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.

What is this "friendship?"

(27 Posts)
Someone12 Thu 09-Jun-16 22:57:10

I like proper friendship. You know, getting to know each other well, having fun together, understanding what makes the other one tick. Helping each other when times are tough sort of friendship.

And I think I must be really naive, because I am frequently coming across this "type" of woman/friendship and I just have no idea what to do with it.

The most shining example has happened recently. I'll call her C:

C is a mother of kid at same school as mine. Seemingly popular. Respected. Admired. Known as living in the "big house" in the village. Very social and v influential - everybody wants to go to the events she holds. Perfectly nice person too from what I have seen. Always friendly, always positive, doesn't say a bad word about anyone. Helps with school events, and her line of work overlaps seriously with mine (although she is senior to me) - so we have something quite big in common that is not the accidental circumstances of geography or children.

I met her at work when she came in briefly as a client. She initiated this "friendship" by inviting me to things after this (with other people at her level) that I really enjoyed: dinners, lunches, work-related stuff. The invitations were thick and fast. I was keen to go because if it's my line of work but at a more senior level it really helps me. Great, I thought, I can make a new friend first of all, and enjoy the added benefit of networking above my "level" at work.

When I got there she would always greet me very effusively, kiss on both cheek, how are you, how are you. Then she would pass me on to someone else, move on, and I would not speak to her for the rest of the time.

Fair enough, I thought. She doesn't want to be deep meaningful buddies, this is a mentor relationship only. I got on with chatting to the people I met who were lovely, grateful to her for including me in something fun and helpful. Thought that was the end of it.

Then I get texts/emails from her immediately the next day "lovely to see you last night. Please tell me you're free to come to bla bla dinner at my house next week? And bring your DH if he'd like to come" Fine. Great. I had a nice time before I'll have a nice time again. Maybe she was just so busy before we couldn't chat.

Get there. Everyone's already there. Only 6 people total though. Not even people in my industry, but just her other "friends." She gets up and is all mwah mwah. Intro her and her DH to my DH. All fine. We get moved along to end of table, have a great time with their friends, punctuated by the occasional wave or smile from her across the room. Then we leave.

Ad infinitum (for the last 6 months) Invites, emails, events, phone calls. Follow ups. All along the same lines. Darling this, darling that. Lovely to see you. You look fabulous. Mwah. No stuff even bordering on real friendship, but HOURS spent in each each other's company. I invited her to things too, and she came. An actual one on one lunch, which she left early from and conversation felt like a bullet pointed speech. Nevertheless, there was the "absolutely amazing to have lunch with you, please let's do it again next week, you're a breath of fresh air," email that followed.

Colleagues started saying "someone12 and C are really good friends now. They have lunch all the time now." I became known as her best buddy completely unrelated to work. And I have no idea why considering I do not even know the basics : where she came from, who she is, how she feels about stuff?

Then something happened. Her H left her for someone else. Obviously it travelled round the village fast as they are quite "well known" locally. She was still continuing to send me emails and invites. I went to some of the gatherings after that and she opened up to three of us "friends" together at the end of one particular drinks about what had happened. He was going to take her money. She was going to lose the house. The kids were upset etc. We were all v sympathetic and said if there was anything we could do etc. Then when I got home, I took the opportunity to send her a very short, heartfelt email saying I was there if she needed me and I empathised as my (ex) H had done the same thing.

No response. I felt immediately that I had crossed some sort of line. Which was very confusing considering she had confided openly in me (and others) about it only a few days before. Yet the invites kept coming. Maybe to about two events a week. "You must see this art gallery." Or "come to X because an amazing band is playing, I'll buy the tickets."

Gave her benefit of the doubt again. Went along, no mention of the email, so I brought it up in the context of asking how she was. Her response: "Oh you know how it is - my shattered personal life. I won't bore you with the details. Anyway, we have more fun things to talk about. can you come to c event next weekend? The reviews have been fabulous." Small talk, basically.

So you can see how this works. Maybe I am utterly dumb, and I don't see this what for what it is, but perhaps you can tell me. A few questions:

Do we have a mentor/mentee relationship?
Does she actually think I am her friend?
Is this what friendship is to some people?

Cabrinha Thu 09-Jun-16 23:15:13

No.
Yes.
Yes.

Cabrinha Thu 09-Jun-16 23:19:42

Not everybody wants to get deep and meaningful with everybody they know. She sounds lovely and fun but not emotionally intense. Sometimes, friendships are quite superficial but still worthwhile - not everyone can be besties. I feel sorry for her that the whole tone of your post is that she's doing something wrong. I hasten to add, that you don't sound mean, just confused. But I feel sad for her nonetheless.

