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Podcast Ep. 52: Friendship & Emotional Health with Blake Blankenbecler, LPC and Jenny Walters, LMFT

In this episode

We’re so excited that this month's theme in the Yes Collective is emotional health and friendship. As busy working parents, we know how our friendships get pushed way down the priority list, so we are starting the month talking to Blake Blankenbecler, a licensed therapist who specializes in trauma, anxiety, eating disorders, and - most importantly - friendships. She specializes in helping people be better friends and have deeper more meaningful friendships.

We were joined by Yes Collective contributor and therapist, Jenny Walters, to talk about making new friends, navigating conflicts with your friends, and how to know when a friendship is coming to an end. Without further ado, here’s the wise and wonderful Blake Blankenbecler.

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About our guest

Blake Blankenbecler, a licensed therapist who specializes in trauma, anxiety, eating disorders, and - most importantly - friendships. She specializes in helping people be better friends and have deeper more meaningful friendships.

She spends her days helping clients at her private practice, Fig Holistic Psychotherapy. She lives in Charleston, South Carolina with her husband and  goldendoodle named Cash. In her free time, she loves sitting on her back porch reading a good book, eating her way through Charleston, and of course enjoying the ocean any chance she can get.

Show notes

Transcript highlights

Audra DiPadova (AD)

Blake and Jenny. Let's talk about friendship. Yeah. First off, we always like to open this podcast up with kind of our personal stories, because I feel like we're very often talking to people who we know and love. And so, Blake, I was so thrilled to meet you through Jenny and loved our brunch together in Charleston. And I love that we are we're pretty close geographic. And I'm hoping that I'll get to see more of you. And so, Jenny and Blake, can you share how you two know each other?

Blake Blankenbecler (BB)

I've moved way too much. And a few years ago, I moved to Los Angeles, and I had left Nashville. I was thinking, like, I don't even know if I want to be a therapist anymore. But I missed. I miss the work. And so I remember just being like, I want to I want to check out what the therapy scene is like in L.A. And I Googled a lot of places and I found this very beautiful website and it had like the most beautiful copy.

And I think of websites as like living rooms. And I was like, I want to be in this place. And so I literally sent a cold random email to Jenny and I was like, Hey, I really like your practice. I like what you're doing. Can we have a meeting? I just love to hear about what's happened in Highland Park.

And I came and Jenny was incredible and wonderful. And I was not looking for a job. But you did offer me. You're like, Would you be interested in potentially working? We're going to hire soon. And that is where the magic began when I got to work for you.

Jenny Walters (JW)

It was kismet. It felt very synchronistic. You know, like when you know, you know. And it's just like when you came in and I liked your that you were so proactive and reached out and were so inquisitive. And then as you were sitting there talking, I was like, this is a this is a good one here. This is a this is a I could just tell you, you had a gift. So that was that. And then she left a year later and it was very sad.

BB

I think of I think of Jenny as such, like a mentor and an expander and she's always teaching me things and keeping me up to date on the latest calls and the shows to watch. So, you know, just just like stuff just like, fun stuff.

AD

Are you both into the cult stuff?

JW

Oh, yeah.

AD

Okay, Jenny. Yeah, we were. We were together for where we together when we together it was it, um, with the cult, the upstate New York Albany cult. Did you watch that show?

JW

Nexium.

AD:

Nexium, Nexium.

JW:

I've watched every show about Nexium, I there's like three or four out there.

AD:

I don't think I've got a podcast you. It came out when I was hanging out with my dad alone when the kid Justin took the kids up to Massachusetts. Anyway, the Nexium guy was in my parents’ Amway group. Oh, he had banned, like in our house many, many, many times.

BB:

In your house?

JW:

Is that where he was learning? I mean, Amway is a little on the cult side.

AD:

Did my parents teach him his part that he's freaked out because when he saw what happened and what the guy did, I mean he's still he won't even watch the documentary and so freaked out.

JW:

Wow. Blake, that means you and I are two degrees from a cult leader. So, yeah, no. I mean, anything. Cults, basically. Anything with a narcissist at the helm, um, has my has my interest in that. I immediately text Blake and I'm like, have you seen, have you seen the one about Teal swan?

BB:

Have you, have you seen it?

JW:

What about there's lessons to be learned. It's always you think it's going to be the same story and it is on in many ways. Sadly, it's kind of just predictable what these people do. But there's always little nuances that that are very interesting to me that you pick up.

AD:

So it sounds like this is a connection in your friendship and it brings me to to question. So, Blake, I'd love to know from you what is friendship, but let's back up right before that or answer this however you want. Well, how did you get into friendship work and and becoming a friendship educator?

BB:

It happened on accident. There is no, like, setting out, like, I want to do this. If anything, I do not consider myself to be, like, the world's greatest friend. I struggled with it so much growing up. You know, I think Jenny and I work a lot in the world of trauma and just how trauma is so disruptive and it has you, you know, using your survival and coping mechanism.

So it wasn't something I flourished in. And so I think I come by it really honestly as someone who's moved a lot and struggled with my friendships, I just kind of thought like, there are not any resources. And so I just kind of kept looking and I was like, I don't I don't think anyone's creating them. Like, I guess I'm going to start paying attention and talking about them more and asking questions.

And sure enough, I saw in my own client work these themes of friendship and like kind of these implicit messages showing up around like loyalty and best friends don't fight. And what's it mean to have a boundary with a friend? Does that mean it's about friendship? And so it just kind of flourished and happened very naturally and organically as I was doing some of my own friendship work, seeing it and my clients realizing there's not enough resources and being like there's there's something here.

AD:

That is super cool to hear. I feel like I feel like many of us come to our I don't know if their work or a passion or interest or whatever through things that we struggle with ourselves. Right. Things that that we notice, things that are challenging for us. So thank you so much for sharing that. So what did you learn? Like, what is friendship?

BB:

Well, it's something I'm still learning. I think it's the biggest thing is that that I'm holding is that friendship is a living organism. It is like any other relationship. It is not static. It grows, it stretches, it morphs, I think so much. Jenny, I want you to share that story that you shared at our brunch about your friends, because I can't stop thinking about it.

Even that story that I hope you'll share in a second. You know what I'm talking about? The one it was the one where your friend was, like, about to get married and she likes to sit you down and have that. Yeah, I'll let you. I'll let you share it. But friendship is it's a chosen relationship. So it's this really beautiful thing where there's no obligation, there are no contracts, there's no legality to it.

And it's this choice to continually show up and bring out ourselves the good parts, the bad parts, the messy parts, and support each other and care for each other and annoy each other and everything in between and just kind of see what happens. It's like a great it's a grand experiment, honestly.

JW

I think that's so wise, Blake. And I don't think people acknowledge that in language that enough about friendship. And so there's a lot of expectations like you were talking about loyalty. So there's a real idealization that happens around friendship that I think gets us in so much trouble and gets us into this binary of like, well, we're either together or we're not.

And I love the idea of the dynamic changing thing because friendships do change and I have friends I've known since grade school, but our friendship is very different now than it was when we were in grade school. Obviously. I mean, we're adults, but even just in terms of the intensity or the frequency of communication or how our have, we've grown in different ways, but we still get to have share a connection.

But it's very different feeling connection than than what we had before. So so I'll share the story that you're referring to because it does speak to this, which is that one of my besties Sara shout out to Sara out there in the world. She was getting married and I was very single and she called me up. I remember very vividly I was sitting at my kitchen table in Chicago on I think it was a cold day.

Maybe it wasn't anyway. Probably if it was Chicago. Yeah, yeah, it's likely it was definitely, probably overcast I'll tell you that much.

In Chicago anyway. And she said I have some news to tell you and she said I'm engaged and I, you know, if I'm being totally honest, I felt multiple things. The one was absolute joy for her. And also probably some jealousy, probably some fear. You know, I felt a lot of feelings. And what was really beautiful was that she said, yeah, it's really, really exciting.

And I also want to acknowledge that this means things are going to change between us. And that makes me really sad. And I wonder if we can acknowledge both and talk about and I was just like, I mean, I get chills thinking about it because I've just never had anyone deliver that kind of big news and make space for all the parts of it, the light and the shadow.

And it was really beautiful. And she did the same thing when she got pregnant, which was, Hey, yeah, this is really exciting. And it was like I felt such joy for her and yeah, I knew it meant that things were going to be different and that we could acknowledge that I think made way for those differences to evolve and it not be a deal breaker for our friendship.

AD:

It's beautiful. I like it. Yeah. Sorry, Blake. I just am struck. I've heard the story already, but it's striking me even different to today or now. And speaking of, like, to me, there's, like, such a beautiful intentionality there. And hearing from both of you, what came up for me is thinking, wow, we've taken so much of just anything related or friendship completely, like, for granted, like unintentional, like unreflective, right?


Like, I mean, how much intentional work is there around friendship for me in my life and growing up? I mean, that's something that was just like friendships must be some sort of like magical, mystical alchemy or something that you have, like nothing to do with really. And it's been a long process of learning, like family and like partnerships and other things, like there's work in all of this and it's so much about how we show up.

So I love here, I just love hearing that. And she's not a therapist.

JW:

No, but she is a greeting card writer. So she does have an immense amount of attunement and and and emotional intelligence. Let me tell you, if you can if you can find yourself a bestie who is a righty like who writes cards for a living. Oh, my God. The most beautiful notes through the years. The most beautiful cards she snail mail that you will cherish for the rest of your life. So it's been a real gift.

BB:

The best the best I think about, too, with friendships where we often say and I've probably said it too, like, you know, you have this collective time together. Like I'm thinking about being in college or living in the same place, living in the same house before you move out. And it's like, this won't change, this won't change, this won't change.

It'll stay the same. It'll stay the same. And I love what your friend did because friendships will change and it actually makes friendships so much easier and it makes the friendships so much safer when there's space to talk about how it's changing. Instead of having to live in this fantasy that it's not. And it keeps it makes it so that there's just so much more space and fluidity there.

JW:

Yeah. I'm curious, Blake, about peoples. Well, I'll just to I'll just share something personal and see if you have any insights around it. I was so hungry for friendship growing up. I mean, I was, you know, I was the kid that was kind of the easy target and bullied and stuff. And so I always had, like, a best friend because it was my safe harbor and they fight it, you know, so.

So there was always kind of this intensity growing up. And as I got older, I moved around a lot and I always wanted to hang on to those friendships. So I was sort of resistant to letting them kind of fall away. And then eventually started to realize that I was sometimes the only one putting in the work and feeling like if I weren't the one making the moves here, because it takes a lot to maintain a relationship when you move and proximity is no longer on your side.

And I've been really lucky because yeah, my inner circle, I mean, not like very few of my besties live anywhere near me and but they've all been people who have participated equally, you know, in the friendship. But my question, I don't know if it's a question, I'm just a comment that I'd be curious. Your insight is is something about why is it some people value friendship more than others?

And I always kind of felt vulnerable and embarrassed about it, I think, especially when these friendships would fall away. And I've had some people I really thought we had something and yeah, you know, I haven't spoken to them in years because I just I stopped kind of putting in all the work and, and thought a lot of sadness and trying not to take it personally.

Maybe it is personal, which, I mean, not everyone wants to be your best friend. And I just want to give any insights around that kind of, that kind of differing dedication or valuing of friendship.

BB:

I'm thinking about this. It was like a tick tock or a real I'm young, so I'm aging my my millennial self. But it was this it was this funny thing of like, didn't text, like, decided not to text my friends back or decided not to reach out to my friend and wait for her to reach out first. And then it was like the next thing, like it's been six months, like, ha ha ha.

And this common reality that if I am not the one initiating the friendship dissipates. And I think some people are naturally more comfortable in the initiation world. But I also, from what I hear from so many people, is like especially the ones that are more active participants in the friendship is that they're tired and they also would like it to be reciprocated.

And we've both moved around a lot. So I think that that's something that we have in common, is even thinking about that conversation like we have to be really intentional with our friendships. And I think like, you know, there is jealousy when I look at girls from high school that are still hanging out there, having babies together, they're all at the baby shower.

I'm like, Oh, that's so great. Like, it's so easy. And even seeing like growing up with shows like Sex and the City and Friends, like, they literally lived in the same apartment. So even after they got married, like, there was just so much ease there and so it can be taken for granted. And so I think it's easy for people to say that they value friendship.

And a lot of people have never we've don't have any classes on like How to be a good friend or they're not very many resources that say like, here's how to reach out to a friend or here's how to repair something, here's how to do conflict. So I think it's there's so many layers at play, but I like to look at the system too, that it's like you're supposed to have friendships, they're supposed to be easy.

And then if it's not easy, it kind of just goes into like the junk drawer and it's like, so yeah.

JW

I think that's right. That, that makes so much sense and there's so much unconsciousness around friendship. It's gives it you're right. It is something that I think we get it's taken for granted and and then we're we're informed by what's modeled around us or by pop culture. So that makes a lot of sense.

AD:

It it makes me hearing this to what is coming up for me has to do with physical proximity as well. And sometimes I wonder if like physical proximity and kind of like getting along with someone and being acquainted can be confused with friendship like or it's a type of friendship. Maybe it's like a level, maybe it's an acquaintance level, but and, and you do maybe hang out.

But I don't know. For me, moving across the country this last time. So I've moved a lot too. And I've loved that I've picked up. I feel like good friends along the way and I can tell when they're the ones you can carry with you. You know, they're the ones who stay in touch, you know, stay at least to some degree, you know.

And I, my friend put it my friend Courtney put it this way. She's like, Audrey, you're going to cause she moved from L.A. back to Massachusetts and she was like, You're going to tighten your squad. You're going to you're going to see, you know. And I can feel that, Blake, like, looking at the pictures, looking at the people who are in proximity and gathered.

And it can look like they're friends, right? It can look like there's a friendship there. But I mean, is that it or is it like they're there physically and can hang out? But do do they have a friendship? I mean, since I moved, I feel like Jenny, we've we've I've seen.

JW:

I've seen you more. Yeah, I've seen you more since you moved to Georgia than I think I saw you when you lived 45 minutes away.

AD:

Because then there's a kind of proximity where you think you're close and you kids, like, hang out with your friend on any, like, weekend, and then you and then, you know, life is too busy, and it's like living in Brooklyn versus Manhattan. You're not you know, you're not taking the train. Yeah. And you don't do it. So I don't know, like, I just I feel like there's something, at least in my life, where that proximity could kind of get confused.

And I've seen people who fallen off now. So, yeah, I'm not going to just I'm not going to keep reaching out. And I think, oh, maybe it was just because we were down the street or, you know, in the same regional area. Does that make a good friendship?

JW:

Look, maybe it makes a friendship for a season.

AD:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I like I like it that way for a season. Yeah.

JW:

Also, I don't know about you guys, but there was some proximity friendships of my youth. I mean, I was just sort of like, well, I mean, just, I mean, again, I think this is, you know, it speaks to my own stuff and my own trauma and everything. But like, I think it was kind of like someone's better than no one.

And so there were some, you know, some people that I was hanging out with that I don't even know that we really had much of a connection except that we were neighbors or there was proximity. And and that coupled with my desperation and terror of being alone, you know, so that equaled friendship. But it didn't last, obviously.

BB:

But I think that that's such a great point because that's something I see so much as this fear to even look at your friendships and begin kind of putting a light on them because that scarcity comes up of like, oh my gosh, if I start looking at them, am I going to have any friends at the end of this or am I going to discover like, crap?

I'm in all of these friendships where I'm doing all of the heavy lifting. I am a doormat. I am people pleasing like I have no wants, desires or edges in this friendship. So it's it's it's nerve racking. And I've also been thinking a lot about this idea. Like people are like, you know, thinking about the friends that we've had forever.

And it's like, oh, we've been friends forever. We're going to be friends forever. Like, there's just no there. No question. That's even if it's not, if you begin looking at it, it's not the greatest friendship. And I really people use this word loyalty. But really what I think when you get down to it, it's the sense of obligation.

It's not I don't even know what the definition of loyalty is, but it feels like there's more of an obligatory sense I have to stay friends with you forever.

AD:

Yeah, that's an obligatory is a big word for me in in friendships in some way like doesn't I feel like it for me it ties a lot into proximity. You know the network kind of like and probably the people pleasing, you know, tendencies and moving kind of like broke that pretty hard in many ways and gave me the chance to really reexamine, like, where where are the people I feel like I'm seeing the most because of like it's more obligatory.

They're close by and like, I've never seen Jenny, you know, we live 45 minutes away, but I'm seeing like, you know, people who are down the street from like a, you know, you know.

BB:

That is stimulating.

AD:

Right? Right. And I have a choice, but I feel like at the time, even I did not perceive how much of a choice there, you know, and that was obviously my own stuff. But he did not I perceive that those relationships as I call them, friendship, there's some sort of a relationship I think were more important than they were.

JW:

It's interesting to how oh, this is a whole maybe a whole other episode, but friendships between women with children and women without children. Oh, because.

This is the episode. I mean, because that's, you know, I'm I'm I don't have children and I have friends who don't have children and I have friends who do have children. And my friends with children have made an effort. And I have I have former friends who had children who as soon as the children came and I really don't hold any judgment around it at all.

I cannot I mean, to raise a human being props like and you don't have the bandwidth to to pursue our friend like I really have I really didn't take it personally. I don't have any judgment, but I do have an immense amount of gratitude for my friends with kids who did still carve out space for a friendship, even though it maybe looked different and wasn't.

We weren't hanging out. We weren't, you know, going to the bars or whatever. But, you know, we were having a different kind of time together. But even just energetically, I'm so curious about that from the perspective of someone with children. And, you know, does that feel different for you? Friends with kids. Friends without kids, I mean. Oh, my.

AD:

Gosh. I have to say, like likewise, I am so grateful for my friends without kids who are wonderful friends. And and if I think about them like some of my closest people don't have kids, like it's really interesting and I so appreciate that they stick with my, you know, my stuff, you know, with my kids and and and their puppy, too.

Definitely. Yeah. But it it that's really interesting. Once I think about I mean, I can count on my hand my closest probably my closest friends don't have kids.

You know, some, some do. But I bet yeah. I'm a good, I'm probably a good 5050. And the ones who have kids, um, we parent probably similarly we probably have similar goals, similar. So we look at it and the ones who don't parent similarly, I mean it's like nails on the chalkboard like I.

BB:

It's such a good point and you can get.

AD:

Like just just the having of the kids is not a commonality. It can even provide more challenge or the thing that I found with family friendships is like once you have this sort of family unit, which I'm sure, you know, with your your partners, you might have come across here, there is partner dating like like we, you know, we get along with the one and then the partner like, oh, my God, do we have to do this?

JW:

We recently made friends with neighbors. Our our dog, June has a crush on their great Pyrenees, Primo, who's twice as big as June, which is this is a large dog. It's like £130 anyway. And we all like each other, like I like him and I like her and he likes me and he likes Tina and she likes me and is like I'm like, this feels like a unicorn situation right now.

We have, you know, so we've been fostering that friendship and just, you know, having each other to the backyard and dog dates and things. And I don't want to get to I don't want to scare them and be like, let's vacation. You know, I'm so I'm just like taking taking it down a notch. But, but I am super excited because it's so nice to meet people that are a block away where everyone likes each other.

