One of the hardest challenges that people may have to face in recovery is making new friends. In order to break free of addiction, it is necessary to stop spending time with drinking or drug using friends. This lack of social support can lead many in recovery to feel incredibly lonely and isolated – it then becomes an excuse for relapse. Making friends used to be as simple as just going to a pub and chatting to the person on the next bar stool, but now it all feels incredibly complicated.
Learning to make friends in recovery is a skill that anyone can learn. Once you understand the reasons why you are struggling to develop friendships, you would be in a better position to not only meet new people, but to develop relationships deeper than anything you have experienced before. Below are five of the most common reasons why you may be struggling to make friendships in recovery.
If it is your dream to win the lottery, you need to be at least willing to buy a lottery ticket – the same thing applies to making friends. If you spend most of your time sitting at home watching TV, it is unreasonable to expect new friends to come looking for you. It is important that you start spending time around new people; there are millions of ways you could do this, such as joining a club, taking up a sport, doing a night course, and so on.
If you fall into the habit of being negative about everything, it will be difficult to make new friendships. The problem is that this is a particularly unattractive type of personality trait that just makes it hard to be around; when a negative person walks into a room, it can be as if the environment is suddenly covered by a dark cloud. You can teach yourself to have a more upbeat approach to life, and this will mean that people want to be around you.
The type of conversations people have in bars can be inappropriate in other situations – pub talk can be a bit crude and offensive to those who are not used to this way of talking with strangers. Joking and mocking people is something you can get away with in a bar, but it can harm your reputation if you do this to those you have met elsewhere. The problem is that if most of your social interactions in recent years have taken place in this type of environment, you might not remember another way to communicate; therefore, you may need to learn to communicate differently.
It is common for those falling into addiction to become extremely self-absorbed. This can make it hard to develop friendships because others will be disinterested if you spend all your time only talking about yourself. It is important that you develop an interest in others and spend more times in conversations listening than talking.
If you have an internal dialogue that is constantly putting you down and being negative, it can hold you back from developing friendships. It can feel as if there is a bully living in your head, and this constant criticism will lower your self-esteem. If you do not love yourself, how can you expect others to love you? The solution is to start working on developing self-compassion because this would allow you to overcome this negative inner dialogue.