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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

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?

kiwigirl42 Tue 26-Feb-13 12:14:40

its really interesting reading this. I am lucky enough to have some very good friends but most have moved away and I don't really see anyone on a daily basis due to chronic illness and not working anymore. Maybe we should start a little group of Mumsnet for daily check in's and chat?

BettyBlueBlue Tue 26-Feb-13 12:44:18

I also relate to feeling much more lonelier than when younger. Have two small children and since they were born, the world started to be divided between those with children and those without. It's strange because you have to really dig deep not to be judged by being a mum or not being one.

I also relate to how upset you can feel when old friends cut you off. It's funny how little attention "being dumped" by friends is given. Usually, being dumped is used for romantic partners but I've felt so hurt by friends cutting me off without explanation over the years.

I try to keep positive and hope that I as grow older, the friends I make will be fewer but hopefully the bond will be stronger.

Thank you very much OP for such good thread. Everybody seems to have really positive comments/advice to give smile

kiwigirl42 Tue 26-Feb-13 12:54:04

I must add - I was cut off by one of my best friends, who was even matron of honour at my wedding. tried to keep in touch but zilch.
Swallowed hard, couldn't think of what I'd done wrong and left well alone. Over the yrs I always wondered what I'd done etc.
Twelve yrs later she is back in touch with me and apologised for cutting me out - had been wound up with new boyfriend, relationship now ended and was terribly sorry for what she'd done.
We are friends again now but I can't quite give her my all again as it hurt so much losing her the first time. Its great to know that it was not anything about me but desperately painful all the same

neriberi Tue 26-Feb-13 14:15:40

This is a really interesting thread. I always read the friendship threads on mumsnet, it reminds me that there are lots of us in the same boat.

I don't have many friends, even though I'm very good at becoming friends with people who then turn out not to be the people I think they are, call it a terrible judge of character on my part, I'm not a people person.

It also doesn't help that I'm deaf, so I've always struggled with confidence issues and are convinced people aren't interested in what I have to say, because I can't always hear what's being said to me I'm constantly asking people to repeat themselves and I get super embarrassed by it all especially when people think its funny to go "what", "pardon" back to me when I explain that I'm deaf and can't hear blah blah, so I tend to hang back and people watch.

I'm 38 and married to a man who is the life and soul of the party, he could be-friend Genghis Khan if really wanted too, but he can count his friends on one hand and he feels lonely sometimes as well, which I find shocking because he knows the entire world!

I've had a pretty rough couple of years and even though I don't think I have friends, I know that I have. I've learned an awful lot about the people around me the last year or so and I know that the few friends that I do have will do anything to make sure I'm okay and vica versa <<< that's far more important to me than having a blackbook full of phone numbers, I may not seem them as often as I want or speak to them every night / day / week on the phone and only see them every couple of months but that's fine because we all have our own lives to live and get on with.

I do wish I had a core crew of people around me, but I don't, I see it as a quiet acceptance that how I choose to live my life doesn't allow me to have that, I work full-time, when I'm not at work I'm commuting to work, when the weekend hits I'm visiting PIL's or giving my son my undivided attention. I reckon circumstances are what make us lonely, its not who we are as people, its the circumstances we find ourselves in. IMHO.

PixelAteMyFace Tue 26-Feb-13 15:09:06

I know how you feel, kiwigirl, a few years ago I was suddenly dropped like a hot brick by a friend of 20 years. Someone I saw every week. Why? Because our husbands had a massive fall-out!

For over a year after this happened I used to get palpitations and feel physically sick if ever I spotted this ex-friend when out and about. I was shaken to the core that what I had seen as friendship had apparently meant nothing to her.

I have met her by accident several times since (small town) and we speak, but we are like strangers.

She hurt me so much that she shook my faith in friendship for years.

kiwigirl42 Tue 26-Feb-13 15:56:51

I also think age has a lot to do with things. I was a lot more bothered about things when I was younger but now, at the wise old age of 44, I am happy with myself and people can either take me or leave it. I am also a lot happier in my own company which is really pleasant.

rainbow2000 Tue 26-Feb-13 15:57:44

Im teh same,find it very hard to make and keep friends.I do sometimes think i come across as moany but im probably not.

I do ring and ask people do they want to go out but it usually ends like its me doing all the running.Im really pissed off as im very lonely

Plinkityplonk Tue 26-Feb-13 16:25:50

I'm another in the same boat. I have a couple of good friends but due to distance and the fact that we all have kids & work & busy lives we don't see or speak that often. I have acquaintances at work and mums I say hello to at school but I find it hard to develop friendships any further. I am quiet but will say hello & try to chat but I am not naturally outgoing & I sometimes feel left out when I see the other mums chatting easily.

