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Friends/ Lack of....

(77 Posts)
MillyMollyMandy78 Sat 23-Feb-13 14:36:51

Ok, here's a brief overview: i'm 35 with no kids (husband doesn't want them). I'm not particularly outgoing but people tend to like me. I'm friendly and quite chatty once you get to know me. I am generally easy to get along with and very loyal and caring, good listener, don't babble on about myself etc.
However most of my life i have had problems making/ keeping friends. Only had 3 close friends in my life (apart from husband) and they all seem to eventuallystop seeing me/ drift away. My best friend at the moment is the latest case...we spoke almost 2 weeks ago for over an hour, chatting as normal etc. she lives the other end of the country but today i saw on facebook she is coming to my area to meet all her other friends (different groups), except for me. I'm very hurt as my friend didn't say that she wa coming, but in the phonecall she said we must meet some time soon as hadbeen ages (over a year). This same situation has happened a couple of other times too. So what is it about me that makes this happen? Why can't i make/ keep friends? Feel hurt and lonely. Any ideas would be gratefully received.

PixelAteMyFace Sat 23-Feb-13 15:06:33

Same here. Can`t help, sorry, but didn`t want to read and run without posting.

I`ve come to the conclusion I give off the wrong vibes. I`m a good listener, I phone people when they are not well to check on how they are, but only one friend seems to care how I am.

I`m waiting with interest to see if anyone can tellus what we`re doing wrong!

MillyMollyMandy78 Sat 23-Feb-13 15:42:32

Thanks for checking in, Pixel. We do sound quite similar. Let's see if we get any help...

TheAccidentalExhibitionist Sat 23-Feb-13 15:56:05

Maybe you're not doing anything wrong?
Sounds like you need to enlarge your circle of friends, keep it casual and see what happens. Joining evening clubs of like minded people will help.
A couple of years ago, DH and I joined a band and learned to play a very easy instrument. Strait away we had a ready made social life. I was amazed how easy it was. I've heard people advise to join evening clubs or groups but it really does work.
Good luck both of you.

BlackStiltonBoots Sat 23-Feb-13 16:16:53

I'm similar too, and have become pretty isolated.

My best friend moved away to Australia a few years ago, and I had children and became a SAHM so drifted away from people I used to see.

I find it hard to make friends, and feel desperately lonely sad.

I bet you aren't doing anything wrong.

Pancakeflipper Sat 23-Feb-13 16:36:22

You probably are not doing anything wrong. And possibly your friend wanted to meet with you but it's a time thing. I go to see my parents a few times a year and never ever get the chance to meet with some lovely old friends of mine. I feel very guilty. But it's really just not having time.

I agree with the opening up your social circle. Have you got interests ? Whatever you like - use it. Don't worry about the friend making at first, just enjoy the interest and the rest will follow.

I know lots of people but if I am honest only 3 of them I consider close friends.

HoneyandRum Sat 23-Feb-13 17:15:09

I have a friend who complains about her lack of friends. These are things I notice
* She has very low self-esteem. She moved to a new area recently and told me she feels she can't even go to a different village and browse the shops alone for no reason as it causes her anxiety - she feels purposeless if she does so.
* She expects others not to like her.
* I like being with her but I do notice she spends quite a lot of time complaining, she tends to put a negative spin on things.
* She has hopes and expectations of new friends and is acutely aware if things don't develop in the way she hoped, she seems to always feel the ball is in the other person's court and she is at a disadvantage.
* She has a very difficult relationship with her mum who tends to put her down and dismiss her (see first item on this list).

I have read that we learn how to make friends from our parents. Do/did your parents have friends? How did they make friends? What were their friendships like?

MillyMollyMandy78 Sat 23-Feb-13 17:34:27

Some interesting feedback - thanks everyone. I have tried the evening class route but it doesn't work very well because i can be shy and awkward at first until i get to know people.
HoneyandRum - you raise some insightful points. I do have some self-esteem issues due to a difficult and very abusive relationship with my mother. However, these have improved greatly in the last 10 years with the support of a lovely partner, so i dont think this presents as many problems as it once did.
My mum is one of life's complainers and it is a real bugbear of mine. I hardly ever moan and people often comment on how positive i am... Tend to keep my insecurities to myself and i tend to be a glass-half-full sort of person.
I guess i have learnt a lot from my parents because neither of them have ever had friends that i know of & no social life. However, i've tried all the obvious stuff so still a bit confused as to the problem...

I have found in the past that I make the automatic assumption that people won't really want to spend time in my company, when in fact they do, but because I don't invite them to socialise they assume I have a closer circle of friends, have a social life elsewhere. I mainly don't instigate it, because I don't like to impose myself.

Does that make sense?

My DB and SIL for example - I always assume with their busy life they don't have time to see us. Then on our last meet up SIL said that they hated the fact they didn't see us more because we seemed so busy. shock

When we moved overseas I took a new stance, if we made plans we would always invite new friends. That way we are doing something if they knock us back (so don't feel too disappointed) but generally they enjoy the invite and join us.