Yeah, that feels rare. I mean, you know, like, really likes each other.

AD:

Yeah. Yeah. And not just, like, socially sort of like, yeah, we can do a barbecue, but like actually wants to hang out. And I found that at least with my partner, you know, I'd be friend friendly enough with the moms. And maybe that's just like I'm friendly, you know, like, like I can totally have fun with and, you know, connect with people.

And I have fun connecting with people, right? My partner is like, well, you know, if we're not going to dig deep, you know, first first date here, I'm not really interested. So like the baseball dads or the whatever, you know, kind of like, you know, just dads down the street, dads on the, you know, kids sorts of things, you know, that we meet through that, you know, if they're not willing to go deep, you know, I know for me, I was like, well, you know, yeah, sure, we can go.

Yeah, but we're not going to be be friends. And I think maybe he has just like a much stronger sense of like, I don't know what's fulfilling to him in a relationship with with someone, you know. But we're definitely mixed family dating harder or maybe it's more clear. I don't know.

BB:

I we got to see a good friend of ours, of my husband and I. We all lived together or lived close by in Nashville and we were laughing. He, him and his family, he has two kids now. They live up in Maine. And we were kind of, you know, like nostalgic for the good old days. I wish there was a word for like, you know, that homesickness for a place, but not necessarily like the place, but like that specific time and place coupled together like they were just incredible.

Like my husband and I were newlyweds and we were talking about they had had a child and they had the smallest house of all of us. It was like the tiniest little, little thing, but for so many reasons. Like everyone was always there and it was this like the safest, warmest they just did, like hosting and conversation so well, like his name was Ben and he would always be making like, the most creative cocktails.

And it's just like, you got to act like you came in and you got to exhale. And so even I share that to say, like, it really does not matter if you have like the biggest house or the like. It does not matter about the space, it's more like the energy. They're like, there's just something that was so great.

And so my husband and I don't have kids yet. You know, we're in a like kind of in the in-between where we're struggling with some infertility stuff. So that's like a whole nother layer of like not having kids wanting kids. Friendship gets very weird in that space. But we talk about when we are parents, we want to be parents like our friends Ben and Annie, because they just kind of integrated us.

And it wasn't like the the kids were obviously a focus and a priority, but they were not the only focus and the only priority. Like, they just it blended so nicely and we're like, that's we want that. We want to be like them.

JW:

I was going to say when you were talking, Andre, about your friends with kids parenting, similarly, as I think through my friends who have children, they all parent similarly and they all have full lives that include raising children and some of them are stay at home parents. Like it's not about, you know, having a career necessarily, but it's more of an attitude of raising the children is a part of it.

But there is also an identity and a world beyond that. And I would say that is a through line. And I think that's probably why there's room for them to make space and value friendship. I'm thinking right now about my friend Jenny, who is one of the coolest parents I know. And, you know, she invited me to like, do this, like, vision board branding decor for her child's third birthday.

And I was like I was like, I'm on it. What's the theme in Conto? I'm downloading it right now. We're using tertiary colors. I'm seeing teal, I'm seeing hot pink. What do you think? How many balloons? I mean, I just, like, took it and ran with it. And I was so it meant so much to me to be included and involved in that for for Josephine, her daughter, and also was really fun for us as to, you know, creative people to to get to focus.

But I mean, that, I think is a perfect example of someone who there's something expansive and inviting in and and not just laser focus. My kid, you know, there's just it just is a different energetic vibe that I think is what supports the friendship.

AD:

I can feel that it's all energetic. I get right like really when it comes down to it. And I love hearing that too. Blake that you saw in people like who you'd like to be when, when you know, when you have kids like that, kind of like seeing that example, right? And then, you know, for Jenny being incorporated, fully incorporated into the family like that, you know, it's super beautiful.

I think it just makes me feel good to hear about it. And I know for us, like, we had examples of of people who we looked up to that still to this day, I learn things from and like, oh my gosh, that is that is high. I remember making mental notes like, that is how I want to do this.

You know, that's the sort of and they're still incredibly important people to me to this day. So it feels like some of this is like sifting through a little bit. Like to me, it just seems like there's a difference between a friendship where you are, you are you have this energetic vibe, right? You connect like we want to be.

We like being together, obviously, right? Like we like being able to do this friendship thing and dig deeper and get really get to know each other and spend time together and do the work associated with that. And then something that is more casual or like something that is more circumstantial maybe, right? It is. You know, your kids play on a team together or you're at the dog park together or you're at work maybe.

Right. Work friends. Work friends can become really good friends, too, but they can also be work friends. Yeah, I think some of us and I think even for me at some points in my life had a hard time maybe understanding what was what with this. You know, I think that I probably confused more circumstantial, you know, kind of friendships with with what it means to really be more deeply like, I don't know.

It's like to me, it's like a, you know, deeply committed in that like we, you know, at least for this reason, you know, we were willing to not just spend time together, but do some work together and work to communicate whatever it might be. So is there is that something that we can do, some reflecting around? You know, Blake, from your experience, is it meaningful to sort of like examine your friendships and look at like what are seem to be more of a friendship with that kind of commitment versus, you know, a casual friendship that you can hold in some sort of perspective?

BB

Absolutely. I I've had so many different work environments. And I will say I'm not just saying this, but by and far like being with Jenny and at her practice with the other therapists there like that just felt so like the energy was so different and it was so there was like just a commitment of integrity and character there.

And that had not been true at all the places I've been at. And so I think about Brené Brown coined this phrase like common enemy intimacy. And I think that that was such a huge part of so many other workplaces where it's just like we hate the same people. And so it's kind of that like watercooler chat chatter that you like.

You can go and you can like whisper like, Oh my God, these I'm like, Can you believe this or that? And on one hand, it gave, it gave, you know, I'm guilty of doing this. Like it gave me a sense of connection, but it also gave a false like it gave a false intimacy because we weren't actually friends.

It didn't at the end of the day, after I did do some reflection like this doesn't feel good to be talking about this. It just keeps us stuck. We're not making any proactive steps like I didn't feel great about my own integrity and character doing this. And so I think even just examining, like, what do we have in common?

What are what is our friendship about? Like what, what is the conversation centered around? And a lot of times with work, friends, one of the biggest things that I can see if you can be stay friends after work, is are there places that you can talk about and are there places where there is connection outside of just the things that you worked with, like works with because you're going to leave, so you're so it's like fun to talk about some people, but after six months or so, it's like you've moved on.

Is there still a connection there?

JW

That's a really good question that that makes me wonder to if we should spend some time talking about when it's time to go, like when. Oh, yeah. Because what I'm so excited about, Blake, what you're doing in this space because I agree there is not there really isn't any there isn't much, you know, resources or information. And and I have clients and I've noticed they're sort of developmentally kind of in a similar place in their lives.

And it was similar for me. And so it was probably like in my early thirties, late twenties, where I was kind of surveying the land and I was realizing that I sure had a lot of I had a lot of people in my life that some of them weren't real nice to me. Like I had kind of a lot of kind of lot of narcissists, honestly, that that was just my personal thing.

But that I've had clients say this to like, how do you know when this is a friendship that isn't working, isn't a friendship or needs to go and is that normal? I think that a lot of them want to know, is it normal for friendships to to fall away for different kinds of friendships to be needed? What do you what do you think?

BB:

Oh, I think that's every yeah, I do. I can think of so many people who kind of look at me like, can I have permission to? And it's, it's that like, why like do I have to stay here forever? Like, they want me to give them a permission slip. Yes. Your permission. But yeah, I think knowing when to walk away, I remember doing this, it kind of happened organically, but I made this and whoever is listening can do this.

It was really helpful. I kind of made this these like three concentric circles and on the inner circle it was like, Who's in my inner and my inner world? And even research says you can only have about 4 to 5 people and like you have access to our psyche and who have access to like our stories. So really to we can't do friendship with a million people.

Like it's just you can't do it well. So it needs to be a pretty small circle. And then outside of that, I thought more of like the acquaintances who are the people that I love, but also I don't need to talk to them every day. I don't think I talk to any friends every day. I'm not I'm not a high touch person.

And so things do that. And then I have this third circle of like question my friends. And I realized so much of my precious friendship energy was going to these question mark friends because had so much anxiety around them like do they care about me? Why like it? I feel like they're not accepting my how I'm changing and how I'm not.

And I'm like, oh my gosh, I am giving I do not have we don't have a lot of time to do friendship, which with all of our our busy, full lives, but I'm giving my precious energy to people who are not reciprocating to make you know or who my body just feels like, totally clenched and inflamed and like I have to be really small with them.

And I'm not investing in the friends that like I can actually do some of this good communication work with and good setting boundary work with. And it was hugely eye opening and that was really helpful for me to be able to think like I don't, I don't have that much time and I want to give it to people who I can build and create something beautiful and good with.

AD:

That is amazing. Blake, I, I was visualizing, as you're, as you're describing this, I'm visualizing this exercise and I'm going to do it later. It felt good for me just to, like, travel through that with you and thinking, like, I was just like, oh, my gosh, the question mark, people I have done, I have spent so much time in that same place.

Thank you for that.

JW:

Yeah. And so what happened with the question mark, people.

BB:

You know, I let I let them go. I and I don't want to sound it was not like I've talked so much even I've had to like work through my embarrassment that I talk about friendships so much in my own therapy and it's like this is just kind of come into acceptance of it. But I, I, I let think like they really loved me for a time and I loved them and they can't hold me the way I need to be held.

And I also can't hold them the way that they need to be held. And so it's just this it it turned into this very like I, I wish them well and I do have so much love for them, but I can't invest. I can't give them, like, my best time and energy and. Yeah.

JW:

And that doesn't mean that it wasn't a successful friendship. It just means. Right. You know, that it had a it had it was finite.

It makes me think of during this time in my life when I was sort of doing, I didn't do this, the circle thing would have been very helpful. Mine was just sort of in my mind, but as I was kind of letting some friendships fall away, I think I had some I shared an idea. Justin's kind of like have to go deep all the time.

I think it's like an HSP thing. It's kind of it's kind of annoying. It's pretty annoying. But and so I was I remember I was therapist hopping at the time and I because this was during the period of immense depression, anxiety, all that. And I saw this Daoist therapist who also did like equine therapy. It's just the coolest woman so far for two sessions.

But I'll never forget and I've said this before, I probably on one of our podcast, but I said I was telling her about this, the friendship, and I had a couple that were just not, not great. And she said, you know, you don't have to give an exit interview. And I was like, I don't, you know, because I thought I had to like process it out with everybody.

Like I had to let them know we can't be friends anymore. And it turns out that permission slip that she gave me was really wonderful because when I just stopped, when I, like, loosened the grip and just came into acceptance about the reality of our relationship, it just naturally fell away. Like, you know what I mean? Like, they didn't want to be friends either, you know, they were they were, you know, just kind of like, naturally this dissipated.

So I just wanted to say that for folks that feel like if I've decided that I'm letting a question mark friend go, I have to like, you know, this formal.

BB:

Informal conversation.


JW:

Right? Right. Yeah. We have to have a therapy session together about it or, you know, and the answer is no, I don't think it.

BB:

It reminds me to of the sense like especially if there's been harm in the friendship so often, especially the people who go to therapy often. Not always, but I mean, I feel like the people I we want to do the right thing. We want to have integrity, we want to have the conversation like have the bout, all of that.

And sometimes that kind of thing is like, how can we exert this friends that we're talking about and just how can we exit this friendship with the least amount of hurt and harm to us as possible and just letting go sometimes helps us not have to create even more hurt and harm in our and our little bodies and stories.

JW:

Do you guys have any friendships that ended that you are still thinking about or are still like, what? What happened? Or like?

AD:

Young ones that I think maybe aren't like totally nicely ended but are so changed.

So change that is like you think is probably has ended or like it's in, you know, quite a season if that's not it, you know, that are sizing and I know for for me too I found it a lot I don't know if you've experienced is going through big changes in your own lives like when Max was diagnosed for example.

I mean I was blown away to see the people who fell away and the people who came in, you know, it's like through their own discomfort around what we were going through. So then it makes me think to like the discomfort of others and our changes, you know, as we're growing and changing and moving and not, you know, kind of falls away around those kind of events, their discomfort.

And then I wonder if it's permanent, you know, just kind of not I'm not taking any. And so it might be permanent.

BB:

Oh, I've been thinking about a friend's I love this question I've been thinking about a friend from high school that I it's yeah. I think just doing this work of looking and exploring friendships has my psyche kind, letting out these experiences. And too, I remember I had a pretty severe eating disorder while I was in high school. So again, that kind of shifted my lens.

And I remember you could write, you could send letters to where I needed to go to treatment first for like six weeks. And I remember this friend that I loved so much and was such a great friend. She never wrote me a letter. Her mom wrote me a letter, but she never wrote me a letter. And I remember being like so butthurt about it, but not having the tools to talk about it and kind of just like pushing her away.

And I remember at one point she even called and tried to apologize and I just kind of let the friendship go. And I don't think I knew how to really process it at the time. And so now I think back and I feel sad and I'm like, I've been like, I will I will be honest. I've been lurking on her Instagram because you can see it and I'm like, Maybe I'll reach out.

I haven't decided yet. But it is in my it's something that I'm thinking about and processing. Like, I wonder if there is space to rekindle a friendship. I don't know. She could say no and that's okay. But yeah, absolutely. I think about friends of like I wish that yeah, I wish that I didn't it go where I had even tools to talk about the hard things.

AD:

Oh, there's a moment that visually was coming up for me as you're describing that I don't know if you’ve seen the Amy Schumer, Michael Cera show.

BB:

Yes, I saw parts of it. Yes.

AD:

Yeah. So getting towards the end like once you I think maybe we're talking final episode or so, final two episodes, but the friend says no, we’re not going to be friends but it was really great to see you.

BB:

Wow. Directness is not found in friendships often. Yeah, yeah.

JW:

Yeah, yeah. Wow. Speaking of yeah, I have I have friendships that I that I ponder and I keep thinking about who I was then and who I am now. And I'm so curious I think one particular friendship, I was so hurt that but I have been so curious about what was my part. You know, like I obviously there was a dynamic here in what was my part and and really, truly, I'd been hurt throughout the friendship.

I mean, it was really imbalanced. It wasn't great. It was great in the sense that I think I loved this person so much and but I very much idealized them, too, which I think was probably part of my part of, you know, of it because it doesn't feel great to be put up on a pedestal. I think that that's that's an uncomfortable place.

But but yeah, you know, just kind of acknowledging that that is this great unknown in my life. And I don't know if there will ever be any I'll ever have any knowing about it. And it's just sort of, you know, just kind of sitting with that grief and and always wondering and also, I wanted to say, you know, speaking of not great work environments, you know, thinking through friendships with people that shouldn't, we really aren't your friends that in the sense that they're in a power position like boundaries and.

I don't know if you want to speak to that at all. Just touch on that.

BB:

That's a whole that's a whole other episode. Yeah, I know we don't have much time left.

AD:

I feel like we should return to that. And I know we've got to jump off to go to to jump into a session, but Can we do a whole like follow up episode on that? Because yeah, I have a lot coming up around that and I think there's a lot of support that we can provide this space because you are so right, Jenny.

This is it's huge.

BB:

Yeah. No, I would be down for sure.

AD:

Blake, what I'd like to do just in the next few minutes, can we go around at least for Jenny and Blake? Can you? It's more of a rapid fire kind of thing, and I'm not going to go by our script. Can you? I have a 12 year old daughter, and I think that friendships we haven't talked about this, but I think that friendships vary for children.

And I don't know, you know, it's the intersection of kind of like gendered identities and probably all of a very complex web of things that we can talk about. But I'd like to just specifically speak to my 12 year old daughter. What advice would you give 12 year old you around friendships? Is there something, something simple that you would share with your 12 year old self?

I know. I'm like throwing it out as a surprise.

JW:

The first thing that came to mind was it gets better. You know, that's what we tell my fellow queer people, too. But it gets better. Yeah. Oh. Oh.

AD:

I can share. What comes up for me first is it's not yours like so much at that age you think is yours and it's not yours. And I know there's so much teasing through what is yours, but you tend to overly take on. Well, you know what I mean? Like like you think it's all yours. And it's not just learning the very beginning of of boundary work.

I feel like it's one of the most important things that we can we can do with our kids.

JW:

Yeah. Oh, I love that.

BB:

Yeah, I, I, I would tell my 12 year old self like, you're good and, you know, like, you're, you're I was just so weird and awkward and gangly and that felt like such a thing to hide. And I think that I'd, I'd tell her, like, I mean, all of this combined, like, it gets so much better, but like there are people who will love those parts of you out there, like and celebrate them that you don't have to hide them.

JW:

You just haven't met them yet. It'll be a while, right. Hold on tight. Your tribe is coming.

BB:

Yes. Yes. And it gets better. It really does. I love getting older. Oh I know I, that's what I always tell kids in my life who are in that awkward age are struggling and I was like, listen, trust me, you do not want to peek. It's 15 that doesn't you don't want that to be your best, your glory or like it's good. It's a good thing that this is a struggle because it's only going to get better, you know.

AD:

And Blake, as we, as we exit out of this particular intro podcast with you, can you tell us your exciting news? Did you have some rough, exciting news to share?

BB:

I do. I do. I'll hold it up. So I created it because I don't know if people will see this, but it's called the Friendship Deck and it is 62 questions. It is a conversation game for friends because as I said earlier, friendship friends are not that great at being direct with each other. There's not a lot of resources and certainly they're slowly becoming more books around friendship.

But I wanted create something that literally like got you in the room with your friends talking about dynamics. And so there are three different levels of just descending because we don't want to to bond and it's yeah, they're just really fun inquisitive. Well I think they're fun. I'm similar to Jenny like deep heart to hearts are my jam so this is very this has like my yeah my little thumbprint all over it but just even questions about like, how do you want to be cared for when you're having a bad day?

Do you share with your friends when you're feeling hurt where it places that you feel left out in our friend group, just so that we can start doing friendship more intentionally and actually having it be not just this like thought that blows in the wind, like, oh, I need to call my friend, but really thinking and holding it in the forefront like how do I, how do I care for my people intentionally?

And yeah, so it's going to be out August 19th and I'm so excited to share it.

JW:

Oh, congratulations, Blake. It sounds so cool. Where can we. Where can we get this?

BB:

Yes, you can get it. You can literally just go to the friendship.com and it will bring you to everything you need to be able to get it. And it will be shipped to you by me and my husband with love.

AD:

I absolutely love that. Well, we will link to it and we will share it. And look, so I really look forward to bringing you into my life and into my home and sharing it with my kids, too, like, you know, yes, it's expanding for them, giving them a toolbox of some of these conversation topics and questions. And like, you're incredible.

I cannot wait to do this again. I'm thinking in like a month we should get back to. Yes, let's talk about these like power kind of friendships through power dynamics and stuff. So cool and and other layers there. I can't wait. This has to be a continuing conversation.

