How to communicate better with your friends, advice from a therapist

According to a new study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, people consistently underestimate how much their friends want to hear from them.

A call or text message out of the blue is indeed greatly appreciated by the recipient, and the more surprising the better.

The study consists of a few different experiments, but in all of them the researchers found that the person initiating the communication always underestimated how much the other party appreciated the action.

Still, reaching out to a friend you may not have connected with in a while can be nerve-wracking, as can asking friends to communicate more.

“A lot of people are afraid of being rejected or of learning that they might not mean as much to other people as they would like,” says Brian Trager, therapist at Williamsburg Therapy Group.

Maintaining friendships is ‘a struggle’

In some relationships, asking for more or clearer communication is the norm. Friendships do not fall into this category.

“Society values ​​romantic partners who fulfill these emotional needs for us much more than they do for our friends, so it’s not seen as something that many of us can ask for,” he says.

Society places far more value on romantic partners fulfilling these emotional needs for us than do our friends.

Often, Trager says, losing a friend can be just as traumatic as losing a partner, especially if it’s a longtime friend. However, it doesn’t feel normal to put work into a friendship that you would put into other types of relationships.

“We just get stuck in our habits, and it can become harder to engage in new behaviors,” he says.

“It takes effort to do things like this, and many people struggle to really make an effort to maintain friendships or struggle with what it really means to be in deep, loving relationships with other people.”

A text message will not be the “most effective” method

If you want a friend to call more often, or if you want them to be more available when you call, there’s really only one way to communicate that: ask.

Face-to-face or even a phone would be best, he says: “I don’t think texting asking about these things is the most effective.”

Even if you’re embarrassed or nervous, remember that they will probably appreciate your call more than you think.

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