So speaking of chosen family, what do you do if you donít have one?

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Breakthrough

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So recently blocking contact with my eldest sister.  I have 4 siblings total and get along well with the other 3.  Eldest sister likely has BPD, and I am her most frequent abuse target.  It was awful growing up in the same house as her, she wouldnít leave me alone at times, saying a constant stream of nasty things meant to break me down. She left the house when I was 17 and I was able to breathe finally.  I feel I still have issues with boundaries as had 3 people in my home (hare and my parents) constantly stepping all over my boundaries.  My parents were also some what neglectful of me, I was probably the lost child.  Sometimes the scapegoat, especially when my sister left home (she was scapegoat and golden child depending).  I am fine having contact with my parents, just not having them stay with us.  Small doses are good, but not being able to leave of they become verbally abusive is not good. They usually listen to request for ending this conversation when asked (usually them saying critical or nasty things to me out of the blue because they are in a bad mood), if not it is easier to leave. My older sister will trample boundaries constantly.  When asked to stop, she does it more.  It has gotten to the point that even with her living far away, she will txt me 49 times in a row after I ask her to stop texting me at work, pls txt after 6.  I have blocked her on my phone for a second time around an issue like this. 

So on the issue of chosen family.  Usually my side of the family gets together 1-2 times a year.  Once at Christmas, and it is always at eldest sisters house.  For various reasons, my 2 other sisters will always go there, even if invited to our place.  My mom and dad are usually there at that time of the year as well.  My brother will go where the majority of family go.  I am preparing to just have every Christmas with our own small family or with my inlaws (my MIL is NPD, but at least boundaries around contact are well established there now, and I have practice removing myself from her drama).  I guess around this, I feel like I have no close friends, just work acquaintance and church acquaintance friends.  I donít have a chosen family outside my kids and husband, just my FOO.  I feel like I might have c-PTSD, or it might have to do with my personality type, INFJ.  I do think I have high expectations of friendships, and I give a lot, but most of the time, I am disappointed or let down by friends, and find myself in a lot of one sided friendships, where I just feel used.  I havenít made any really good friends as a mom and adult.  Nor do I feel like I have lifelong friends I keep in touch with, though I do enjoy meeting up with old friends from school the very occasional time they reach out (I grew up elsewhere so, itís only if they are in the area visiting).  When I go to my home town, I always reach out to a few friends to get together.  I wonder if itís partly me isolating myself due to c-PTSD?  I also experienced work related abuse and intense working conditions for many years.   The intense working conditions remain, but I have gotten better with boundaries to avoid the abuse for the most part. 

I guess for me what it comes down to, is that I feel pretty isolated and lonely at times.  I am an introvert but I crave connection and meaningful friendships too. I donít feel I have any friendships that fit this bill anymore, though I did during school (which was a long period of time, until I was 27).  I find myself in one sided friendships, my personality is a natural counsellor, and so I find myself support ďfriendsĒ through their problems, but When I need a listening ear or help, they are no where to be found.  I feel exhausted by this, and eventually let those friendships fade.I have a lot of great independent hobbies that I enjoy, and I find connection in quite a few FB groups with folks in my profession who are also crafters or artists on the side.  I miss real life friends though.  My husband is not much of a talker and we donít have deep conversations, but he is a sweet person and supports me in all the ways heís able.  I am really blessed, but I miss having close friendships.  The lockdowns make it hard to initiate any right now too.

I guess sometimes I just feel like, whatís wrong with me?  I am a kind hearted person who treats others as I would want to be treated.  Why does it seems like I have a kick me sign on my back, and why is it so difficult for me to make a close friend? I guess I know part of the reason is just my life is busy and I need alone time to decompress, I also want save my social energy for my kids and husband and I donít always have enough even then.

Anyone else in the same boat and have insights or suggestions for me?  I would love to have more support in my life, but it feels like the folks I make an effort to do that with, well, I end up supporting them and they abandon me.  I would rather just keep to myself when it come to those folks.  I have had enough abusive relationships already in my life, due to PDs, to last a lifetime.  I guess I just feel gun shy about new relationships as well.  For reference, I am in my 40s.