Podcast Ep. 52: Friendship & Emotional Health with Blake Blankenbecler, LPC and Jenny Walters, LMFT

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Podcast Ep. 52: Friendship & Emotional Health with Blake Blankenbecler, LPC and Jenny Walters, LMFT

Licensed therapist & friendship educator, Blake Blankenbecler, talks with our team about the importance of friendship to emotional and mental health, the ins and outs of friendship as an adult and so much more!

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In this episode

We’re so excited that this month's theme in the Yes Collective is emotional health and friendship. As busy working parents, we know how our friendships get pushed way down the priority list, so we are starting the month talking to Blake Blankenbecler, a licensed therapist who specializes in trauma, anxiety, eating disorders, and - most importantly - friendships. She specializes in helping people be better friends and have deeper more meaningful friendships.

We were joined by Yes Collective contributor and therapist, Jenny Walters, to talk about making new friends, navigating conflicts with your friends, and how to know when a friendship is coming to an end. Without further ado, here’s the wise and wonderful Blake Blankenbecler.

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About our guest

Blake Blankenbecler, a licensed therapist who specializes in trauma, anxiety, eating disorders, and - most importantly - friendships. She specializes in helping people be better friends and have deeper more meaningful friendships.

She spends her days helping clients at her private practice, Fig Holistic Psychotherapy. She lives in Charleston, South Carolina with her husband and  goldendoodle named Cash. In her free time, she loves sitting on her back porch reading a good book, eating her way through Charleston, and of course enjoying the ocean any chance she can get.

Show notes

Transcript highlights

Audra DiPadova (AD)

Blake and Jenny. Let's talk about friendship. Yeah. First off, we always like to open this podcast up with kind of our personal stories, because I feel like we're very often talking to people who we know and love. And so, Blake, I was so thrilled to meet you through Jenny and loved our brunch together in Charleston. And I love that we are we're pretty close geographic. And I'm hoping that I'll get to see more of you. And so, Jenny and Blake, can you share how you two know each other?

Blake Blankenbecler (BB)

I've moved way too much. And a few years ago, I moved to Los Angeles, and I had left Nashville. I was thinking, like, I don't even know if I want to be a therapist anymore. But I missed. I miss the work. And so I remember just being like, I want to I want to check out what the therapy scene is like in L.A. And I Googled a lot of places and I found this very beautiful website and it had like the most beautiful copy.

And I think of websites as like living rooms. And I was like, I want to be in this place. And so I literally sent a cold random email to Jenny and I was like, Hey, I really like your practice. I like what you're doing. Can we have a meeting? I just love to hear about what's happened in Highland Park.

And I came and Jenny was incredible and wonderful. And I was not looking for a job. But you did offer me. You're like, Would you be interested in potentially working? We're going to hire soon. And that is where the magic began when I got to work for you.

Jenny Walters (JW)

It was kismet. It felt very synchronistic. You know, like when you know, you know. And it's just like when you came in and I liked your that you were so proactive and reached out and were so inquisitive. And then as you were sitting there talking, I was like, this is a this is a good one here. This is a this is a I could just tell you, you had a gift. So that was that. And then she left a year later and it was very sad.

BB

I think of I think of Jenny as such, like a mentor and an expander and she's always teaching me things and keeping me up to date on the latest calls and the shows to watch. So, you know, just just like stuff just like, fun stuff.

AD

Are you both into the cult stuff?

JW

Oh, yeah.

AD

Okay, Jenny. Yeah, we were. We were together for where we together when we together it was it, um, with the cult, the upstate New York Albany cult. Did you watch that show?

JW

Nexium.

AD:

Nexium, Nexium.

JW:

I've watched every show about Nexium, I there's like three or four out there.

AD:

I don't think I've got a podcast you. It came out when I was hanging out with my dad alone when the kid Justin took the kids up to Massachusetts. Anyway, the Nexium guy was in my parents’ Amway group. Oh, he had banned, like in our house many, many, many times.

BB:

In your house?

JW:

Is that where he was learning? I mean, Amway is a little on the cult side.

AD:

Did my parents teach him his part that he's freaked out because when he saw what happened and what the guy did, I mean he's still he won't even watch the documentary and so freaked out.

JW:

Wow. Blake, that means you and I are two degrees from a cult leader. So, yeah, no. I mean, anything. Cults, basically. Anything with a narcissist at the helm, um, has my has my interest in that. I immediately text Blake and I'm like, have you seen, have you seen the one about Teal swan?

BB:

Have you, have you seen it?

JW:

What about there's lessons to be learned. It's always you think it's going to be the same story and it is on in many ways. Sadly, it's kind of just predictable what these people do. But there's always little nuances that that are very interesting to me that you pick up.

AD:

So it sounds like this is a connection in your friendship and it brings me to to question. So, Blake, I'd love to know from you what is friendship, but let's back up right before that or answer this however you want. Well, how did you get into friendship work and and becoming a friendship educator?

BB:

It happened on accident. There is no, like, setting out, like, I want to do this. If anything, I do not consider myself to be, like, the world's greatest friend. I struggled with it so much growing up. You know, I think Jenny and I work a lot in the world of trauma and just how trauma is so disruptive and it has you, you know, using your survival and coping mechanism.

So it wasn't something I flourished in. And so I think I come by it really honestly as someone who's moved a lot and struggled with my friendships, I just kind of thought like, there are not any resources. And so I just kind of kept looking and I was like, I don't I don't think anyone's creating them. Like, I guess I'm going to start paying attention and talking about them more and asking questions.

And sure enough, I saw in my own client work these themes of friendship and like kind of these implicit messages showing up around like loyalty and best friends don't fight. And what's it mean to have a boundary with a friend? Does that mean it's about friendship? And so it just kind of flourished and happened very naturally and organically as I was doing some of my own friendship work, seeing it and my clients realizing there's not enough resources and being like there's there's something here.

AD:

That is super cool to hear. I feel like I feel like many of us come to our I don't know if their work or a passion or interest or whatever through things that we struggle with ourselves. Right. Things that that we notice, things that are challenging for us. So thank you so much for sharing that. So what did you learn? Like, what is friendship?

BB:

Well, it's something I'm still learning. I think it's the biggest thing is that that I'm holding is that friendship is a living organism. It is like any other relationship. It is not static. It grows, it stretches, it morphs, I think so much. Jenny, I want you to share that story that you shared at our brunch about your friends, because I can't stop thinking about it.

Even that story that I hope you'll share in a second. You know what I'm talking about? The one it was the one where your friend was, like, about to get married and she likes to sit you down and have that. Yeah, I'll let you. I'll let you share it. But friendship is it's a chosen relationship. So it's this really beautiful thing where there's no obligation, there are no contracts, there's no legality to it.

And it's this choice to continually show up and bring out ourselves the good parts, the bad parts, the messy parts, and support each other and care for each other and annoy each other and everything in between and just kind of see what happens. It's like a great it's a grand experiment, honestly.

JW

I think that's so wise, Blake. And I don't think people acknowledge that in language that enough about friendship. And so there's a lot of expectations like you were talking about loyalty. So there's a real idealization that happens around friendship that I think gets us in so much trouble and gets us into this binary of like, well, we're either together or we're not.

And I love the idea of the dynamic changing thing because friendships do change and I have friends I've known since grade school, but our friendship is very different now than it was when we were in grade school. Obviously. I mean, we're adults, but even just in terms of the intensity or the frequency of communication or how our have, we've grown in different ways, but we still get to have share a connection.

But it's very different feeling connection than than what we had before. So so I'll share the story that you're referring to because it does speak to this, which is that one of my besties Sara shout out to Sara out there in the world. She was getting married and I was very single and she called me up. I remember very vividly I was sitting at my kitchen table in Chicago on I think it was a cold day.

Maybe it wasn't anyway. Probably if it was Chicago. Yeah, yeah, it's likely it was definitely, probably overcast I'll tell you that much.

In Chicago anyway. And she said I have some news to tell you and she said I'm engaged and I, you know, if I'm being totally honest, I felt multiple things. The one was absolute joy for her. And also probably some jealousy, probably some fear. You know, I felt a lot of feelings. And what was really beautiful was that she said, yeah, it's really, really exciting.

And I also want to acknowledge that this means things are going to change between us. And that makes me really sad. And I wonder if we can acknowledge both and talk about and I was just like, I mean, I get chills thinking about it because I've just never had anyone deliver that kind of big news and make space for all the parts of it, the light and the shadow.

And it was really beautiful. And she did the same thing when she got pregnant, which was, Hey, yeah, this is really exciting. And it was like I felt such joy for her and yeah, I knew it meant that things were going to be different and that we could acknowledge that I think made way for those differences to evolve and it not be a deal breaker for our friendship.

AD:

It's beautiful. I like it. Yeah. Sorry, Blake. I just am struck. I've heard the story already, but it's striking me even different to today or now. And speaking of, like, to me, there's, like, such a beautiful intentionality there. And hearing from both of you, what came up for me is thinking, wow, we've taken so much of just anything related or friendship completely, like, for granted, like unintentional, like unreflective, right?


Like, I mean, how much intentional work is there around friendship for me in my life and growing up? I mean, that's something that was just like friendships must be some sort of like magical, mystical alchemy or something that you have, like nothing to do with really. And it's been a long process of learning, like family and like partnerships and other things, like there's work in all of this and it's so much about how we show up.

So I love here, I just love hearing that. And she's not a therapist.

JW:

No, but she is a greeting card writer. So she does have an immense amount of attunement and and and emotional intelligence. Let me tell you, if you can if you can find yourself a bestie who is a righty like who writes cards for a living. Oh, my God. The most beautiful notes through the years. The most beautiful cards she snail mail that you will cherish for the rest of your life. So it's been a real gift.

BB:

The best the best I think about, too, with friendships where we often say and I've probably said it too, like, you know, you have this collective time together. Like I'm thinking about being in college or living in the same place, living in the same house before you move out. And it's like, this won't change, this won't change, this won't change.

It'll stay the same. It'll stay the same. And I love what your friend did because friendships will change and it actually makes friendships so much easier and it makes the friendships so much safer when there's space to talk about how it's changing. Instead of having to live in this fantasy that it's not. And it keeps it makes it so that there's just so much more space and fluidity there.

JW:

Yeah. I'm curious, Blake, about peoples. Well, I'll just to I'll just share something personal and see if you have any insights around it. I was so hungry for friendship growing up. I mean, I was, you know, I was the kid that was kind of the easy target and bullied and stuff. And so I always had, like, a best friend because it was my safe harbor and they fight it, you know, so.

So there was always kind of this intensity growing up. And as I got older, I moved around a lot and I always wanted to hang on to those friendships. So I was sort of resistant to letting them kind of fall away. And then eventually started to realize that I was sometimes the only one putting in the work and feeling like if I weren't the one making the moves here, because it takes a lot to maintain a relationship when you move and proximity is no longer on your side.

And I've been really lucky because yeah, my inner circle, I mean, not like very few of my besties live anywhere near me and but they've all been people who have participated equally, you know, in the friendship. But my question, I don't know if it's a question, I'm just a comment that I'd be curious. Your insight is is something about why is it some people value friendship more than others?

And I always kind of felt vulnerable and embarrassed about it, I think, especially when these friendships would fall away. And I've had some people I really thought we had something and yeah, you know, I haven't spoken to them in years because I just I stopped kind of putting in all the work and, and thought a lot of sadness and trying not to take it personally.

Maybe it is personal, which, I mean, not everyone wants to be your best friend. And I just want to give any insights around that kind of, that kind of differing dedication or valuing of friendship.

BB:

I'm thinking about this. It was like a tick tock or a real I'm young, so I'm aging my my millennial self. But it was this it was this funny thing of like, didn't text, like, decided not to text my friends back or decided not to reach out to my friend and wait for her to reach out first. And then it was like the next thing, like it's been six months, like, ha ha ha.

And this common reality that if I am not the one initiating the friendship dissipates. And I think some people are naturally more comfortable in the initiation world. But I also, from what I hear from so many people, is like especially the ones that are more active participants in the friendship is that they're tired and they also would like it to be reciprocated.

And we've both moved around a lot. So I think that that's something that we have in common, is even thinking about that conversation like we have to be really intentional with our friendships. And I think like, you know, there is jealousy when I look at girls from high school that are still hanging out there, having babies together, they're all at the baby shower.

I'm like, Oh, that's so great. Like, it's so easy. And even seeing like growing up with shows like Sex and the City and Friends, like, they literally lived in the same apartment. So even after they got married, like, there was just so much ease there and so it can be taken for granted. And so I think it's easy for people to say that they value friendship.

And a lot of people have never we've don't have any classes on like How to be a good friend or they're not very many resources that say like, here's how to reach out to a friend or here's how to repair something, here's how to do conflict. So I think it's there's so many layers at play, but I like to look at the system too, that it's like you're supposed to have friendships, they're supposed to be easy.

And then if it's not easy, it kind of just goes into like the junk drawer and it's like, so yeah.

JW

I think that's right. That, that makes so much sense and there's so much unconsciousness around friendship. It's gives it you're right. It is something that I think we get it's taken for granted and and then we're we're informed by what's modeled around us or by pop culture. So that makes a lot of sense.

AD:

It it makes me hearing this to what is coming up for me has to do with physical proximity as well. And sometimes I wonder if like physical proximity and kind of like getting along with someone and being acquainted can be confused with friendship like or it's a type of friendship. Maybe it's like a level, maybe it's an acquaintance level, but and, and you do maybe hang out.

But I don't know. For me, moving across the country this last time. So I've moved a lot too. And I've loved that I've picked up. I feel like good friends along the way and I can tell when they're the ones you can carry with you. You know, they're the ones who stay in touch, you know, stay at least to some degree, you know.

And I, my friend put it my friend Courtney put it this way. She's like, Audrey, you're going to cause she moved from L.A. back to Massachusetts and she was like, You're going to tighten your squad. You're going to you're going to see, you know. And I can feel that, Blake, like, looking at the pictures, looking at the people who are in proximity and gathered.

And it can look like they're friends, right? It can look like there's a friendship there. But I mean, is that it or is it like they're there physically and can hang out? But do do they have a friendship? I mean, since I moved, I feel like Jenny, we've we've I've seen.

JW:

I've seen you more. Yeah, I've seen you more since you moved to Georgia than I think I saw you when you lived 45 minutes away.

AD:

Because then there's a kind of proximity where you think you're close and you kids, like, hang out with your friend on any, like, weekend, and then you and then, you know, life is too busy, and it's like living in Brooklyn versus Manhattan. You're not you know, you're not taking the train. Yeah. And you don't do it. So I don't know, like, I just I feel like there's something, at least in my life, where that proximity could kind of get confused.

And I've seen people who fallen off now. So, yeah, I'm not going to just I'm not going to keep reaching out. And I think, oh, maybe it was just because we were down the street or, you know, in the same regional area. Does that make a good friendship?

JW:

Look, maybe it makes a friendship for a season.

AD:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I like I like it that way for a season. Yeah.

JW:

Also, I don't know about you guys, but there was some proximity friendships of my youth. I mean, I was just sort of like, well, I mean, just, I mean, again, I think this is, you know, it speaks to my own stuff and my own trauma and everything. But like, I think it was kind of like someone's better than no one.

And so there were some, you know, some people that I was hanging out with that I don't even know that we really had much of a connection except that we were neighbors or there was proximity. And and that coupled with my desperation and terror of being alone, you know, so that equaled friendship. But it didn't last, obviously.

BB:

But I think that that's such a great point because that's something I see so much as this fear to even look at your friendships and begin kind of putting a light on them because that scarcity comes up of like, oh my gosh, if I start looking at them, am I going to have any friends at the end of this or am I going to discover like, crap?

I'm in all of these friendships where I'm doing all of the heavy lifting. I am a doormat. I am people pleasing like I have no wants, desires or edges in this friendship. So it's it's it's nerve racking. And I've also been thinking a lot about this idea. Like people are like, you know, thinking about the friends that we've had forever.

And it's like, oh, we've been friends forever. We're going to be friends forever. Like, there's just no there. No question. That's even if it's not, if you begin looking at it, it's not the greatest friendship. And I really people use this word loyalty. But really what I think when you get down to it, it's the sense of obligation.

It's not I don't even know what the definition of loyalty is, but it feels like there's more of an obligatory sense I have to stay friends with you forever.

AD:

Yeah, that's an obligatory is a big word for me in in friendships in some way like doesn't I feel like it for me it ties a lot into proximity. You know the network kind of like and probably the people pleasing, you know, tendencies and moving kind of like broke that pretty hard in many ways and gave me the chance to really reexamine, like, where where are the people I feel like I'm seeing the most because of like it's more obligatory.

They're close by and like, I've never seen Jenny, you know, we live 45 minutes away, but I'm seeing like, you know, people who are down the street from like a, you know, you know.

BB:

That is stimulating.

AD:

Right? Right. And I have a choice, but I feel like at the time, even I did not perceive how much of a choice there, you know, and that was obviously my own stuff. But he did not I perceive that those relationships as I call them, friendship, there's some sort of a relationship I think were more important than they were.

JW:

It's interesting to how oh, this is a whole maybe a whole other episode, but friendships between women with children and women without children. Oh, because.

This is the episode. I mean, because that's, you know, I'm I'm I don't have children and I have friends who don't have children and I have friends who do have children. And my friends with children have made an effort. And I have I have former friends who had children who as soon as the children came and I really don't hold any judgment around it at all.

I cannot I mean, to raise a human being props like and you don't have the bandwidth to to pursue our friend like I really have I really didn't take it personally. I don't have any judgment, but I do have an immense amount of gratitude for my friends with kids who did still carve out space for a friendship, even though it maybe looked different and wasn't.

We weren't hanging out. We weren't, you know, going to the bars or whatever. But, you know, we were having a different kind of time together. But even just energetically, I'm so curious about that from the perspective of someone with children. And, you know, does that feel different for you? Friends with kids. Friends without kids, I mean. Oh, my.

AD:

Gosh. I have to say, like likewise, I am so grateful for my friends without kids who are wonderful friends. And and if I think about them like some of my closest people don't have kids, like it's really interesting and I so appreciate that they stick with my, you know, my stuff, you know, with my kids and and and their puppy, too.

Definitely. Yeah. But it it that's really interesting. Once I think about I mean, I can count on my hand my closest probably my closest friends don't have kids.

You know, some, some do. But I bet yeah. I'm a good, I'm probably a good 5050. And the ones who have kids, um, we parent probably similarly we probably have similar goals, similar. So we look at it and the ones who don't parent similarly, I mean it's like nails on the chalkboard like I.

BB:

It's such a good point and you can get.

AD:

Like just just the having of the kids is not a commonality. It can even provide more challenge or the thing that I found with family friendships is like once you have this sort of family unit, which I'm sure, you know, with your your partners, you might have come across here, there is partner dating like like we, you know, we get along with the one and then the partner like, oh, my God, do we have to do this?

JW:

We recently made friends with neighbors. Our our dog, June has a crush on their great Pyrenees, Primo, who's twice as big as June, which is this is a large dog. It's like £130 anyway. And we all like each other, like I like him and I like her and he likes me and he likes Tina and she likes me and is like I'm like, this feels like a unicorn situation right now.

