December 2017
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what nourishes me in friendship: self-care/growth/awareness, shared passion/enthusiasm, creating...


icon: "plant magic (photo I took of a tree blossom cluster, still in buds)"

A friend asked me what nourishes me in friendship, and after thinking on it, this is how friends can nourish me:

1. self-care/growth/awareness. This is far and away the most important, the thing that nourishes me most in spending time with someone (whether virtually or in-person). A person can be the best person in the world, but if they aren't good at self-care it will not nourish me to be around them. I think this is partly because I sense the care that they need and I have to practice a lot of self-discipline to be around them without trying to fill that hole (a vast improvement over my previous self, but still an intense and draining struggle for me), and that struggle gets exponentially harder the more I care about them. So the skill of self-care prevents me from feeling a constant drain (due to that internal struggle) in their presence.

But the other side of that, growth, is actively nourishing to me when it is shared with me. When someone has been, for instance, going to therapy regularly and learning new skills that they are applying in their relationships or their daily habits, I can feel that and it subconsciously nourishes me. (or if they have simply been taking a walk everyday because it helps them feel mentally clear and less anxious, or they've been reading more, etc) Further, if they describe it to me, it nourishes me more because I learn more about them as they learn about themselves, and I also learn about myself as they share. Sometimes this is because they share something that teaches me something new, sometimes it's just as simple as noting my reaction to a particular aspect of something and realizing something new about myself from that.

I often spark this on my own by asking questions that prompt self-reflection and growth, but that is usually a much much smaller nourishment because it requires energy to put in. If I ask a simple question and then the person makes explores it carefully and thoughtfully, that can be really nourishing, but that requires a certain mental habit of critical analysis and a level of practiced openness that most people don't have, so it is rare.

2. shared passion and enthusiasm. This is more complex than it seems at first glance, because it involves the other person not only understanding and caring about the same thing I care about, but expressing that emphatically and emotionally, 'hyper'ly even. And this could be anger, joy, excitement, shock, wonder, etc, any passionate emotion. Kylei has always nourished me in this way, because Kylei is very VERY good at being enthusiastic and loud about it. On the flip side, if I share something I feel passionate about with someone and they have a calm or flat reaction to it, I will feel drained by having shared with them and will wish I hadn't, because if I had instead written about it I would have had a better reaction just from myself re-reading it.

3. creating together. I find creating to be nourishing in itself, and when someone creates with me I feel extra nourished because I feel like they are investing in their self-care/growth as well as my self-care and growth. Conversely, if someone sets the intention with me to create, and then doesn't, I sometimes feel worse than I would have if I had just created alone.

4. spiritual working together. This can be incredibly nourishing but it requires number 1, 2, and 3 or it takes more energy than it gives.

5. asking me meaningful specific questions. This can be nourishing from anyone, but has far more impact if the question is one that I hadn't considered, and/or if it is about something that I am currently positively emotionally invested in. (being asked about things that I find stressful is draining, not nourishing, though someone who is really good at questioning can sometimes make an overall nourishing conversation out of it) Vague questions like "how are you?" are not at all nourishing because they take so much work for me to organize my thoughts and answer. (my ADD-PI means I hate vagueness in general, btw)

6. cuddles/focused touch. This can make me feel REALLY nourished BUT it is only good for me if the person is 1) good at self-care AND 2) is good at noting my reactions and adjusting for the comfort of both of us AND 3) is generous. I am very physically sensitive and it is easy to make me feel bad, and if I give a lot of cuddles without also getting them it rapidly gets more draining than nourishing. I like drinking and cuddling because I get numbed and then it is not distressing to the point of emotional suffering to have someone brush a sensitive place accidentally. Otherwise, I exclusively give (which I do really love when it doesn't happen too often) or do some specific and boundaried touch (like let them rub my feet or pet my hair).

7. gifts of effort. This can be things like driving to see me when you live far away, or doing a chore I hate doing. But if you don't ask if I want it and get a yes first (or ask if I have a blanket answer for that particular thing), it can be upsetting, because I want to be able to measure my gratitude against your effort. If it is going to take a lot out of you but only give me a little, then it is not worth it and if you do it I will just feel bad for your loss rather than feeling happy for my gain.

Things that have low to no nourishment value for me: activities which don't involve the previous things (so, going to the movies together would not nourish me unless we deconstructed it after or something), people expressing empathy/sympathy for my negative feelings (I want them to care, but I'm okay just trusting that they care unless I am in a desperate place and if I am there, I will specifically request support), being told nice things about myself, being listened to without feedback. These are all nice and certainly don't have a negative effect, but they are not things that have a large emotional impact on me.

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Comments
lilywolfsolomon ══╣╠══
Awesome.

I am still so fucking shy with you. And it fucking frustrates me!

That is not all. But yeah.
lilywolfsolomon ══╣╠══
I'ma do this too.
lilywolfsolomon ══╣╠══
I hope I expressed that I love feedback as far as nourishment, as often as possible, in the sort of way that one might give feedback about physical touch: a little more to the left, a little higher, more pressure, smoother motions, etc. I want to calibrate myself to be as nourishing as possible to you. Don't be afraid to be rough with me, to tell me exactly how it is, don't be afraid to hurt my feelings. I want to know, always. Your not being afraid to hurt me and giving pointed feedback is actually nourishing.
lilywolfsolomon ══╣╠══
Stepwise therapy, that's what I call this, upon finishing my own post. I want to do lots more stepwise stuff in my journal, if you have any ideas. It helps me clarify things. To communicate things in ways I hadn't before.
lilywolfsolomon ══╣╠══
I'm curious what in particular you like to create since you didn't provide any examples. :)