Someone12 Thu 09-Jun-16 23:31:07

But Cabrinha, I don't know basic stuff about her. I don't expect her to spill her guts, I just expect to know who she is and for her to know who I am.

LaPharisienne Thu 09-Jun-16 23:35:01

I suspect I am a bit like this. I am sociable and like company, but like to do my own thing and keep my own counsel mostly. I've found myself in friendships where I had to extract myself because the other person a closer relationship than I did and I felt uncomfortable. If it's not your cup of tea, I'd leave her to it but if you enjoy seeing her, don't worry about it.

So... N, Y and Y.

Euripidesralph Thu 09-Jun-16 23:48:42

I think you have to be aware people have different views on relationships and sometimes that's different depending on what's happening in their life ....mainly because we all deal with things in different ways.

So for example my closest friends and I have an odd relationship to outsiders. We have the usual fun drinks , dinner shopping etc. As well as that we are entirely brutally honest with each other ....harshly so sometimes ( always said with respect and smiles but direct nonetheless) ...this actually comes from both our previous professions but without knowing this we would seem as if the friendship is strained when it really isn't.

As well as this i am quite an odd person....when a crisis hits I tend to handle it myself ...I struggle to ask for help especially in the moment and so will often be dealing with something really bloody awful and still have lunch with her and wither not mention it or be off hand about it

She is well aware now it's my way of dealing...I will now quite often text or say to her "it's in the box" which means I am unable or willing to face it currently so it gets packed away in a box to deal with later and I don't want her to bring it up

She does the same and uses the same phrase

So odd friendship looks to the outside as cold

However .....when the chips were seriously down (and I do mean down....as in I was fighting to stay conscious in icu whilst my newborn was fighting to breathe in an incubator) ....it was her my husband knew to ring for help , it was her he knew was the only one I would trust with my eldest ....over my mum , over my sister....he knew I would want him to ring her ....

And despite the fact I hadn't told her about the pregnancy complications , the stress and the pain he rang and said " I think I'm losing them " and she was hitting her driveway with her keys in her hand seconds later despite the fact our main conversations for months had been over which lights to choose for her house

OK slightly more dramatic than your situation granted but a good example of perhaps her valuing your friendship...probably even valuing your email but not being able to communicate it ??

Redisthenewblack Thu 09-Jun-16 23:54:07

I think she sounds like an awesome friend.

She seems fun, keen to include you, and it seems like you have a lot in common.

However, veryone is different and some people just aren't as emotionally outgoing. That's not a bad thing. You just need to work out whether you can cope with that aspect of her personality.

Have you tried asking her things you'd like to know?

MargotLovedTom Fri 10-Jun-16 00:04:02

It sounds like she doesn't want to get beyond a superficial level of friendship with you at the moment. Yes, she opened up about the split, but in a group situation.

stareatthetvscreen Fri 10-Jun-16 02:31:58

yy to what everyone else has said

i'm like her - i have loads of mates but love to see them all for fun not really heart to heart sessions or household furnishing discussions etc

SloppyDailyMailJournalism Fri 10-Jun-16 02:43:08

She sounds damaged. Very often a lot of front hides something. Problems with vulnerability or intimacy maybe?

HappyJanuary Fri 10-Jun-16 04:43:41

I think she sounds like a lovely person who really values you as a friend and I also feel sorry for her that you seem to be viewing her with some suspicion.

She has been living through an unhappy marriage for some time, and is now processing the betrayal and devastation of an affair. All of her emotional resources are being used to survive that, and to support her children through it. It may be an enormous effort to socialise, despite appearances, and she may not have felt able to reply to your email at whatever broken point it reached her. I doubt you crossed a line, given that she confided in you. She may not have known what to say. She may have thought that no reply was necessary.

I'm not sure what she's doing wrong. She invites you to things and accepts your invitations. She is kind, friendly and welcoming. She tells you afterwards that she enjoyed your company, and confided in you when something big happened.

I think you sound quite needy. If you don't like her (and the tone of your op suggests you don't) then move away sensitively. Just remember that while you saw her as a gateway to networking with more senior people, she saw you as a potential friend.

HappyJanuary Fri 10-Jun-16 04:43:41

I think she sounds like a lovely person who really values you as a friend and I also feel sorry for her that you seem to be viewing her with some suspicion.

She has been living through an unhappy marriage for some time, and is now processing the betrayal and devastation of an affair. All of her emotional resources are being used to survive that, and to support her children through it. It may be an enormous effort to socialise, despite appearances, and she may not have felt able to reply to your email at whatever broken point it reached her. I doubt you crossed a line, given that she confided in you. She may not have known what to say. She may have thought that no reply was necessary.