We have, you know, so we've been fostering that friendship and just, you know, having each other to the backyard and dog dates and things. And I don't want to get to I don't want to scare them and be like, let's vacation. You know, I'm so I'm just like taking taking it down a notch. But, but I am super excited because it's so nice to meet people that are a block away where everyone likes each other.

Yeah, that feels rare. I mean, you know, like, really likes each other.

AD:

Yeah. Yeah. And not just, like, socially sort of like, yeah, we can do a barbecue, but like actually wants to hang out. And I found that at least with my partner, you know, I'd be friend friendly enough with the moms. And maybe that's just like I'm friendly, you know, like, like I can totally have fun with and, you know, connect with people.

And I have fun connecting with people, right? My partner is like, well, you know, if we're not going to dig deep, you know, first first date here, I'm not really interested. So like the baseball dads or the whatever, you know, kind of like, you know, just dads down the street, dads on the, you know, kids sorts of things, you know, that we meet through that, you know, if they're not willing to go deep, you know, I know for me, I was like, well, you know, yeah, sure, we can go.

Yeah, but we're not going to be be friends. And I think maybe he has just like a much stronger sense of like, I don't know what's fulfilling to him in a relationship with with someone, you know. But we're definitely mixed family dating harder or maybe it's more clear. I don't know.

BB:

I we got to see a good friend of ours, of my husband and I. We all lived together or lived close by in Nashville and we were laughing. He, him and his family, he has two kids now. They live up in Maine. And we were kind of, you know, like nostalgic for the good old days. I wish there was a word for like, you know, that homesickness for a place, but not necessarily like the place, but like that specific time and place coupled together like they were just incredible.

Like my husband and I were newlyweds and we were talking about they had had a child and they had the smallest house of all of us. It was like the tiniest little, little thing, but for so many reasons. Like everyone was always there and it was this like the safest, warmest they just did, like hosting and conversation so well, like his name was Ben and he would always be making like, the most creative cocktails.

And it's just like, you got to act like you came in and you got to exhale. And so even I share that to say, like, it really does not matter if you have like the biggest house or the like. It does not matter about the space, it's more like the energy. They're like, there's just something that was so great.

And so my husband and I don't have kids yet. You know, we're in a like kind of in the in-between where we're struggling with some infertility stuff. So that's like a whole nother layer of like not having kids wanting kids. Friendship gets very weird in that space. But we talk about when we are parents, we want to be parents like our friends Ben and Annie, because they just kind of integrated us.

And it wasn't like the the kids were obviously a focus and a priority, but they were not the only focus and the only priority. Like, they just it blended so nicely and we're like, that's we want that. We want to be like them.

JW:

I was going to say when you were talking, Andre, about your friends with kids parenting, similarly, as I think through my friends who have children, they all parent similarly and they all have full lives that include raising children and some of them are stay at home parents. Like it's not about, you know, having a career necessarily, but it's more of an attitude of raising the children is a part of it.

But there is also an identity and a world beyond that. And I would say that is a through line. And I think that's probably why there's room for them to make space and value friendship. I'm thinking right now about my friend Jenny, who is one of the coolest parents I know. And, you know, she invited me to like, do this, like, vision board branding decor for her child's third birthday.

And I was like I was like, I'm on it. What's the theme in Conto? I'm downloading it right now. We're using tertiary colors. I'm seeing teal, I'm seeing hot pink. What do you think? How many balloons? I mean, I just, like, took it and ran with it. And I was so it meant so much to me to be included and involved in that for for Josephine, her daughter, and also was really fun for us as to, you know, creative people to to get to focus.

But I mean, that, I think is a perfect example of someone who there's something expansive and inviting in and and not just laser focus. My kid, you know, there's just it just is a different energetic vibe that I think is what supports the friendship.

AD:

I can feel that it's all energetic. I get right like really when it comes down to it. And I love hearing that too. Blake that you saw in people like who you'd like to be when, when you know, when you have kids like that, kind of like seeing that example, right? And then, you know, for Jenny being incorporated, fully incorporated into the family like that, you know, it's super beautiful.

I think it just makes me feel good to hear about it. And I know for us, like, we had examples of of people who we looked up to that still to this day, I learn things from and like, oh my gosh, that is that is high. I remember making mental notes like, that is how I want to do this.

You know, that's the sort of and they're still incredibly important people to me to this day. So it feels like some of this is like sifting through a little bit. Like to me, it just seems like there's a difference between a friendship where you are, you are you have this energetic vibe, right? You connect like we want to be.

We like being together, obviously, right? Like we like being able to do this friendship thing and dig deeper and get really get to know each other and spend time together and do the work associated with that. And then something that is more casual or like something that is more circumstantial maybe, right? It is. You know, your kids play on a team together or you're at the dog park together or you're at work maybe.

Right. Work friends. Work friends can become really good friends, too, but they can also be work friends. Yeah, I think some of us and I think even for me at some points in my life had a hard time maybe understanding what was what with this. You know, I think that I probably confused more circumstantial, you know, kind of friendships with with what it means to really be more deeply like, I don't know.

It's like to me, it's like a, you know, deeply committed in that like we, you know, at least for this reason, you know, we were willing to not just spend time together, but do some work together and work to communicate whatever it might be. So is there is that something that we can do, some reflecting around? You know, Blake, from your experience, is it meaningful to sort of like examine your friendships and look at like what are seem to be more of a friendship with that kind of commitment versus, you know, a casual friendship that you can hold in some sort of perspective?

BB

Absolutely. I I've had so many different work environments. And I will say I'm not just saying this, but by and far like being with Jenny and at her practice with the other therapists there like that just felt so like the energy was so different and it was so there was like just a commitment of integrity and character there.

And that had not been true at all the places I've been at. And so I think about Brené Brown coined this phrase like common enemy intimacy. And I think that that was such a huge part of so many other workplaces where it's just like we hate the same people. And so it's kind of that like watercooler chat chatter that you like.

You can go and you can like whisper like, Oh my God, these I'm like, Can you believe this or that? And on one hand, it gave, it gave, you know, I'm guilty of doing this. Like it gave me a sense of connection, but it also gave a false like it gave a false intimacy because we weren't actually friends.

It didn't at the end of the day, after I did do some reflection like this doesn't feel good to be talking about this. It just keeps us stuck. We're not making any proactive steps like I didn't feel great about my own integrity and character doing this. And so I think even just examining, like, what do we have in common?

What are what is our friendship about? Like what, what is the conversation centered around? And a lot of times with work, friends, one of the biggest things that I can see if you can be stay friends after work, is are there places that you can talk about and are there places where there is connection outside of just the things that you worked with, like works with because you're going to leave, so you're so it's like fun to talk about some people, but after six months or so, it's like you've moved on.

Is there still a connection there?

JW

That's a really good question that that makes me wonder to if we should spend some time talking about when it's time to go, like when. Oh, yeah. Because what I'm so excited about, Blake, what you're doing in this space because I agree there is not there really isn't any there isn't much, you know, resources or information. And and I have clients and I've noticed they're sort of developmentally kind of in a similar place in their lives.

And it was similar for me. And so it was probably like in my early thirties, late twenties, where I was kind of surveying the land and I was realizing that I sure had a lot of I had a lot of people in my life that some of them weren't real nice to me. Like I had kind of a lot of kind of lot of narcissists, honestly, that that was just my personal thing.

But that I've had clients say this to like, how do you know when this is a friendship that isn't working, isn't a friendship or needs to go and is that normal? I think that a lot of them want to know, is it normal for friendships to to fall away for different kinds of friendships to be needed? What do you what do you think?

BB:

Oh, I think that's every yeah, I do. I can think of so many people who kind of look at me like, can I have permission to? And it's, it's that like, why like do I have to stay here forever? Like, they want me to give them a permission slip. Yes. Your permission. But yeah, I think knowing when to walk away, I remember doing this, it kind of happened organically, but I made this and whoever is listening can do this.

It was really helpful. I kind of made this these like three concentric circles and on the inner circle it was like, Who's in my inner and my inner world? And even research says you can only have about 4 to 5 people and like you have access to our psyche and who have access to like our stories. So really to we can't do friendship with a million people.

Like it's just you can't do it well. So it needs to be a pretty small circle. And then outside of that, I thought more of like the acquaintances who are the people that I love, but also I don't need to talk to them every day. I don't think I talk to any friends every day. I'm not I'm not a high touch person.

And so things do that. And then I have this third circle of like question my friends. And I realized so much of my precious friendship energy was going to these question mark friends because had so much anxiety around them like do they care about me? Why like it? I feel like they're not accepting my how I'm changing and how I'm not.

And I'm like, oh my gosh, I am giving I do not have we don't have a lot of time to do friendship, which with all of our our busy, full lives, but I'm giving my precious energy to people who are not reciprocating to make you know or who my body just feels like, totally clenched and inflamed and like I have to be really small with them.

And I'm not investing in the friends that like I can actually do some of this good communication work with and good setting boundary work with. And it was hugely eye opening and that was really helpful for me to be able to think like I don't, I don't have that much time and I want to give it to people who I can build and create something beautiful and good with.

AD:

That is amazing. Blake, I, I was visualizing, as you're, as you're describing this, I'm visualizing this exercise and I'm going to do it later. It felt good for me just to, like, travel through that with you and thinking, like, I was just like, oh, my gosh, the question mark, people I have done, I have spent so much time in that same place.

Thank you for that.

JW:

Yeah. And so what happened with the question mark, people.

BB:

You know, I let I let them go. I and I don't want to sound it was not like I've talked so much even I've had to like work through my embarrassment that I talk about friendships so much in my own therapy and it's like this is just kind of come into acceptance of it. But I, I, I let think like they really loved me for a time and I loved them and they can't hold me the way I need to be held.

And I also can't hold them the way that they need to be held. And so it's just this it it turned into this very like I, I wish them well and I do have so much love for them, but I can't invest. I can't give them, like, my best time and energy and. Yeah.

JW:

And that doesn't mean that it wasn't a successful friendship. It just means. Right. You know, that it had a it had it was finite.

It makes me think of during this time in my life when I was sort of doing, I didn't do this, the circle thing would have been very helpful. Mine was just sort of in my mind, but as I was kind of letting some friendships fall away, I think I had some I shared an idea. Justin's kind of like have to go deep all the time.

I think it's like an HSP thing. It's kind of it's kind of annoying. It's pretty annoying. But and so I was I remember I was therapist hopping at the time and I because this was during the period of immense depression, anxiety, all that. And I saw this Daoist therapist who also did like equine therapy. It's just the coolest woman so far for two sessions.

But I'll never forget and I've said this before, I probably on one of our podcast, but I said I was telling her about this, the friendship, and I had a couple that were just not, not great. And she said, you know, you don't have to give an exit interview. And I was like, I don't, you know, because I thought I had to like process it out with everybody.

Like I had to let them know we can't be friends anymore. And it turns out that permission slip that she gave me was really wonderful because when I just stopped, when I, like, loosened the grip and just came into acceptance about the reality of our relationship, it just naturally fell away. Like, you know what I mean? Like, they didn't want to be friends either, you know, they were they were, you know, just kind of like, naturally this dissipated.

So I just wanted to say that for folks that feel like if I've decided that I'm letting a question mark friend go, I have to like, you know, this formal.

BB:

Informal conversation.


JW:

Right? Right. Yeah. We have to have a therapy session together about it or, you know, and the answer is no, I don't think it.

BB:

It reminds me to of the sense like especially if there's been harm in the friendship so often, especially the people who go to therapy often. Not always, but I mean, I feel like the people I we want to do the right thing. We want to have integrity, we want to have the conversation like have the bout, all of that.

And sometimes that kind of thing is like, how can we exert this friends that we're talking about and just how can we exit this friendship with the least amount of hurt and harm to us as possible and just letting go sometimes helps us not have to create even more hurt and harm in our and our little bodies and stories.

JW:

Do you guys have any friendships that ended that you are still thinking about or are still like, what? What happened? Or like?

AD:

Young ones that I think maybe aren't like totally nicely ended but are so changed.

So change that is like you think is probably has ended or like it's in, you know, quite a season if that's not it, you know, that are sizing and I know for for me too I found it a lot I don't know if you've experienced is going through big changes in your own lives like when Max was diagnosed for example.

I mean I was blown away to see the people who fell away and the people who came in, you know, it's like through their own discomfort around what we were going through. So then it makes me think to like the discomfort of others and our changes, you know, as we're growing and changing and moving and not, you know, kind of falls away around those kind of events, their discomfort.

And then I wonder if it's permanent, you know, just kind of not I'm not taking any. And so it might be permanent.

BB:

Oh, I've been thinking about a friend's I love this question I've been thinking about a friend from high school that I it's yeah. I think just doing this work of looking and exploring friendships has my psyche kind, letting out these experiences. And too, I remember I had a pretty severe eating disorder while I was in high school. So again, that kind of shifted my lens.

And I remember you could write, you could send letters to where I needed to go to treatment first for like six weeks. And I remember this friend that I loved so much and was such a great friend. She never wrote me a letter. Her mom wrote me a letter, but she never wrote me a letter. And I remember being like so butthurt about it, but not having the tools to talk about it and kind of just like pushing her away.

And I remember at one point she even called and tried to apologize and I just kind of let the friendship go. And I don't think I knew how to really process it at the time. And so now I think back and I feel sad and I'm like, I've been like, I will I will be honest. I've been lurking on her Instagram because you can see it and I'm like, Maybe I'll reach out.

I haven't decided yet. But it is in my it's something that I'm thinking about and processing. Like, I wonder if there is space to rekindle a friendship. I don't know. She could say no and that's okay. But yeah, absolutely. I think about friends of like I wish that yeah, I wish that I didn't it go where I had even tools to talk about the hard things.

AD:

Oh, there's a moment that visually was coming up for me as you're describing that I don't know if you’ve seen the Amy Schumer, Michael Cera show.

BB:

Yes, I saw parts of it. Yes.

AD:

Yeah. So getting towards the end like once you I think maybe we're talking final episode or so, final two episodes, but the friend says no, we’re not going to be friends but it was really great to see you.

BB:

Wow. Directness is not found in friendships often. Yeah, yeah.

JW:

Yeah, yeah. Wow. Speaking of yeah, I have I have friendships that I that I ponder and I keep thinking about who I was then and who I am now. And I'm so curious I think one particular friendship, I was so hurt that but I have been so curious about what was my part. You know, like I obviously there was a dynamic here in what was my part and and really, truly, I'd been hurt throughout the friendship.

I mean, it was really imbalanced. It wasn't great. It was great in the sense that I think I loved this person so much and but I very much idealized them, too, which I think was probably part of my part of, you know, of it because it doesn't feel great to be put up on a pedestal. I think that that's that's an uncomfortable place.

But but yeah, you know, just kind of acknowledging that that is this great unknown in my life. And I don't know if there will ever be any I'll ever have any knowing about it. And it's just sort of, you know, just kind of sitting with that grief and and always wondering and also, I wanted to say, you know, speaking of not great work environments, you know, thinking through friendships with people that shouldn't, we really aren't your friends that in the sense that they're in a power position like boundaries and.

I don't know if you want to speak to that at all. Just touch on that.

BB:

That's a whole that's a whole other episode. Yeah, I know we don't have much time left.

AD:

I feel like we should return to that. And I know we've got to jump off to go to to jump into a session, but Can we do a whole like follow up episode on that? Because yeah, I have a lot coming up around that and I think there's a lot of support that we can provide this space because you are so right, Jenny.

This is it's huge.

BB:

Yeah. No, I would be down for sure.

AD:

Blake, what I'd like to do just in the next few minutes, can we go around at least for Jenny and Blake? Can you? It's more of a rapid fire kind of thing, and I'm not going to go by our script. Can you? I have a 12 year old daughter, and I think that friendships we haven't talked about this, but I think that friendships vary for children.

And I don't know, you know, it's the intersection of kind of like gendered identities and probably all of a very complex web of things that we can talk about. But I'd like to just specifically speak to my 12 year old daughter. What advice would you give 12 year old you around friendships? Is there something, something simple that you would share with your 12 year old self?

I know. I'm like throwing it out as a surprise.

JW:

The first thing that came to mind was it gets better. You know, that's what we tell my fellow queer people, too. But it gets better. Yeah. Oh. Oh.

AD:

I can share. What comes up for me first is it's not yours like so much at that age you think is yours and it's not yours. And I know there's so much teasing through what is yours, but you tend to overly take on. Well, you know what I mean? Like like you think it's all yours. And it's not just learning the very beginning of of boundary work.

I feel like it's one of the most important things that we can we can do with our kids.

JW:

Yeah. Oh, I love that.

BB:

Yeah, I, I, I would tell my 12 year old self like, you're good and, you know, like, you're, you're I was just so weird and awkward and gangly and that felt like such a thing to hide. And I think that I'd, I'd tell her, like, I mean, all of this combined, like, it gets so much better, but like there are people who will love those parts of you out there, like and celebrate them that you don't have to hide them.

JW:

You just haven't met them yet. It'll be a while, right. Hold on tight. Your tribe is coming.

BB:

Yes. Yes. And it gets better. It really does. I love getting older. Oh I know I, that's what I always tell kids in my life who are in that awkward age are struggling and I was like, listen, trust me, you do not want to peek. It's 15 that doesn't you don't want that to be your best, your glory or like it's good. It's a good thing that this is a struggle because it's only going to get better, you know.

AD:

And Blake, as we, as we exit out of this particular intro podcast with you, can you tell us your exciting news? Did you have some rough, exciting news to share?

BB:

I do. I do. I'll hold it up. So I created it because I don't know if people will see this, but it's called the Friendship Deck and it is 62 questions. It is a conversation game for friends because as I said earlier, friendship friends are not that great at being direct with each other. There's not a lot of resources and certainly they're slowly becoming more books around friendship.

But I wanted create something that literally like got you in the room with your friends talking about dynamics. And so there are three different levels of just descending because we don't want to to bond and it's yeah, they're just really fun inquisitive. Well I think they're fun. I'm similar to Jenny like deep heart to hearts are my jam so this is very this has like my yeah my little thumbprint all over it but just even questions about like, how do you want to be cared for when you're having a bad day?

Do you share with your friends when you're feeling hurt where it places that you feel left out in our friend group, just so that we can start doing friendship more intentionally and actually having it be not just this like thought that blows in the wind, like, oh, I need to call my friend, but really thinking and holding it in the forefront like how do I, how do I care for my people intentionally?

And yeah, so it's going to be out August 19th and I'm so excited to share it.

JW:

Oh, congratulations, Blake. It sounds so cool. Where can we. Where can we get this?

BB:

Yes, you can get it. You can literally just go to the friendship.com and it will bring you to everything you need to be able to get it. And it will be shipped to you by me and my husband with love.

AD:

I absolutely love that. Well, we will link to it and we will share it. And look, so I really look forward to bringing you into my life and into my home and sharing it with my kids, too, like, you know, yes, it's expanding for them, giving them a toolbox of some of these conversation topics and questions. And like, you're incredible.