My dh is very friendly and has lots of friends and offers to go out while I'm happy for him it compounds my loneliness sometimes. I can't remember the last time I went out socially, I'd love a local friend or two just to have a coffee with or go out once in a while.

I do tend to over think things & I wish I could just feel happier with myself but if I'm honest I don't expect people to like me or want to spend time with me so maybe I portray this? I also think sometimes I may come across as aloof but I'm not I'm just quiet & the more I try to make an effort and be friendly the more self conscious I feel....

Who knows! It is good to know I'm not alone in feeling like this though.

lucindapie Tue 26-Feb-13 16:40:30

Thank you everybody for all the wisdom shared on this post ! I'm another one who's parents didnt have any friends. i also have a difficult relationship with my mother. its reassuring to hear that it seems ad if we learn friendship skills from our parents . ive struggled with making friendships all my life, was bullied at school. since having kids ive found it easier, and also since recognising i had a problem rather than getting drunk to hide my shyness! I've tried to watch and observe people I know who are good at making friends and try to learn from them.
But I also lose friends, and that is my problem now. In the past I've done some things I regret and not always been a good friend . But now I think I may be losing a friend and not exactly sure why, feel like I hate myself right now

Ive tried really hard having a terrible day as feel para

rainbow2000 Tue 26-Feb-13 16:51:07

I think alot of it with me is im an only child and my mother was a bit overbearing.I wasnt allowed to do a lot of things,so i probably missed out on thestages of friendships

MillyMollyMandy78 Tue 26-Feb-13 21:27:55

So sad that this is a more common problem than I realised. I can identify with all your stories in one way or another. And i agree about how utterly heartbreaking it is when we are dumped by a friend. It happened to me by my closest friend 10 years ago and I was devastated... Even now I see posts on facebook and cry because I can never get back what we once had.
On a brighter note, Kiwigirl I love your idea to start a daily check-in & chat! Such a positive move... What should we call it?

kutee Tue 26-Feb-13 22:17:53

My ex friend hasn't been in contact since. She was suppose to be godmother. I was so shocked and so was those around me. Can't see what I've done so wrong. Very hurt by the whole thing that I don't think it could really be repaired. I'm finding it harder now to make friends. It's very hard to invest after that

kutee Tue 26-Feb-13 22:20:49

My other half can see that my loneliness is affecting me as I don't have anyone. It really does

MechanicalTheatre Tue 26-Feb-13 22:29:21

Just wanted to add my post, going to bed but am in much the same situation.

Will post tomorrow.

HorryDrelincourt Tue 26-Feb-13 22:46:21

Another here great at making friends but apparently terrible at keeping them.

I partly know the reasons - I get very involved in what I am doing now, to the detriment of maintaining old relationships; and I was always the one who moved away - moved schools in the wrong year, moved away after university but not to London where everyone else went, etc.

But that doesn't mean I don't feel guilty and hurt when I see a photo on FB of a group of my old friends at say a wedding and I am the only one missing compared to the equivalent event ten years before.

I don't think we should feel hurt when people could visit us but don't. I went to London this weekend to meet up with four friends. I know maybe a hundred people in London and go maybe once a year. I couldn't possibly catch up with all of them. So it isn't so much that I'm deliberately not seeing them, as rather that I am travelling for a particular purpose that's even more overdue.

lucindapie Wed 27-Feb-13 02:35:31

was just coming on to suggest we have an ongoing support thread and see that kiwigirl already suggested it, great idea, I think we need some virtual friends to see us through the hard days, smile

Blackden Wed 27-Feb-13 08:04:45

I'm also in the same boat.
I've always had plenty of friends, well usually one or two 'best' friends and a circle of acquaintances.
However, in the last 15 years or so that slowly changed. Now I have one acquaintance that I meet for coffee probably twice a year, but she has lots of her own commitments and I don't think it's possible for a proper friendship to grow.
I lost some friends during my divorce, and three have emigrated, others just drifted away. And I haven't made any new friends. I have no DC and for the last few years, I drive past the village primary school and see all the mums chatting together and feel quite envious.
I work at home too so I'm rather isolated.

Anyway, now I've got all that off my chest, I'm here to say I'd like an ongoing support thread too smile.

neriberi Wed 27-Feb-13 13:24:24

An ongoing support thread is a fab idea grin

PixelAteMyFace Wed 27-Feb-13 14:29:20

I love Mumsnet.

Until I found threads like this and similar previous ones, I thought I was horribly abnormal, and no one else had problems making/keeping friends.

Maybe we are all normal after all, and it`s the ones with 50 friends who aren`t grin

Muchadoaboutnuthing Wed 27-Feb-13 18:37:40

I have lots of acquaintances but no close friends. It's only in the last few months it's really started to bother me. I chat to everyone at the school when I'm dropping the kids off, I see people at work every day, I'm a foster carer so have regular contact witth various people because of that, but no one I feel I can just pick up the phone to in the evening and have a chat.
The last real friend I had stopped speaking to me around a year ago, she never explained why although I tried to find out many times.

