#10A. Friendship Is the Training Ground for Romance (Answers).

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In our earlier installment, Tara spoke of the social isolation and loneliness she was feelings. I taught her the importance of real-life connection, through friendship, absent a romantic relationship. I also asked a series of questions. The answers are below.

1.     What does it mean that grieving is a “one step forward, two steps backwards process?”

Grief is not a straight, upward trajectory. Instead, it’s process that has many peaks and valleys. Ultimately, healing will happen, but there may be setbacks along the way.  As you can tell from Tara’s story, she has days where she feels empowered, calm and hopeful. Other times, she feels sad, forlorn, and heavy-hearted. The range of feelings are completely natural and normal.

2.     Why is social media no substitute for real-life friendship?

Social media has been a wonderful forum to connect with friends across spans of time and distance. However, emotional health is fostered by quality relationships. Better to have fewer people with whom you can have a real, substantive conversation than many low-level engagements.

Extensive use of social media has been linked to depression and anxiety. Be wary of spending too much time on the computer. Instead, use your time wisely—connecting with true friends in real life.

3.     Why is it important to practice intimacy in friendships?

Romance is the Super Bowl of relationships! The stakes are extremely high. You may be fearful of being vulnerable, setting boundaries, or practicing forgiveness with someone you could lose.

Friendships provide stability and consistency.

As you weather the ups and downs with friends, intimacy grows and deepens. They are the “safe space” where you can be honest, authentic and vulnerable. Friendships are an extremely important component of emotional health— and a key factor in long-term health and happiness. Studies have shown that supportive friendships in old age are a stronger predictor of well-being than family connections.

Monica Parikh