I cannot wait to do this again. I'm thinking in like a month we should get back to. Yes, let's talk about these like power kind of friendships through power dynamics and stuff. So cool and and other layers there. I can't wait. This has to be a continuing conversation.

In this episode

We’re so excited that this month's theme in the Yes Collective is emotional health and friendship. As busy working parents, we know how our friendships get pushed way down the priority list, so we are starting the month talking to Blake Blankenbecler, a licensed therapist who specializes in trauma, anxiety, eating disorders, and - most importantly - friendships. She specializes in helping people be better friends and have deeper more meaningful friendships.

We were joined by Yes Collective contributor and therapist, Jenny Walters, to talk about making new friends, navigating conflicts with your friends, and how to know when a friendship is coming to an end. Without further ado, here’s the wise and wonderful Blake Blankenbecler.

Listen here

Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or Overcast

About our guest

Blake Blankenbecler, a licensed therapist who specializes in trauma, anxiety, eating disorders, and - most importantly - friendships. She specializes in helping people be better friends and have deeper more meaningful friendships.

She spends her days helping clients at her private practice, Fig Holistic Psychotherapy. She lives in Charleston, South Carolina with her husband and  goldendoodle named Cash. In her free time, she loves sitting on her back porch reading a good book, eating her way through Charleston, and of course enjoying the ocean any chance she can get.

Show notes

Transcript highlights

Audra DiPadova (AD)

Blake and Jenny. Let's talk about friendship. Yeah. First off, we always like to open this podcast up with kind of our personal stories, because I feel like we're very often talking to people who we know and love. And so, Blake, I was so thrilled to meet you through Jenny and loved our brunch together in Charleston. And I love that we are we're pretty close geographic. And I'm hoping that I'll get to see more of you. And so, Jenny and Blake, can you share how you two know each other?

Blake Blankenbecler (BB)

I've moved way too much. And a few years ago, I moved to Los Angeles, and I had left Nashville. I was thinking, like, I don't even know if I want to be a therapist anymore. But I missed. I miss the work. And so I remember just being like, I want to I want to check out what the therapy scene is like in L.A. And I Googled a lot of places and I found this very beautiful website and it had like the most beautiful copy.

And I think of websites as like living rooms. And I was like, I want to be in this place. And so I literally sent a cold random email to Jenny and I was like, Hey, I really like your practice. I like what you're doing. Can we have a meeting? I just love to hear about what's happened in Highland Park.

And I came and Jenny was incredible and wonderful. And I was not looking for a job. But you did offer me. You're like, Would you be interested in potentially working? We're going to hire soon. And that is where the magic began when I got to work for you.

Jenny Walters (JW)

It was kismet. It felt very synchronistic. You know, like when you know, you know. And it's just like when you came in and I liked your that you were so proactive and reached out and were so inquisitive. And then as you were sitting there talking, I was like, this is a this is a good one here. This is a this is a I could just tell you, you had a gift. So that was that. And then she left a year later and it was very sad.

BB

I think of I think of Jenny as such, like a mentor and an expander and she's always teaching me things and keeping me up to date on the latest calls and the shows to watch. So, you know, just just like stuff just like, fun stuff.

AD

Are you both into the cult stuff?

JW

Oh, yeah.

AD

Okay, Jenny. Yeah, we were. We were together for where we together when we together it was it, um, with the cult, the upstate New York Albany cult. Did you watch that show?

JW

Nexium.

AD:

Nexium, Nexium.

JW:

I've watched every show about Nexium, I there's like three or four out there.

AD:

I don't think I've got a podcast you. It came out when I was hanging out with my dad alone when the kid Justin took the kids up to Massachusetts. Anyway, the Nexium guy was in my parents’ Amway group. Oh, he had banned, like in our house many, many, many times.

BB:

In your house?

JW:

Is that where he was learning? I mean, Amway is a little on the cult side.

AD:

Did my parents teach him his part that he's freaked out because when he saw what happened and what the guy did, I mean he's still he won't even watch the documentary and so freaked out.

JW:

Wow. Blake, that means you and I are two degrees from a cult leader. So, yeah, no. I mean, anything. Cults, basically. Anything with a narcissist at the helm, um, has my has my interest in that. I immediately text Blake and I'm like, have you seen, have you seen the one about Teal swan?

BB:

Have you, have you seen it?

JW:

What about there's lessons to be learned. It's always you think it's going to be the same story and it is on in many ways. Sadly, it's kind of just predictable what these people do. But there's always little nuances that that are very interesting to me that you pick up.

AD:

So it sounds like this is a connection in your friendship and it brings me to to question. So, Blake, I'd love to know from you what is friendship, but let's back up right before that or answer this however you want. Well, how did you get into friendship work and and becoming a friendship educator?

BB:

It happened on accident. There is no, like, setting out, like, I want to do this. If anything, I do not consider myself to be, like, the world's greatest friend. I struggled with it so much growing up. You know, I think Jenny and I work a lot in the world of trauma and just how trauma is so disruptive and it has you, you know, using your survival and coping mechanism.

So it wasn't something I flourished in. And so I think I come by it really honestly as someone who's moved a lot and struggled with my friendships, I just kind of thought like, there are not any resources. And so I just kind of kept looking and I was like, I don't I don't think anyone's creating them. Like, I guess I'm going to start paying attention and talking about them more and asking questions.

And sure enough, I saw in my own client work these themes of friendship and like kind of these implicit messages showing up around like loyalty and best friends don't fight. And what's it mean to have a boundary with a friend? Does that mean it's about friendship? And so it just kind of flourished and happened very naturally and organically as I was doing some of my own friendship work, seeing it and my clients realizing there's not enough resources and being like there's there's something here.

AD:

That is super cool to hear. I feel like I feel like many of us come to our I don't know if their work or a passion or interest or whatever through things that we struggle with ourselves. Right. Things that that we notice, things that are challenging for us. So thank you so much for sharing that. So what did you learn? Like, what is friendship?

BB:

Well, it's something I'm still learning. I think it's the biggest thing is that that I'm holding is that friendship is a living organism. It is like any other relationship. It is not static. It grows, it stretches, it morphs, I think so much. Jenny, I want you to share that story that you shared at our brunch about your friends, because I can't stop thinking about it.

Even that story that I hope you'll share in a second. You know what I'm talking about? The one it was the one where your friend was, like, about to get married and she likes to sit you down and have that. Yeah, I'll let you. I'll let you share it. But friendship is it's a chosen relationship. So it's this really beautiful thing where there's no obligation, there are no contracts, there's no legality to it.

And it's this choice to continually show up and bring out ourselves the good parts, the bad parts, the messy parts, and support each other and care for each other and annoy each other and everything in between and just kind of see what happens. It's like a great it's a grand experiment, honestly.

JW

I think that's so wise, Blake. And I don't think people acknowledge that in language that enough about friendship. And so there's a lot of expectations like you were talking about loyalty. So there's a real idealization that happens around friendship that I think gets us in so much trouble and gets us into this binary of like, well, we're either together or we're not.

And I love the idea of the dynamic changing thing because friendships do change and I have friends I've known since grade school, but our friendship is very different now than it was when we were in grade school. Obviously. I mean, we're adults, but even just in terms of the intensity or the frequency of communication or how our have, we've grown in different ways, but we still get to have share a connection.

But it's very different feeling connection than than what we had before. So so I'll share the story that you're referring to because it does speak to this, which is that one of my besties Sara shout out to Sara out there in the world. She was getting married and I was very single and she called me up. I remember very vividly I was sitting at my kitchen table in Chicago on I think it was a cold day.

Maybe it wasn't anyway. Probably if it was Chicago. Yeah, yeah, it's likely it was definitely, probably overcast I'll tell you that much.

In Chicago anyway. And she said I have some news to tell you and she said I'm engaged and I, you know, if I'm being totally honest, I felt multiple things. The one was absolute joy for her. And also probably some jealousy, probably some fear. You know, I felt a lot of feelings. And what was really beautiful was that she said, yeah, it's really, really exciting.

And I also want to acknowledge that this means things are going to change between us. And that makes me really sad. And I wonder if we can acknowledge both and talk about and I was just like, I mean, I get chills thinking about it because I've just never had anyone deliver that kind of big news and make space for all the parts of it, the light and the shadow.

And it was really beautiful. And she did the same thing when she got pregnant, which was, Hey, yeah, this is really exciting. And it was like I felt such joy for her and yeah, I knew it meant that things were going to be different and that we could acknowledge that I think made way for those differences to evolve and it not be a deal breaker for our friendship.

AD:

It's beautiful. I like it. Yeah. Sorry, Blake. I just am struck. I've heard the story already, but it's striking me even different to today or now. And speaking of, like, to me, there's, like, such a beautiful intentionality there. And hearing from both of you, what came up for me is thinking, wow, we've taken so much of just anything related or friendship completely, like, for granted, like unintentional, like unreflective, right?


Like, I mean, how much intentional work is there around friendship for me in my life and growing up? I mean, that's something that was just like friendships must be some sort of like magical, mystical alchemy or something that you have, like nothing to do with really. And it's been a long process of learning, like family and like partnerships and other things, like there's work in all of this and it's so much about how we show up.

So I love here, I just love hearing that. And she's not a therapist.

JW:

No, but she is a greeting card writer. So she does have an immense amount of attunement and and and emotional intelligence. Let me tell you, if you can if you can find yourself a bestie who is a righty like who writes cards for a living. Oh, my God. The most beautiful notes through the years. The most beautiful cards she snail mail that you will cherish for the rest of your life. So it's been a real gift.

BB:

The best the best I think about, too, with friendships where we often say and I've probably said it too, like, you know, you have this collective time together. Like I'm thinking about being in college or living in the same place, living in the same house before you move out. And it's like, this won't change, this won't change, this won't change.

It'll stay the same. It'll stay the same. And I love what your friend did because friendships will change and it actually makes friendships so much easier and it makes the friendships so much safer when there's space to talk about how it's changing. Instead of having to live in this fantasy that it's not. And it keeps it makes it so that there's just so much more space and fluidity there.

JW:

Yeah. I'm curious, Blake, about peoples. Well, I'll just to I'll just share something personal and see if you have any insights around it. I was so hungry for friendship growing up. I mean, I was, you know, I was the kid that was kind of the easy target and bullied and stuff. And so I always had, like, a best friend because it was my safe harbor and they fight it, you know, so.

So there was always kind of this intensity growing up. And as I got older, I moved around a lot and I always wanted to hang on to those friendships. So I was sort of resistant to letting them kind of fall away. And then eventually started to realize that I was sometimes the only one putting in the work and feeling like if I weren't the one making the moves here, because it takes a lot to maintain a relationship when you move and proximity is no longer on your side.

And I've been really lucky because yeah, my inner circle, I mean, not like very few of my besties live anywhere near me and but they've all been people who have participated equally, you know, in the friendship. But my question, I don't know if it's a question, I'm just a comment that I'd be curious. Your insight is is something about why is it some people value friendship more than others?

And I always kind of felt vulnerable and embarrassed about it, I think, especially when these friendships would fall away. And I've had some people I really thought we had something and yeah, you know, I haven't spoken to them in years because I just I stopped kind of putting in all the work and, and thought a lot of sadness and trying not to take it personally.

Maybe it is personal, which, I mean, not everyone wants to be your best friend. And I just want to give any insights around that kind of, that kind of differing dedication or valuing of friendship.

BB:

I'm thinking about this. It was like a tick tock or a real I'm young, so I'm aging my my millennial self. But it was this it was this funny thing of like, didn't text, like, decided not to text my friends back or decided not to reach out to my friend and wait for her to reach out first. And then it was like the next thing, like it's been six months, like, ha ha ha.

And this common reality that if I am not the one initiating the friendship dissipates. And I think some people are naturally more comfortable in the initiation world. But I also, from what I hear from so many people, is like especially the ones that are more active participants in the friendship is that they're tired and they also would like it to be reciprocated.

And we've both moved around a lot. So I think that that's something that we have in common, is even thinking about that conversation like we have to be really intentional with our friendships. And I think like, you know, there is jealousy when I look at girls from high school that are still hanging out there, having babies together, they're all at the baby shower.

I'm like, Oh, that's so great. Like, it's so easy. And even seeing like growing up with shows like Sex and the City and Friends, like, they literally lived in the same apartment. So even after they got married, like, there was just so much ease there and so it can be taken for granted. And so I think it's easy for people to say that they value friendship.

And a lot of people have never we've don't have any classes on like How to be a good friend or they're not very many resources that say like, here's how to reach out to a friend or here's how to repair something, here's how to do conflict. So I think it's there's so many layers at play, but I like to look at the system too, that it's like you're supposed to have friendships, they're supposed to be easy.

And then if it's not easy, it kind of just goes into like the junk drawer and it's like, so yeah.

JW

I think that's right. That, that makes so much sense and there's so much unconsciousness around friendship. It's gives it you're right. It is something that I think we get it's taken for granted and and then we're we're informed by what's modeled around us or by pop culture. So that makes a lot of sense.

AD:

It it makes me hearing this to what is coming up for me has to do with physical proximity as well. And sometimes I wonder if like physical proximity and kind of like getting along with someone and being acquainted can be confused with friendship like or it's a type of friendship. Maybe it's like a level, maybe it's an acquaintance level, but and, and you do maybe hang out.

But I don't know. For me, moving across the country this last time. So I've moved a lot too. And I've loved that I've picked up. I feel like good friends along the way and I can tell when they're the ones you can carry with you. You know, they're the ones who stay in touch, you know, stay at least to some degree, you know.

And I, my friend put it my friend Courtney put it this way. She's like, Audrey, you're going to cause she moved from L.A. back to Massachusetts and she was like, You're going to tighten your squad. You're going to you're going to see, you know. And I can feel that, Blake, like, looking at the pictures, looking at the people who are in proximity and gathered.

And it can look like they're friends, right? It can look like there's a friendship there. But I mean, is that it or is it like they're there physically and can hang out? But do do they have a friendship? I mean, since I moved, I feel like Jenny, we've we've I've seen.

JW:

I've seen you more. Yeah, I've seen you more since you moved to Georgia than I think I saw you when you lived 45 minutes away.

AD:

Because then there's a kind of proximity where you think you're close and you kids, like, hang out with your friend on any, like, weekend, and then you and then, you know, life is too busy, and it's like living in Brooklyn versus Manhattan. You're not you know, you're not taking the train. Yeah. And you don't do it. So I don't know, like, I just I feel like there's something, at least in my life, where that proximity could kind of get confused.

And I've seen people who fallen off now. So, yeah, I'm not going to just I'm not going to keep reaching out. And I think, oh, maybe it was just because we were down the street or, you know, in the same regional area. Does that make a good friendship?

JW:

Look, maybe it makes a friendship for a season.

AD:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I like I like it that way for a season. Yeah.

JW:

Also, I don't know about you guys, but there was some proximity friendships of my youth. I mean, I was just sort of like, well, I mean, just, I mean, again, I think this is, you know, it speaks to my own stuff and my own trauma and everything. But like, I think it was kind of like someone's better than no one.

And so there were some, you know, some people that I was hanging out with that I don't even know that we really had much of a connection except that we were neighbors or there was proximity. And and that coupled with my desperation and terror of being alone, you know, so that equaled friendship. But it didn't last, obviously.

BB:

But I think that that's such a great point because that's something I see so much as this fear to even look at your friendships and begin kind of putting a light on them because that scarcity comes up of like, oh my gosh, if I start looking at them, am I going to have any friends at the end of this or am I going to discover like, crap?

I'm in all of these friendships where I'm doing all of the heavy lifting. I am a doormat. I am people pleasing like I have no wants, desires or edges in this friendship. So it's it's it's nerve racking. And I've also been thinking a lot about this idea. Like people are like, you know, thinking about the friends that we've had forever.

And it's like, oh, we've been friends forever. We're going to be friends forever. Like, there's just no there. No question. That's even if it's not, if you begin looking at it, it's not the greatest friendship. And I really people use this word loyalty. But really what I think when you get down to it, it's the sense of obligation.

It's not I don't even know what the definition of loyalty is, but it feels like there's more of an obligatory sense I have to stay friends with you forever.

AD:

Yeah, that's an obligatory is a big word for me in in friendships in some way like doesn't I feel like it for me it ties a lot into proximity. You know the network kind of like and probably the people pleasing, you know, tendencies and moving kind of like broke that pretty hard in many ways and gave me the chance to really reexamine, like, where where are the people I feel like I'm seeing the most because of like it's more obligatory.

They're close by and like, I've never seen Jenny, you know, we live 45 minutes away, but I'm seeing like, you know, people who are down the street from like a, you know, you know.

BB:

That is stimulating.

AD:

Right? Right. And I have a choice, but I feel like at the time, even I did not perceive how much of a choice there, you know, and that was obviously my own stuff. But he did not I perceive that those relationships as I call them, friendship, there's some sort of a relationship I think were more important than they were.

JW:

It's interesting to how oh, this is a whole maybe a whole other episode, but friendships between women with children and women without children. Oh, because.

This is the episode. I mean, because that's, you know, I'm I'm I don't have children and I have friends who don't have children and I have friends who do have children. And my friends with children have made an effort. And I have I have former friends who had children who as soon as the children came and I really don't hold any judgment around it at all.

I cannot I mean, to raise a human being props like and you don't have the bandwidth to to pursue our friend like I really have I really didn't take it personally. I don't have any judgment, but I do have an immense amount of gratitude for my friends with kids who did still carve out space for a friendship, even though it maybe looked different and wasn't.

We weren't hanging out. We weren't, you know, going to the bars or whatever. But, you know, we were having a different kind of time together. But even just energetically, I'm so curious about that from the perspective of someone with children. And, you know, does that feel different for you? Friends with kids. Friends without kids, I mean. Oh, my.

AD:

Gosh. I have to say, like likewise, I am so grateful for my friends without kids who are wonderful friends. And and if I think about them like some of my closest people don't have kids, like it's really interesting and I so appreciate that they stick with my, you know, my stuff, you know, with my kids and and and their puppy, too.

Definitely. Yeah. But it it that's really interesting. Once I think about I mean, I can count on my hand my closest probably my closest friends don't have kids.

You know, some, some do. But I bet yeah. I'm a good, I'm probably a good 5050. And the ones who have kids, um, we parent probably similarly we probably have similar goals, similar. So we look at it and the ones who don't parent similarly, I mean it's like nails on the chalkboard like I.

BB:

It's such a good point and you can get.

AD:

Like just just the having of the kids is not a commonality. It can even provide more challenge or the thing that I found with family friendships is like once you have this sort of family unit, which I'm sure, you know, with your your partners, you might have come across here, there is partner dating like like we, you know, we get along with the one and then the partner like, oh, my God, do we have to do this?

JW:

We recently made friends with neighbors. Our our dog, June has a crush on their great Pyrenees, Primo, who's twice as big as June, which is this is a large dog. It's like £130 anyway. And we all like each other, like I like him and I like her and he likes me and he likes Tina and she likes me and is like I'm like, this feels like a unicorn situation right now.