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notrightinthehead

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Re: So speaking of chosen family, what do you do if you donít have one?
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2021, 04:32:05 AM »
What an insightful post, full of self reflection and self awareness! I can relate. When I came Out of the FOG I saw how many of my relationships were not good for me and that I longed for close, intimate (emotionally) relationships and did not have them in my life.  Much of my emotional energy was tied up with these unhealthy relationships. My first step was to accept that fact. I also understood that I enjoy doing things together with others and that it is easy for me to relate to others if we share an interest or an activity.  Another insight I had was that I was so concerned about what others think of me or if they like me,  that I barely paid attention to if I liked them!  So this is what I changed about myself. When I meet people, I ask myself if we have something in common? Do I like this person?  Do I enjoy their company?  I also give people time to show me who they are. And when they show interest in me, I am open and honest and a little bit vulnerable and I leave it up to them what they do with it. I try very hard not to read their minds.
The result has been that in the last years I have made several acquaintances with whom I share interests, have enjoyable and interesting chats with, have been for coffee or done things together. I feel good after I have spent time with my new circle,  even if they are not intimate friends.
Do not give up hope! Even if you have a vacancy for a friend in your life for now,  this might not always be so. Continue doing the work on yourself.  Reduce the energy you spend on people who are not good for you. Friendship takes time and work. Begin small. Be patient with yourself.  Cast your net around for people you have something in common with. Test carefully how interested in you they are. And always listen to your inner voice if you like them. If you feel good in their presence. Maybe with time you will change your circle from energy vampires to more balanced relationships.
I can't hate my way into loving myself.

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DistanceNotDefense

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Re: So speaking of chosen family, what do you do if you donít have one?
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2021, 03:30:51 PM »
Hi Breakthrough - thank you so much for sharing your experience, your past, and your current state with friendships right now. I relate quite a bit to a lot of it! We appear to have similar relationships to older PD sisters we've gone NC with and facing the same steps on healing re: finding a FOC via friendships.

I feel like I might have c-PTSD, or it might have to do with my personality type, INFJ.  I do think I have high expectations of friendships, and I give a lot, but most of the time, I am disappointed or let down by friends, and find myself in a lot of one sided friendships, where I just feel used....

....I find myself in one sided friendships, my personality is a natural counsellor, and so I find myself support ďfriendsĒ through their problems, but When I need a listening ear or help, they are no where to be found.  I feel exhausted by this, and eventually let those friendships fade.....

......I guess sometimes I just feel like, whatís wrong with me?  I am a kind hearted person who treats others as I would want to be treated.  Why does it seems like I have a kick me sign on my back, and why is it so difficult for me to make a close friend? I guess I know part of the reason is just my life is busy and I need alone time to decompress, I also want save my social energy for my kids and husband and I donít always have enough even then.

Anyone else in the same boat and have insights or suggestions for me?  I would love to have more support in my life, but it feels like the folks I make an effort to do that with, well, I end up supporting them and they abandon me.  I would rather just keep to myself when it come to those folks.  I have had enough abusive relationships already in my life, due to PDs, to last a lifetime.  I guess I just feel gun shy about new relationships as well.  For reference, I am in my 40s.

You have no idea how much I relate to all this. Everything exactly, even down to the point of being INFJ and also diagnosed with CPTSD.

I'm really starting to think that there is something in our personalities and even just subconscious "energy" that attracts people who want a counselor and nothing else. Once they get that and the dynamic is established (even if they appeared to reciprocate greatly for a time at first), they're satisfied and move on, distracted. It almost mimics the narcissistic cycle of value and discard, but not quite? Way more subtle and not exactly abusive. And these folks seem genuinely attentive, warm, kind, and caring in the beginning, and I feel so comfortable and gravitate toward them, when underneath that I guess is just a bottomless pit of one-sided neediness.

How do we stop attracting these people? I don't know yet, I'm figuring that out. Yes it is like a "kick me" sign it feels like sometimes. I'm in your same shoes. And also wondering, how do we ever find and/or attract the people who may want to take care of us in return, if eventually given? It's feels like I was born with the wrong chemical homing device or a faulty magnet. I get drawn to and attract at the same time people who just want to deplete me, or have no idea how to be supportive or attentive to the level that I am in relationships.

Another insight I had was that I was so concerned about what others think of me or if they like me,  that I barely paid attention to if I liked them!  So this is what I changed about myself. When I meet people, I ask myself if we have something in common? Do I like this person?  Do I enjoy their company?  I also give people time to show me who they are. And when they show interest in me, I am open and honest and a little bit vulnerable and I leave it up to them what they do with it. I try very hard not to read their minds.
The result has been that in the last years I have made several acquaintances with whom I share interests, have enjoyable and interesting chats with, have been for coffee or done things together. I feel good after I have spent time with my new circle,  even if they are not intimate friends...

....Reduce the energy you spend on people who are not good for you. Friendship takes time and work. Begin small. Be patient with yourself.  Cast your net around for people you have something in common with. Test carefully how interested in you they are. And always listen to your inner voice if you like them. If you feel good in their presence. Maybe with time you will change your circle from energy vampires to more balanced relationships.

