Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
Not sure where I stand in this friendship - how to proceed?(23 Posts)
So, a while ago I posted about feeling hurt when I found out someone I thought was a close friend didn't tell me she was getting married that coming weekend.
I had been feeling that things were getting unbalanced as we had mostly talked about my new DD since she was born, but I had been trying to ask her about her life and her relationship when this occurred, although we hadn't met up in several months. I took a step back from the friendship, as it appeared we were in different places -- she grew up here, and I'm from afar, and while she was one of my few friends here, the reverse clearly wasn't true.
But I was glad I hadn't dropped her entirely when, after some half-hearted (on my part) and failed attempts to meet up, she saw me appear online and sent her big news -- she was pregnant! Doing the math, she couldn't have known more than 2 months before the wedding, and knowing how conservative her family is, I imagine those were quite a mad set of months and a rather rushed wedding, and perfectly understandable that someone she didn't see as a super-close friend didn't get informed (and it also seems that she doesn't like sharing big news except in person, as she apologised profusely for the manner of communication). So, we arranged to get together when I returned from a business trip and chat about pregnancy and stuff.
Then, when I returned, I discovered she had had her baby massively prematurely when I was away! I texted congratulations and she replied, and I've texted at week/two-intervals since with friendly hi's and asking about the baby. I asked if I could visit once, but she said they weren't ready for that yet. It appears the baby is doing well and I've heard from others that she was able to take her home some time ago. (Although this was after our last text, and I wondered a little why she didn't say anything in reponse to my asking about her DD, but I am willing to believe she was sleep deprived enough it didn't occur to her.)
So, I'm not sure what to do -- I can't tell if she appreciates my texts or thinks I'm weird and pushy for texting for no real reason. She only replies and never texts to me. I figured I could ask if DD was home and ask about another visit, but I kept putting it off until I could actually come for a visit, and things keep happening (like DH getting ill again! But this time he wasn't in hospital, at least). I've got a ton of stuff my DD has outgrown that I would be more than happy to pass on. I did mention that in an early text, but haven't since. I'm worried about seeming too pushy and like I think I'm a closer friend than I am (maybe she doesn't want DD's old stuff...).
I know that she's been through a ton, and I feel quite as reread this, as it looks like it's all about me-me-me... But the easiest thing would just to be not bother too much with her, and I'm worried if I do that I'm abandoning a friend when she really could use some interaction. Argh!
Gosh she has been through a hell of a lot poor thing.
I would probably slow down the texts, but make sure you say something along the lines of "let me know when you're up to a coffee/chat/quick visit as I'd love to see you again and meet your DD. No rush as I know how difficult things can be with a newborn" (let alone a premie, but I wouldn't put it like that) and leave it at that for a bit.
Have you sent a congrats card/present? Texts are okay but a real card takes a lot more thought and care.
If after all that, she's still distant, I'd take the message
You could send her something along the lines of "Wow, I know how busy you must be! I'll hassle you again in six months " and then do so. Gives you both a break and a chance for things to calm down. And six months is nothing in the scheme of things. It'll be warm by then too and you can get together and relax
you know, I'd give her space and let her come to you. most friends drop off the radar a bit when they've had a baby, plus having the baby so prematurely may have been very traumatic for her. give her time. she came back before, she'll come back again.
I think that you are more of a friend to her than she is to you.
She got married at short notice. Fine however she had other people there, you were not high enough on her friend list to be included.
Other people have told you her DD came out of hospital, they are higher on her friend list than you who she couldn't be bothered to reply to a text when she has replied to other texts.
It is nothing that either of you have done, you are just at different levels of friendship.
I would back off from the weekly/bi weekly texts. If she calls and wants to meet then go along in the knowledge that you are a more distant friend to her than you thought you were and be friends on that level.
Thanks all! I'm feeling a bit better, then, about leaving her to her own devices.