It's not a one way street IYSWIM?

tazmo Sat 23-Feb-13 17:57:44

Hi I am similar. Made a reall effort at uni and was well liked but it gets more difficult as I get older, despite joining the parenting club. Have 3 kids now and have suffered a degree of PND with all of them so sometimes I feel this has added to issues and have contributed to low self esteem (whereas B4 kids I couldn't give a stuff as I had a good circle of friends but they r either gp drifting away due to circumstance ( eg friends wanting kids but having issues conceiving, with friends whose kids have turned out to be autistic so they naturally compare to what u have or at simply at a different stage in life ie still young, free and single). I am desperately trying to widen my circle. Can talk to folk but don't really have a load of people in this area who I feel I could ask for help or for my kids to have play dates with or to go for coffee. Sometimes thing s seem to start off well, but then don't progress to,the next stage. Not sure if I have to bite the bullet and ask people for coffee - or whether people generally don't like what they see. Sigh!

Out of the list above, I do complain about stuff a lot and my mother is one of life's complainers. I try not to be like her but dh says I'm turning into her : o (

Just got to keep trying I guess!

Charliefox Sat 23-Feb-13 18:04:20

I'm a little bit the same. Have some friends but they're spread around the country. Have always struggled to make friends and have felt like an outsider for much of my life. Am adopted, an only child and have had a difficult relationship with my mum. Not sure if any of this makes a difference or not. Mum and dad are both nice people but have never really had a social life or friends. I rarely sit around feeling lonely but I do sometimes wonder why, as I'm a normal, nice person who is a loyal friend.

nilbyname Sat 23-Feb-13 18:07:53

well I sometimes find myself feeling like I am not liked or do not have many good friends, but I know this is in my head.

If you want to see your friend and you know she is coming your way, call her, say, he you are coming my way soon aren't you, have time for a quick drink with me? I think your expectations are too high without having talked to her about it. She might be working out her plans, and about to call you and make plans with you. It might be that she has some other commitments that limit her time. It is not all about you. (I say that kindly)

I think it is important to bear in mind that--

People are busy with their own social lives, families, problems and insecurities, so while you might be thinking, "she doesn't like me", it is very rarely about you.

Be proactive, call people, ask people to do stuff, and do it more than a few times. I am lazy like that and I actually hate the phone, so ringing people is a big deal for me, but I make myself otherwise things would slide.

I had a crap time growing up, and my parents have no friends so it is not a good model. I can see how short they are with people and how easily offended they get. I try and shrug it off more and expect less of people.

OhToBeCleo Sat 23-Feb-13 18:14:44

Does your friend have kids? Do all the people she's arranged to meet up with have kids? If so maybe she just thinks you'd be bored hanging around with all the parent talk. Just a thought.

PixelAteMyFace Sat 23-Feb-13 18:18:17

Some very interesting points here.

Binfull - I too never expect people to actually want to spend time with me, and I am always afraid of imposing on them.

Honey - I have issues of low self-esteem which stem from my childhood. My DM was always very critical, and also has low self-esteem due to her own dysfunctional upbringing.
She regularly says things like `if we can do it then any idiot can` - so never any pride in achievements. Or if I did well at school she would say `I didn`t expect any less of you`, whereas a simple `well done` would have been nice.

My parents had few friends when I was growing up, and on the very rare occasions anyone came to visit, my DM would say `thank goodness that`s over` after they left. Not exactly a good role model!

MillyMollyMandy78 Sat 23-Feb-13 20:41:09

Thanks for all your replies. I could definately be more proactive and address things differently. My friend doesn't have children, althoug some of her other friends that she met, do. I havent posted on mumsnet before today & I half expected people saying to get a grip and have a go at me for being so self-absorbed, but u have all been really helpful.

HoneyandRum Sat 23-Feb-13 21:38:47

It's interesting to think how our family modeling relationships such as friendship can have a long term effect (affect? Which one is it?!). I don't know the research and how that breaks down into which behaviors are modeled to help children learn about making friends but I'm surprised to hear a number of you say your parents had no social life or friends to speak of, that's quite amazing. At least you can step outside the issue and realize it has a very strong component of "family system" or "family of origin" behavior - therefore forming friendships is actually a set of learnt skills and behavior and not about a defect of personality. So with that information under your belt you can hopefully refrain from beating yourself up and instead investigate "what are the skills and behavior I need to acquire?". I think confidence is actually a big part of it. Maybe two people have exactly the same number and types of interactions with new acquaintances; a person feeling unconfident thinks "I met all those people and I didn't click with anyone because I'm no good at making friends" while a confident person thinks "I met all those people and although I didn't really click with anyone, it was fun meeting them and maybe something will come of it in the future".

As the Americans say "Fake it till you make it" - act like someone who expects to uncover friends everywhere, play the part and eventually you will feel more confident taking risks and feeling vulnerable with new people.

