This is going to be a fun one, everybody! Today, I have a brilliant, beautiful, badass guest coming on to discuss all things friendship: Michelle Panning, host of the Unfuck Your Relationships podcast! Michelle helps women have un-fuck-with-able self-love and epic relationships using shadow work and embodiment, which we are all about here at The Self Love Fix. She’s also a wonderful friend of mine; not only that, but she’s a friend I made only a couple years ago. Yes, that’s right—you can make deep friendships even in adulthood, no matter how out of reach it might seem. We’re here today to tell you how!
Beatrice: So, Michelle, let’s have a conversation about friendship. We’ve been friends since 2020. For everybody who’s new to Michelle, we actually met in a mastermind together, so we’ve been there with each other through it all: through business things and relationship things, all while forming a friendship along the way.
A lot of people think that as an adult you can’t find friendships…or at least, you can’t find friendships with depth. People think you’re just going to have your coffee friends, or maybe going-out-for-a-drink friends, but not friends that you could have deep conversations with. What do you have to say about that?
Michelle: For me, I’ve always had really surface-level friendships, honestly. I had a lot of party friends—at least, back when I could party. Now I can’t stay up past 9:00 PM. But back then, my “friendships” were all based on fun, not actual depth. Or, if they weren’t party friends, a lot of my friendships were based on mutual misery. Both of our lives were going so terribly that we could really relate over how shitty our lives were. And in the place I’m at now in my life, I just don’t want to be in that space anymore.
I hear a lot from women that making friends and forming deep friendships is so hard, that it’s difficult to find—and this is such an overused, cringy word, but I can’t think of a better one—“aligned” friendships. And I get that, but when I ask them why they don’t put themselves in spaces where they could meet people who are into the same things, they’re immediately like, “No. I will not be doing that.” Well, don’t complain then! The reality is, you don’t even necessarily have to go out to find community. Beatrice and I have actually never met in person, but we have such a deep friendship because we’ve connected over shared spaces and passions.
Beatrice: There are so many beliefs attached to what a deep friendship looks like and what the “requirements” are. Whether it’s a certain length of time, or maybe having gone through similar things…maybe even mutual misery, like Michelle mentioned. But none of that is truly required for forming deep friendships.
Michelle: That’s true. To me, any relationship, romantic or platonic, requires vulnerability. They require you to open yourself up and to expose yourself on some other level, and that’s what creates true connection.
So if you’re in this space of wanting deeper friendships, but you’re waiting for the other person to go first, that isn’t going to work. You have to just be brave. You have to take the first step and open up, even if it’s scary.
People inherently know that vulnerability is what creates connection, but people don’t have a clean relationship to their own vulnerability. So often what happens is that instead of truly being vulnerable, it turns into emotionally dumping, and that’s where you get those friendships that are built on misery.
Instead of finding deep friendships and true connection, you end up having mutual pity parties. This might be your way of trying to connect through being vulnerable, but instead, it’s just you outpouring all of your wounds. And not everyone has the capacity to hold that for you in that way.
Vulnerability requires a lot of self-responsibility. You can have your emotions and you can share that with your friend, but you might want to check in as to whether or not they’re available to receive that, especially if it’s a big, heavy thing. That’s not to say that you need to be self-responsible and never ever share your shit, but try to be mindful about checking in. Ask them if they’re available to receive that, and being willing to take no as an answer. Don’t just ask as a formality; make sure you’re asking with the intention to actually see what the person thinks.
Why is this a crucial piece of vulnerability? Because the main pillar of safe relationships is boundaries.
They’ve done studies on children at a playground to prove this out. When there’s no fence and it’s completely open, children will stay a lot closer to their parents, because they don’t know where the boundary is. But when there’s a fence, they’ll play right up to the edge. That’s what creates safety in relationships: knowing where the boundary lies. I definitely feel a lot more trusting of the people that are clear and direct about their boundaries.
Beatrice: Now, we never really connected over misery. That was never really part of our friendship. But something I’ve noticed in us both recently is how we’re really leaning into celebrating each other. I think that’s such a powerful trait of deep friendships, too.
Michelle: Yes! There’s a common saying out there that the people who are there for you when you’re really down, those are your real friends. And while I understand the sentiment of that, I also think you need to look for the people who are there when you’re doing really well. Because what I’ve seen as I’ve started to make a lot of money in my business, build deep friendships, and start an incredible relationship with my partner, some people have had some fucking issues with that. People I would’ve called close friends, people I thought I had deep friendships with. I’ve completely worked it out with some of them, but with others, they just can’t be happy for me. That’s sad, you know, but that also helped highlight something positive that you and I have leaned into. We can celebrate with each other over our individual victories, even if the other isn’t achieving the same. I can see you succeeding, be happy for you, and really mean it—and vice versa.
Michelle: Comparison is a game you can’t win, especially if you’re trying to form deep friendships, yeah? It just breeds jealousy and resentment. I remember our old business coach, the one who ran the mastermind where we met, she talked about comparison a lot with me. I was struggling a lot with that. And you know what she said? “If the people in close proximity to you are doing really well, that’s something to get really excited about, because that means it’s really close for you.” If all of the people I have deep friendships with are doing amazing shit, that must mean like I’m right on the cusp of it also. So celebrate with your friends, even if you’re not reaching the same heights. Otherwise, you can fall into the trap so many female friendships end up in: jealousy.
Comparison with other women is so deeply ingrained in what we call the feminine pain body. It’s something that we as women feel as a collective. It’s this ingrained energy of having to fight each other to get the guy, to get the job, to get the money, to get the success or the visibility.
It’s such a lack mindset, and there’s not space for it in deep friendships.
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Beatrice: Like we mentioned, we met because we happened to be in the same business space, and you can track down new friends the same way! If you think nobody in your life is into the same things you are, take a look around—every time you invest in something that interests you, other people have invested in it, too. Whether that’s a mastermind, a Zoom course, or anything else, there are ways to find community—in fact, I’ve created one especially for all of you!
If you’re hoping to build deep friendships with like-minded women, join the Shameless Societea now: https://www.facebook.com/groups/theshamelesssocietea/about/
If you’re ready to step outside of the box of what you think the feminine is and embody the depth, expansiveness, and power of feminine energy, join the Woman of Expansion masterclass: https://beatricekamau.mykajabi.com/offers/WrtsHsY7/checkout
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Head over to my website to learn more about how we can work together to shift your energy & transform your life.