Friendship issues - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 06-25-2010, 11:46 PM - Thread Starter
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SSo, I'm having a really hard time understanding what the heck is going on with the friendships - or lack thereof, more like - in my life. In the past five and a half years - since the birth of my first child - I have essentially lost all of my friendships, for various reasons. Some people have moved away. I stopped working and attending grad school and have lost touch with people from those settings. I moved and switched churches and haven't met any new friends at my current church, not for a lack of trying. And two close friendships ended because of issues... issues that the other parties had and I didn't know how to address or change... One felt I wanted too much from her as a friend - she wanted a casual connection where we don't go into details of each others' lives... and that after about 10 years of what I thought was a best friendship. The other one didn't like that I had just a busy life and couldn't make a commitment to being at her party on time. Insane, maybe, but true.

I have worked hard at meeting new people, moms in moms' groups mostly, and a few people in church settings. And it has just simply not worked out.

Over the past five years, I met several moms. We hung out, we chatted on line. Our kids got to know each other. The moms seemed interested in spending more time together. We all belonged to an on-line group. I was a talkative there. Three years ago I got into a disagreement with one person. We didn't resolve the conflict. People are not interested in resolving conflicts sometimes. I opted to leave the group. And suddenly I had no one.

Since that event, I actually made peace with that one person. But the rest of the group is simply not interested in connecting with me. This is three years later. People are simply rude at times. I have asked the moderator if I could rejoin and she said she would talk to another moderator - and she would get back to me. That was a month ago. I asked another moderator - no response.

I have tried to make new friends in different settings. One woman helped me so much by offering to pump milk for my third baby when I was struggling to get enough for him. I really wanted to be friends with her. I called, I emailed. I don't mean that I stalked her. I would just check in once in a while. I invited her and her family over for dinner. And she simply didn't respond.

I attended a gathering of some of the moms from the group I was once part of; the ladies, all of whom I once felt close to, were happily chatting with one another while I sat in the corner with my brand new baby... in whom no one was even remotely interested...and had not a soul to talk to. I had not felt that pathetic ever.

Sometimes I post on the groups I am a part of locally, inviting people out to the zoo or the park.

I'm simply not popular, I get that. But why won't someone give me a chance? My kids are well behaved and I know I was interesting five years ago, so I must be at least somewhat interested still.... I'm sure of it. Right?

The hardest part is that now when someone is actually friendly and nice to me, I am very suspicious. I don't trust them. The other hard part is that when people I used to know and wanted to be friends with, when they treat me like I'm invisible, I feel like I deserve it.

The whole thing has done quite a number on my self-esteem, to say the least. When people don't return calls or ignore my invitations or offers of help... it just brings me down even further.

And it's humiliating to "keep on trying" in the face of repeated disappointments... because I want my children to have some friends, because I really want our family to have family friends... It gets harder and harder to want to meet new people. And I am so tempted to just drop all the others I have met over the past five years because trying to reconnect with them in the face of their is simply too painful. I don't know if they realize just how harsh their behaviours are. But maybe I'm being stupid for trying so damn hard.

I want to have a few close friends in my life but I seem to be stuck.

Agnieszka wife to Kevin, Kalina (Jan 7, 2005), Tosia (June 4, 2006) , and baby Emmett (Dec 27, 2009)
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#2 of 12 Old 06-26-2010, 12:15 AM
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I am so sorry. I don't have much to offer but That has to be so hard. I wish I lived nearby so we could hang out. Don't give up, and remember you do not deserve to be treated like you're invisible.

Stephenie, Wife to Nick partners.gif 9/3/05 Mama to Keagan treehugger.gif autismribbon.gif 4/12/07, Eden dust.gifhomebirth.jpg3/29/09  3rdtri.gif Someone new coming in July and two angels 6/06 and 10/10. Check out my blog! blogging.jpg


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#3 of 12 Old 06-26-2010, 12:34 AM
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I, too don't have many friends.(just one, and my husband) I used to have so many before I had my son. Now i feel like since I don't work, my only source of friendship is hoping to meet a mom through my son. It has been difficult, to say the least. I wish I knew what to tell you, but I feel like I am in the same boat as you.
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#4 of 12 Old 06-26-2010, 12:51 AM
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That is rough, but you know what, there are people out there who would and do appreciate you and your uniqueness. Sometimes those people are very introverted and sometimes life is really crazy making it impossible to form friendships on their part. I get that and I know it's hard, but perhaps instead of thinking about how much you are missing out, think about how you are learning from these experiences. (I say this is a cheerful way, don't think I'm being negative). I think when we take time to discover ourselves and go through hard times- like being lonely- it makes us treasure true fridnships all the more when they do come along.
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#5 of 12 Old 06-26-2010, 01:51 AM
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HUGS. That sucks.