Amazing advice notrightinthehead. Thank you so much! I'm just on the beginning of this path and it is a tough one. The urge to want to be warm and supportive right away make me realize I need to bite my tongue a LOT....focus on overlapping interests first, and then see of emotional depth comes forth (and try not to coax it out in other people - I'm so guilty of this....)

I mentioned it in another thread, but I realized recently how backwards I was in approaching friendships. I gave tons of emotional support up front and felt deep connection being there for people, and then it was only after the mutual reciprocity began to fade, when I realized we didn't have much in common actually and/or they had no interests in my own personal hobbies or interests, nor did they ask about them.

It should be the other way around: are they interested in you and what you like, besides the fact that you support them and counsel them unconditionally? If it seems all they are interested in is relating over hardships in the past (i.e. trauma bonding) and that's it, or just their own interests, and there's no overlap....I'm starting to realize this is a bit if a red flag! With some friends I've realized this recently. Sometimes even if I try to connect with them outside of talking about their/our struggles and worries, and that counselor type emotional connection (even "how are your kids? Here's a plant picture you might like. I love this show, I think you might like it too!") they are subtly dismissive of it. I would overlook it, but now I realize it's very odd!

Anyways I'm rambling - thanks to the both of you for sharing your experiences.  :thumbup:

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Breakthrough

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Re: So speaking of chosen family, what do you do if you donít have one?
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2021, 06:27:19 PM »
What an insightful post, full of self reflection and self awareness! I can relate. When I came Out of the FOG I saw how many of my relationships were not good for me and that I longed for close, intimate (emotionally) relationships and did not have them in my life.  Much of my emotional energy was tied up with these unhealthy relationships. My first step was to accept that fact. I also understood that I enjoy doing things together with others and that it is easy for me to relate to others if we share an interest or an activity.  Another insight I had was that I was so concerned about what others think of me or if they like me,  that I barely paid attention to if I liked them!  So this is what I changed about myself. When I meet people, I ask myself if we have something in common? Do I like this person?  Do I enjoy their company?  I also give people time to show me who they are. And when they show interest in me, I am open and honest and a little bit vulnerable and I leave it up to them what they do with it. I try very hard not to read their minds.
The result has been that in the last years I have made several acquaintances with whom I share interests, have enjoyable and interesting chats with, have been for coffee or done things together. I feel good after I have spent time with my new circle,  even if they are not intimate friends.
Do not give up hope! Even if you have a vacancy for a friend in your life for now,  this might not always be so. Continue doing the work on yourself.  Reduce the energy you spend on people who are not good for you. Friendship takes time and work. Begin small. Be patient with yourself.  Cast your net around for people you have something in common with. Test carefully how interested in you they are. And always listen to your inner voice if you like them. If you feel good in their presence. Maybe with time you will change your circle from energy vampires to more balanced relationships.


Thank you!  This is wonderful advice.  Lightbulb moment here, do I like them?  I think thatís an important question that I donít ask myself enough.  I feel like I like most people (unless they are unkind, and sadly I have come across quite a few of those, enough to last me a lifetime).  When I think on it though, do I really like them enough to spend time my precious time with them?  I crave deep conversation and I do tend to attract energy vampires.  I think I was doing the I am an introvert, and getting adopted by extroverts who liked me, even if I didnít really enjoy their company.  It was just nice to have company.  I think may be I am more discerning now, but that leaves me isolated, so when the lockdowns ease up, I do need to make more effort to connect with people.  And be discerning.  Thanks for your insights!

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Breakthrough

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Re: So speaking of chosen family, what do you do if you donít have one?
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2021, 06:40:16 PM »
I'm really starting to think that there is something in our personalities and even just subconscious "energy" that attracts people who want a counselor and nothing else. Once they get that and the dynamic is established (even if they appeared to reciprocate greatly for a time at first), they're satisfied and move on, distracted. It almost mimics the narcissistic cycle of value and discard, but not quite? Way more subtle and not exactly abusive. And these folks seem genuinely attentive, warm, kind, and caring in the beginning, and I feel so comfortable and gravitate toward them, when underneath that I guess is just a bottomless pit of one-sided neediness.

How do we stop attracting these people? I don't know yet, I'm figuring that out. Yes it is like a "kick me" sign it feels like sometimes. I'm in your same shoes. And also wondering, how do we ever find and/or attract the people who may want to take care of us in return, if eventually given? It's feels like I was born with the wrong chemical homing device or a faulty magnet. I get drawn to and attract at the same time people who just want to deplete me, or have no idea how to be supportive or attentive to the level that I am in relationships.

