Pursue What Matters
Episode 208: Book Review – Platonic
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Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
Do you have good friends? Better yet? Are you a good friend? What does it mean to have true friendship? In a world that is ripping apart at the seams?
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:31
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. So if you’ve been listening to the podcast recently, you know, we are experiencing a loneliness epidemic, I’ve been talking about fitting in versus belonging, the impact of loneliness, and it’s all been all about connection. And of course, we know one of the things I’ve been talking about is that as humans, we are hardwired for connection. And yet too many of us feel alone and adrift, even if we can name folks we love and care about. So that’s the real interesting thing about loneliness, you’re gonna be surrounded by people that you love and that love you. And you can still feel lonely at times. And that’s because of this factor of connection. And so today, I’ve got an excellent book to share with you, it just came out, it’s really exciting. I gave it to several people for Christmas, because I was just so geeked out by it. And it’s all about understanding the science of attachment and how this science of attachment can help you be a good friend and have good friends. And so of course, every week with the podcast, my goal is to help you pursue what matters, by strengthening your confidence to lead in one of three areas. So leading with clarity, having a sense of purpose, second, leading with curiosity, which is all about self awareness, and self leadership, and then leading and building a community. So making those meaningful connections. And so today, we’re really helping you with both curiosity, and leading and building a community, I hope that you have friends that work, it’s one of the big markers of happiness, and well being at work is having friends at work. Now you don’t have to have a best friend. But it really makes a difference. And then we also want to pay attention to curiosity, because you know, that can help you develop an awareness about how you might help yourself in making friends how sometimes you might undermine yourself in that process. And so let’s jump right in and learn a little bit more about the book.
Dr. Melissa Smith 2:34
Okay, so the book is called platonic how the science of attachment can help you make and keep friends, by Dr. Marisa G. Franco, and I believe she is a psychologist. So again, this just came out in 2022, I believe, let’s hear what she has to say about it. So understand the science of attachment to build lasting friendships and find your people in an ever more fragmented world. And so they start right out with a description of loneliness, right? That’s what I was starting out too, with today. So loneliness is an epidemic, in part due to a culture that prioritizes romance at the expense of all other relationships. But in fact, science shows that platonic friendships are a crucial, possibly the crucial key to shaping who we are, and how we can become our happiest, most fulfilled selves. So how do we make and keep friends in an era of distraction, burnout, and chaos. And so the book really does set out to answer these questions. And so it is very enjoyable. I listened to it, and I also read it. It’s packed with science, but it’s very conversational. And so there are a lot of examples and stories, so hopefully some people that you can relate to in the book, but I think she does a really lovely job with the content. Let’s, let’s learn a little bit more about what others are saying about the book. And so first, we have as a culture, we have long been obsessed with romantic love and parent child love, and yet it will be our friendships that will most determine our health and our happiness. Reading platonic will not only inspire us shift in your priorities, it will guide you to create the community you crave. If you want to feel genuinely connected, read this book. And that’s why Shasta Nelson, author of friendships don’t just happen. And then we also have a gentle yeah affirming calling for us to investigate how we’ve regarded the platonic relationships in our life and opportunities for deep fulfillment that we may be missing out on. And that’s by Joy Hart and Bradford, PhD founder and CEO of therapy for black girls. So lots of great advance praise for the book, and it’s been out a few months now. And it’s it’s it’s doing very well. So Let’s learn a little bit more about the author and enlightening psychologists national speaker Dr. Marisa Franco is known for digesting and communicating science in ways that resonate deeply enough with people to change their lives. So she has a PhD in counseling psychology from the University of Maryland and works as a professor there. Currently, she writes for Psychology Today, and has been a featured psychologist in the New York Times, NPR and Good Morning America, she delivers talks about connection and belonging all over the country, to private companies, universities and nonprofit boards and lives in DC. So she she knows her stuff, this is what she is passionate about. And it’s a really great book. So let’s just start with an overview of the structure of the book.