I got to thinking because DH recently asked me about her as he had read an advice column about maintaining friendships when friends have babies, and how it is up to the other people to make effort, since the one with the baby is unlikely to have much time/energy to reach out. And I remembered how lonely I was with DD at first, when I was quite ill and couldn't get out of the house at all, and I sent a few emails but didn't even have much hands-free time (DD had tongue-tie, but we didn't find that out for a while!), so ended up very isolated. I would have really liked it if people had made an effort to arrange to come by. So it made me feel guilty I might be doing that to her.
I don't know her home address, or I would have sent a card. We met at work -- but maybe I could ask around and send a card plus gift (or would that seem creepy, since she must know I don't know her address?).
It is confusing because when we do interact she seems so friendly -- she told me that she didn't have anyone else to talk pregnancy with and was really eager to get together, and in texts she has said how good it is to hear from friends. So I was worrying that I'm leaving someone who really does want support alone -- but she does have her parents in a neighbouring town, and more friends around, so I suppose I can feel confident that she has help, etc., if she needs it, and if she really wanted someone to talk to about babies she knows I've got one too!
I'm not quite sure when I last texted her -- I think it was 3-4 weeks ago, so I guess I'll just leave that and I can send another whenever I actually have something to say and add to let me know when she's up for visitors.
Do what I suggested! Six months. Send it today, pop a note in your diary for August (sounds ages away but it's not) and re-instigate contact then. Then you can forget about it and it won't be weird when you pop up again.
shes not that into you. Send her a card maybe, but pull back.
Don't send a card if she hasn't given you her address.
Why not text her asking how she is and also saying you've got a little present for the baby and would it be okay to pop it over, or if she's too busy you totally understand and that you could always post it to her.
If I was her, I wouldn't see that as pushy, but a really kind gesture from a nice person/friend.
However, friendship has to be a two-way thing, and if I didn't hear from her within a reasonable time frame (cutting her some slack in terms of the new baby & tiredness etc), I would definitely leave it at that and wait for contact from her.
I think she is more a friend to you than you are to her, the way she reacted when you asked to visit says it all really. I wouldn't make further contact if I was you. You have been very kind to her and you sound like you would be a good friend-she is missing out. Sad for you.
I guess I also felt a little bad at not making an effort before, when it turned out that there were a lot of extenuating circumstances to explain her behaviour. And I didn't want to do that again...
kali, I'd rather not give her a time frame like that, as what if it's just that she's really beaten down by everything? If someone had sent me something like that in the first few months when I was ill and everything was so stressed, I would have been devastated, and felt like they were announcing they weren't my friend. And yeah, I'll not send a card -- as I think about that could cross the line into seriously weird if she really does want to keep me at arms length.
keepcool, maybe I'll do something like that. I'll wait until a week I could conceivably get out to her (what with DH's illness, our car breaking down, and other things I wouldn't actually be able to get there recently).
Have you tried calling her?
Personally, I hate texts. I find them really intrusive, and it is impossible to give anything more than a "Hi, fine thanks, how are you". Nobody in their right minds will sit and fiddle with texts and give deep details about their situation.
In fact, I find this way of keeping in touch really "off" and annoying.
Huh, purequint, that is interesting. I also find it very difficult to text! But she does seem to be more of a texter. When I returned from my trip, everyone said she had texted the news around, and I know in the past when I've called her about work-things and left a voice message, she often replied via text. And I guess I hesitate to call because I see that as more intrusive -- at least with a text one can decide to reply in a few hours or days or whatnot, but if I phone it's like I'm demanding attention right now. (I'm not expecting big details or anything, which is why it is so confusing to me, as her replies seem happy and no less than I'd really expect, so I can't tell if things are fine or if I'm being too pushy).
You dont know where she lives. Yyou met at work. She's not responding to your texts, she doesnt want you to visit, she isn't confiding in you. She is a collegue - you are investing in a relationship that she is pulling away from.
Sorry to be harsh, but as was said up the thread, she just isn't that into you.
Just to be clear -- I hadn't been texting her twice a week, but instead with one to two weeks in between, and since I'd been putting things off for a while it had been longer than that (I see that wasn't clear at all, sorry), and based on DH's comments, I was getting worried that I might be abandoning a new Mum when it should be me making the effort.