I don't remember where I heard it, but someone recently pointed out that making friends based on the shared quailty of "being a mom" doesn't really work that well. I totally agree. I have gone to the parent group in my area for quite a while, and just now I feel like I am making friends there because of shared interests - photography, dogs, what-have-you. So maybe looking for friendship through an interest or hobby would be more productive - and at least you can work at your hobby even if the new friend stuff doesn't work right away.

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#6 of 12 Old 06-26-2010, 12:48 PM - Thread Starter
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It's true, meeting people over the shared work of being a mom may not be the best way to become friends... But then again people become friends over all sorts of bizarre things, like having surgery, or being involved in a car crash... I don't think there are rules for how people become friends... it's more of an art than a science. And maybe I've just lost touch with that in this part of my life. Yes, it's definitely worth it to explore what it means to be alone and to be lonely. I wonder if I'm taking too much personally... The thing is that at the very beginning of my connection to that moms' group, when my first daughter was born, I had very severe PPD (postpartum depression) and I was very open about my experiences. I honestly think that most people there were terrified of finding themselves in my situation and didn't want to get too close to me. I made people uncomfortable. That, I think now, make a big difference in how people view me now. But I'm healthy now, and have been for years. But it's true that people hang on to opinions they have formed long ago...

Agnieszka wife to Kevin, Kalina (Jan 7, 2005), Tosia (June 4, 2006) , and baby Emmett (Dec 27, 2009)
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#7 of 12 Old 06-26-2010, 01:43 PM
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I could have written your post. It sounds to me like you are a very nice and genuine person. What I have noticed to be a lot of my problem is that I don't fit in to any group. Don't have enough money for this one, too foucused on my family for that one, not interested in talking crap about whoever didn't show up to playgroup etc. Seems like almost everyone I meet already has a best friend and is just looking for a casual aqauiantance. When I was pg with #1 I made a very close friend whose friendship I really valued. But it turned out that I was just a fill in for her while she and her best friend were having a major conflict. After a couple of years they patched things up and she pushed me out of her life. When I tried to talk to her about how I felt she told me that I was so off base and that none of what I was saying was true. And I didn't tell her oh well now that you and so and so are friends you don't want to hang out with me but I really approached it from what is going on with us? She just got mad at me and all the efforts that I have made to show this person that I still care about our friendship and continuing it have gotten me nowhere.

I was also involved with a group of moms and now 5 years later I just keep in touch with one of them. The rest still hang out with each other. I finally gave up after they stopped returning my calls, emails and invites. It hurt so bad because I had not done anything, there was never a disagrrement or any point in which I upset anyone. I think that they all just thought I was boring. When I had my second child it was like I fell off the edge of the world. I was totally ignored.

So now I am to the point where I am almost afraid to make friendships because people seem interested in me and then reject me when I am not exciting enough for them. I have been hurt so many times (and I know that I am not perfect) that it hardly seems worth the effort anymore. Feel free to PM me anytime if you just to talk about it or just chat in general.
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#8 of 12 Old 06-26-2010, 03:48 PM
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It is hard (and different) making friends once you become a parent. At least it is for some of us. I also don't really fit in anywhere, and tend to have friends because we happen to be doing the same thing (work, choir, etc.). My husband is my BFF, and that's about it.

But I've never had many friends, except for one little core group of friends in high school, and we starting fraying in the first year of university, and then I went and got knocked up and my life took an entirely divergent path. Now I occasionally meet one of them for lunch, but that's it. I'm busy. They're busy. C'est la vie.

And I've found that when I try to make friends with other moms... it's hard. There's a lot to navigate. Sometimes we never get comfortable, never get beyond polite conversation. It's like we're both trying to be careful, afraid of being judged... and it often doesn't work.

There are a couple of mom friends that I do get along with, and I think I'd like to be closer to them, spend more time with them. But we're all so busy. And I'm so socially awkward... often saying the wrong thing to the wrong person, or sometimes letting opportunities go out of busy-ness, self-absorption or whatever. And of course, some of the moms I'm drawn to are also a bit awkward and hesitant, and that, of course, makes it worse. Most of these are moms I've met through MDC's finding your tribe forum, but sometimes others, too. But I'm most comfortable with my MDC-mommy friends. I think because in our little "tribe" we work really hard not to judge each other, even if we disagree, and we have a lot of respect for each others' choices and lifestyles. So it's a bit easier to let go of that fear of judgment, but it's still there.

I think part of it is that we are in such a diverse society, and a very individualistic one. The rules are fuzzier. Everyone has different opinions on how to live, and so we all judge each other. It's not like when our mothers and grandmothers were young moms and just did what pretty much everyone else did. Actually, come to think of it... mine were lonely too. My grandma was quite the rebel with her sense of humour and her love of her children, and her putting her children ahead of housework. My mom... well... she also had a few friends of convenience, but I think she was lonely for all that.

