Friendshifts with Jan Yager

Cmtdarden: We all have had close relationships develop and fall apart through the years. How have these friendships impacted your life? Meet special May expert, Dr. Jan Yager, author of Friendshifts and learn about the power of friendship.
Jan Yager: Hi, who has tonight's first question?
Trueorfalse: I am going to ask about friendship between two friends in mid-thirties of the opposite sex. We have each gone through a marriage and have regular contact. A lot of contact is in here! We are close and I am wondering if we can maintain the friendship or do we have to be moving toward a higher plane in order for the friendship to survive? I am stumped.
Jan Yager: Are you married to him or someone else?
Trueorfalse: No, neither of us are married now, not for several years and never to each other.
Jan Yager: Do you want it to be more than friendship?
Trueorfalse: At times, I do. At times, I am really scared it will fail like my marriage if we get closer. I am petrified of moving closer, yet I really want to.
Jan Yager: The wonderful thing about friendship is that you can really set the pace a lot more easily than with a romantic relationship. You can keep it as slow as you need it to be and make sure you have numerous other friends, so you're not so dependent on this friend. It's almost the opposite of how to keep a romantic relationship working in your life.
Trueorfalse: Should I be looking for or sending signals that this is what I want for right now? I thought what you just said was very nice and apt I want that space to relax together. I don't need the cushion of friends but I guess they couldn't hurt.
Jan Yager: What does he want?
Trueorfalse: See I have been getting serious signals that it could move further, and so how do I communicate that we can be completely fulfilled at this level? We don't see each other that often anyway. Would it be to disappointing to say this face to face and what would I say?
Jan Yager: You have to consider the possibility of being blunt about that because what he wants and what you want seems to be very different.
Trueorfalse: And the biggest question is: How do I know I am mature enough to keep it friendly and nothing more? The attraction is very strong. I've been in anxiety about this for weeks.
Jan Yager: It's not a question of being mature enough, it's a question of you being very clear about what you want. And if what your male friend wants is not the same, standing firm in your goals. But I think that especially for the first question we're getting very far from our basic theme tonight which is platonic friendships you want to keep.
Trueorfalse: Thank you, Dr. Jan.
Jan Yager: Thank you, trueorfalse. Who is next?
NATSXDH: How do you know when someone is truly your friend? And what limits do you place on friendships?
Jan Yager: My research found on average it takes three years from when you meet until you know that someone is a tried and true friend. During those three years a lot of tests will be put on the friendship. I also discovered that what is shared in a friendship does not have to be equal, but the wish to remain friends has to be shared. Therefore whatever limits you and your friend need are the ones to be respected. One friend might welcome long phone calls while the other prefers email so a compromise has to be worked out.
NATSXDH: Ponders that.
Cmtdarden: Nats, did that answer your question?
NATSXDH: Yes really well. Thank you very much.
Jan Yager: You're welcome.
Hydra: I made some wonderful friends years ago when dh and I were in the Navy. We kept in touch for many years but it seems that the phone calls, letters and cards are getting fewer. How can I keep these friendships from fading away completely?
Jan Yager: Good question, first of all as everyone may know this is the second annual national new friends/old friends week so if you really care about these friends that are becoming more distant, this his a great chance to pick up the phone and say hi. Ask yourself, are they are fading because you've just moved on and no longer have as much in common with these old friends? None of us can handle, with our busy lives, limitless close or best friends, but we can have numerous casual friends. If they were close or best friends, you have to decide if you want to put the time and energy into keeping them intimate and in the loop of your current life.
Hydra: Since the divorce, they seem more distant. Maybe they feel uncomfortable?
Cmtdarden: Hydra, when I got divorced I lost all my friends but the ones from school that I had before the marriage, LOL.
Jan Yager: That's very, very common.
Hydra: I will still try to make the effort to keep in touch more often.
Jan Yager: It's important for you to think about which friends were truly shared by you and your ex- husband and which ones were his and you were just spending time with them because you were part of the couple.
