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Senior Contributor

Independence and Friendship

Today I was told that independence will not cause me long term satisfaction. Yet, as I have tried unsuccessfully for more than ten years to form a friendship, I question this assertion.The prevailing strategy suggested to me for gaining friends is to participate in activities I enjoy as there I am most likely to meet others with similar interests and beliefs. However, I can't say that has worked. What is the purpose of living if society directs me to one outcome but it cannot provide the means to achieve that outcome? Surely independence is a far more effective solution.


Re: Independence and Friendship

Hey @P12 


You've brought up some really interesting considerations here. It can feel so invalidating when someone might suggest an option or strategy for us to try that truely doesnt feel like it fits. I suppose we are the experts of ourselves and our own lives so it is up to us to find what feels right and what is going to work for us. For example, I love that you are here connecting with us! Although it is an alternative to "normal" activities, its still a space we can facilitate connection and community and I do hope you continue to do so Smiley Happy 


Also, I'm sorry that it has left you considering the purpose of life altogether - if you find you are sitting with those dark thoughts tonight, please feel free to reach out to Lifeline 13 11 14 for some further support. 

Re: Independence and Friendship

Hi @P12 ,


You experiance is sort of a direct reverse of my own. I was frequently told that I needed to embrace independance (and was subsequently told that I'm hopelessly condemned to it). Nobody ever seemed interested in supporting me to find kindred spirits and forge meaningful relationships.


I agree with you wholeheartedly about it being wrong for society to not do more to help people find their own tribes. IME, it's less about what society cannot do and more about what it will not do. A lot of people just can't be bothered to help the lonely in need. But the biggest problem is that if you are surrounded by incompatable people, that means that they don't want your kind to thrive. They don't want you to form communities; to create clusters that cultivate the "wrongness" within you that they are in conflict with and give that "wrongness" a noticeable presence within society. And they certainly don't want us to fall in love and - god forbid - breed with one another.


But divided we fall.


You only have to look at the lack of any serious measures in our society to cultivate meaningful relationships to know that lack of willingness is a huge factor in the problem. And I've found that many people are often quite forthright about how unwilling they are to help the lonely find their home.


How often do you hear someone ask someone else "What sort of person are you into?"



Re: Independence and Friendship

@P12   I’ve written a few replies, and deleted them. It’s hard putting into words, the feelings inside.


Just be you. The best version of you. That’s enough, even if they don’t understand.


Re: Independence and Friendship

I hear you @P12. It's hard, and it took me years to find the people in the small little group of friends I have now- mostly through work. I was told those things too- just do what you like, you'll find your tribe, and it was so frustrating, I often wantted to scream because it felt like it'd never happen. Then, it did. 

As Basil has pointed out, there are many members here you can connect with and I hope you'll find a sense of community here and maybe a few friends among the forumites 😊  

Re: Independence and Friendship

@P12 @Maggie 

Maggie so true.


But can I add, there is a vast ocean of difference between indpendence and lonliness, between independence and solitude and between indpendence and friendship.


I am VERY indpendent. I do not rely on others for support. I am the supporter, not the supportee.


I know a few people, I have a couple of friends, I have a partner, I am sometimes lonely.

I know a few people, I have a couple of friends, I have a partner, I am fiercely indpenedent. 


Friends are not compulsory if you are not lonely.


Human friends are not compulsory and face to face human friends are not compulsory even if you are lonely. Companion animals and on-line friends can still fill the void.

Needing company doesn't sacrifice your independence.


My partner needs quite a bit of solitude and yet he is not even a little bit independent. His complex mental healthy needs almost but not quite prevent him from functioning effectively with the outside world. He wants friends but struggles to keep them because of his eratic moods. Before he met me things had been very dire on and off because he was so alone.


So P12, do you mean independence or do you mean lonliness? Not everyone needs a huge social circle to feel content and fulfilled. Some of us just need one other person to feel contected to in some way (and not necessarily joined at the hip) and we're not lonely.


I have always believed that  indpendence... not having to rely on others.... is a good thing. That doesn't mean I don't ask for help with things that are outside of my skill set and that includes counselling from time to time to help me keep things in perspective.


but back to what Maggie said. 


Don't let people tell you what you need. How would they know? I'm sure deep down you know if you are lonely or if you prefer your own company. If society says one thing but you want another that's absolutly tickety boo (unless you want to break the law - don't do that!).


Whatever brings you inner peace and enables you to get out of bed every morning to achieve what you think is a realistic goal for that day (or morning or next 10 minutes). That's enough.


You are so brave. xoxo

Re: Independence and Friendship

My heart, mind and personal experience resonates strongly with this discussion.  There is no one way fits all.  It is complicated and variegated... it all depends ....on circumstances and individual traits.  Myer Briggs personality types can be good to look at to get an understanding of oneself, but labelling or over doing typology has its issues.

@Maggie @P12 


@SJT63  I have been forced into self reliance from a young age, and am probably more that, than fiercely independent. Like you I am usually the supporter, the solver, the worker, the helper etc.  A couple of times people have said I cannot receive or ask for help, but that is not true at all, as I have asked, diplomatically. politely and all that.  Sometimes "the help" is not present or relevant. We are all a work in prgress.




Not sure I can add much, but think it is a huge issue that needs unpicking.


A long time ago I settled on the word "interdependence" as a middle ground between dependence and independence, but that needs elaboration too.  We depend on tradies to keep our homes sorted, or we DIY. We need bankers ha ha ... to hold account details so the whole shebang sashays along for govt and business and the people. We are such highly interconnected societies with various levels and resources.  


Being a teacher and a parent has shown me the importance of skill development, but emotional and social skills are huge areas.  DBT has interesting insights, but so do other therapies.


Globalisation can be great for some families who can keep in touch across oceans by online means, but it also means many people are thrust together with little understanding of each others backgrounds and social norms or ways of being, and significant tensions can arise. 


Spiritualities and various practices can help arouse Oceanic feelings, or help us  feel empathy, but in my mind, empathy probably should be more that just a feeling.  There could also be actions that show real empathy, rather than paying mere lip service or excessive virtue signalling.


So I end up with a giant question mark, in dealing with very pluralistic societies. It also comes down to the old . .. not what you know but who you know ... 

Cheers All

Just saying Hallo

Smiley Happy

Re: Independence and Friendship

I am thankful for your suggestions.


I'm pretty sure I am lonely. I would like to have a friendship or at least feel welcome in society. But my efforts never seem to work. People make suggestions but I must be special because they don't work for me. The harder I try, the more independent I become, because my methods appear stranger to others, and the less liked I become. I really don't understand the society in which I live. I wish I wasn't so sad.

Re: Independence and Friendship

Why does government in Australia operate as a democracy? What freedom is given to individuals if they are bound by a social contract? How can one make a friend if the best means is to participate in activities of interest but no-one matching one's requirements is found?

Re: Independence and Friendship

Hearing you about your loneliness. @P12 I did not mean my essay to minimise that.

The "special" word can be problematic, if it sweeps the reasons for the lack of "social fit" under the carpet.


It is good that you are getting stronger, in self reliance  Dont discount that.  If you have learned how to do things or manage by your self, that is a WIN.  


Welcome to the forum.  For a while it made a huge difference to my sense connection to society and reduced my loneliness.  Take Care

Smiley Happy

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