Dr. Melissa Smith 5:42
So there are just two parts of this book. The first part is looking back how we’ve become the friends we are. And it really looks at how friendships, transform our lives, and how our past relationships affect our present. And then the second part is looking forward. And it’s really practical, it’s practices to make and keep friends. So if you really feel like gosh, like I need some guidance, she gives you some really like that, that over half of the book, probably even more than that is focused on practices that can help you to make and keep friends. So I just want to start with a little bit of introduction, where she talks a lot about the importance of Platonic love. So the author discusses how, of course, platonic love is important. And yet, it is something that our culture places a very, very low priority on. So we tend to overlook its importance. And because we don’t always value friendship, we lack knowledge on how to cultivate it. So we don’t really know how to be good friends. And so one of the things that she mentioned that people never really talk about when it comes to making friends, and this is particularly true in adulthood, that making friends requires us to face social anxiety, to endure our fears of rejection, to tolerate intimacy, that’s a really hard one. And to risk the further shredding of self worth. So you know, by the time you get to adult adulthood, you’ve had some maybe challenging situations, with friends with relationships. And so you might feel battered and broken and like, they’re the last thing that I want to do is put myself back out there. And so making friends can be challenging. And so what she says in the book is that in order to make friends, we need deeper work to fundamentally reconcile with who we are, and how we love. And so I think that’s a really good goal for the book.
Dr. Melissa Smith 7:43
So she also talks about how connection fundamentally shapes who we are, and think about your childhood, think about your childhood friends. So I’m still very close to some of my childhood friends. And, you know, when I think about my past, and my life, time with these friends, is everything. They they did shape who I who I am, and they continue to shape who I am. And so, you know, this connection affects who we are, and who we are, affects how we connect. So when we’ve felt connected, we’ve grown. So a meaningful safe attachment or connection in friendship, just like other important relationships, in a very real way, build us a stable foundation from which to grow from which to explore and to take risks, whether that be with education, with sports, whatever. And so our very personalities are shaped by our friendships, and our past. So it’s not a small deal, right? Like, we’re like the average of the of the, I think it’s like the five or seven people we spend the most time with that, that that number should frighten you or gratify you.
Dr. Melissa Smith 9:01
So we need to be careful about that. And what’s true is we feel lovable, because someone has loved us well. And so it’s really important to respect our past and you know, the nature of our earliest friendships. So David Brooks, in his New York Times article, the moral bucket list, he describes what it means to be good people. And so I want you to just listen to this description. And it’s really looking at like, what makes for a good friend. So I want you to think about that in terms of the friends you have, but also, in terms of the friend you are, so you’re gonna have good friends and maybe need to work on your friendship skills. So from David Brooks, they listen well. They make you feel funny and valued. You often catch them looking after other people and as they do so their laugh is musical and their manner is infused with gratitude. Those are the people we want to be and that’s what he describes as good people. And so just thinking about the nature of your relationships. So as mentioned, with part one of the book, it’s all about looking back and how we’ve become the friends that we are. So she talks a lot about how friendships, transform our lives, and how our past relationships affect our present, right, because if we’ve had good stable connections in childhood, that can really, you know, set us on a very good foundation for strong meaningful connections in adulthood. But if we’ve had troubling friendships, or there’s been trauma or, you know, Mean Girls stuff, or those sorts of behaviors, it can really scare us off from friendship and adulthood. And so you know, the truth is that if, if you struggled to make friends in childhood, you can get to adulthood, feeling lost, and behind the curve, like you missed out on some developmental period that everyone else got. But what’s important to keep in mind is that it’s never too late to learn how to make friends. And that’s what I love about the second part of the book is, it’s very practical, and it’s aimed at adults, it’s super helpful for kids too, but it is aimed at adults. So part two is all about looking forward. And it’s focused on these practices to make and keep friends. And so I’m going to go over the practices at but I’m, for our purposes, I’m just going to focus on the first one, because I just think it gets you, it gets you going. And it’s usually one of the most challenging ones. And if you don’t do if you don’t do this first practice, it’s hard to practice the other practices that she talks about. But first, let’s look at the practices. So the first one is taking initiative. Next is expressing vulnerability, you got to take some emotional risks there. The third one is pursuing authenticity. This is all about belonging. So instead of just trying to fit in, can you be genuine? Can you be yourself and that’s where we find belonging. Next is harmonizing with anger. So that’s an interesting section to read. And then the next one is offering generosity. So giving good intent receiving good intent. And the last one is giving affection do we express love and care and concern? And you know, what that looks like might be unique to your relationship, right? When I think about what affection looks like, in my friendships, versus what affection looks like, in my guy, friends, relationships, like, those are different, right? The words are different, the expressions are different. But I can see in both that they are affection. And so I think that’s a pretty cool thing. So those are the practices, and she has really good sections on every single one of those.
