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