This is how I feel as well, why do I attract these types?  I honestly have come down to realizing that I need another INFJ in my life, or other IN personality types as close friends.  I got two of my close friends from back home to fill a quick personality test out and they were INTJ and INFP.  I think the issue is In types arenít that common and we tend to keep to ourselves so itís hard to find each other unless weíre in a big circle of people (like school).  I would love a friend finding app based on Myers Briggs personality types, but there are barely dating apps for those.  Instead, I am going to do my best to be more discerning about who I spend my time with and make a conscious effort to invite people over with whom I actually enjoy their company.  We had been inviting church folks who my husband likes the husband, or the kids are around the same age.  I realize now, I donít really like the catty wife, who gossips about me behind my back (which I have overheard more than once).  I felt left out by these very cliquey moms, but realize, I donít think I would enjoy spending time around them anyway, so their excluding me, well, why do I care?  I am going to consciously cultivate a few friendships slowly instead.  I used to worry, what if this or that person feels left out, because I donít want to be unkind to others, but I have limited time, I want to spend it developing friendships that are healthy for me.

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DistanceNotDefense

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Re: So speaking of chosen family, what do you do if you donít have one?
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2021, 10:38:24 PM »
Breakthrough - I would agree with you on IN types....if my PD/enabler siblings weren't in that category themselves  :( (they are INFP/ISFP I believe) but I really don't think that has much to do with their illness or dysfunction.

I've never met another INFJ and I know they're the rarest I think (1% of the population?) so yeah that would make sense, we just don't meet each other or connect.

Honestly I think it's possible we don't connect with the right people because there is a lack of chemistry...the right people for us might actually seem boring, while there is something simultaneously (and subconsciously) exciting, comforting, and familiar about being around people reminiscent of our families, not unlike the pheromones and dopamine of romantic attraction (and they in the same way feel drawn to me). I feel now like I have to watch out for the people I feel a "buzz" or "high" around!

I recently heard this idea on a podcast addressing why people get stuck in cycles of abusive/dissatisfying friendships, that the right people feel intuitively unexciting or boring and we simply overlook them. Combined with the rarity of people like ourselves I agree with you, we barely miss each other or are just few and far between.

I realize now, I donít really like the catty wife, who gossips about me behind my back (which I have overheard more than once).  I felt left out by these very cliquey moms, but realize, I donít think I would enjoy spending time around them anyway, so their excluding me, well, why do I care?

This is starting to dawn on me as well, I feel left out if groups but then I think, why do I want to feel part of the group anyway? Once I'm in I will probably find a way out to isolate.... (And drama, gossip, competition/comparison, etc. like you describe are one of the first things that send me running for the hills in group dynamics!)

The same with social interactions in general too. I will feel lonely and then a couple hours into spending time with others, I feel restless or anxious and want to go home. And the cycle continues....

Maybe I wasn't lonely after all. And I also wonder: maybe it is OK that we want to be alone for the most part, and we just need to learn to accept ourselves as loners by nature (in a world that favors extroverts)?

But then lack of human connection and loneliness is supposedly worse for you than alcohol or cigarettes. So I just don't know or can't tell what's good or bad :wacko:

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Breakthrough

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Re: So speaking of chosen family, what do you do if you donít have one?
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2021, 04:48:04 AM »
Breakthrough - I would agree with you on IN types....if my PD/enabler siblings weren't in that category themselves  :( (they are INFP/ISFP I believe) but I really don't think that has much to do with their illness or dysfunction.

I've never met another INFJ and I know they're the rarest I think (1% of the population?) so yeah that would make sense, we just don't meet each other or connect.

Honestly I think it's possible we don't connect with the right people because there is a lack of chemistry...the right people for us might actually seem boring, while there is something simultaneously (and subconsciously) exciting, comforting, and familiar about being around people reminiscent of our families, not unlike the pheromones and dopamine of romantic attraction (and they in the same way feel drawn to me). I feel now like I have to watch out for the people I feel a "buzz" or "high" around!

I recently heard this idea on a podcast addressing why people get stuck in cycles of abusive/dissatisfying friendships, that the right people feel intuitively unexciting or boring and we simply overlook them. Combined with the rarity of people like ourselves I agree with you, we barely miss each other or are just few and far between.

This is starting to dawn on me as well, I feel left out if groups but then I think, why do I want to feel part of the group anyway? Once I'm in I will probably find a way out to isolate.... (And drama, gossip, competition/comparison, etc. like you describe are one of the first things that send me running for the hills in group dynamics!)

But then lack of human connection and loneliness is supposedly worse for you than alcohol or cigarettes. So I just don't know or can't tell what's good or bad :wacko:

Yes, INFJs are rare, but I mean there have got to be more of us somewhere, right?  I agree with the running for the hills with gossip, drama and competition.  I just donít need or want that in my life, anymore than I already have to tolerate it.  I mean I can enjoy the company of those types in small doses, but that doesnít make for a solid friendship if I am tolerating them. 

I hear you on the lack of human connection and that being bad for us, but arenít toxic connections even worse?  I mean they feel like theyíre shortening my life at the time.  Honestly, I would prefer doing my solitary hobbies and hanging out with my husband and kids most of the time over social interactions that feel stressful.  I wonder if I have developed some social anxiety.  The pandemic has made me feel like less of a weirdo actually, because of the restrictions, others have had to be more isolated too so I donít feel FOMO 🤣.  I donít know why I ever felt the FOMO any way, I mean I guess I donít want to miss out, but I also feel like I just need to work on the relationships I do have, even though they are mostly long distance.  It would be nice to make a few closer friends in the area.  There are a few folks I will try and make more effort with when the lockdowns lift.  I definitely need to work on finding people with some shared hobbies and interests.  I have FB groups for that, but finding a few IRL friends to share that with would also be fun.

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Call Me Cordelia

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Re: So speaking of chosen family, what do you do if you donít have one?
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2021, 09:39:49 AM »
:heythere:

Iím pretty evenly split between INFJ and ENFJ. I need to be around people, but only my people, if you know what I mean. Small talk and strangers exhaust me, but I get crazy if I donít get adult interaction. I also tend to give a lot. I think itís partly my nature and partly conditioning. I rarely consider any effort of mine to be significant.

I have found a tight circle of trusted friends close to me IRL. That giving nature did help me to find them, but I think in friendship generally, the friendship needs to have an object other than simply mutual need for a friend. My closest friends are in my same state in life, and we offer each other support and encouragement in being Catholic mothers, but we also have a lot of hobbies and things we like to do together outside of just mom stuff.

Itís kind of cliche but to have a friend you have to be a friend... and also be just an interesting person in your own and find stuff you like to do and do it. I have made connections around gardening, hiking, sewing, painting, cooking, prayer... all rather domestic habits in my case but in general itís worked out. Honestly I think toxic people can smell loneliness and desperation. Itís kind of a paradox that when I accepted being on my own that I found friends. One of the things we like to do is just bring our sewing projects and get together and chat working independently, or on occasion do a sew along or do a project for church. Last winter we all (4 ladies) made our daughtersí Easter dresses, which was really fun. They were all different, it didnít look like we were a cult lol. That was the perfect balance of social and working independently for me.

So with my friends we do give each other ďcounselingĒ on occasion, but itís more than balanced out with the lighter stuff. If I were having a hard day and needed someone to cry to, I can think of maybe 2-3 people I would go to naturally besides my DH.

Sort of a hodgepodge of my experiences, but I hope it helped some.

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DistanceNotDefense

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Re: So speaking of chosen family, what do you do if you donít have one?
« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2021, 10:01:11 AM »
I mean I can enjoy the company of those types in small doses, but that doesnít make for a solid friendship if I am tolerating them. 

Same! I maybe hit my peak spending time with these types about an hour in. Then I want to go home.

It's hard to put a finger on what *would* make for a satisfying friendship. Someone who is reliable, pulls their weight (I'm not the only one trying to keep the friendship going), someone who checks in on me once in a while (again it's not just me keeping things going...), isn't focus on gossiping about others or comparing, or insecurities, and doesn't just reach out when they need a sounding board. That dynamic is getting so old for me.

That giving nature did help me to find them, but I think in friendship generally, the friendship needs to have an object other than simply mutual need for a friend.

I think you're bang-on with his Cordelia. That whole "you've got to be a friend to have a friend" is so very true...

My problem is that I get sucked into the giving/mutual caring aspect from the very beginning, and overlook that the other person is not motivated at all over sharing interests but just having me as a close counselor. I give too much right away! It draws a certain type of person like a moth to a flame. I'm dealing with this with a couple friends I thought I was getting close with. And it's really strange because we DO have some shared interests but they're not interested in exploring that, it would seem - as soon as I noticed it was almost blatant.

So I think you're right there needs to be another objective....I hope to explore this more when covid is less of a problem....

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SparkStillLit

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Re: So speaking of chosen family, what do you do if you donít have one?
« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2021, 10:20:53 AM »
I'm pretty sure I have two whole friends left. They aren't near me, either. Well, one is only an hour drive, but the other is a plane flight.
My hiking buddies will get back on it once covid is less of a problem, but that's a specific thing.
I kayak with NOBODY and I like it that way.
As to making new ones....I don't even know....
The one closer to me texts me and demands "proof of life" every so often because she says I've been ignoring her for too long. She makes me laugh.