Hydra: They were all part of the couple -- perhaps our splitting up makes them feel uncomfortable about their own marital future?
Jan Yager: If the friends were truly your spouses' its great you at least have friends you maintained from school that are still there for you. You described one of the classic friendships post-divorce syndrome. Sometimes if you really like someone, especially another woman, you met through your husband you might want to call her and clear the air and say I'd really like to keep up the friendship with you -- is it possible that you could move beyond the awkwardness from maintaining a friendship with my ex-husband. But remember change is hard for everyone so really question if you're just resisting the change or if they are really worth salvaging.
Hydra: I will try to clear the air with them. Thanks so much.
Jan Yager: You're welcome, who is next?
Uchello: I'm a 22 year-old college student who is graduating in June. I just told my parents that I am moving into an apartment with an older man who is a friend. They have told me that they will disown me if I move into the apartment. Is that so bad? Is it really such a bad thing to move in with a close male friend?
Jan Yager: How much older?
Uchello: About 23 years, but we are really close.
Jan Yager: Why don't you want to room with a female friend similar in age?
Uchello: There was no one at the time, it's really a temporary thing. My parents are really upset about it though.
Jan Yager: Try to put yourself in your parent's shoes. They're obviously being protective and worried about your close male friend's possible feelings for you beyond friendship. If you were in their shoes what would you think?
Uchello:I totally understand, but they have always been extremely overprotective and I'm tired of it. I am just trying to gain my independence I guess.
Jan Yager: There are so many issues here. One is obviously your plans are causing a confrontation with your parents and you're 23. You're not a child anymore, but you have to consider what friendship and what roommate would be best for you. Try to focus on that rather than the reaction of your parents.
Uchello: I don't want to lose my parents. But I also know that they won't be happy if I'm not living under their roof.
Jan Yager: I just read your comment saying you're trying to gain independence. You have to question if moving in with a man 23 years your senior is gaining your independence or trading dependency on another who is old enough to be a parent.
Uchello: Good point, thanks. It's something to think about.
1Copper: Has the Internet affected the way friendships develop and or progress?
Jan Yager: That's a very interesting question.
1Copper: I thought so too.
Jan Yager:The Internet has certainly made it possible to almost instantly connect with others who share interests. Also just through logging on and interacting through the Internet both potential friends show that they want to reach out to others. Like pen pals used to. The speed with which you can instantly communicate is both positive and negative, as is the potential anonymity that writing to an email address offers, even beyond writing to a PO box with a traditional letter.
Jan Yager: Does that answer your question?
1Copper: I see. Basically it's just a faster version of the letter?
Jan Yager: It's not just faster but there is more networking than ever before. Certainly pen pals did not have the ability to chat the way people can on the Internet.
POOHMLC1: My friends are dwindling because I am limiting myself to only the very close ones.
Jan Yager: Excellent question. The first step is to redefine friendships to include casual friends. In my book Friendshifts, I give several examples of each kind of friendship, what value it offers and how it differs from the others. You'll see in Friendshifts that casual friendships, especially at work, are important to us but do tend to get less attention than the close or best friendship that are more likely to characterize the school and single years. Furthermore, even the happiest marriage needs all kinds of friendships to keep the relationship from getting boring. It is the casual friendships of the pair that add new info and points of view and those friendships are easier to maintain than close or best friendships.
POOHMLC1: I put so much energy into my close friends that I feel it would a waste of time for a casual friend. But I am really trying to work on the casual friend too. I don't want to limit the people in my life.
Jan Yager: I applaud your efforts to have a full range of friends, but don't be too hard on yourself. In my research the truly busy man and woman today is finding it hard to keep up with their friends, so if you're at least keeping up with the close friends you should applaud yourself. One easy way to keep up with casual friends is to have one or two activities that put you in contact, like sports or volunteering together or a reading group.
POOHMLC1: I will try that. Thank you for your time and input. Thanks again. Bye.
