How to support very private friend

posted 2 months ago in Relationships
Post # 2
Member
87 posts
Worker bee

I like the idea of scheduling a girls night – work on building the relationship and not addressing it directly and see if she opens up with time.

Post # 3
Member
459 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: March 2019

I would schedule a girls night out and write to her, or talk to her about what’s going on with your life etc. Making it clear, that you are there and available if she wants to reach out to you.

Have you asked her directly about how things are going? If so, what was her reaction? I think from that you could sense very well if she’s not interested in talking or if she wants to talk, but maybe thinks she is going to bore you or…?

Post # 4
Member
3090 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: January 2021

I agree that just hanging out and having a nice time together is probably the best thing you can do.

Post # 6
Member
470 posts
Helper bee

I know this might be new and difficult for you, but everyone processes grief (and that’s what this is) differently.

There have been times in my past when I’ve gone through a break up that particularly flattened me for some reason, and I shut myself off from my closest friends for 6 weeks to 2 months (That has happened twice). I knew they were concerned and just wanted to help, but the very last thing I wanted to do was talk about it and be reminded of everything that went wrong… I just wanted to be alone and process it on my own.

It absolutely was not personal against them, but I needed to take care of me. All I could do was hope that they understood and trust that they would be there for me when I was ready to emerge. 

During a time like this, people need to take care of themselves in the way that is best for them. Some people are very private and deal with things on their own, and it’s not for the rest of us to judge that and try and push them.

Yes, reassure that you are there for her. Check in with her periodically (without being too much), and offer to schedule a fun night out. I’m sure she will appreciate it a lot.

Post # 7
Member
331 posts
Helper bee

bouviebee :  I wouldn’t try to get her to tell ‘her story’ or ‘control the narrative’. This seems to go against her nature of being quiet and private. Her true friends will stand by her and not judge her based on whatever gossip they hear or FB posts from an ex they read. 

I would continue to reach out to her on a regular basis. If she’s not up for a Girls Night Out, maybe Netflix and pizza or something similarly low key would be easier for her at first. But be the one to make contact, someone who is grieving or depressed or anything like that may not be feeling strong enough to be the one who reaches out. 

Post # 8
Hostess
3737 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: November 2016

crustyoldbee :  This.  I’m also a very private person so I think I would want to just leave it be and let people think what they want, knowing my friends were there for me.  Invite her to hang out and stay in touch, but don’t pressure her to share if she’s not ready. 

Post # 9
Member
1435 posts
Bumble bee

bouviebee :  You’re trying to change how she sees the world and what she wants them to know.  I’m a very private person and don’t give two flips what narrative people make about my personal problems.  If they want to believe something they will.  Those people who I let close to me will know the truth.

I’d actually be leary of confiding in a friend who wanted to change me.

Just my two cents from a very private person.

Post # 11
Member
37 posts
Newbee

I see that you’re trying to be a good friend and I think that’s really sweet. She seems like she’s trying to avoid going out with you and doesn’t seem to want to update you any further regarding the situation. 

I’m divorced. I’m a private person when it comes to dealing with painful shit.  I will say that the majority of people who I told would tell me how sorry they were, and how I was so strong and how they were there for me when I needed to talk almost every single day. Then you’d get the camp of people who would ask you all sorts of questions as to why, legal process shit, unsolicited advice on what they’d do in my situation. It was almost like I had to hold space for their emotions so that they could process their own feelings in regard to my divorce. It was too much. 

The friends I appreciated most during that time  were the ones who reached out to check in occasionally. They’d extend invites to things, without getting upset when I’d decline. They continued to reach out and offer support even if I pushed back and said I was fine. They didn’t treat me like some wounded grief stricken creature, and I got warm fuzzies when I realized that they took the time to invite me because they missed me.

 

Whenever I did come out, these friends let me vent if I wanted, actively listened, would intentionally change subjects if someone asked me about my divorce, and told me about their life accomplishments. They wouldn’t say shit like divorce is not an every day occurrence. Because it is. It happens every day, to different couples, for different reasons. My divorce was amicable, but the social stigma that I had to navigate through was a nightmare. These were the friends who made that stigma tolerable and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

So my advice to you would be to pull back a bit. Send her the thinking of you text every so often, extend invites, and just treat her like the friend she was before announcing her divorce. You need to be her friend, not her therapist. Allow for her to take the lead, and be there when she needs you. 

Post # 12
Member
7777 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

indigobee :  Totally agree with this.

I’ve never gone through a divorce, but when I’ve had painful breakups in the past, I have pretty much shut down and isolated myself for a couple months until I’ve processed the experience in my own mind. Only then can I handle talking about it to other people. I know it drives my best friend and family crazy that I do this but it’s just my process. 

I would just continue trying to do girls nights and what not but not really pressure your friend to do anything when it comes to communicating about her divorce to the wider world. Be there for her if she wants to talk about it with you obviously but don’t push her. She will get there in her own time.

Post # 13
Member
905 posts
Busy bee

This is hard. I feel my sisters and I grew up pretty private people. We did not share information to friends about family or in home situations. Even now, I dont like the idea of ppl knowing too much bc then they can go and tell another curious mind.

As far as friends are concerned, my closest friends know not to give out info, and i turst them. They know me enough to know when im hurting or upset, and they ‘protect’ me at all costs when ppl try to talk to me about it. Its a good feelign to have a friend thats completely there for you, even if they dont fully understand.

Post # 14
Member
331 posts
Helper bee

bouviebee :  If she’s wanting advice on what to say to people, that’s going to depend not only on how private she wants to keep it and who is doing the asking. If she’s very private &/ or not ready to open up to people, I’d go with ‘thanks for asking, I’m not up to talking about it just yet’ . If she’s wanting to tell them something, it depends on who is asking. A close friend or relative she can confide as much as she feels comfortable. Someone just being nosy or digging for gossip she can freeze out (if you can find a nicer way than I would of doing this, I tend to give shit stirrers the death stare)

Post # 15
Member
470 posts
Helper bee

ifoundtheloml0705 :  

Absolutely love this, and I felt the same way, not just when I was going through my divorce but when I’ve been through break ups too.

With some people, it can feel as if they’re expecting you to help them process your break up or divorce, and then there are people who simply seem to want to see you and spend time with you so that they can pump you for details and offload their observations about your situation, which you don’t have the least interest in hearing about.

I agree with you that the best friends are the ones who help you to feel normal again and like your old self, who make it clear they are there for you but don’t dwell on what’s happened, who are supportive but don’t overload you with pity or compassion.

During the last bad break up that I went through, one of my best friends sent me daily (daily!) texts saying “thinking of you” or sending me sentimental cat pictures or telling me how she was “there for you if you need me hun”. I wanted to punch her, as well intentioned as she was.

I know I’m going off on a tangent, and I’m sure the OP is genuinely concerned about her friend and is not being insensitive, but I do think it’s important that we give people the space to process their experiences (particularly the painful ones) in their own way and don’t make it too much about imposing our own needs and opinions on the situation.

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