Maybe the ideal of "BFF" is a myth? Maybe it's unusual? Or maybe it's a rare thing like "true love" and some of us find our "one true love" and some of us find a "BFF", and few of us ever get both. I dunno, but I'm somewhat resigned to being BFF-less.

Do your best not to take it personally. Even if it is directed at you personally (and most of it probably isn't), it would still serve you best to just let it run like water off a duck's back. I second the idea to take up some hobbies. You'll make friends there, and at least be doing something, even if you're feeling awkward and lonely there. Much easier than social occasions. Invest in the relationships you have (your husband and child) and do things you enjoy... maybe it's like how when you fall in love with someone, suddenly all these other guys are interested?

Lori : mum to Emily (nov94) and Calvin (jul 03), : and : married to : Wes
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#9 of 12 Old 06-26-2010, 10:11 PM
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it's the same for me. but i've sort of accepted it and tried not to take it personally.

Midwifery student , Mama to my 4 amazing kids. treehugger.gif

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#10 of 12 Old 06-27-2010, 09:06 AM
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OP have you tried posting in the "Finding my Tribe" section of this site for your area? And I second the idea that hobby-based looking for friends sometimes is a lot better than mom groups. I think the thing for me that makes hobbies a better place to meet people is that there is a subject matter I'm interested in/working on and I think being able to focus on that helps cut down on the desperation (or if not desperation, focused attention) on making a new friend.

The more I look at this since becoming a mom and read about people's friend issues here on MDC, the more I really believe that finding new good friends is just like dating! It's very loaded, the stakes are high, and we're looking for a lot from someone EVEN THOUGH usually we say to ourselves "well just a casual friend is fine too... it doesn't have to be my best friend".

And the main similiarity with dating is that when we are really invested/focused/worried about finding this new friend, we probably kinda project that energy... and that combined with taking little things personally that often don't even have anything to do with us means the air just becomes much more heavy/dense than usual and it may turn some people off.

Example (granted this is about dating but I swear I've seen the same dynamic in making friends): I've moved cities many times in my adult life, and I started to notice that after years wherever I was with mixed success at dating and usually feeling kinda invisible to the men I like, a few months before moving to a new city all of a sudden I'd meet OOODLES of new yummy guys who actually were interested in me! First couple times I chalked it up to bad luck/irony. But by the 4th move I realized something: my energy whenI was going out was totally different when I knew I'd be leaving a city. I simply didn't care what happened, it didn't matter, I was going to be leaving anyway. I learned that that opened me up and I apparently oozed a very different energy - one that guys felt much more comfortable with.

Since having DD and feeling like making friends is a big challenged, I've finally remembered that lesson and have been trying to channel that same "I'm really gonna be ok whether I make a new friend or not" energy into my outings, and I've made new friends. But it's required I be relaxed, not take it personally if someone doesn't call me back at first, let it go if I don't hear from someone and I don't bring up getting together next time I run into them - I see if they bring it up.

It required truly relaxing about it, not just telling yourself you are. which is hard when you really feel lonely. But it can really help.
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#11 of 12 Old 06-27-2010, 11:08 AM
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I understand. There IS a lot to navigate through in relationships.

I hope you find a friend who has an open and honest heart.
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#12 of 12 Old 06-27-2010, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by mama_Agnieszka View Post
The hardest part is that now when someone is actually friendly and nice to me, I am very suspicious. I don't trust them. The other hard part is that when people I used to know and wanted to be friends with, when they treat me like I'm invisible, I feel like I deserve it.

The whole thing has done quite a number on my self-esteem, to say the least. When people don't return calls or ignore my invitations or offers of help... it just brings me down even further.
I've bolded some things that I think you should take a deeper look at. It's very possible that you are sending off signals that are keeping people away from you and from developing deeper relationships.

There have been times in my life that I've been relatively friendless -- I've moved, my friends have moved, I quit my job (which was a huge part of my social identity), and made other lifestyle changes that made it difficult or impossible to maintain my current relationships. I've used that time to focus on other areas in my life and waited out the storm. I've found that when I *need* friends less, it's often the time when I am able to cultivate the strongest friendships.

A few ideas for waiting out the storm:
*Take a class -- anything that you are interested in - a class at the gym, parks & recreation center, local college, etc.
*Join a book group at your local library or bookstore
*Pick up a book that you've always wanted to read, but never felt that you've had the time
*Start a project that you've always wanted to do, but never felt that you've had the time (something fun/interesting -- not cleaning out the dustbunnies in your closet!)

Laura - Mom to ds (10) and dd (7) "Time stands still best in moments that look suspiciously like ordinary life." Brian Andreas.

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