I met someone recently, kind of through work, I have to see her once or twice a week and we seem to have clicked. This sounds really ridiculous but I'm not sure what to do, should I just ask her to go for coffee or something? We chat every time we meet and seem to get on, although I've only known her a couple of weeks. I'd just feel so stupid if she said no, particularly as I'll still have to see her regularly smile

HoneyandRum Wed 27-Feb-13 19:20:38

Muchado, if you can make an educated guess of when she might be available - like if you have a break together at work, you could just say "I'm going for coffee, do you want to join me?" or "I'm going to the canteen you going down?". If she makes her excuses and they seem quite genuine just don't take it personally and try again another time. If you can text or email you could ask her that way and be more open "do you fancy getting together for coffee this week?" just be vague. If she wants to she'll follow up with times.

HoneyandRum Wed 27-Feb-13 19:29:36

BTW been mulling this thread over more and thinking about my friend who struggles with friendship. Some posters mentioned a challenging relationship with their mum. I realised that in that case you were not really befriended by your mum, your mum was not your 'first friend'. Not only did she not model friendship with others she didn't manage to have a true friendship with you.

I would imagine that would be more of the extreme end of those struggling with friendship, others could've just been socially isolated in a family that didn't include adult friendships.

However, when I think of my friend and her continual relational struggles with her mum, from what I hear her mum does not treat her with the kindness, consideration and respect that a true friend would.

PixelAteMyFace Wed 27-Feb-13 22:37:13

Honey, I think you have hit the nail on the head - at least as far as I am concerned. I never felt my mother was my friend, never felt that she was on my side. She was cold and strict with me in ways I could never be with my children - or even anyone else`s children for that matter!

Now that I`m an adult I can see how damaged my mother is and feel a certain compassion for her, but unfortunately she has damaged me too to a certain extent. Just as my mother never expects people to like her, neither do I. So I`m afraid of imposing on people. I have to know people extremely well before I can relax enough to be myself. Ridiculous at my age!

cavewoman Thu 28-Feb-13 10:09:47

Hi OP - I totally sympathise, I'm another one - I find it hard to go from aquaintance to friend, but if I do manage it then for some reason I can't keep them. I can't help feeling that people want to be friends just because they haven't got to know me yet! I often think I'd LOVE to get anonymous feedback from them just so I can help myself sort out the bits people don't like.

I'm also another one with a difficult relationship with my mother - what a legacy these ladies have given to us. The difference is mine treated me as her best friend (she was in no way mine!), made me responsible for her emotional wellbeing and had few boundaries when it came to telling me stuff about herself (her emotional affairs).

I'm in long-term counselling and friendships is a common theme for me and my need to be constantly validated - but counselling has really made me much more chilled out and get far less upset over things. What it hasn't done yet is make it easier for me to make friends!

I wish we all lived in the same town - but there's a bit of me that thinks that I'd be rejected even by people who are in the same boat as me :-(

PixelAteMyFace Thu 28-Feb-13 15:09:18

cavewoman - an interesting thought - if we all lived in the same town and knew each other in RL would we manage to be friends, or would our individual (or maybe common) ishoos get in the way? Are we all too needy? So many of us seem to be looking for the unconditional love we never received as children.

I could def. have written the first paragraph of your post.

It`s good that counselling is helping you. I`ve wondered if it would help me, but I live in a country where it doesn`t exist, and where people (including my DH) proudly proclaim that they `don`t believe in psychology and navel-gazing` - hence a phenomenal number of emotionally screwed up individuals (also including my DH wink)

myrosie Sun 31-Mar-13 23:00:47

So glad I found this thread, and hope you don't mind me joining in, as I am quite a bit older than most of you, and my children have now left home. I often feel very lonely, and what you say about early relationship with my mother rings so true with me. I never felt my Mum liked me, she never praised me, and we were not close. She was also like that with my sister who is 11 years younger than me, but she was different with my brother.

I feel pathetic that something from so long ago is still affecting me at my age!! - what can I do to change at this late stage? But I have found it hard to make/keep friends and often wonder what "vibe" I give out that is unattractive to others. I truly think there must be something. I have put on a lot of weight in past few years, and I think many people are put off by that. Or is it that I don't like myself, and that is off putting to others?

I very recently got a book called How to raise your self esteem by Nathaniel Brandon, and the first part I read had me in tears. It really touched something in me, so I will read further and see if it helps.

How sad to think so many people feel so alone, but in a way good to know you aren't the only one. Thanks op for starting this thread.

Chesntoots Mon 01-Apr-13 06:11:20

It brought it home to me recently when I realised I didn't have two people, apart from family, that I could ask to witness my will... How much does that suck?!

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