I'm not sure what she's doing wrong. She invites you to things and accepts your invitations. She is kind, friendly and welcoming. She tells you afterwards that she enjoyed your company, and confided in you when something big happened.

I think you sound quite needy. If you don't like her (and the tone of your op suggests you don't) then move away sensitively. Just remember that while you saw her as a gateway to networking with more senior people, she saw you as a potential friend.

HappyJanuary Fri 10-Jun-16 04:46:20

I think she sounds like a lovely person who really values you as a friend and I also feel sorry for her that you seem to be viewing her with some suspicion.

She has been living through an unhappy marriage for some time, and is now processing the betrayal and devastation of an affair. All of her emotional resources are being used to survive that, and to support her children through it. It may be an enormous effort to socialise, despite appearances, and she may not have felt able to reply to your email at whatever broken point it reached her. I doubt you crossed a line, given that she confided in you. She may not have known what to say. She may have thought that no reply was necessary.

I'm not sure what she's doing wrong. She invites you to things and accepts your invitations. She is kind, friendly and welcoming. She tells you afterwards that she enjoyed your company, and confided in you when something big happened.

I think you sound quite needy. If you don't like her (and the tone of your op suggests you don't) then move away sensitively. Just remember that while you saw her as a gateway to networking with more senior people, she saw you as a potential friend.

HappyJanuary Fri 10-Jun-16 04:48:09

Oh good, three posts. Sorry, no idea why!

VioletBam Fri 10-Jun-16 04:51:33

She doesn't like talking about personal issues. I"m very much the same. I do invite people to things...I do like them and want to be with them but don't want to share my problems.x

lavenderhoney Fri 10-Jun-16 07:30:47

No, yes and yes.

I would say she values you as a friend because you aren't demanding to know her innermost thoughts. Nor she yours. It all sounds very restful to me, being friends without having to know why and scrambling to find a common ground. You are friends.

I have friends like that and um, I am also quite like thatsmile she has enough to deal with without telling, maybe she never has and it's not her way. Everyone deals with things differently. And the note was kind of yousmile

maggiethemagpie Fri 10-Jun-16 17:14:48

It sounds like you have a superficial kind of friendship. most people have a range of friendships from superficial /fun to intimate/deep and every shade inbetween.

IMHO you can't make it be what it is not. If it's meant to deepen, it will happen naturally over time. If it doesn't, then decide wether you are happy to stay at the superficial level.

hormental Fri 10-Jun-16 17:25:40

I wish I had a friend like that. Instead I seem to attract friends who offload and all the negativity saps my energy.

OldGuard Fri 10-Jun-16 17:35:03

Sounds pretty normal to me - keep own counsel - look at the bright side - don't wallow in self absorption - get on with things - how very British

AnnaMarlowe Fri 10-Jun-16 17:35:09

I often think that people on MN have a very deep, intense female friendships in a way that I just don't.

I get in well with my friends and support them where necessary, but I would rarely (if ever) ask them for support or confide my worries, I have my DH for that sort of relationship.

I'm not superficial or damaged, I'm just not looking for a bff type friendship.

Perhaps she is similar. She sounds fun anyway.

ThisIsStartingToBoreMe Fri 10-Jun-16 17:35:35

She sounds like a lovely friend

baggyleggings Fri 10-Jun-16 17:47:03

I would say that she does value your friendship. Agree with pp that she may have some trust/intimacy issues. Take it at face value and don't push things - she may open up eventually but if she doesn't, it still sounds like fun.

Kenduskeag Fri 10-Jun-16 18:13:58

I'm going to be the odd one out and say I can see what the OP is saying. I'd start to feel like she had a lot of tickets to give away to things or part of her job was putting warm bodes in art gallery shows or theatre seats rather than her actually wanting to be a friend. Or that she is eager to attend these events, and simply invites people off some mental list so she isn't going alone. Accessories, or window dressing.

No one's saying she has to spill her guts, but from the post it seems they've barely sat and spoken at all. It's cold... clinical. Like a 'friendbot'.

RaeSkywalker Fri 10-Jun-16 18:22:39

I've had friends like this before, mostly when I was in my early 20s and wanted to go out and have fun all the time. Now I have a few close friends, which I think suits my personality more. If you enjoy her company though, carry on!

SloppyDailyMailJournalism Sat 11-Jun-16 01:18:01

Have posted before, but wondering if she is threatened by you and trying to keep you under control?

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now