We have, you know, so we've been fostering that friendship and just, you know, having each other to the backyard and dog dates and things. And I don't want to get to I don't want to scare them and be like, let's vacation. You know, I'm so I'm just like taking taking it down a notch. But, but I am super excited because it's so nice to meet people that are a block away where everyone likes each other.

Yeah, that feels rare. I mean, you know, like, really likes each other.

AD:

Yeah. Yeah. And not just, like, socially sort of like, yeah, we can do a barbecue, but like actually wants to hang out. And I found that at least with my partner, you know, I'd be friend friendly enough with the moms. And maybe that's just like I'm friendly, you know, like, like I can totally have fun with and, you know, connect with people.

And I have fun connecting with people, right? My partner is like, well, you know, if we're not going to dig deep, you know, first first date here, I'm not really interested. So like the baseball dads or the whatever, you know, kind of like, you know, just dads down the street, dads on the, you know, kids sorts of things, you know, that we meet through that, you know, if they're not willing to go deep, you know, I know for me, I was like, well, you know, yeah, sure, we can go.

Yeah, but we're not going to be be friends. And I think maybe he has just like a much stronger sense of like, I don't know what's fulfilling to him in a relationship with with someone, you know. But we're definitely mixed family dating harder or maybe it's more clear. I don't know.

BB:

I we got to see a good friend of ours, of my husband and I. We all lived together or lived close by in Nashville and we were laughing. He, him and his family, he has two kids now. They live up in Maine. And we were kind of, you know, like nostalgic for the good old days. I wish there was a word for like, you know, that homesickness for a place, but not necessarily like the place, but like that specific time and place coupled together like they were just incredible.

Like my husband and I were newlyweds and we were talking about they had had a child and they had the smallest house of all of us. It was like the tiniest little, little thing, but for so many reasons. Like everyone was always there and it was this like the safest, warmest they just did, like hosting and conversation so well, like his name was Ben and he would always be making like, the most creative cocktails.

And it's just like, you got to act like you came in and you got to exhale. And so even I share that to say, like, it really does not matter if you have like the biggest house or the like. It does not matter about the space, it's more like the energy. They're like, there's just something that was so great.

And so my husband and I don't have kids yet. You know, we're in a like kind of in the in-between where we're struggling with some infertility stuff. So that's like a whole nother layer of like not having kids wanting kids. Friendship gets very weird in that space. But we talk about when we are parents, we want to be parents like our friends Ben and Annie, because they just kind of integrated us.

And it wasn't like the the kids were obviously a focus and a priority, but they were not the only focus and the only priority. Like, they just it blended so nicely and we're like, that's we want that. We want to be like them.

JW:

I was going to say when you were talking, Andre, about your friends with kids parenting, similarly, as I think through my friends who have children, they all parent similarly and they all have full lives that include raising children and some of them are stay at home parents. Like it's not about, you know, having a career necessarily, but it's more of an attitude of raising the children is a part of it.

But there is also an identity and a world beyond that. And I would say that is a through line. And I think that's probably why there's room for them to make space and value friendship. I'm thinking right now about my friend Jenny, who is one of the coolest parents I know. And, you know, she invited me to like, do this, like, vision board branding decor for her child's third birthday.

And I was like I was like, I'm on it. What's the theme in Conto? I'm downloading it right now. We're using tertiary colors. I'm seeing teal, I'm seeing hot pink. What do you think? How many balloons? I mean, I just, like, took it and ran with it. And I was so it meant so much to me to be included and involved in that for for Josephine, her daughter, and also was really fun for us as to, you know, creative people to to get to focus.

But I mean, that, I think is a perfect example of someone who there's something expansive and inviting in and and not just laser focus. My kid, you know, there's just it just is a different energetic vibe that I think is what supports the friendship.

AD:

I can feel that it's all energetic. I get right like really when it comes down to it. And I love hearing that too. Blake that you saw in people like who you'd like to be when, when you know, when you have kids like that, kind of like seeing that example, right? And then, you know, for Jenny being incorporated, fully incorporated into the family like that, you know, it's super beautiful.

I think it just makes me feel good to hear about it. And I know for us, like, we had examples of of people who we looked up to that still to this day, I learn things from and like, oh my gosh, that is that is high. I remember making mental notes like, that is how I want to do this.

You know, that's the sort of and they're still incredibly important people to me to this day. So it feels like some of this is like sifting through a little bit. Like to me, it just seems like there's a difference between a friendship where you are, you are you have this energetic vibe, right? You connect like we want to be.

We like being together, obviously, right? Like we like being able to do this friendship thing and dig deeper and get really get to know each other and spend time together and do the work associated with that. And then something that is more casual or like something that is more circumstantial maybe, right? It is. You know, your kids play on a team together or you're at the dog park together or you're at work maybe.

Right. Work friends. Work friends can become really good friends, too, but they can also be work friends. Yeah, I think some of us and I think even for me at some points in my life had a hard time maybe understanding what was what with this. You know, I think that I probably confused more circumstantial, you know, kind of friendships with with what it means to really be more deeply like, I don't know.

It's like to me, it's like a, you know, deeply committed in that like we, you know, at least for this reason, you know, we were willing to not just spend time together, but do some work together and work to communicate whatever it might be. So is there is that something that we can do, some reflecting around? You know, Blake, from your experience, is it meaningful to sort of like examine your friendships and look at like what are seem to be more of a friendship with that kind of commitment versus, you know, a casual friendship that you can hold in some sort of perspective?

BB

Absolutely. I I've had so many different work environments. And I will say I'm not just saying this, but by and far like being with Jenny and at her practice with the other therapists there like that just felt so like the energy was so different and it was so there was like just a commitment of integrity and character there.

And that had not been true at all the places I've been at. And so I think about Brené Brown coined this phrase like common enemy intimacy. And I think that that was such a huge part of so many other workplaces where it's just like we hate the same people. And so it's kind of that like watercooler chat chatter that you like.

You can go and you can like whisper like, Oh my God, these I'm like, Can you believe this or that? And on one hand, it gave, it gave, you know, I'm guilty of doing this. Like it gave me a sense of connection, but it also gave a false like it gave a false intimacy because we weren't actually friends.

It didn't at the end of the day, after I did do some reflection like this doesn't feel good to be talking about this. It just keeps us stuck. We're not making any proactive steps like I didn't feel great about my own integrity and character doing this. And so I think even just examining, like, what do we have in common?

What are what is our friendship about? Like what, what is the conversation centered around? And a lot of times with work, friends, one of the biggest things that I can see if you can be stay friends after work, is are there places that you can talk about and are there places where there is connection outside of just the things that you worked with, like works with because you're going to leave, so you're so it's like fun to talk about some people, but after six months or so, it's like you've moved on.

Is there still a connection there?

JW

That's a really good question that that makes me wonder to if we should spend some time talking about when it's time to go, like when. Oh, yeah. Because what I'm so excited about, Blake, what you're doing in this space because I agree there is not there really isn't any there isn't much, you know, resources or information. And and I have clients and I've noticed they're sort of developmentally kind of in a similar place in their lives.

And it was similar for me. And so it was probably like in my early thirties, late twenties, where I was kind of surveying the land and I was realizing that I sure had a lot of I had a lot of people in my life that some of them weren't real nice to me. Like I had kind of a lot of kind of lot of narcissists, honestly, that that was just my personal thing.

But that I've had clients say this to like, how do you know when this is a friendship that isn't working, isn't a friendship or needs to go and is that normal? I think that a lot of them want to know, is it normal for friendships to to fall away for different kinds of friendships to be needed? What do you what do you think?

BB:

Oh, I think that's every yeah, I do. I can think of so many people who kind of look at me like, can I have permission to? And it's, it's that like, why like do I have to stay here forever? Like, they want me to give them a permission slip. Yes. Your permission. But yeah, I think knowing when to walk away, I remember doing this, it kind of happened organically, but I made this and whoever is listening can do this.

It was really helpful. I kind of made this these like three concentric circles and on the inner circle it was like, Who's in my inner and my inner world? And even research says you can only have about 4 to 5 people and like you have access to our psyche and who have access to like our stories. So really to we can't do friendship with a million people.

Like it's just you can't do it well. So it needs to be a pretty small circle. And then outside of that, I thought more of like the acquaintances who are the people that I love, but also I don't need to talk to them every day. I don't think I talk to any friends every day. I'm not I'm not a high touch person.

And so things do that. And then I have this third circle of like question my friends. And I realized so much of my precious friendship energy was going to these question mark friends because had so much anxiety around them like do they care about me? Why like it? I feel like they're not accepting my how I'm changing and how I'm not.

And I'm like, oh my gosh, I am giving I do not have we don't have a lot of time to do friendship, which with all of our our busy, full lives, but I'm giving my precious energy to people who are not reciprocating to make you know or who my body just feels like, totally clenched and inflamed and like I have to be really small with them.

And I'm not investing in the friends that like I can actually do some of this good communication work with and good setting boundary work with. And it was hugely eye opening and that was really helpful for me to be able to think like I don't, I don't have that much time and I want to give it to people who I can build and create something beautiful and good with.

AD:

That is amazing. Blake, I, I was visualizing, as you're, as you're describing this, I'm visualizing this exercise and I'm going to do it later. It felt good for me just to, like, travel through that with you and thinking, like, I was just like, oh, my gosh, the question mark, people I have done, I have spent so much time in that same place.

Thank you for that.

JW:

Yeah. And so what happened with the question mark, people.

BB:

You know, I let I let them go. I and I don't want to sound it was not like I've talked so much even I've had to like work through my embarrassment that I talk about friendships so much in my own therapy and it's like this is just kind of come into acceptance of it. But I, I, I let think like they really loved me for a time and I loved them and they can't hold me the way I need to be held.

And I also can't hold them the way that they need to be held. And so it's just this it it turned into this very like I, I wish them well and I do have so much love for them, but I can't invest. I can't give them, like, my best time and energy and. Yeah.

JW:

And that doesn't mean that it wasn't a successful friendship. It just means. Right. You know, that it had a it had it was finite.

It makes me think of during this time in my life when I was sort of doing, I didn't do this, the circle thing would have been very helpful. Mine was just sort of in my mind, but as I was kind of letting some friendships fall away, I think I had some I shared an idea. Justin's kind of like have to go deep all the time.

I think it's like an HSP thing. It's kind of it's kind of annoying. It's pretty annoying. But and so I was I remember I was therapist hopping at the time and I because this was during the period of immense depression, anxiety, all that. And I saw this Daoist therapist who also did like equine therapy. It's just the coolest woman so far for two sessions.

But I'll never forget and I've said this before, I probably on one of our podcast, but I said I was telling her about this, the friendship, and I had a couple that were just not, not great. And she said, you know, you don't have to give an exit interview. And I was like, I don't, you know, because I thought I had to like process it out with everybody.

Like I had to let them know we can't be friends anymore. And it turns out that permission slip that she gave me was really wonderful because when I just stopped, when I, like, loosened the grip and just came into acceptance about the reality of our relationship, it just naturally fell away. Like, you know what I mean? Like, they didn't want to be friends either, you know, they were they were, you know, just kind of like, naturally this dissipated.

So I just wanted to say that for folks that feel like if I've decided that I'm letting a question mark friend go, I have to like, you know, this formal.

BB:

Informal conversation.


JW:

Right? Right. Yeah. We have to have a therapy session together about it or, you know, and the answer is no, I don't think it.

BB:

It reminds me to of the sense like especially if there's been harm in the friendship so often, especially the people who go to therapy often. Not always, but I mean, I feel like the people I we want to do the right thing. We want to have integrity, we want to have the conversation like have the bout, all of that.

And sometimes that kind of thing is like, how can we exert this friends that we're talking about and just how can we exit this friendship with the least amount of hurt and harm to us as possible and just letting go sometimes helps us not have to create even more hurt and harm in our and our little bodies and stories.

JW:

Do you guys have any friendships that ended that you are still thinking about or are still like, what? What happened? Or like?

AD:

Young ones that I think maybe aren't like totally nicely ended but are so changed.

So change that is like you think is probably has ended or like it's in, you know, quite a season if that's not it, you know, that are sizing and I know for for me too I found it a lot I don't know if you've experienced is going through big changes in your own lives like when Max was diagnosed for example.

I mean I was blown away to see the people who fell away and the people who came in, you know, it's like through their own discomfort around what we were going through. So then it makes me think to like the discomfort of others and our changes, you know, as we're growing and changing and moving and not, you know, kind of falls away around those kind of events, their discomfort.

And then I wonder if it's permanent, you know, just kind of not I'm not taking any. And so it might be permanent.

BB:

Oh, I've been thinking about a friend's I love this question I've been thinking about a friend from high school that I it's yeah. I think just doing this work of looking and exploring friendships has my psyche kind, letting out these experiences. And too, I remember I had a pretty severe eating disorder while I was in high school. So again, that kind of shifted my lens.

And I remember you could write, you could send letters to where I needed to go to treatment first for like six weeks. And I remember this friend that I loved so much and was such a great friend. She never wrote me a letter. Her mom wrote me a letter, but she never wrote me a letter. And I remember being like so butthurt about it, but not having the tools to talk about it and kind of just like pushing her away.

And I remember at one point she even called and tried to apologize and I just kind of let the friendship go. And I don't think I knew how to really process it at the time. And so now I think back and I feel sad and I'm like, I've been like, I will I will be honest. I've been lurking on her Instagram because you can see it and I'm like, Maybe I'll reach out.

I haven't decided yet. But it is in my it's something that I'm thinking about and processing. Like, I wonder if there is space to rekindle a friendship. I don't know. She could say no and that's okay. But yeah, absolutely. I think about friends of like I wish that yeah, I wish that I didn't it go where I had even tools to talk about the hard things.

AD:

Oh, there's a moment that visually was coming up for me as you're describing that I don't know if you’ve seen the Amy Schumer, Michael Cera show.

BB:

Yes, I saw parts of it. Yes.

AD:

Yeah. So getting towards the end like once you I think maybe we're talking final episode or so, final two episodes, but the friend says no, we’re not going to be friends but it was really great to see you.

BB:

Wow. Directness is not found in friendships often. Yeah, yeah.

JW:

Yeah, yeah. Wow. Speaking of yeah, I have I have friendships that I that I ponder and I keep thinking about who I was then and who I am now. And I'm so curious I think one particular friendship, I was so hurt that but I have been so curious about what was my part. You know, like I obviously there was a dynamic here in what was my part and and really, truly, I'd been hurt throughout the friendship.

I mean, it was really imbalanced. It wasn't great. It was great in the sense that I think I loved this person so much and but I very much idealized them, too, which I think was probably part of my part of, you know, of it because it doesn't feel great to be put up on a pedestal. I think that that's that's an uncomfortable place.

But but yeah, you know, just kind of acknowledging that that is this great unknown in my life. And I don't know if there will ever be any I'll ever have any knowing about it. And it's just sort of, you know, just kind of sitting with that grief and and always wondering and also, I wanted to say, you know, speaking of not great work environments, you know, thinking through friendships with people that shouldn't, we really aren't your friends that in the sense that they're in a power position like boundaries and.

I don't know if you want to speak to that at all. Just touch on that.

BB:

That's a whole that's a whole other episode. Yeah, I know we don't have much time left.

AD:

I feel like we should return to that. And I know we've got to jump off to go to to jump into a session, but Can we do a whole like follow up episode on that? Because yeah, I have a lot coming up around that and I think there's a lot of support that we can provide this space because you are so right, Jenny.

This is it's huge.

BB:

Yeah. No, I would be down for sure.

AD:

Blake, what I'd like to do just in the next few minutes, can we go around at least for Jenny and Blake? Can you? It's more of a rapid fire kind of thing, and I'm not going to go by our script. Can you? I have a 12 year old daughter, and I think that friendships we haven't talked about this, but I think that friendships vary for children.

And I don't know, you know, it's the intersection of kind of like gendered identities and probably all of a very complex web of things that we can talk about. But I'd like to just specifically speak to my 12 year old daughter. What advice would you give 12 year old you around friendships? Is there something, something simple that you would share with your 12 year old self?

I know. I'm like throwing it out as a surprise.

JW:

The first thing that came to mind was it gets better. You know, that's what we tell my fellow queer people, too. But it gets better. Yeah. Oh. Oh.

AD:

I can share. What comes up for me first is it's not yours like so much at that age you think is yours and it's not yours. And I know there's so much teasing through what is yours, but you tend to overly take on. Well, you know what I mean? Like like you think it's all yours. And it's not just learning the very beginning of of boundary work.

I feel like it's one of the most important things that we can we can do with our kids.

JW:

Yeah. Oh, I love that.

BB:

Yeah, I, I, I would tell my 12 year old self like, you're good and, you know, like, you're, you're I was just so weird and awkward and gangly and that felt like such a thing to hide. And I think that I'd, I'd tell her, like, I mean, all of this combined, like, it gets so much better, but like there are people who will love those parts of you out there, like and celebrate them that you don't have to hide them.

JW:

You just haven't met them yet. It'll be a while, right. Hold on tight. Your tribe is coming.

BB:

Yes. Yes. And it gets better. It really does. I love getting older. Oh I know I, that's what I always tell kids in my life who are in that awkward age are struggling and I was like, listen, trust me, you do not want to peek. It's 15 that doesn't you don't want that to be your best, your glory or like it's good. It's a good thing that this is a struggle because it's only going to get better, you know.

AD:

And Blake, as we, as we exit out of this particular intro podcast with you, can you tell us your exciting news? Did you have some rough, exciting news to share?

BB:

I do. I do. I'll hold it up. So I created it because I don't know if people will see this, but it's called the Friendship Deck and it is 62 questions. It is a conversation game for friends because as I said earlier, friendship friends are not that great at being direct with each other. There's not a lot of resources and certainly they're slowly becoming more books around friendship.

But I wanted create something that literally like got you in the room with your friends talking about dynamics. And so there are three different levels of just descending because we don't want to to bond and it's yeah, they're just really fun inquisitive. Well I think they're fun. I'm similar to Jenny like deep heart to hearts are my jam so this is very this has like my yeah my little thumbprint all over it but just even questions about like, how do you want to be cared for when you're having a bad day?

Do you share with your friends when you're feeling hurt where it places that you feel left out in our friend group, just so that we can start doing friendship more intentionally and actually having it be not just this like thought that blows in the wind, like, oh, I need to call my friend, but really thinking and holding it in the forefront like how do I, how do I care for my people intentionally?

And yeah, so it's going to be out August 19th and I'm so excited to share it.

JW:

Oh, congratulations, Blake. It sounds so cool. Where can we. Where can we get this?

BB:

Yes, you can get it. You can literally just go to the friendship.com and it will bring you to everything you need to be able to get it. And it will be shipped to you by me and my husband with love.

AD:

I absolutely love that. Well, we will link to it and we will share it. And look, so I really look forward to bringing you into my life and into my home and sharing it with my kids, too, like, you know, yes, it's expanding for them, giving them a toolbox of some of these conversation topics and questions. And like, you're incredible.

