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The strong friend... we all have them—and if we don’t have them, we are them. It’s hard to be the strong friend. You don’t show off your vulnerability much, and you probably don’t cry in front of your friends all that much either. You’re the one who offers endless advice and support, and are ALWAYS there to check in on your friends and make sure they’re okay. And while it’s great to be the strong friend, it can also be really difficult. Feeling the need to stay strong and put together even when things go wrong is no easy task. Let’s face it—it’s just how we are wired, but it doesn’t make life’s problems disappear. Because you’re so used to being strong, it is difficult for you to express what you are feeling in any way that isn’t nonchalant. You hope your friends have realized this about you, but it seems every time you need them the most, they ignore any signs of help you are so desperately giving.
To those with a strong friend: CHECK ON THEM. Do not assume that because they do not cry or get emotionally much that they are not going through something. Don’t assume that you don’t need to ask them how their life is going just because they do not over share. You may cope with your problems by breaking down to them, but they aren’t comfortable with that. A simple “Hey, just checking in. How have you been?” makes ALL the difference. Remember how much your friend is there for you and make sure that you reciprocate. Do not make them beg for help and if you know that something is wrong, be there for them however you can! They will appreciate even the smallest gestures.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to show your strong friend how much you care. The lack of visibility of their emotions is not the lack of having them, and sometimes they need some help acknowledging how they are really feeling. Being a friend means supporting a healthy mental state for those you care about and you do not want to be the friend that makes them feel as though they are only relevant when you need them.
To the strong friends: Know that people may not understand your hard exterior and be patient. Do not expect people to know that something is wrong or that you need them right away, and be sure to tell them when things aren’t okay. Letting your friends know the distance you are putting between you and them is for a reason, and that despite you being a strong person, you are not okay. Your true friends will check in on you. Your true friends will understand you coming to them at all is a big step, and they will meet you in the middle to provide the same support you give to them.
Please remember though, that it is important to acknowledge how and what you are feeling, at least within yourself. I know that all you may need from your friends is to simply know that they are there or for them to make an effort in getting you out of your own head, but understanding why you are upset and giving yourself the time to actually feel what you are feeling is crucial to your mental health.
Moral of the story: there is work needed on both ends. However, do not make your strong friend feel like they are only important to you when you need them! Friendship is a two-way street, and you should be meeting your strong friends in the middle. Even if you don’t think something is off, it never hurts to check-in on them.