(And I know I'm asking way more questions than you're able to answer, that's okay, I just has a curiousness.)
kmiotutsie ══╣╠══
Your #1 is my #1 right now too! Self care and personal growth are paramount, and the ones who don't put a lot of stock in this are the ones I find it the most tiresome to be around. Though I guess if they're close to me and I care about them it's easy to be patient, I don't think I'd want to seek out a closer relationship with someone who wasn't invested in their personal development. *solidarity* ^_^
raidingparty ══╣╠══
I have to admit the text is mostly 1-directional at the moment, but after reading your #1 I have to tell you how much I appreciate reading your life and philosophy and process.
lilywolfsolomon ══╣╠══
So, big realizations through this! I didn't realize but how I feel seen is also how I feel nourished. And it's also what I look for in a good friend or a romantic relationship. It's the same list, for all three, and it clarifies so much. Since I made the list I'm so much more aware of what nourishes me. Like, I just had a conversation with Johan that immediately made me feel happy and nourished with just a few words. Because I wrote the list I was aware of the feeling of nourishment and I updated my list. Having this list feels like kind of a powerful tool, that I feel like I can use in certain ways to improve friendships and such. It's great.

And I would like at some point to talk about our lists in person. For me that feels like a really good ground from which to build intentional friendship: awareness of nourishment and intentionally cultivating that.

Could you maybe print me out a copy of these, both mine and yours?

If someone doesn't know how I feel nourished then it's a lot harder to feel seen. And not feeling seen has a lot to do with feeling shy for some reason, too. Also I think there are like natural, maybe neurological, or personality differences in how we do and structure certain things or friendship style that, really it's just this natural difference that doesn't have anything to do with me, but I attribute it to something special/faulty about *me*.
webgirluk ══╣pic#118113725╠══
I love reading posts about what others seek in their friendships and what nourishes them, it's really fascinating. I wrote a similar list recently in the form of spider diagrams of the exact list of what I feel connects me to another person in a friendship as I wanted to put it into words far better than I had when I would previously compile such lists. I will probably post once I sorted it in detail but there are similarities with yours. Mine is about 8 different qualities with sub branches off each one.

1. Thought sharer/deep/takes an interest in my life properly and overall shares thoughts. This relates to feedback, asks meaningful questions as in your no 5, curious, reflective and re visits conversations or asks how something important went and so on. This kind of mixes in with your no 2 as well as often I've found I got along better with friends who stepped in enough to care about what I have to say over a passion they do not share with me than some who were meant to share said thing but just did not connect over it in a way I need.

2. Values our friendship. They have to place value on "us" as a part of their life and show it. This is where things like your no 7 come into play. Totally agree on the loss/gain weigh up aspect even though my list doesn't really tackle this. Another example could be verbal ways of showing they thought of you about something.

3. I have to feel at ease with the person so I don't want to feel judged, I want to feel accepted, respected and that as a person, I feel comfortable with their presence. I think at ease to some extent, comes with knowing a person well and not easy to know the extent it can be achieved in the early days of a friendship.

4. Similar interests. It can mean just things you like to discuss for me, not really about an activity/hobby as such. So for me it could be Psychology, internet/facebook, self growth/reflection, radio, mutual friends, social issues and having a rich imagination or even sharing an online community such as here.

5. Humour. I love to laugh and make others laugh verbally, this is something I love that makes me feel connected.

6. Trust. I don't like people who lie, even white lies and don't do it myself to friends as I think in closeness people should ideally be able to be open and so no need for white lies. I want trust in that I know where I am with someone, that they'll look out for me as me them, that they don't have a spiteful side and have instead overall high moral integrity.

7. Giving. I like people who are there for others as me them and not got too much of a chip on their shoulder over who is doing (or not doing) what or come off too taking and selfish.

8. Shared values and a similar stance over life. For example, I like people who are humble, value compassion over power/superiority and who are free thinkers, rather than life script slave followers.

9. Kindness and empathy. Just an overall compassion for others where possible.

This list is a summary but you get an idea :-)
belenen ══╣effervescent╠══
thanks for sharing! yeah I feel you on a lot of this. Especially the trust through not-lying, that one is vital for me.
call_me_katya ══╣Chess Glass╠══
I'm thinking about this from two points of view.

1. I am reading your list and thinking about how the things you mention would nourish me, and the subtle differences between you and I and what we look for/need, and our similarities.

2. As a friend who is limited by distance, I am thinking about which of these I can do to make you feel nourished, and how I may have been doing these incorrectly. For example, I would tend to express things less 'hyperly' online as I've had time to process them, and my writing style is quite calm, mainly because I wait until I have something collected to say. In person I'm a lot more immediate and excitable! But thinking about this from the 'low nourishment' point of view I was imagining a singular 'Wow!' to be about the same level of usefulness as a '*hugs*' which I kinda see to be the lowest common denominator of a comment. If a person is just going to say '*hugs*' I tend to think they might as well not bother. I don't think I would ever just express a single word though! I would sometimes express sympathy for negative feelings as from my point of view sometimes this can nourish [and I was probably assuming it nourishes others], depending on how it is phrased. You can trust that I care though :) This post has helped me to know the ways in which I can help.

As for the cinema, I agree. No point going without deconstructing! ;)
belenen ══╣effervescent╠══
aww, it makes me feel loved that you are reflecting on that *beams*

I'm very curious about what nourishes you in friendship! do you think you might write on it?
call_me_katya ══╣Icy Rose╠══
I think I will write on it! I think it's something I need to explore in more detail, as one or two friendships have left me a little dissatisfied recently and I need to explore why. Also, I love writing about things like this anyway and get my thoughts more clear.

It'll take a while, as I'm working a lot until the 10th, but I will do it :)

*edited as I originally posted this in the wrong place*
meri_sielu ══╣barn owl moody╠══
All wonderful and vital things. I agree with so much here. <3
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.