Cmtdarden: Dr. Yager, I am close friends with someone from high school and I have been friends with her for over 20 years. She is married with four kids and I am married with one and we live over 600 miles from each other. Is it bad for me to expect her to call sometimes rather, then me calling her all the time?
Jan Yager: Certainly, if you feel that your calling all the time is an unfair way for the friendship to go right now. There are so many options. You also have to consider her financial situation. It may be hard for someone with four kids. Rather than just feel angry or disappointed that the phone calls aren't being shared more equally, you could consider alternatives like writing letters, sending cards, email and even faxes.
Jan Yager: You might even consider giving her a prepaid calling in the hope that she'll call you.
Cmtdarden: It gets me upset when she isn't home and I have to call several times before I get her.
Jan Yager: Another aspect of this is that some people truly hate to use the phone. It's not just you she's not calling -- she's not calling anyone! You really have to find out how the phone fits into her life.
Cmtdarden: That's a good idea to get her a phone card for Christmas. Thanks, that helps. I think it's more a time thing with her, though.
Jan Yager: Another suggestion is to learn more about her life so that you could find a time slot when she's more likely to call. The person who doesn't want to call one night or one day, there may be some timely event occurring it might open up the potential for more phone contact. If it's important to you try to work around this rather than letting it sabotage an otherwise good friendship.
Cmtdarden: Thanks, Dr. Yager I'll check with her, that helps.
CL-Vigade2: Jan, what was the inspiration for your book?
Jan Yager: I actually started the book back in 1979, my sister had relocated to Manhattan and we lived a block away from each other after being separated for most of our 20s. We got very close and she had to move again and I wondered who would be there for me. Suddenly friendship was extremely important. Also at that time I was dating someone who had a longstanding friendship network going back to junior high school. I had never had a friendship with three friends at the same time and I wondered if male and female friendships were the same.
Jan Yager: So I was in graduate school and chose friendship patterns as my dissertation topic. Not only has my research back in the 70s and over the last two decades helped my relationships with my friends, but it has definitely helped my friendship with my sister. Also what's been a wonderful benefit is that I've applied to my relationship with my mother the friendship principals that I learned and that I detail in Friendshifts and I have evolved a wonderful relationship with my mother in my older years that unfortunately I was unable to have growing up. I'm sure anyone who's had a disappointing relationship with a parent/sibling or friend is rare and when it occurs it is to be celebrated.
CL-Vigade2L: That's right, Jan.
Jan Yager: I've seen so many open their minds to the examples Friendshifits can give in our lives including romantic ones. The strength of friendship is it's voluntary, there are many you can chose and yet you chose only a few, you have to work hard to maintain them. This is wonderful to apply to those relationships that unfortunately too many of use take for granted because we either live with that person or it is a relative. One of the key findings is that we have to cut our friends and the other relationships in our lives that are meaningful some slack and try to see conflict from their point of view. It is a complete myth that you can tell your friend "anything." You have to always think about what will what I say do to our friendship, what will it do to the friend I'm sharing it with, do I listen or do I just speak to my friends. Going back to my inspiration, up until recently there was so much attention on parent/child/romantic relationships everyone took friendships for granted. What I discovered is there are rules and there is scientific information that can actually help improve not only our own friends, but the friendship of our children and loved ones.
CL-Vigade2: Agrees wholeheartedly.
Jan Yager: Thank you all for being here.
Cmtdarden: Dr. Yager thank you for joining us tonight it was a pleasure to have you with us.
NATSXDH: Thank you Jan.
CL-Vigade2: Applauds fervently.
OP_Temom: Our pleasure. Thank you so much for coming, it was truly a pleasure.
Cmtdarden: Friendships can be purchased :< A HREF="">HERE. Jan Yager: The book is called Friendshifts but really the main reason this chat was scheduled is because of national new friends/old friends week.
Cmtdarden: Dr. Yager that is great. I didn't know that, hmmm. Hugs all her friends for Friends Week.
Jan Yager: Good night everyone.
Cmtdarden: Good Night Dr Yager thanks again for joining us.

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