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Call Me Cordelia

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Re: So speaking of chosen family, what do you do if you donít have one?
« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2021, 11:06:30 AM »
Quote
My problem is that I get sucked into the giving/mutual caring aspect from the very beginning, and overlook that the other person is not motivated at all over sharing interests but just having me as a close counselor. I give too much right away! It draws a certain type of person like a moth to a flame.

And it repels a healthy person, Iím discovering. Healthy people are a bit guarded in new relationships, be they romantic or platonic. It may not even be conscious, itís just that they have full lives and only gradually make space for someone new. Unhealthy people are often a bottomless pit, so theyíll take whateverís on offer.

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Hopeful Spine

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Re: So speaking of chosen family, what do you do if you donít have one?
« Reply #11 on: March 09, 2021, 06:36:17 PM »
You are not alone.  I'm in my 40's like you and I feel like I've wasted years of time and energy in relationships that did not serve me and in some cases hurt me.  I'm looking around now and even my closest friends (who are perfectly lovely people) are not people I can count on and really share with.

Almost 10 years ago I had a serious trauma in my marriage and I have very little support.  My own family sort of stepped away, (they "didn't want to pry" even though I was seriously struggling).  My husbands family basically disappeared.  And my friends, maybe a few phone calls.  I recall one offer to take me to lunch.

I cut everyone some slack.  It was truly a unusual situation and I didn't want to fault anyone for not knowing how to help.  I let it all slide.  In fact, after the dust settled,  I upped my game and became even more of a "super friend" to prove how strong I was.

Then two years ago I had a medical issue.  It was scary, and big and I was a mess.  Once again, people stepped away to "give me my space".  I was alone.  It was shit.  And it hurt.  It started me on a path of self reflection that I'm still working through.

I gave too much, too hard, too soon.  I took responsibility for myself and them and ran the relationship show.  They had very little heavy lifting because I just took care of it.  I kept thinking that if I was a good friend then they would be there when I needed them.  They weren't.

I started to take accountability for how I treat people.  I used people to pad my life.  I didn't do it to be superficial or mean, I really just wanted to have that chosen family and really, anyone would do.

But it doesn't work that way.  Covid provided some breathing room.  I was able to cut out the truly bad people.  I dialed back on those nice people who I didn't really enjoy.  I stopped worrying about aquaintances.  Once you do all these things you find that there is not much left.

I am lucky that I have a super strong marriage.  I continue to focus on that.  We have given up on family and have tried finding couples friends.  But we start off with dinner. Not dinner, followed by drinks and a conversation about taking a vacation together.  Or promises to house sit or feed their dog.  Just a fun night of dinner.  It's taken a while but we're building solid relationships with people we genuinely like and are comfortable with.

When I meet people I like I hold back.  Even if I really like them and we click.  I let myself have coffee with them.  Not them and their kids, in their favorite place, on their time schedule.  I suggest a mutually located time and place and am reasonable about variations.  If I ask a person twice - I make myself wait.  If these people don't have the time, interest, or energy to invite me - then I stop investing in the relationship.

I just see things for how they are.  For instance, we have a couples friend Jack and Jill.  I like Jill and have twice invited her separately to different outings.  She goes and we have a nice time.  But I'm done inviting and trying to cultivate a personal relationship with her.  It's enough that we have fun with the guys and I'll continue with that.  But the personal friendship is not mutual and that's okay.

Other times times I'm pleasantly surprised.  For instance, today a casual friend called and told me about a special sale going on.  She was like, "you need to get over there and check this out."  So I did and then I texted her back to thank her and we chatted a bit.  Only now am I realizing how special that was.  This person, a newish friend, reached out to me so that I didn't miss something that she knew I'd like.  That is exactly the sort of relationship that I've always wanted.

It's taken 2 years to get to this point and I'm not done.  I still harbor jealousy within my family and feel bitterness.  I make mistakes and sometimes overshare.  I still allow myself to feel bad when PD people behave badly towards me.  I'm learning that part of my problem is that I still haven't learned how to talk to treat myself kindly and fairly.

But today I have a special thing, that I bought at a special sale, because a special friend, thought to tell me about it.  That's a win in my book. And worth the effort and wait.

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DistanceNotDefense

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Re: So speaking of chosen family, what do you do if you donít have one?
« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2021, 12:56:58 AM »
When I meet people I like I hold back.  Even if I really like them and we click.  I let myself have coffee with them.  Not them and their kids, in their favorite place, on their time schedule.  I suggest a mutually located time and place and am reasonable about variations.  If I ask a person twice - I make myself wait.  If these people don't have the time, interest, or energy to invite me - then I stop investing in the relationship.

Do they usually initiate, or do you?

I feel like I'm a place with my healing where I just don't want to chase after people anymore, but then would really like the companionship and know it can't be one-sided. That is a struggle.

