A reader asked:
A friend of mine is being told by their psychologist that they need to sever all their online relationships and learn “real contact” with “real people” to develop their “social skills”. Every time in the past that they tried that it got them bullied which is why they turned to online relationships where they were treated more like a human being. Any advice you can offer for them to say to this psychologist in defense of online relationships?
I guess the first thing I’d say here is that your friend does not need their therapist’s permission to keep their friends. It’s ok to have online friends and take those relationships seriously, even if you have a therapist who treats them as contemptible and imaginary.
Second thing I’d say here is that if you’re in a position to get rid of that therapist, you probably should. Someone who tells you that large aspects of your life aren’t real, and tells you to sever relationships you value, is probably not on your side.
If you’re being forced to see this therapist and don’t have other options, it’s ok to lie.
But yes, friendship is real even if your friends aren’t in the same room. And it’s not good to break off relationships because someone else thinks they’re imaginary.