She has been responding to my texts, just not sending any novel contacts of her own, and she just didn't say "DD is home" in response to my last "how is DD?" question (which was also our last text), and I only asked about visiting once, and her DD was still in hospital then. I'd been holding off asking again until I could actually come.
The replies here have reassured me that I'm likely not abandoning her, so I'm fine with that.
Although, how common is it to know the home address of work friends? I do know what town she lives in, and I know what town anyone at work I consider even mildly close lives in, and if they live in the town where work is, the general area. We generally meet over coffee/lunch, and if we go out after work it is to a restaurant/pub/movie in the same town as work.
The only people that I know exactly where they live are two senior people with houses big enough to invite people over for big parties, the guy who started the same day I did and he stayed with us until he found a place to live as his landlords had pulled his flat out from under him just days before he arrived, and the two people who live in the same town as me. And for all of those, I'd probably have to drive by to get the house number and street name, as I know more how-to-get-there not posting-address. The only reason she knows where my house is is because it is past the town where her parents live and she came to pick me up and go out when I couldn't walk back in pregnancy.
I am sorry. But I think that she views you as a colleague, not a friend.
I would never think to call somebody a friend if I did not know where they lived! Friendship would mean going out together, going to each-others home! You clearly have not done this. As she is from here, I am sure she has a big network of friends, and family. A colleague coming to see her new baby at home would perhaps be a bit strange to her. I think you need to take a step back and wait until she comes into work to show off her baby on "stay in touch" day or something.
Also, if you are a foreigner like me, you might find it especially hard to become close friends with the natives. I moved to London in 1993. And despite doing both a BA and an MA here, and working for a UK company, 95% of my friends are other foreigners (In fact I have only got 2 English friends!). Not through choice. It seems to me that only other foreigners are keen to get to know me and develop a friendships. The natives have enough friends, they dont seem to need any more. And especially not a friendship with an immigrant. Sorry if you are just from the other part of the country rather than other side of town, this may not be relevant to you then.
That's a good point, pure -- I am also from another country. So perhaps I am misreading her from not understanding the culture. Or how people make friends here.
But everyone I work with is such workaholics, I'm not sure who meets other people not during/after work. Especially as the town with work is so expensive to live, very few of us actually live there -- most live 30-45 minutes in various directions. So getting together in town makes more sense, as it could be quite a trip to reach someone's house. This friend actually lives 60 mins in an unusual direction; I don't recall anyone saying they'd been to her home, although we have met up at various other locations. She does actually do more things than most out of work... although does the fact that I can enumerate her activities say anything? I do feel I know her quite well, lots of personal stuff and how she spends her weekends and evenings, which I couldn't tell you of too many work friends. We've talked a lot at meals out and also several overnight business trips where we were roommates. Which is why it was so confusing to wonder how good a friend she really was.
Although, I did have people I think of as work colleagues visit me with my newborn One brought a card and gift from the building, and another to talk about stuff she was covering for me during mat leave (and she recently expressed disappointment I didn't bring DD with me to a meeting; we've arranged our next meeting to be on an afternoon when I have DD -- now, that, I do think is a bit odd...but if she wants to see more of DD it doesn't bother me!).
This friend came to visit me at home with new DD, too. So whether she thinks of me as a colleague or friend, it apparently is in a category of visit-with-newborn. And now I remember that she texted me in the recovery room after my EMCS -- I'm not even sure how she knew it was all over! Or maybe she was just checking in. DH I think sent out an email to let friends know when things kicked off. She did try to come visit, but didn't make the really limited visiting hours of that room. (Unless that was an excuse? But it does seem an awful lot of subterfuge to go through when someone could just not plan a visit to hospital...)
Gack! And I've gone back to look at my email, and I see how many contacts were ones she initiated, especially right before and after the birth. So I'm now I'm doubting my breezy, leave-her-be attitude. She was a good friend during my DD's early days. Although we didn't manage to meet up so much -- so it could be fairly equivalent. Lots of hi-hope-you're-okay and stuff and some attempts at plans, but only two visits -- one at home and one at work. As DD got older and I went back to work is when we started having trouble meeting up and I was feeling we were talking about DD too much and not her life.