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Hopeful Spine

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Re: So speaking of chosen family, what do you do if you donít have one?
« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2021, 02:10:42 PM »
When I meet people I like I hold back.  Even if I really like them and we click.  I let myself have coffee with them.  Not them and their kids, in their favorite place, on their time schedule.  I suggest a mutually located time and place and am reasonable about variations.  If I ask a person twice - I make myself wait.  If these people don't have the time, interest, or energy to invite me - then I stop investing in the relationship.

Do they usually initiate, or do you?

I feel like I'm a place with my healing where I just don't want to chase after people anymore, but then would really like the companionship and know it can't be one-sided. That is a struggle.

I almost always initiate.  I find that many people already have their real or chosen families and life long friends.  While it appears that they enjoy me, I sense they don't really have a "need" to invite me somewhere when their sister (or best friend) is already accompanying them.  So I go out on a limb and invite.  It's kind of like asking someone out on a date - nerve wrecking.  lol

If it works out and we have fun I might later invite them out again.  But then I stop.  Even if I feel like it's a mutually fun time I don't invite after the second outing.  I do that to protect myself.  Because I WILL invest too much into the relationship while they are likely just enjoying a nice hour or two of their day with me.  The ball is in their court and at this point and I'm still able to accept it's not mutual and move on. 

I don't write them off though.  If I see them around, I'm genuinely friendly and share a laugh.  After all - I really do like this person!  Should they invite me somewhere, even months later - I will be pleased and consider that an effort on their part (even if the plans don't work out) and will get back into the game. 

Sounds like a lot of rules but too many times I've invested in a person I truly like and end up carrying all the relationship weight.  I'm always inviting, planning, driving, purchasing tickets, going out of my way to make reservations - whatever.  In the end it's not worth it.

I cope by finding things I'm comfortable doing alone.  For me just getting out into public is enough companionship.  Or I move on to another person I enjoy.  It can be hard to ask out all these people on what is essentially a "first date" but when I feel up to it - I do it.

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WinterStar

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Re: So speaking of chosen family, what do you do if you donít have one?
« Reply #14 on: March 11, 2021, 04:18:48 AM »
Hello INFJ friends, fellow INFJ here! Thank you all for sharing your experiences here. I feel less misfitty than usual today.

I spent most of my life being the bigger person and family diplomat. Heavy emphasis on mat cause I was also a doormat. Always if I asked for anything, I was demanding. There was a clear sense that if I didn't do what they want, I would be punished, and as I've gained boundaries, I have discovered that this is absolutely true.

Just as I over gave to  my family,  I did to friends as well. Had a lot of friends leave when I wasn't useful anymore. Had really close best friends never speak to me again after I set a minimal and incredibly reasonable boundary. Only two friendships have survived the test of time, and they aren't the ones I would have expected and they both have more friends than I do and are thoughtful friends but less invested than I am. Or at least it feels that way. I'm always a little worried people secretly hate me because I have had friends tell me they secretly hated me as they went out the door. I'm picky about friends and find it hard to connect with new people. I want a deep relationship, but the beginning of relationships can't be that way. I hate how superficial and draining they can be while I wait to see if they can be deep relationships at all. And most of the time they can't.

I definitely have C-PTSD, and it is odd how it somehow intermingles with my INFJ personality. I can't always tell where one ends and the other begins. This is partly due to the fact that the C-PTSD has been with me for as long as I can remember and feels like an integral part of myself.
I am only resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to you, or to any person so wholly unconnected with me. -Elizabeth Bennet

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DistanceNotDefense

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Re: So speaking of chosen family, what do you do if you donít have one?
« Reply #15 on: March 11, 2021, 02:56:47 PM »
Quote from: Hopeful Spine link=topic=87657.msg751326#msg751326

Sounds like a lot of rules but too many times I've invested in a person I truly like and end up carrying all the relationship weight.  I'm always inviting, planning, driving, purchasing tickets, going out of my way to make reservations - whatever.  In the end it's not worth it.

No this is fantastic advice Hopeful - thank you! Having rules in place makes sense. As someone who is realizing they're codependent (me) it would make sense to have rules to keep you away from your addiction. (At least that's how I'm trying to look at it - I'm addicted to needing to feel validated by others at times.)

Hi Winterstar! I relate a lot to what you said. Right down to being demanding if I asked for anything, and being punished for boundaries.

I also find that I'm incredibly picky and have difficult time connecting, but would absolutely love a real connection to more friends. That said, I am starting to realize that what I hunger for more than connection and company is actually feeling OK about myself, and in starting to learn how to get that from myself.

