Don’t Go Through Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Alone! Make New Friends & Revive Old Friendships With These Tips
As you cleanse your life of the negativity of narcissistic abuse, you may find that your friendships have dwindled away.
The fact is that we’ve changed a lot due to our abusive, toxic relationships – and once we are ready to change our lives, we often find that our friends have moved on without us – and sometimes, in ways that don’t necessarily make it easy to reconnect – stuff like marriages, children, jobs and moves can really change a person’s life and priority list – and chances are, you’re already well-aware of it.
Just so you know, it’s totally normal to feel like this during this kind of transition in your life.
Of course you feel like you’re on your own, especially if you’re transitioning through a divorce or even just a change in job or the loss of a friendship or other close relationship – and going no contact in general is very tough at the beginning – you really NEED people around you to connect with and begin to rediscover life with, right?
Of course you do. So, that’s why I’m sharing these tips for you – all about staying in touch with old friends and making new ones.
Tips for Reconnecting with Your Old Friends After Narcissistic Abuse
- Get in touch! Make it a point to contact your old pals and let them know what’s been happening. Don’t be afraid to reveal your story to those you know you can trust – often explaining your reason for staying away – your isolation and abuse by the narcissist – can really give you a good start at repairing the friendship.
- Show up when you say you will! Mark your schedule. Meeting up with friends is just as important as following up with business clients. Pull out your calendar to stay on track.
- Visit in person. Too far away? Road trip! Maybe you should take a vacation. Video calls and texting bridge long distances, but can’t match sitting around the table together after dinner. Use your personal and business travel to drop in on each other occasionally.
- Do something together. Collaborate on a project. Pursue the same activities even while you’re apart. You’ll have plenty to talk about if you’re both taking gourmet cooking classes or training for a charity run. Or even watching the same series on Netflix can do the trick.
- Realize times have changed and embrace the “new” friendship. Accept change. At the same time, distinguish between relationships worth sustaining and those that have run their course. You and your old college roommate may no longer have much to talk about even if you used to gab all night – and sometimes, it’s just time to move on to new friendships.
- Reopen old would’ve-been situations. If someone you used to know could’ve or might’ve been a closer connection under different circumstances, why not give it another shot? Revive former ties by shooting him or her a quick email or text – say something simple like “Hey, long time no talk! I was just thinking about that time we (did whatever) together! Those were the days, huh? So how ya been?”. Maybe you still wonder about a former coworker or neighbor you haven’t seen in years. Take the initiative to be the first to reach out.You never know what could happen!
How to Make New Friends After Narcissistic Abuse
Maybe all your friends are also friends with the narcissist, or maybe you just need a fresh start. Perhaps you’re already reconnecting with old friends, but you still want to increase your circle. In any case, here are some tips that will help you to find some new friends in natural ways, even as an adult.
- Explore common interests. Look for others like you. Visit the places where you’re likely to find other vegetarians or bluegrass music lovers. Sign up for a ceramics workshop or audition for a part in a community theater production. Meetup groups are great.
- And speaking of meetup groups, its 2016! We are more connected than ever before in known human history! So use this to your advantage – get more active in social media. Adults of all ages congregate on Meetup or LinkedIn – and let’s not forget Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (and of COURSE, my fav platform – YouTube!). Get involved! Enjoy the online discussions and invite someone out for coffee if you want to get to know them better – local Facebook groups are great for this. And if you’re looking for a few good supportive friends, you can join an online support group – like SPAN, my free, confidential Facebook group for narcissistic abuse survivors.
- Volunteer in your community. Working for causes you believe in provides gratification while you extend your network. Call a natural history museum to see if they’re accepting new docents. Organize a fundraising dinner for an animal shelter. Got kids? Be a girl scout or boy scout leader, or get involved in the PTA at school.
- Branch out. There are advantages to socializing with men and women of different ages. Chat with someone older or younger when you’re eating lunch in the park, or join a neighborhood association or church committee. Take a continuing education class at the community college.
- Be patient. It takes time to forge a connection. Stay cheerful and busy so others can see your good qualities without feeling pressured. (Don’t forget: if someone is overly familiar too fast, you might be dealing with a narcissist – that’s one of the red flags!).
Other things to consider
- Don’t be TOO mysterious! Reveal yourself, but not all at once. No matter how old you are, friendships are most likely to develop when we allow others to know us. Don’t dump your life story on a new friend the first day you meet. Keep it light at first, but do share more personal information as you become comfortable with each other.
- Don’t take a “no” too personally, but DO prepare for rejection. There may be all kinds of reasons why a woman in your yoga class resists hanging out afterwards. Give yourself credit for trying and move on to another prospect – chances are, it’s REALLY not about you – it’s more likely that she has no space in her life at this moment for a new friendship – or maybe she’s toxic – so take it as a sign from the Universe that you need to move forward.
- You don’t have to have a gazillion friends to be happy. Focus on quality. Having a few close friends beats having hundreds of followers on Facebook. Focus on meaningful interactions instead of arbitrary definitions of popularity. In later life, you may find yourself happier enjoying more solitude while still treasuring those occasions when you gather with loved ones.
- A healthy friendship is a two-sided deal – both parties benefit. So be sure to both give and get support – and make sure you’re both enjoying your time together. Giving and taking may be the most important sign of a quality friendship. I’ll tell you what – life can feel pretty complete when you have a little circle of friends who serve as advisers, sounding boards, and cheerleaders.
Listen – the end of your relationship with a narcissist can feel like the END of your life – but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Truth is, it’s really more like a new beginning – and you still have plenty of fascinating years ahead.
It’s time for you to choose your own path and create your own reality. So get going, find some friends to share it with! You’re never too old or too broken to stand up and take back your life. Connecting with your friends and making new ones can really offer you a big advantage as you do it.
Now it’s your turn. What do you think? Have you felt lonely during or after narcissistic abuse? How’d you feel? What did you do to change all that? And how are things working for you right now? Are you struggling still? Share your thoughts and your experiences in the comments section below. Let’s discuss this!
Angela Atkinson is a Certified Life Coach and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic relationships since 2006, Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own.
Atkinson offers trauma-informed coaching and has certifications in life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves.
Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy. In her life coaching practice, Atkinson’s clients enjoy her personalized approach that allows and encourages them to become the best possible versions of themselves and to succeed in doing what they love most. She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online and NarcissismSupportCoach.com.