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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.

HoneyandRum Sat 23-Feb-13 23:04:58

X posted with you Panda regarding the relative social isolation of the whole family if the parents don't have friends.

CarnivorousPanda Sat 23-Feb-13 23:08:25

I think I had to learn how to socialise as it was so rare to do that with friends in our house (actually, pretty non existent!)

But By 17 or so, I felt very claustrophobic in the house because nothing happened, no one visited. I started to realise that other families weren't like mine.
But its tough.

Milly,even if they are older, could you suggest a quick coffee with someone you get on well with? Small steps.............

HoneyandRum Sat 23-Feb-13 23:11:49

Another thought, do you like meeting new people? If you have difficulties making friends do you find meeting new people daunting or uncomfortable? Forget about friendship for a mo - just needing to work with or relate to someone you don't know - how does it feel?

BlackStiltonBoots Sun 24-Feb-13 11:06:22

HoneyAndRum everything you have said here really resonates with me.

I have terribly low self-esteem, think everyone is judging me negatively, think I am boring and have nothing to offer as a friend. Interestingly my Mum didn't have many close friends and neither did step-dad. So it could be a learned thing. It was all about the family really (we have a large extended family, all close by).

Milly your username makes me smile because my DD2 who is nearly 5 has just read and loved her first Milly-Molly-Mandy book smile.

MillyMollyMandy78 Sun 24-Feb-13 12:12:14

Glad u like the name Boots - the books are lovely. One of my dogs is called Molly so the name kind of popped into my head. I don't really enjoy meeting new people, although i find it much easier the last few years. It takes a while to get to know me, cos i can feel quite overwhelmed in new social settings, so this doesn't really help matters.

nilbyname Sun 24-Feb-13 12:58:32

milly I feel quite overwhelmed in new social situations, and get quite nervous if I am going to a big party with lots of people. I find it hard to concentrate on what one person is saying as I am hyper aware that there are lots of other conversations going on around me, and that is distracting. I am also worried that I am being a bore! But I have to just tell myself that it is all in my head.

Be prepared. Think of things you can talk about- your news, current affairs, weather. Asking people for advice, flattery. Finding out their interests and commenting on them. Ask lots of questions. Everyone likes talking about themselves. Smile lots, laugh.

HoneyandRum Sun 24-Feb-13 13:27:27

Hi Milly and BlackStilton - if you are not at ease meeting new people then it seems to me that forming friendships is on a continuum of unease with new social interactions. Although there may be some inherent introversion I do think this mostly comes down to learnt behavior. When you think about some cultures being just warmer or more relaxed in their social interactions you can see how much of our behavior is dependent on the expectations of others. A funny example is one of my dd's. She has a very naturally loud voice. I am British and my DH is American. When we are in the UK or here in Germany I have to encourage her to tone things down and not be too "loud". However in the US parents would turn to me and say "what a great voice" she had and how she is so clear and can "project" across the room! Something Brits might put in the obnoxious category. Shyness is actually seem as a problem so serious in the US that kids will get counseling for it! Even though shyness had definitely been shown to have a genetic component.

I guess my point is that the same behavior can have different meanings and connotations in different countries, cultures or even families. If you had a challenging relationship with a parent you could've developed strategies which involved lying low and not drawing attention to yourself. If that's combined with the parent's inability or lack of desire to create friendships it means a whole area of human interaction that was not taught or role-modeled. I think "create" friendships is a good word because there is definitely an art to it that is a social dance. I also think that it's behavior that can be definitely learnt or improved. I would take baby steps in the right direction having compassion and understanding for yourself. Be loving to yourself, befriend yourself - that acceptance and openness will attract others.

milliemoomay Sun 24-Feb-13 13:34:15

From one Milly to another,, I too have been reading your thread with interest. I was interested in HoneyandRum's theories of modelling, and agree that it has a profound effect on how we shape our interactions. In my case, my parents overt socialising had the opposite effect on me.

My parents are complete social animals - I can't remember a time when we didn't have people in the house..their home is literally an open house. I can't remember a single meal without a guest present. Needless to say my parents weren't close to any of us children - perhaps surrounding themselves with friends was a buffer to avoid parenting.

My life is completely opposite - I can't remember the last time I had a dinner party. I've eschewed people from visiting and in fact moved to a very rural area, possibly to give myself and others reasons for not visiting.

I think there's a bit of a muddle in me that links being a 'good parent' inversely to socialising. I'm now trying to redress some of that by moving to a more accessible area, and opening up my world more, as I can see that one can be both - a good parent and a sociable being!