Recently I even turned down the opportunity for a new friendship (well, more like I put the ball in their court) because it was clear this person was broken and needed some support. As much as I feel for her I've decided that I don't get involved in friendships based on my helping others with their problems and hoping they do the same for me in return (they probably won't).

Also relate to CPTSD/INFJ issues. My strong gut instincts/counselor instincts, and even my self protection instincts, have ways felt like just personality characteristics but they were actually instilled in me as an infant with disorganized attachment, and that's why they feel second nature and are hard to separate from my core personality (but they are separate). What a shock to finally realize those characteristics can actually be a bit off/go overboard and we have to learn to modulate or reign them in more so we don't sabotage....


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Hopeful Spine

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Re: So speaking of chosen family, what do you do if you donít have one?
« Reply #16 on: March 12, 2021, 06:18:54 PM »
Recently I even turned down the opportunity for a new friendship (well, more like I put the ball in their court) because it was clear this person was broken and needed some support. As much as I feel for her I've decided that I don't get involved in friendships based on my helping others with their problems and hoping they do the same for me in return (they probably won't).

Good for you!  I felt something similar recently.  A neighbor with all sort of issues needed legitimate help recently.  My husband and I helped.  The old me would have enjoyed the drama and enjoyed providing additional help beyond the initial need.  The old me would have checked in and been a willing shoulder to cry on.  The old me would have found comfort in "being the strong one" or I would have found (and exploited) this to be a bonding opportunity.

The stronger me felt for her and I went outside of my comfort zone to help.  But I pulled back as soon as her situation improved.  While I very much care about this person as a human being I'm not finding any sort of thrill by being in the thick of her trials.  I did not search for a way to prolong my hero role in her drama.  I'm not remotely interested in hearing how she handled the rest of her problem.  It's private to her and since I'm not a close family member or friend it's 100% not my business. 

I am glad that I was able to help.  And I'm proud that I have become strong enough that I am not using this opportunity to collect a "friend" to keep in my pocket for future use.  Once upon a time I certainly would have.

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DistanceNotDefense

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Re: So speaking of chosen family, what do you do if you donít have one?
« Reply #17 on: March 13, 2021, 04:29:38 PM »
I am glad that I was able to help.  And I'm proud that I have become strong enough that I am not using this opportunity to collect a "friend" to keep in my pocket for future use.  Once upon a time I certainly would have.

Wow thank you for elaborating....describing helping people as a "thrill" and getting in the thick of their trials really paints it for what it is (an addiction). It's funny to look at oneself as so saintly and realize that it was actually quite icky! I super relate to this and have seen very similar in myself. Thank you.

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Hopeful Spine

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Re: So speaking of chosen family, what do you do if you donít have one?
« Reply #18 on: March 14, 2021, 11:46:33 AM »
I am glad that I was able to help.  And I'm proud that I have become strong enough that I am not using this opportunity to collect a "friend" to keep in my pocket for future use.  Once upon a time I certainly would have.

Wow thank you for elaborating....describing helping people as a "thrill" and getting in the thick of their trials really paints it for what it is (an addiction). It's funny to look at oneself as so saintly and realize that it was actually quite icky! I super relate to this and have seen very similar in myself. Thank you.

Thank you for your comments.  I never thought of it as an addition but it's so spot on and explains why the whole thing scared me a little.  I used to consider myself a saint, this perfect person and friend.  I was incredulous why people would reject ME.  But yeah, when something is so one-sided it doesn't seem "right" to healthy people.  I still struggle with my old ways but it's getting easier to understand this.

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AlisonWonder

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Re: So speaking of chosen family, what do you do if you donít have one?
« Reply #19 on: March 16, 2021, 08:14:07 PM »
There are some really good observations in this thread and I agree with a lot of what has been said.

1. I think sometimes when you are a really giving person, it's like someone on a low income who puts on a lavish dinner for a new acquaintance.  It makes them squirm because they know you can't afford it.  If they cut and run, they are abandoning.  If they stay, they are exploiting.

2. About handling friendships,  I have had just the same problems as everyone else here, but something seems to be working for me at last.  Some words in a well-thumbed book about clinging leapt out at me one day so this is what I do now:  if someone comes up to me I will talk to them, but otherwise, I seek out new people every time.  This gives me a wider range of acquaintances from which a friend may emerge, it increases my sadly lacking interpersonal experience, it keeps me calm and un-needy, and it looks more sociable because it actually *is* more sociable. 

I am starting to notice for the first time, how clingy those people really are who refuse to look at me when I stand next to them because they don't want to miss their special friends.  I thought I was the only one with social anxiety!  Those occasions still count as social experience for me, and I have definitely got to know someone new a little better from it, although they may have learned nothing about me :p