Herrena Sat 23-Feb-13 21:56:05

I've actually found myself becoming more sociable since I've had kids! Before this I would NEVER have invited people over to our house, it would have been a huge deal and I'd have been so stressed. Nowadays I issue invitations happily because I know a) everyone else is doing the same and b) it doesn't matter if my house looks like a tip because a toddler can be blamed grin

I agree that confidence is a big part of it. If you like your own personality then you can relax in the presence of others. It doesn't matter if they like you; YOU like yourself. Ironically, this usually makes other people like you too.

I made lots of friends (or at least, acquaintances I enjoy chatting to) in mummy groups by simply assuming talking to everyone. Enquiries about DC ages/weaning/crawling/topic of the day generally get the ball rolling and if they don't want to chat to you, find someone else!

Could you text your friend and say 'Hey, saw you would be in the area. I know you're busy but can you stop by for a coffee? We'd love to see you'? People like to know they're missed and she may be grateful for you showing you care.

HoneyandRum Sat 23-Feb-13 22:10:31

I agree Herrena, once you have kids you suddenly have something in common with all kinds of women from every walk of life! It's very easy to talk and connect with other mothers with children of the same age. Of course you will still find that not all will become your super close friends but that's another issue/observation: friendship takes many forms. Most people are only capable of maintaining a handful of extremely close friends because of the nature of that type of friendship and the time and emotional commitment it takes. We often then have other layers of friendships and also friendships that have their season and then fade. All normal.

wotsoccurring Sat 23-Feb-13 22:28:15

I am also surprised that some of you have parents who didn't socialise or have friends and that must have an effect on you, Basically it does take a lot of effort to maintain friendships. I'm no expert but you have to be realistic. I have lovely friends but most live some distance away but we meet occasionally when we can.

I have different types of friendships too. I've got 'mum' friends, ex-colleague friends, old school friends, wives of ex-partner's friends. I could do with some new single friends as I separated last year. I go anywhere and everywhere I am invited just to get out of the house! I was invited to see a live band recently which I wasn't that keen on but had a great night and I am now in a small group of people who are arranging to do that regularly.

People are genuinely busy so I think it's best to build up lots and lots of friendships even if they are superficial at first.

CycleChic Sat 23-Feb-13 22:34:58

I have similar issues, so am watching/reading the advice offered with interest.

CarnivorousPanda Sat 23-Feb-13 22:48:53

My mother never had friends over, if the phone went it would be her mother or sister. My father wanted to socialise more , but my mother vetoed it.

Looking back,as a family, we were pretty isolated socially, neighbours were regarded as friends rather than acqaintances even though contact was limited to chats in the street. Family was all.

Yet as adults, my brother and I both seem now to have plenty of friends. Things changed for me in my teens when I suppose I realised the home situation was not really normal or healthy.

I don't have a lot of time, but I try to make an effort as I really appreciate my friends. Even a quick coffee and catch up keeps the contact going.Do you work Milly? If so, are there people there you could see more of? I also made friends through volunteering with a cause I was interested in and by going on a training course.

MillyMollyMandy78 Sat 23-Feb-13 22:56:18

Yes Panda I do work, but only started in this job a couple of months ago.Work colleagues are all lovely but mostly about 20 years older than me with very different interests/ family situations. Surprised to see so many other people whose parents didn't have friends - thought that was just me!

HoneyandRum Sat 23-Feb-13 22:59:37

One thing that does spring to mind is if your parents didn't have friends or found it hard work, like pixelatemyface's mum then from a young age the children in the family are getting a message that friendship is difficult. Also families such as these must have been somewhat isolated socially so no wonder the children feel like they don't know how to connect with others. In my own family both my parents had close friends, my dad's friends came over and socialized while watching the footie almost every weekend. I particularly remember the warm interactions that would include me, the banter and joking. I can imagine that warm and apparent ease around friends and watching your parents create that warmth helping you learn how to create casual interactions. I know in my various jobs and roles I have always believed in creating a rapport with coworkers and clients. But that was something I watched a lot as a child (never really thought about it until now!). If you never, ever observed those constant warm exchanges I can imagine feeling baffled about how people do that. Or going to the extreme of finding them irritating or just "small talk" when they are often the glue that smoothes human interaction.

Doodyanna Sat 23-Feb-13 23:01:48

I have similar issues with self esteem, assuming people won't like me or feeling like i'm imposing. I just joined mum's net today too. Being a mum has helped and I have 'mum friends' to have a coffee with and 1 best friend. My parents didn't have a social life or friends I can remember and didn't like 'outsiders' so i'd like to resolve this issue in case it rubs off on my two kids. The feedback has been really interesting, I've been desperate to get this off my chest so thank you I feel a bit better knowing its not just me x

Doodyanna Sat 23-Feb-13 23:01:48

I have similar issues with self esteem, assuming people won't like me or feeling like i'm imposing. I just joined mum's net today too. Being a mum has helped and I have 'mum friends' to have a coffee with and 1 best friend. My parents didn't have a social life or friends I can remember and didn't like 'outsiders' so i'd like to resolve this issue in case it rubs off on my two kids. The feedback has been really interesting, I've been desperate to get this off my chest so thank you I feel a bit better knowing its not just me x

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