We have all encountered trying to build relationships with people and becoming confused when it is not working. We may be trying so hard to connect and not being successful. It is important to recognize when this is due to forces outside our control.
A study in “Sexual and Relationship Therapy” (Betchen & Ross, 2010) discusses common dynamics that should be avoided in relationships. Although the study researched intimate relationships, the same can be said for friendships. The article talks about the difficulty of pursuing relationships with emotionally unavailable people, non-apologizers and status seekers.
Of course there are many other reasons people may not include you in their lives. Sometimes you are experiencing implicit racism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia or other prejudices, biases or projections. The list goes on.
Regardless, it is important to know that it is not necessarily you who is to blame, so don’t give up on the idea of having meaningful relationships. What it does mean is giving up on pursuing relationships with people who are committed to not investing in you or are committed to keeping you at a distance—for whatever reason. You may get stuck in a cycle of either trying so hard to make a relationship work with no success, disengaging completely from the world to keep yourself safe or beating yourself up when rejection happens. And this is a lot of wasted energy. Use this energy instead to foster new relationships with people who have an open heart. And this starts with trust. But how can I do that when I don’t trust others, you might ask? Well, you don’t have to trust others. The trust that needs to happen is within yourself—trusting yourself in your ability to discern others' intentions.
And we become good at this when we learn to understand and trust our emotions. We can feel it when people are genuinely curious and interested in getting to know us. When you learn to trust yourself, you are not calcifying yourself with fear, but allowing yourself to flow, to move, to respond and to continue engaging in the world.
To start this journey, you must try to understand yourself deeply. It is why we therapists ask: So, how does that make you feel?