I cannot wait to do this again. I'm thinking in like a month we should get back to. Yes, let's talk about these like power kind of friendships through power dynamics and stuff. So cool and and other layers there. I can't wait. This has to be a continuing conversation.

In this episode

We’re so excited that this month's theme in the Yes Collective is emotional health and friendship. As busy working parents, we know how our friendships get pushed way down the priority list, so we are starting the month talking to Blake Blankenbecler, a licensed therapist who specializes in trauma, anxiety, eating disorders, and - most importantly - friendships. She specializes in helping people be better friends and have deeper more meaningful friendships.

We were joined by Yes Collective contributor and therapist, Jenny Walters, to talk about making new friends, navigating conflicts with your friends, and how to know when a friendship is coming to an end. Without further ado, here’s the wise and wonderful Blake Blankenbecler.

Listen here

Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or Overcast

About our guest

Blake Blankenbecler, a licensed therapist who specializes in trauma, anxiety, eating disorders, and - most importantly - friendships. She specializes in helping people be better friends and have deeper more meaningful friendships.

She spends her days helping clients at her private practice, Fig Holistic Psychotherapy. She lives in Charleston, South Carolina with her husband and  goldendoodle named Cash. In her free time, she loves sitting on her back porch reading a good book, eating her way through Charleston, and of course enjoying the ocean any chance she can get.

Show notes

Transcript highlights

Audra DiPadova (AD)

Blake and Jenny. Let's talk about friendship. Yeah. First off, we always like to open this podcast up with kind of our personal stories, because I feel like we're very often talking to people who we know and love. And so, Blake, I was so thrilled to meet you through Jenny and loved our brunch together in Charleston. And I love that we are we're pretty close geographic. And I'm hoping that I'll get to see more of you. And so, Jenny and Blake, can you share how you two know each other?

Blake Blankenbecler (BB)

I've moved way too much. And a few years ago, I moved to Los Angeles, and I had left Nashville. I was thinking, like, I don't even know if I want to be a therapist anymore. But I missed. I miss the work. And so I remember just being like, I want to I want to check out what the therapy scene is like in L.A. And I Googled a lot of places and I found this very beautiful website and it had like the most beautiful copy.

And I think of websites as like living rooms. And I was like, I want to be in this place. And so I literally sent a cold random email to Jenny and I was like, Hey, I really like your practice. I like what you're doing. Can we have a meeting? I just love to hear about what's happened in Highland Park.

And I came and Jenny was incredible and wonderful. And I was not looking for a job. But you did offer me. You're like, Would you be interested in potentially working? We're going to hire soon. And that is where the magic began when I got to work for you.

Jenny Walters (JW)

It was kismet. It felt very synchronistic. You know, like when you know, you know. And it's just like when you came in and I liked your that you were so proactive and reached out and were so inquisitive. And then as you were sitting there talking, I was like, this is a this is a good one here. This is a this is a I could just tell you, you had a gift. So that was that. And then she left a year later and it was very sad.

BB

I think of I think of Jenny as such, like a mentor and an expander and she's always teaching me things and keeping me up to date on the latest calls and the shows to watch. So, you know, just just like stuff just like, fun stuff.

AD

Are you both into the cult stuff?

JW

Oh, yeah.

AD

Okay, Jenny. Yeah, we were. We were together for where we together when we together it was it, um, with the cult, the upstate New York Albany cult. Did you watch that show?

JW

Nexium.

AD:

Nexium, Nexium.

JW:

I've watched every show about Nexium, I there's like three or four out there.

AD:

I don't think I've got a podcast you. It came out when I was hanging out with my dad alone when the kid Justin took the kids up to Massachusetts. Anyway, the Nexium guy was in my parents’ Amway group. Oh, he had banned, like in our house many, many, many times.

BB:

In your house?

JW:

Is that where he was learning? I mean, Amway is a little on the cult side.

AD:

Did my parents teach him his part that he's freaked out because when he saw what happened and what the guy did, I mean he's still he won't even watch the documentary and so freaked out.

JW:

Wow. Blake, that means you and I are two degrees from a cult leader. So, yeah, no. I mean, anything. Cults, basically. Anything with a narcissist at the helm, um, has my has my interest in that. I immediately text Blake and I'm like, have you seen, have you seen the one about Teal swan?

BB:

Have you, have you seen it?

JW:

What about there's lessons to be learned. It's always you think it's going to be the same story and it is on in many ways. Sadly, it's kind of just predictable what these people do. But there's always little nuances that that are very interesting to me that you pick up.

AD:

So it sounds like this is a connection in your friendship and it brings me to to question. So, Blake, I'd love to know from you what is friendship, but let's back up right before that or answer this however you want. Well, how did you get into friendship work and and becoming a friendship educator?

BB:

It happened on accident. There is no, like, setting out, like, I want to do this. If anything, I do not consider myself to be, like, the world's greatest friend. I struggled with it so much growing up. You know, I think Jenny and I work a lot in the world of trauma and just how trauma is so disruptive and it has you, you know, using your survival and coping mechanism.

So it wasn't something I flourished in. And so I think I come by it really honestly as someone who's moved a lot and struggled with my friendships, I just kind of thought like, there are not any resources. And so I just kind of kept looking and I was like, I don't I don't think anyone's creating them. Like, I guess I'm going to start paying attention and talking about them more and asking questions.

And sure enough, I saw in my own client work these themes of friendship and like kind of these implicit messages showing up around like loyalty and best friends don't fight. And what's it mean to have a boundary with a friend? Does that mean it's about friendship? And so it just kind of flourished and happened very naturally and organically as I was doing some of my own friendship work, seeing it and my clients realizing there's not enough resources and being like there's there's something here.

AD:

That is super cool to hear. I feel like I feel like many of us come to our I don't know if their work or a passion or interest or whatever through things that we struggle with ourselves. Right. Things that that we notice, things that are challenging for us. So thank you so much for sharing that. So what did you learn? Like, what is friendship?

BB:

Well, it's something I'm still learning. I think it's the biggest thing is that that I'm holding is that friendship is a living organism. It is like any other relationship. It is not static. It grows, it stretches, it morphs, I think so much. Jenny, I want you to share that story that you shared at our brunch about your friends, because I can't stop thinking about it.

Even that story that I hope you'll share in a second. You know what I'm talking about? The one it was the one where your friend was, like, about to get married and she likes to sit you down and have that. Yeah, I'll let you. I'll let you share it. But friendship is it's a chosen relationship. So it's this really beautiful thing where there's no obligation, there are no contracts, there's no legality to it.

And it's this choice to continually show up and bring out ourselves the good parts, the bad parts, the messy parts, and support each other and care for each other and annoy each other and everything in between and just kind of see what happens. It's like a great it's a grand experiment, honestly.

JW

I think that's so wise, Blake. And I don't think people acknowledge that in language that enough about friendship. And so there's a lot of expectations like you were talking about loyalty. So there's a real idealization that happens around friendship that I think gets us in so much trouble and gets us into this binary of like, well, we're either together or we're not.

And I love the idea of the dynamic changing thing because friendships do change and I have friends I've known since grade school, but our friendship is very different now than it was when we were in grade school. Obviously. I mean, we're adults, but even just in terms of the intensity or the frequency of communication or how our have, we've grown in different ways, but we still get to have share a connection.

But it's very different feeling connection than than what we had before. So so I'll share the story that you're referring to because it does speak to this, which is that one of my besties Sara shout out to Sara out there in the world. She was getting married and I was very single and she called me up. I remember very vividly I was sitting at my kitchen table in Chicago on I think it was a cold day.

Maybe it wasn't anyway. Probably if it was Chicago. Yeah, yeah, it's likely it was definitely, probably overcast I'll tell you that much.

In Chicago anyway. And she said I have some news to tell you and she said I'm engaged and I, you know, if I'm being totally honest, I felt multiple things. The one was absolute joy for her. And also probably some jealousy, probably some fear. You know, I felt a lot of feelings. And what was really beautiful was that she said, yeah, it's really, really exciting.

And I also want to acknowledge that this means things are going to change between us. And that makes me really sad. And I wonder if we can acknowledge both and talk about and I was just like, I mean, I get chills thinking about it because I've just never had anyone deliver that kind of big news and make space for all the parts of it, the light and the shadow.

And it was really beautiful. And she did the same thing when she got pregnant, which was, Hey, yeah, this is really exciting. And it was like I felt such joy for her and yeah, I knew it meant that things were going to be different and that we could acknowledge that I think made way for those differences to evolve and it not be a deal breaker for our friendship.

AD:

It's beautiful. I like it. Yeah. Sorry, Blake. I just am struck. I've heard the story already, but it's striking me even different to today or now. And speaking of, like, to me, there's, like, such a beautiful intentionality there. And hearing from both of you, what came up for me is thinking, wow, we've taken so much of just anything related or friendship completely, like, for granted, like unintentional, like unreflective, right?


Like, I mean, how much intentional work is there around friendship for me in my life and growing up? I mean, that's something that was just like friendships must be some sort of like magical, mystical alchemy or something that you have, like nothing to do with really. And it's been a long process of learning, like family and like partnerships and other things, like there's work in all of this and it's so much about how we show up.

So I love here, I just love hearing that. And she's not a therapist.

JW:

No, but she is a greeting card writer. So she does have an immense amount of attunement and and and emotional intelligence. Let me tell you, if you can if you can find yourself a bestie who is a righty like who writes cards for a living. Oh, my God. The most beautiful notes through the years. The most beautiful cards she snail mail that you will cherish for the rest of your life. So it's been a real gift.

BB:

The best the best I think about, too, with friendships where we often say and I've probably said it too, like, you know, you have this collective time together. Like I'm thinking about being in college or living in the same place, living in the same house before you move out. And it's like, this won't change, this won't change, this won't change.

It'll stay the same. It'll stay the same. And I love what your friend did because friendships will change and it actually makes friendships so much easier and it makes the friendships so much safer when there's space to talk about how it's changing. Instead of having to live in this fantasy that it's not. And it keeps it makes it so that there's just so much more space and fluidity there.

JW:

Yeah. I'm curious, Blake, about peoples. Well, I'll just to I'll just share something personal and see if you have any insights around it. I was so hungry for friendship growing up. I mean, I was, you know, I was the kid that was kind of the easy target and bullied and stuff. And so I always had, like, a best friend because it was my safe harbor and they fight it, you know, so.

So there was always kind of this intensity growing up. And as I got older, I moved around a lot and I always wanted to hang on to those friendships. So I was sort of resistant to letting them kind of fall away. And then eventually started to realize that I was sometimes the only one putting in the work and feeling like if I weren't the one making the moves here, because it takes a lot to maintain a relationship when you move and proximity is no longer on your side.

And I've been really lucky because yeah, my inner circle, I mean, not like very few of my besties live anywhere near me and but they've all been people who have participated equally, you know, in the friendship. But my question, I don't know if it's a question, I'm just a comment that I'd be curious. Your insight is is something about why is it some people value friendship more than others?

And I always kind of felt vulnerable and embarrassed about it, I think, especially when these friendships would fall away. And I've had some people I really thought we had something and yeah, you know, I haven't spoken to them in years because I just I stopped kind of putting in all the work and, and thought a lot of sadness and trying not to take it personally.

Maybe it is personal, which, I mean, not everyone wants to be your best friend. And I just want to give any insights around that kind of, that kind of differing dedication or valuing of friendship.

BB:

I'm thinking about this. It was like a tick tock or a real I'm young, so I'm aging my my millennial self. But it was this it was this funny thing of like, didn't text, like, decided not to text my friends back or decided not to reach out to my friend and wait for her to reach out first. And then it was like the next thing, like it's been six months, like, ha ha ha.

And this common reality that if I am not the one initiating the friendship dissipates. And I think some people are naturally more comfortable in the initiation world. But I also, from what I hear from so many people, is like especially the ones that are more active participants in the friendship is that they're tired and they also would like it to be reciprocated.

And we've both moved around a lot. So I think that that's something that we have in common, is even thinking about that conversation like we have to be really intentional with our friendships. And I think like, you know, there is jealousy when I look at girls from high school that are still hanging out there, having babies together, they're all at the baby shower.

I'm like, Oh, that's so great. Like, it's so easy. And even seeing like growing up with shows like Sex and the City and Friends, like, they literally lived in the same apartment. So even after they got married, like, there was just so much ease there and so it can be taken for granted. And so I think it's easy for people to say that they value friendship.

And a lot of people have never we've don't have any classes on like How to be a good friend or they're not very many resources that say like, here's how to reach out to a friend or here's how to repair something, here's how to do conflict. So I think it's there's so many layers at play, but I like to look at the system too, that it's like you're supposed to have friendships, they're supposed to be easy.

And then if it's not easy, it kind of just goes into like the junk drawer and it's like, so yeah.

JW

I think that's right. That, that makes so much sense and there's so much unconsciousness around friendship. It's gives it you're right. It is something that I think we get it's taken for granted and and then we're we're informed by what's modeled around us or by pop culture. So that makes a lot of sense.

AD:

It it makes me hearing this to what is coming up for me has to do with physical proximity as well. And sometimes I wonder if like physical proximity and kind of like getting along with someone and being acquainted can be confused with friendship like or it's a type of friendship. Maybe it's like a level, maybe it's an acquaintance level, but and, and you do maybe hang out.

But I don't know. For me, moving across the country this last time. So I've moved a lot too. And I've loved that I've picked up. I feel like good friends along the way and I can tell when they're the ones you can carry with you. You know, they're the ones who stay in touch, you know, stay at least to some degree, you know.

And I, my friend put it my friend Courtney put it this way. She's like, Audrey, you're going to cause she moved from L.A. back to Massachusetts and she was like, You're going to tighten your squad. You're going to you're going to see, you know. And I can feel that, Blake, like, looking at the pictures, looking at the people who are in proximity and gathered.

And it can look like they're friends, right? It can look like there's a friendship there. But I mean, is that it or is it like they're there physically and can hang out? But do do they have a friendship? I mean, since I moved, I feel like Jenny, we've we've I've seen.

JW:

I've seen you more. Yeah, I've seen you more since you moved to Georgia than I think I saw you when you lived 45 minutes away.

AD:

Because then there's a kind of proximity where you think you're close and you kids, like, hang out with your friend on any, like, weekend, and then you and then, you know, life is too busy, and it's like living in Brooklyn versus Manhattan. You're not you know, you're not taking the train. Yeah. And you don't do it. So I don't know, like, I just I feel like there's something, at least in my life, where that proximity could kind of get confused.

And I've seen people who fallen off now. So, yeah, I'm not going to just I'm not going to keep reaching out. And I think, oh, maybe it was just because we were down the street or, you know, in the same regional area. Does that make a good friendship?

JW:

Look, maybe it makes a friendship for a season.

AD:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I like I like it that way for a season. Yeah.

JW:

Also, I don't know about you guys, but there was some proximity friendships of my youth. I mean, I was just sort of like, well, I mean, just, I mean, again, I think this is, you know, it speaks to my own stuff and my own trauma and everything. But like, I think it was kind of like someone's better than no one.

And so there were some, you know, some people that I was hanging out with that I don't even know that we really had much of a connection except that we were neighbors or there was proximity. And and that coupled with my desperation and terror of being alone, you know, so that equaled friendship. But it didn't last, obviously.

BB:

But I think that that's such a great point because that's something I see so much as this fear to even look at your friendships and begin kind of putting a light on them because that scarcity comes up of like, oh my gosh, if I start looking at them, am I going to have any friends at the end of this or am I going to discover like, crap?

I'm in all of these friendships where I'm doing all of the heavy lifting. I am a doormat. I am people pleasing like I have no wants, desires or edges in this friendship. So it's it's it's nerve racking. And I've also been thinking a lot about this idea. Like people are like, you know, thinking about the friends that we've had forever.

And it's like, oh, we've been friends forever. We're going to be friends forever. Like, there's just no there. No question. That's even if it's not, if you begin looking at it, it's not the greatest friendship. And I really people use this word loyalty. But really what I think when you get down to it, it's the sense of obligation.

It's not I don't even know what the definition of loyalty is, but it feels like there's more of an obligatory sense I have to stay friends with you forever.

AD:

Yeah, that's an obligatory is a big word for me in in friendships in some way like doesn't I feel like it for me it ties a lot into proximity. You know the network kind of like and probably the people pleasing, you know, tendencies and moving kind of like broke that pretty hard in many ways and gave me the chance to really reexamine, like, where where are the people I feel like I'm seeing the most because of like it's more obligatory.

They're close by and like, I've never seen Jenny, you know, we live 45 minutes away, but I'm seeing like, you know, people who are down the street from like a, you know, you know.

BB:

That is stimulating.

AD:

Right? Right. And I have a choice, but I feel like at the time, even I did not perceive how much of a choice there, you know, and that was obviously my own stuff. But he did not I perceive that those relationships as I call them, friendship, there's some sort of a relationship I think were more important than they were.

JW:

It's interesting to how oh, this is a whole maybe a whole other episode, but friendships between women with children and women without children. Oh, because.

This is the episode. I mean, because that's, you know, I'm I'm I don't have children and I have friends who don't have children and I have friends who do have children. And my friends with children have made an effort. And I have I have former friends who had children who as soon as the children came and I really don't hold any judgment around it at all.

I cannot I mean, to raise a human being props like and you don't have the bandwidth to to pursue our friend like I really have I really didn't take it personally. I don't have any judgment, but I do have an immense amount of gratitude for my friends with kids who did still carve out space for a friendship, even though it maybe looked different and wasn't.

We weren't hanging out. We weren't, you know, going to the bars or whatever. But, you know, we were having a different kind of time together. But even just energetically, I'm so curious about that from the perspective of someone with children. And, you know, does that feel different for you? Friends with kids. Friends without kids, I mean. Oh, my.

AD:

Gosh. I have to say, like likewise, I am so grateful for my friends without kids who are wonderful friends. And and if I think about them like some of my closest people don't have kids, like it's really interesting and I so appreciate that they stick with my, you know, my stuff, you know, with my kids and and and their puppy, too.

Definitely. Yeah. But it it that's really interesting. Once I think about I mean, I can count on my hand my closest probably my closest friends don't have kids.

You know, some, some do. But I bet yeah. I'm a good, I'm probably a good 5050. And the ones who have kids, um, we parent probably similarly we probably have similar goals, similar. So we look at it and the ones who don't parent similarly, I mean it's like nails on the chalkboard like I.

BB:

It's such a good point and you can get.

AD:

Like just just the having of the kids is not a commonality. It can even provide more challenge or the thing that I found with family friendships is like once you have this sort of family unit, which I'm sure, you know, with your your partners, you might have come across here, there is partner dating like like we, you know, we get along with the one and then the partner like, oh, my God, do we have to do this?

JW:

We recently made friends with neighbors. Our our dog, June has a crush on their great Pyrenees, Primo, who's twice as big as June, which is this is a large dog. It's like £130 anyway. And we all like each other, like I like him and I like her and he likes me and he likes Tina and she likes me and is like I'm like, this feels like a unicorn situation right now.