I wonder if she could be feeling bad about not telling me about the wedding? And then when I cooled things, thought I was mad at her? If she doesn't like sharing important info except in person, she could have been waiting until we met up, and when plans kept falling through time could have gotten away from her. I didn't necessarily expect to be invited to her wedding -- especially as I expect it was a very small family-only one.
Wow, sorry, that was a bit of a brain-splat. But I'm now thinking it might be safer to keep infrequent contact -- we're basically following a reversed script from my DD's birth, except I was out of the country when she went into labour so couldn't try a visit right after, and what with premie-ness and her daily visits to hospital it makes a home visit harder. So, if she really is a friend, then I'm acting about like she did and she shouldn't find it odd. And if she isn't, well, I suppose it's better for a non-friend to think I'm weird and pushy than a true-friend to think I'm abandoning her.
Pure, I think you hit the nail on the head. I'm from another country too and I find true friendship with natives quite hard, and anxiety inducing. Most of my good friends are foreigners and I find the interaction with them a lot easier, and the bonds a lot more solid too over time.
I think natives feel quite comfortable being friends with foreigners, especially if you're educated, because they feel they can truely open up with them and not have to hide their emotions and real thoughts so much as they sometimes do among other British people/friends. They can be more themselves, rather than follow the stiff patterns of behaviour imposed by society, especially among the middle classes.
So you end up thinking you have a reallly good friend, who's told you a lot or personal stuff, and you have a strong bond. But natives, as you said, probably don't need a foreigner's friendship that much, as they have other friends and family around who are part of their social landscape over the years.
Also, no matter how educated you are, you are still a foreigner, someone who, sadly to say, it's somehow "below them" in their eyes. They will never admit publicly to that, but it's clear that a lot of the time they think and feel that way. So they can "dump" you at any time, without much remorse about it.
I tend to take friendships with natives with a pinch of salt. I open myself up and enjoy the moment, but better not to expect much more than that.
I have spoken to other foreigner friends about this and they feel exactly the same.
OP, maybe looking at the situation in that kind of context will relieve the anxiety and self doubt that this friendship is causing you.
Can I just say that as a 'native' I have several 'foreign' friends and I would never view any of them as beneath me and certainly don't feel that I can just 'dump' them at any time. I think it's really unfair to generalise about those of us from the UK like that. I'm sure it wouldn't go down well on here if the reverse was going on.
OP, I think you sound like a lovely friend to have, but unfortunately it looks to me as though your friend isn't reciprocating that to you, for whatever reason. I would just stop contact for now. You've made a very big effort for her, you've been patient and you've offered lots of support.
Like I said, I would stop contact. Just sit back and wait a little. If you are contacting her are regular intervals then she may notice when you don't bother and contact you instead. And if she doesn't, well, you have your answer then, and if that happens move on and don't give her a second thought. Give your friendship to someone who deserves it and who will appreciate it.
Lara that you genuinely think that!! There is no way I, as a 'native', consider anyone below me, 'foreigner' or not. That's just not how I or anyone I know thinks. I'm very sorry that you feel that of your 'friends'.
I dont feel that I am considered "below" anybody. I just feel that Brits cant place me into a class system in the same way as they do with other "natives".
That may be more me than them, to be honest.
I would love to have more British friends. I consider myself relatively well integrated, went to Uni here, had both my children here, most of the milestones of my life (and in my childrens lives) has happened in London!
Update: I totally don't know if anyone cares, but my friend gave a surprise visit to my office yesterday, with her DD in tow. We had a lovely chat I think she really doesn't like sharing via electronic media/phone, as she was quite happy to share just like she used to in person. I got to hear all about the unexpected early baby, traveling to the NICU, etc.
I had been starting to feel bad again, as I'd heard from others that she had been in town in the last weeks, but I hadn't heard from her. But I guess she was working her way through friends. I think we're okay now, and I'll try not to overthink our relationship in the future. I probably did just about right, with supportive messages early on when things were crazy, then occasional 'hello's' as she started to get adjusted to motherhood.
Thanks all of you for your support and insights
Join the discussion
Please login first.