Dr. Melissa Smith 12:54
But for our purposes, today, let’s focus on taking initiative. So the thing to keep in mind is that adult friendships do not happen organically. Often friendships do happen organically in childhood. Think about the neighborhood you grew up in, you probably your friends were the ones that were in the neighborhood. Maybe it was kids that you did literally with or that you were on some soccer team or rec sport with, or it’s someone that you did a crafting class with, or it which is really common for most of us is it was a classmate in school. So you were put in the same class, you have the same interest, you were put on the same team. And so friendship making an adulthood is not near as organic, it takes more effort and initiative. So I love that she has initiative as the first one. Because this is where most of us get in trouble. Like if it’s not easy, like we don’t do it. And there’s so much risk of vulnerability or you know, maybe you’ve had negative experiences in the past that, that taking that initiative feels extra hard. But we want to think about what this can look like. And so reaching out to old friends to reconnect, and that’s something that’s really great. That’s something that I and some of my friends, my childhood friends, we did that kind of I would say mutually a few years ago, and it’s been so meaningful and they are some of my closest friends at this point. And I’m so grateful for that reconnection. It’s it’s easy to reconnect these days, right? If you’re on social media, you can, you can chat you can comment you can connect that way. You can get in touch with an equate an acquaintance that you’ve been wanting to get to know better. You can invite a coworker to lunch or coffee, right? These are simple things that like they might kick up a little bit of anxiety, but they’re not. They’re not that hard, right. You could join a Exports lead, you could enroll in a course, you could get involved in an organization on a topic that you’re passionate about. That’s a great way to meet people. And when we think about taking initiative, it’s important to cultivate an internal locus of control.
Dr. Melissa Smith 15:15
So there’s some psychobabble for you. And really what it means is taking responsibility for achieving your goals. So you need to take responsibility for making friends and recognize that it’s probably not just going to happen. The other point that she makes when it comes to taking initiative is she she’s wanting to challenge some of the beliefs here. So she wants you to know, right, that you need friends, not just a lover, right. And a lot of us, we just, we, we funnel all of our energy into our most important relationship. And obviously, it’s important relationship, but we, we under nourish our friendships, and for better for greater well being, we need both. And so you know, let that be a motivation for you. Another guidance that she gives, when it comes to initiative is assume people like you, I think that’s really good, especially for those who tend to be self critical. Say, Hello. make small talk. You know, we just moved into a new building. Well, I guess it’s been a while now it’s been more than it’s probably been about six months. But one of the things that I’ve tried to do is just be friendly, right? Like when I pass people in the hall make conversation and it’s, it’s good, right? Like you you learn to you get to know people that you that you see every day. The other recommendation that she has is to keep showing up. So consistency really makes a difference. So if you go to an event, and it’s like, okay, like I felt awkward and I didn’t really connect with anyone will keep showing up and keep making that effort. And then I love the last one, which is be the friend that you want. So if you you know, feel lonely, and wish someone would reach out to you or text you be that friend, be the one to reach out. And you know, reciprocation is a is a real thing, especially when it comes to platonic friendships. And so don’t be afraid to push against some of that anxiety just a little bit. And so that is our book review. For today. It’s platonic. And it is by Dr. Marisa Franco, I loved it. I think it’s really good, really practical, and can be helpful for lots of people. Again, it’s geared towards adults, but I think it would be super helpful for teens and parents can talk with younger kids about some of the concepts.
Dr. Melissa Smith 17:42
So head on over to my website to check out the show notes with the resources for this episode at www.drmelissasmith.com/208-platonic. Again, that’s www.drmelissasmith.com/208-platonic. I will link to the book and some of Dr. Franco’s work so you can learn more about her there. And I would love it if you gave me a review on Apple or Spotify. It helps me to know if the podcast is landing and it also helps more people reach it. And of course connect with me on Instagram @dr.melissasmith. I always have additional resources related to each week’s podcast and I’d love to get to know you there. In the meantime, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai