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I am Overly Attached to a Brother-in-Faith

30 September, 2023
Q I never really had friends my life long and was more to myself. I've been practicing Islam more intensively for the past 5 years, and last year I met a brother (I'm male too) at uni and we became very close friends and met regularly to discuss Islamic matters, and I taught him Islamic foundational concepts, etc. Throughout this time, I developed a stronger bond to him as I do not have other real friends and he treated me very well and it seems to me he is the companion, that brother, that I always was looking for, having in mind the prophetic model with the companions. But for the past few months we have been having many arguments, as a result of misunderstandings caused probably by our age gap.

Also, I am a very sensitive person whereas he is not, and due to my attachment to him, every single harshness shown towards me is magnified and causes me deep distress. I have also started become jealous when he would say many times, he's too busy to meet but I know he has enough time to meet other friends, despite him saying we are best friends, and I keep on insisting that this means we have to spend more time with each other than him with others. I recognize my shortcomings and acknowledged that I am very attached to him and that my brother love to him is probably obsessive (due to fear of losing my best friend - really the only "real" friend I have), which has been exacerbated to our distance now: I have started studying in a different country.

I have daily fear of losing him and that he will forget me as he spends his last university year with his friends at uni, while not seeing me anymore. I have opened up and told him about all these things, but again, he does not seem to be very understanding and conceded he is not an "emotional" or "sentimental" person and does not think about these things, hence I am left worrying daily while he continues life normally.


In this counseling answer:

  • What can happen is that not everyone we meet has the same needs and expectations about a friendship.
  • A counselor may help you discover and understand your perspective and how to adjust it so as not to get hurt in your friendships or future close relationships.
  • I am sure Allah knows what is best for you, and there are lessons to learn about yourself from this situation too. He may take something away from us to give us something better.

Salam alaikom wa rahmatullah,

Thank you, brother, for writing and sharing your struggle.

A true friendship is indeed something very valuable, especially if it is between brothers of faith. You share the same values and learn and practice together, knowing that your friend is always there in need.

As I understand it, you have always desired to have a companion, according to the prophetic model, and you developed a strong relationship with this younger brother at the university. But it seems to you that this attachment is one-sided, and it causes you some form of jealousy. You want to spend more time with him, and you get hurt when he says that he is busy.

Dear brother, I am sorry to hear that. What you write about yourself—that you have no other real friends, that you are more reserved, yet you need companionship and a meaningful friendship, a kind of brotherhood—explains a little bit about your needs and expectations.

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And I believe that is alright, brother. You have your own characteristics and attitudes and the way you relate to others, and that is really fine. You are maybe less sociable and more selective, and you prefer less but meaningful friendships, masallah.

We differ in needs

But what can happen is that not everyone we meet has the same needs and expectations about a friendship, for example, although the same goes for other relationships too, like marriage.

And what you describe about your friend seems to indicate that this can be the case.

You have Islam in common; you have learned a lot together, and I am sure that you may share other things too.

But probably you also have some differences, and he may define slightly differently what a friendship means to him. And the way he defines it can also be fine and acceptable.

Sometimes, when we really feel attached to someone, we might overlook these differences and focus only on those that strengthen our beliefs about our unity or similarity. Or we set up certain expectations, like “we should spend more time” or “he should call me”.

But most probably, there is no “perfect” friend or friendship, as we are all humans and we have our shortcomings and differences, and we might clash here or there.

Learning to respect differences

Brother, you can still be very good friends; despite all, what needs to happen is to respect your differences and have a realistic approach.

You say that you have always been eager for true companionship, and you may have developed expectations and wishes for what this means. But it could happen that your expectations exceed them, and they become a bit unrealistic.

You expect “too much” and react with hurt for “rejection.” The reasons behind this may trace back to your childhood, your relationship with your parents, and the formulation of certain “schemes”, the kinds of cognitive patterns you perceive and explain the world around you with.

It might be helpful to you to talk about this with a counselor, preferably a Muslim one. He may help you discover and understand your perspective and how to adjust it so as not to get hurt in your friendships or future close relationships.

You say that he is your only real friend, and you have developed a fear of losing him. This is somehow understandable. Those, like you, who are more introverted tend not to open up to anyone, and as a consequence, they may develop a stronger bond and expect more from the friendship.

And what is important in order to feel alright is to have realistic expectations and reflect upon those fears.

So, what can you do?

Try to switch your focus from him for now. You went to study somewhere else; I am sure it is a place for new opportunities. Think about it: That was Allah’s plan. And His plan is always the best.

So, you may focus on your studies there, look around to see where you can find Muslim students, and get involved in some activities.

If your studies and free time permit, find some sports and a social activity, like joining a local charity or voluntary group, or an Islamic one, where you can possibly find like-minded ones. You may see whether there are weekly Quran circles or classes.

Of course, you may talk to your friend, but try to accept his reasons without letting yourself feel down if he is not available. It can be that he is really busy with his things, and that is also understandable.

You may tell him that you are there if he needs to talk to someone, but you should also make sure that you take responsibility for your own well-being, and that does not depend on his call.

Allah knows best

I am sure Allah knows what is best for you, and there are lessons to learn about yourself from this situation too. He may take something away from us to give us something better. Have this hope and this mindset that all this is finally for your own benefit.

Also, the present distance is also for your own benefit, as Allah knows, while we do not. He is the one who provides companions, help, and means on our journey, and He always provides the right person or thing at the right time, when we need it.

It may be time for new experiences, so have an optimistic attitude that Allah will bring you good friends when it is time for that.

May Allah bless you, ameen.

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Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

About Orsolya Ilham O.
Orsolya Ilhaam Oszter holds a BA degree in Communication and Manager in Public Relations, with a specialization in Andragogy and another BSC in Psychology. She studied Islamic sciences and obtained certificates in Islamic Counseling and Islamic Marriage Counseling. Previously she worked in a client-centered atmosphere; currently, as a translator, counselor, and content creator related to Islam, counseling, and psychology.