I know first hand how difficult it is to maintain friendships with anxiety, not just as the person with anxiety but as a friend to other people that have it.
It’s tricky to navigate a friendship in which you find yourself cancelling plans, not showing up to things and then letting guilt stop you from contacting them for months on end.
You end up feeling out of the loop and ultimately rejected when you stop being invited out or people lose touch with you. Your friends may also end up feeling rejected when you stop talking to them and stop showing up and the shitty cycle continues.
Your friendships don’t have to suffer because of anxiety. Sure, they may change in some ways but you don’t have to lose your friends just because you’re struggling at the moment.
Here’s some tips on how to maintain friendships with anxiety…
Tell them how you’re feeling
With any kind of relationship, platonic or otherwise, communication is so important. I know it’s easier said than done to be open and honest but the best way to maintain your friendship is to tell your friend how you’re feeling.
If the reason you cancelled or didn’t show up was because of your anxiety, let them know. A true friend will be understanding and not push you but by not saying anything at all, you risk making them feel hurt and rejected without knowing the reason.
By telling your friends the reason for your distance, you build more trust and it gives them the opportunity to help you.
Keep the invitations open
I think sometimes the hardest part of maintaining friendships with anxiety is that you get invited out with your friends, or invited to go over to their house etc. and if your anxiety gets really bad closer to the time, you end up having to cancel and if this happens quite often, the invites just stop coming in.
I remember I couldn’t go to one of my friends parties because of my anxiety, so when she had another party I wasn’t even invited which hurt a lot, especially as I was in a much better place to be able to attend by then.
But I realised that she probably assumed she doing me a favour by not inviting me, so I text her and told her that I’d still like to be invited in future even if my anxiety was shit. That way, I could still have the opportunity to come along if I felt well enough.
I do the same for my friends, as I know a few of them do have anxiety. Even if they don’t show up to anything, I will still always invite them because you never know if one day they might decide that they want to give it a go.
Be there for them too
When your mental health is bad, it’s easy to forget everything else exists and you pour all of your energy into yourself to get through it, which is fine and you should absolutely make sure you take care of yourself.
Just remember that if your friends are there for you during these times, they also need you to be there for them too.
We all have shit going on at one point or another and we all need our friend’s support. Don’t forget to check in on your friends, make sure they’re doing okay, even if it’s with a quick text.
People just want to feel loved and appreciated. If your friend has been there for you through a difficult time, maybe give them a thoughtful gift or do something practical for them around the house.
You can still be there for them in small ways, even if you can’t go out to social events with them.
Know when it’s okay to let go
Sometimes friendships really aren’t worth maintaining and that’s okay too. If you find it difficult to make friends, sometimes you can place all of your efforts onto one friend who just takes advantage of that.
If you find that your friendship is toxic or that person doesn’t appreciate you, it’s fine to let them go.
And sometimes, friendships just run their own course. You might find that you’ve become totally different people who’s values just don’t align anymore and it’s OKAY to step away from that friendship and move on.
Hope that helps! What’s your biggest struggle when trying to maintain friendships with anxiety?
How To Make Friends When You Have Social Anxiety
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