I was thinking about what you said Milly - "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." You've done what I've been doing - projecting a construct that perhaps is a mask and maybe it's tiring to keep it on. You have to constantly strive to keep your insecurities in and maybe there's a fear of being 'found out'. Does any of that make sense?

I think you probably expect too much from friendships. Many friendships are based on being in the same place at the same time iyswim. I go months without seeing my closest friend and exchanging little more than the odd comment on Facebook but I know if I needed her she's be there (and vice versa).

Rather than work on friendships I'd work on yourself - being happy with yourself, cutting yourself some slack and thinking about what you really want to so with your spare time then doing it.

For example if I had spare time I would want to do things like horse riding, moor walking, surfing & photography. By looking up clubs/holidays etc (cost dependent obviously) then I'd get to do the activities with others (and things like photography online as well). Some of those people might become friends but even if they didn't I'd still get to do the activity. And if they didn't become friends I wouldn't see that as a reflection on me.

The start is to like & value yourself & to be happy in your own skin/company. Good luck!

HoneyandRum Sun 24-Feb-13 13:56:26

Totally agree Saintly, knowing ourselves and understanding ourselves is the place to start. And that means also being merciful and loving toward ourselves and not judgemental.

Millymoomay your story is also interesting due to the lack of balance that swung the other way, friends were a greater priority than family intimacy.

BettyBlueBlue Sun 24-Feb-13 15:45:40

Very interesting posts on this thread. I find it really hard not so much making friends as keeping them.

Like many posters said, self-esteem has a lot to do with it.

Without trying to get too deep into psychology stuff, I was reading recently about Bowlby’s theory of attachment, and I think I have an insecure/anxious attachment problem. Even though I make friends relatively easily, I find it very hard to feel truly cared for and contained by friends. It’s nearly always been them who stopped contact, not me, and always without an explanation to go with it.

My parents divorced when before I was two and my father went to live abroad. I only saw him again when I was ten. I think on a subconscious level I’ve always felt abandoned, rejected by him. Our relationship now is OK, but we can’t make up for that time when he was absent.

Even though my mum was physically present, emotionally, our relationship hasn’t been that fulfilling either. It's improved massively over the years, but she's very narcissistic and I feel she doesn't really "see" me. So I think I may bring all these feelings when it comes to friendships, even though I don’t talk about these issues with a lot of people.

I’m nearly forty now and I probably have two or three good friends, the rest I’d call casual friends. I’m a bit scared of making friends at the moment, as I’ve felt rejected so many times, I can’t bear it to happen again and again.

MillyMollyMandy78 Sun 24-Feb-13 17:37:12

This post is crammed full of interesting ideas ans helpful suggestions. You have all given me so much to think about. Milliemoomay a lot of what you said does ring true with me. I do feel like i have to keep up a certain amount of pretence/ effort with others. I do believe that I'm a natural introvert but i do feel that it is more than that. I would love a fuller social life, whilst part of me also finds it too draining.
And Saintlyjimjams, i agree with you that perhaps i should work on me first (which i have done over the years and has helped a lot). But i do feel i could focus more on joining clubs etc to do what i want to do & see any friendships as an added bonus. Have to confess tho that i have spent so many years people pleasing/ hiding away/ feeling awkward that I'm not actually sure what it is I DO like to do!

There's a lot of amazing advice, I had to place mark so I can refer to the advice and know I'm not alone!

I come from a split home, my mum spent her time between me and my sister, work and study, she didn't have any time to go and socialise because I was always with her. I also understand the PP thoughts on the absent parent and attachment/emotional feelings clouding friendships.

Thank you MillyMollyMandy for starting this thread. smile

PixelAteMyFace Sun 24-Feb-13 19:33:22

I was talking to my DM today, and she told me my DS1 is going to stay with her for a few days next month. He lives abroad and is making the trip specially to see her. The conversation went like this:

Me : That will be nice for you

DM : Yes, but he`s not coming on his own, he`s bringing X

Me : Of course he is, she`s his wife confused

DM : It won`t be the same, she`s not family, it spoils everything when outsiders come into the family.

And that basically sums up how she has always been, wanting to be `just us`.
As I`m an only child , it made for a very quiet and isolated childhood, so I`ve always been used to my own company.

I always made sure my DCs had friends round, sleepovers etc, and they are all fortunately much more sociable than me smile

Milly - could you try a few things on a sort of trial basis and see if anything clicks?