We have, you know, so we've been fostering that friendship and just, you know, having each other to the backyard and dog dates and things. And I don't want to get to I don't want to scare them and be like, let's vacation. You know, I'm so I'm just like taking taking it down a notch. But, but I am super excited because it's so nice to meet people that are a block away where everyone likes each other.

Yeah, that feels rare. I mean, you know, like, really likes each other.

AD:

Yeah. Yeah. And not just, like, socially sort of like, yeah, we can do a barbecue, but like actually wants to hang out. And I found that at least with my partner, you know, I'd be friend friendly enough with the moms. And maybe that's just like I'm friendly, you know, like, like I can totally have fun with and, you know, connect with people.

And I have fun connecting with people, right? My partner is like, well, you know, if we're not going to dig deep, you know, first first date here, I'm not really interested. So like the baseball dads or the whatever, you know, kind of like, you know, just dads down the street, dads on the, you know, kids sorts of things, you know, that we meet through that, you know, if they're not willing to go deep, you know, I know for me, I was like, well, you know, yeah, sure, we can go.

Yeah, but we're not going to be be friends. And I think maybe he has just like a much stronger sense of like, I don't know what's fulfilling to him in a relationship with with someone, you know. But we're definitely mixed family dating harder or maybe it's more clear. I don't know.

BB:

I we got to see a good friend of ours, of my husband and I. We all lived together or lived close by in Nashville and we were laughing. He, him and his family, he has two kids now. They live up in Maine. And we were kind of, you know, like nostalgic for the good old days. I wish there was a word for like, you know, that homesickness for a place, but not necessarily like the place, but like that specific time and place coupled together like they were just incredible.

Like my husband and I were newlyweds and we were talking about they had had a child and they had the smallest house of all of us. It was like the tiniest little, little thing, but for so many reasons. Like everyone was always there and it was this like the safest, warmest they just did, like hosting and conversation so well, like his name was Ben and he would always be making like, the most creative cocktails.

And it's just like, you got to act like you came in and you got to exhale. And so even I share that to say, like, it really does not matter if you have like the biggest house or the like. It does not matter about the space, it's more like the energy. They're like, there's just something that was so great.

And so my husband and I don't have kids yet. You know, we're in a like kind of in the in-between where we're struggling with some infertility stuff. So that's like a whole nother layer of like not having kids wanting kids. Friendship gets very weird in that space. But we talk about when we are parents, we want to be parents like our friends Ben and Annie, because they just kind of integrated us.

And it wasn't like the the kids were obviously a focus and a priority, but they were not the only focus and the only priority. Like, they just it blended so nicely and we're like, that's we want that. We want to be like them.

JW:

I was going to say when you were talking, Andre, about your friends with kids parenting, similarly, as I think through my friends who have children, they all parent similarly and they all have full lives that include raising children and some of them are stay at home parents. Like it's not about, you know, having a career necessarily, but it's more of an attitude of raising the children is a part of it.

But there is also an identity and a world beyond that. And I would say that is a through line. And I think that's probably why there's room for them to make space and value friendship. I'm thinking right now about my friend Jenny, who is one of the coolest parents I know. And, you know, she invited me to like, do this, like, vision board branding decor for her child's third birthday.

And I was like I was like, I'm on it. What's the theme in Conto? I'm downloading it right now. We're using tertiary colors. I'm seeing teal, I'm seeing hot pink. What do you think? How many balloons? I mean, I just, like, took it and ran with it. And I was so it meant so much to me to be included and involved in that for for Josephine, her daughter, and also was really fun for us as to, you know, creative people to to get to focus.

But I mean, that, I think is a perfect example of someone who there's something expansive and inviting in and and not just laser focus. My kid, you know, there's just it just is a different energetic vibe that I think is what supports the friendship.

AD:

I can feel that it's all energetic. I get right like really when it comes down to it. And I love hearing that too. Blake that you saw in people like who you'd like to be when, when you know, when you have kids like that, kind of like seeing that example, right? And then, you know, for Jenny being incorporated, fully incorporated into the family like that, you know, it's super beautiful.

I think it just makes me feel good to hear about it. And I know for us, like, we had examples of of people who we looked up to that still to this day, I learn things from and like, oh my gosh, that is that is high. I remember making mental notes like, that is how I want to do this.

You know, that's the sort of and they're still incredibly important people to me to this day. So it feels like some of this is like sifting through a little bit. Like to me, it just seems like there's a difference between a friendship where you are, you are you have this energetic vibe, right? You connect like we want to be.

We like being together, obviously, right? Like we like being able to do this friendship thing and dig deeper and get really get to know each other and spend time together and do the work associated with that. And then something that is more casual or like something that is more circumstantial maybe, right? It is. You know, your kids play on a team together or you're at the dog park together or you're at work maybe.

Right. Work friends. Work friends can become really good friends, too, but they can also be work friends. Yeah, I think some of us and I think even for me at some points in my life had a hard time maybe understanding what was what with this. You know, I think that I probably confused more circumstantial, you know, kind of friendships with with what it means to really be more deeply like, I don't know.

It's like to me, it's like a, you know, deeply committed in that like we, you know, at least for this reason, you know, we were willing to not just spend time together, but do some work together and work to communicate whatever it might be. So is there is that something that we can do, some reflecting around? You know, Blake, from your experience, is it meaningful to sort of like examine your friendships and look at like what are seem to be more of a friendship with that kind of commitment versus, you know, a casual friendship that you can hold in some sort of perspective?

BB

Absolutely. I I've had so many different work environments. And I will say I'm not just saying this, but by and far like being with Jenny and at her practice with the other therapists there like that just felt so like the energy was so different and it was so there was like just a commitment of integrity and character there.

And that had not been true at all the places I've been at. And so I think about Brené Brown coined this phrase like common enemy intimacy. And I think that that was such a huge part of so many other workplaces where it's just like we hate the same people. And so it's kind of that like watercooler chat chatter that you like.

You can go and you can like whisper like, Oh my God, these I'm like, Can you believe this or that? And on one hand, it gave, it gave, you know, I'm guilty of doing this. Like it gave me a sense of connection, but it also gave a false like it gave a false intimacy because we weren't actually friends.

It didn't at the end of the day, after I did do some reflection like this doesn't feel good to be talking about this. It just keeps us stuck. We're not making any proactive steps like I didn't feel great about my own integrity and character doing this. And so I think even just examining, like, what do we have in common?

What are what is our friendship about? Like what, what is the conversation centered around? And a lot of times with work, friends, one of the biggest things that I can see if you can be stay friends after work, is are there places that you can talk about and are there places where there is connection outside of just the things that you worked with, like works with because you're going to leave, so you're so it's like fun to talk about some people, but after six months or so, it's like you've moved on.

Is there still a connection there?

JW

That's a really good question that that makes me wonder to if we should spend some time talking about when it's time to go, like when. Oh, yeah. Because what I'm so excited about, Blake, what you're doing in this space because I agree there is not there really isn't any there isn't much, you know, resources or information. And and I have clients and I've noticed they're sort of developmentally kind of in a similar place in their lives.

And it was similar for me. And so it was probably like in my early thirties, late twenties, where I was kind of surveying the land and I was realizing that I sure had a lot of I had a lot of people in my life that some of them weren't real nice to me. Like I had kind of a lot of kind of lot of narcissists, honestly, that that was just my personal thing.

But that I've had clients say this to like, how do you know when this is a friendship that isn't working, isn't a friendship or needs to go and is that normal? I think that a lot of them want to know, is it normal for friendships to to fall away for different kinds of friendships to be needed? What do you what do you think?

BB:

Oh, I think that's every yeah, I do. I can think of so many people who kind of look at me like, can I have permission to? And it's, it's that like, why like do I have to stay here forever? Like, they want me to give them a permission slip. Yes. Your permission. But yeah, I think knowing when to walk away, I remember doing this, it kind of happened organically, but I made this and whoever is listening can do this.

It was really helpful. I kind of made this these like three concentric circles and on the inner circle it was like, Who's in my inner and my inner world? And even research says you can only have about 4 to 5 people and like you have access to our psyche and who have access to like our stories. So really to we can't do friendship with a million people.

Like it's just you can't do it well. So it needs to be a pretty small circle. And then outside of that, I thought more of like the acquaintances who are the people that I love, but also I don't need to talk to them every day. I don't think I talk to any friends every day. I'm not I'm not a high touch person.

And so things do that. And then I have this third circle of like question my friends. And I realized so much of my precious friendship energy was going to these question mark friends because had so much anxiety around them like do they care about me? Why like it? I feel like they're not accepting my how I'm changing and how I'm not.

And I'm like, oh my gosh, I am giving I do not have we don't have a lot of time to do friendship, which with all of our our busy, full lives, but I'm giving my precious energy to people who are not reciprocating to make you know or who my body just feels like, totally clenched and inflamed and like I have to be really small with them.

And I'm not investing in the friends that like I can actually do some of this good communication work with and good setting boundary work with. And it was hugely eye opening and that was really helpful for me to be able to think like I don't, I don't have that much time and I want to give it to people who I can build and create something beautiful and good with.

AD:

That is amazing. Blake, I, I was visualizing, as you're, as you're describing this, I'm visualizing this exercise and I'm going to do it later. It felt good for me just to, like, travel through that with you and thinking, like, I was just like, oh, my gosh, the question mark, people I have done, I have spent so much time in that same place.

Thank you for that.

JW:

Yeah. And so what happened with the question mark, people.

BB:

You know, I let I let them go. I and I don't want to sound it was not like I've talked so much even I've had to like work through my embarrassment that I talk about friendships so much in my own therapy and it's like this is just kind of come into acceptance of it. But I, I, I let think like they really loved me for a time and I loved them and they can't hold me the way I need to be held.

And I also can't hold them the way that they need to be held. And so it's just this it it turned into this very like I, I wish them well and I do have so much love for them, but I can't invest. I can't give them, like, my best time and energy and. Yeah.

JW:

And that doesn't mean that it wasn't a successful friendship. It just means. Right. You know, that it had a it had it was finite.

It makes me think of during this time in my life when I was sort of doing, I didn't do this, the circle thing would have been very helpful. Mine was just sort of in my mind, but as I was kind of letting some friendships fall away, I think I had some I shared an idea. Justin's kind of like have to go deep all the time.

I think it's like an HSP thing. It's kind of it's kind of annoying. It's pretty annoying. But and so I was I remember I was therapist hopping at the time and I because this was during the period of immense depression, anxiety, all that. And I saw this Daoist therapist who also did like equine therapy. It's just the coolest woman so far for two sessions.

But I'll never forget and I've said this before, I probably on one of our podcast, but I said I was telling her about this, the friendship, and I had a couple that were just not, not great. And she said, you know, you don't have to give an exit interview. And I was like, I don't, you know, because I thought I had to like process it out with everybody.

Like I had to let them know we can't be friends anymore. And it turns out that permission slip that she gave me was really wonderful because when I just stopped, when I, like, loosened the grip and just came into acceptance about the reality of our relationship, it just naturally fell away. Like, you know what I mean? Like, they didn't want to be friends either, you know, they were they were, you know, just kind of like, naturally this dissipated.

So I just wanted to say that for folks that feel like if I've decided that I'm letting a question mark friend go, I have to like, you know, this formal.

BB:

Informal conversation.


JW:

Right? Right. Yeah. We have to have a therapy session together about it or, you know, and the answer is no, I don't think it.

BB:

It reminds me to of the sense like especially if there's been harm in the friendship so often, especially the people who go to therapy often. Not always, but I mean, I feel like the people I we want to do the right thing. We want to have integrity, we want to have the conversation like have the bout, all of that.

And sometimes that kind of thing is like, how can we exert this friends that we're talking about and just how can we exit this friendship with the least amount of hurt and harm to us as possible and just letting go sometimes helps us not have to create even more hurt and harm in our and our little bodies and stories.

JW:

Do you guys have any friendships that ended that you are still thinking about or are still like, what? What happened? Or like?

AD:

Young ones that I think maybe aren't like totally nicely ended but are so changed.

So change that is like you think is probably has ended or like it's in, you know, quite a season if that's not it, you know, that are sizing and I know for for me too I found it a lot I don't know if you've experienced is going through big changes in your own lives like when Max was diagnosed for example.

I mean I was blown away to see the people who fell away and the people who came in, you know, it's like through their own discomfort around what we were going through. So then it makes me think to like the discomfort of others and our changes, you know, as we're growing and changing and moving and not, you know, kind of falls away around those kind of events, their discomfort.

And then I wonder if it's permanent, you know, just kind of not I'm not taking any. And so it might be permanent.

BB:

Oh, I've been thinking about a friend's I love this question I've been thinking about a friend from high school that I it's yeah. I think just doing this work of looking and exploring friendships has my psyche kind, letting out these experiences. And too, I remember I had a pretty severe eating disorder while I was in high school. So again, that kind of shifted my lens.

And I remember you could write, you could send letters to where I needed to go to treatment first for like six weeks. And I remember this friend that I loved so much and was such a great friend. She never wrote me a letter. Her mom wrote me a letter, but she never wrote me a letter. And I remember being like so butthurt about it, but not having the tools to talk about it and kind of just like pushing her away.

And I remember at one point she even called and tried to apologize and I just kind of let the friendship go. And I don't think I knew how to really process it at the time. And so now I think back and I feel sad and I'm like, I've been like, I will I will be honest. I've been lurking on her Instagram because you can see it and I'm like, Maybe I'll reach out.

I haven't decided yet. But it is in my it's something that I'm thinking about and processing. Like, I wonder if there is space to rekindle a friendship. I don't know. She could say no and that's okay. But yeah, absolutely. I think about friends of like I wish that yeah, I wish that I didn't it go where I had even tools to talk about the hard things.

AD:

Oh, there's a moment that visually was coming up for me as you're describing that I don't know if you’ve seen the Amy Schumer, Michael Cera show.

BB:

Yes, I saw parts of it. Yes.

AD:

Yeah. So getting towards the end like once you I think maybe we're talking final episode or so, final two episodes, but the friend says no, we’re not going to be friends but it was really great to see you.

BB:

Wow. Directness is not found in friendships often. Yeah, yeah.

JW:

Yeah, yeah. Wow. Speaking of yeah, I have I have friendships that I that I ponder and I keep thinking about who I was then and who I am now. And I'm so curious I think one particular friendship, I was so hurt that but I have been so curious about what was my part. You know, like I obviously there was a dynamic here in what was my part and and really, truly, I'd been hurt throughout the friendship.

I mean, it was really imbalanced. It wasn't great. It was great in the sense that I think I loved this person so much and but I very much idealized them, too, which I think was probably part of my part of, you know, of it because it doesn't feel great to be put up on a pedestal. I think that that's that's an uncomfortable place.

But but yeah, you know, just kind of acknowledging that that is this great unknown in my life. And I don't know if there will ever be any I'll ever have any knowing about it. And it's just sort of, you know, just kind of sitting with that grief and and always wondering and also, I wanted to say, you know, speaking of not great work environments, you know, thinking through friendships with people that shouldn't, we really aren't your friends that in the sense that they're in a power position like boundaries and.

I don't know if you want to speak to that at all. Just touch on that.

BB:

That's a whole that's a whole other episode. Yeah, I know we don't have much time left.

AD:

I feel like we should return to that. And I know we've got to jump off to go to to jump into a session, but Can we do a whole like follow up episode on that? Because yeah, I have a lot coming up around that and I think there's a lot of support that we can provide this space because you are so right, Jenny.

This is it's huge.

BB:

Yeah. No, I would be down for sure.

AD:

Blake, what I'd like to do just in the next few minutes, can we go around at least for Jenny and Blake? Can you? It's more of a rapid fire kind of thing, and I'm not going to go by our script. Can you? I have a 12 year old daughter, and I think that friendships we haven't talked about this, but I think that friendships vary for children.

And I don't know, you know, it's the intersection of kind of like gendered identities and probably all of a very complex web of things that we can talk about. But I'd like to just specifically speak to my 12 year old daughter. What advice would you give 12 year old you around friendships? Is there something, something simple that you would share with your 12 year old self?

I know. I'm like throwing it out as a surprise.

JW:

The first thing that came to mind was it gets better. You know, that's what we tell my fellow queer people, too. But it gets better. Yeah. Oh. Oh.

AD:

I can share. What comes up for me first is it's not yours like so much at that age you think is yours and it's not yours. And I know there's so much teasing through what is yours, but you tend to overly take on. Well, you know what I mean? Like like you think it's all yours. And it's not just learning the very beginning of of boundary work.

I feel like it's one of the most important things that we can we can do with our kids.

JW:

Yeah. Oh, I love that.

BB:

Yeah, I, I, I would tell my 12 year old self like, you're good and, you know, like, you're, you're I was just so weird and awkward and gangly and that felt like such a thing to hide. And I think that I'd, I'd tell her, like, I mean, all of this combined, like, it gets so much better, but like there are people who will love those parts of you out there, like and celebrate them that you don't have to hide them.

JW:

You just haven't met them yet. It'll be a while, right. Hold on tight. Your tribe is coming.

BB:

Yes. Yes. And it gets better. It really does. I love getting older. Oh I know I, that's what I always tell kids in my life who are in that awkward age are struggling and I was like, listen, trust me, you do not want to peek. It's 15 that doesn't you don't want that to be your best, your glory or like it's good. It's a good thing that this is a struggle because it's only going to get better, you know.

AD:

And Blake, as we, as we exit out of this particular intro podcast with you, can you tell us your exciting news? Did you have some rough, exciting news to share?

BB:

I do. I do. I'll hold it up. So I created it because I don't know if people will see this, but it's called the Friendship Deck and it is 62 questions. It is a conversation game for friends because as I said earlier, friendship friends are not that great at being direct with each other. There's not a lot of resources and certainly they're slowly becoming more books around friendship.

But I wanted create something that literally like got you in the room with your friends talking about dynamics. And so there are three different levels of just descending because we don't want to to bond and it's yeah, they're just really fun inquisitive. Well I think they're fun. I'm similar to Jenny like deep heart to hearts are my jam so this is very this has like my yeah my little thumbprint all over it but just even questions about like, how do you want to be cared for when you're having a bad day?

Do you share with your friends when you're feeling hurt where it places that you feel left out in our friend group, just so that we can start doing friendship more intentionally and actually having it be not just this like thought that blows in the wind, like, oh, I need to call my friend, but really thinking and holding it in the forefront like how do I, how do I care for my people intentionally?

And yeah, so it's going to be out August 19th and I'm so excited to share it.

JW:

Oh, congratulations, Blake. It sounds so cool. Where can we. Where can we get this?

BB:

Yes, you can get it. You can literally just go to the friendship.com and it will bring you to everything you need to be able to get it. And it will be shipped to you by me and my husband with love.

AD:

I absolutely love that. Well, we will link to it and we will share it. And look, so I really look forward to bringing you into my life and into my home and sharing it with my kids, too, like, you know, yes, it's expanding for them, giving them a toolbox of some of these conversation topics and questions. And like, you're incredible.

I cannot wait to do this again. I'm thinking in like a month we should get back to. Yes, let's talk about these like power kind of friendships through power dynamics and stuff. So cool and and other layers there. I can't wait. This has to be a continuing conversation.

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