I took up surfing a couple of years ago for my 40th. Had never been on a board in my life, had never occurred to me. From the first wave I was hooked (didn't expect that either) and it has produced new friendships (albeit not intense ones as I have so much time taken up by the kids).

HoneyandRum Sun 24-Feb-13 21:08:03

In some cases people still rely on others when forming friendships. I'm thinking of DH, in 16 years of marriage he has only formed 2 close male friendships independently and both times it was because the other men were extroverts who went out of their way to befriend DH. He is a great friend once the relationship is established but the usual pattern is I make a new friend and he befriends the husband (gradually). He had a couple of friends from high school but they are terrible at keeping at touch so their friendships are pretty dormant at the moment.

alittletime2 Sun 24-Feb-13 23:07:12

This makes for interesting reading! I'm another one who is not good at making friends. I find I just do not know what to say to anyone. I have one close friend (who I must keep forever because for me she is definitely irreplaceable!) and several casual friendships where conversation never goes deep.
HoneyandRum, your first post about creating warm conversations was fascinating. I certainly didn't learn how to do that as a child... any tips? The conversation around me just freezes up, but I see other people chatting and soooo want to do it.

PixelAteMyFace Mon 25-Feb-13 09:55:40

Yes, I second that, alittletime2, a few tips would be great!

I`m fine at chatting to people who are...ummm...chatty, but if ever I meet someone as socially awkward as myself it`s a complete nightmare of embarrassed silences interspersed with panic-driven banalities that never seem to develop into a conversation.

I don`t seem to have the ability to instigate warm, relaxed conversation sad.

Please help us, HoneyandRum [spaniel eyes emoticon]

HoneyandRum Mon 25-Feb-13 10:22:25

This whole thread has got me thinking and reflecting about behaviour I have never really reflected on before, how do we make friends? How do I make friends? I am running around today but definitely mulling it over and trying to get at an essence of certain things.

Don't think I am anyone that would stand out in a crowd as a "life of the party type" although I would definitely be someone egging on those people!

So first things that occur are - I like people and I like to meet new people. Most of my jobs have involved meeting new people constantly because I enjoy it.

Also, I am a good listener, I like to find out about people. If I meet someone "socially awkward" I still see that person as someone who is worth attempting to get to know.

I also have made some BIG MISTAKES in friendship because I am a sucker for really funny, entertaining people and as an adult I had to learn about Personality Disorders to understand that some people only want an audience and are just not capable of reciprocating friendship.

So don't be too ambitious, as so many people have said on this thread friendship has many, many forms. I would just start with practicing having positive interactions with people. When you buy your newspaper and choccy bar smile at the person behind the counter and say "Morning" they may ignore you or scowl at you but friendly people will generally respond in some way. If someone gives me a dirty look when I'm friendly I don't think "They hate me!" I think, wow she/he's having a bad day. Listen mate, I'm in Germany and don't speak German but I still have a go!!

mojoawol Mon 25-Feb-13 13:26:42

This is all ringing so close to home for me too, and feel like its getting worse as I get older. Also moved away 3 years ago (just before I turned 40), and it does seem so much harder as you get older.
Re modeled behaviour (and particularly from mothers), this article here also struck a few chords. Not necessarily helpful pointers, but interesting nonetheless

gettingfedupnow Mon 25-Feb-13 13:37:08

I'm in the same boat, I don't tend to let people 'in' though, someone said I play my cards close to my chest, whatever that means ?! smile

I have found though that being in my thirties with no children (again been with partners who have no interest in having them) that my couple of friends who have children do lots with other mums and also get to know other mums as they always have something to talk about with common ground.

I joined the gym and I have met some nice people there, I find smiling at people helps too smile makes me a bit more approachable hopefully.

Salbertina Mon 25-Feb-13 13:58:59

V interesting article, Mojo

MillyMollyMandy78 Mon 25-Feb-13 18:13:07

Yeah, very insightful article Mojo. Thanks for sharing!

kutee Mon 25-Feb-13 18:51:33

You know I know how you feel. I have a loving fiancé and a one year old but there are times I feel so lonely. I have no friends. My best friend just cut me off and now I don't really have anyone to talk to. It can be real hard. I'm grateful for my life but right now it's quite difficult for me especially as my other half has an abundance of friends.

MillyMollyMandy78 Tue 26-Feb-13 11:01:26

Kutee, sorry to hear your best friend has cut you off. I understand how upsetting that is. Any chance the friendship can be repaired?

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