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Why can't I make and keep friends like normal people?

(42 Posts)
GreggsOnLegs Thu 12-Sep-13 13:07:31

Feeling sorry for myself at the moment.
I really struggle keeping friends and I don't know why.
I make friends pretty easily, but never any close friends. I was hoping with ds2 I could start again iyswim. But so far all my attempts have started out well but failed.
For example, a new family moved in next door, kids same age as my dc, they were new to the area, we got chatting became friends. I always invited her and dc round for drinks and kids to play but it was never reciprocated. I invited her to come to some baby groups with me. Her dd will happily go and play but my ds is a mischief and I can't sit down and chat because I'm always jumping up to stop him from injuring himself or someone else. Anyway she made a group of friends there and they organised things to do outside of the group, I never got invited and now they're always next door having coffees together etc
This sort of scenario has happened with multiple friends over the years, I just don't think they want me around.
I just feel so sad and jealous because that's what I want but it never happens.
So how do I make friends and keep them? Is there any potion I can drop in a cake recipe or something? I think I'm destined to be a loner forever.

OddSockMonster Thu 12-Sep-13 13:17:45

I know exactly what you mean, especially the bit about asking people round but it never being reciprocated, and also lively toddlers halting any chance of a chat.

The one thing that's finally worked for me is joining a group of mums in beginner tennis lessons (though I still held off till one of the mums asked me if I'd like to join). We have a beer afterwards and the time to have an grown-up chat without the kids there makes a massive difference.

Is there something like that you could do?

GreggsOnLegs Thu 12-Sep-13 13:21:53

I'd love to have an evening hobby but dh works late a few nights and I work evenings on the others.
I'm only free during the day.

GreggsOnLegs Thu 12-Sep-13 13:23:10

Work is the same, they all went out for a drink after work last Friday, I didn't even get an invite.

BoysRule Thu 12-Sep-13 13:30:13

This is one of those posts that you read and think you could have written it yourself. I have never managed to get into a group or have close friends. I often feel lonely and like I have no-one to turn to.

However, I know that a lot of it is how I am perceived. I am shy and lacking in confidence (although I know that people don't think that as that is not how I come across). I therefore often think that people wouldn't want to be my friend so I don't put myself out there and ask for peoples numbers or ask them to meet up - I find it awkward and can't help but feel that they won't want to.

I also think my shyness comes across as standoffish because I find it hard to involve myself initially. Once I feel confident and accepted I am not shy at all. I recently got drunk with some mummy friends and the next day they said they were all shocked at how much fun I am - they thought I was a bit boring and stuck up. I think the drink helped it come out.

So - not really advice as I am in the same boat. Just be really aware of how you come across. It is really hard when you have children that make it difficult to keep a conversation going. However, you could acknowledge that - apologise and say what a pain it is. At least then they know that you want to chat.

OddSockMonster Thu 12-Sep-13 13:38:47

I think I have the same standoffishness, because I just don't know what to say sometimes, and am naturally quiet or just distracted by the children running in the opposite direction.

Jessicarthorse Thu 12-Sep-13 13:43:31

Being 'try hard' and needy is intensely off-putting.

People who have a number of friends that suits them (many, or just a few), never think 'how can I break in to that friendship circle? How can I make friends with these people and keep them forever?'

The trick really is to be happy in your own skin first. You don't have to break into other people's friendship circles. You're at the centre of your own. It's a difference of perception.

But what do I know? I'm a happy introvert who thinks that 'making FWENDS' is highly overrated!

AndTheBandPlayedOn Thu 12-Sep-13 14:11:38

Same here.
Ouch about your neighbor.
I thought that was going to happen with our new neighbors, but it turns out she is more introverted and reticent than I am, if that is possible. However, her dh will chat until the cows come home.

I will also wait for invitations which rarely come. Then irony rises up in my life: a neighbor I am acquainted with through the school gate gave a tag-a-long invite when she was inviting my teenage son (same age as her son) to a New Years Eve do...as she was one to boast of activities in my presence but never invite me before, I actually laughed and declined.

whatdoesittake48 Thu 12-Sep-13 14:22:44

I am joining the club. I have a few people I know well and maybe one actual friend. Although that one friend often goes out with another group and I am never invited. I know I come across in a way which people find difficult - but once they get to know me it really doesn't seem to matter. People just don't want to bother taking the time.

It is devastating to know that your one and only friend doesn't think you are good enough to invite out to the pub, movies, drinks or a girls night out. I haven't heard from said friend since before the school holidays and now our kids have moved on to different school I may never hear from her again...

I am honestly not boring and similar to you, I am often told I am a surprise once I have had a drink or two.

Sometimes I really need a friend to talk to and it is so sad not to have that in my life. I find it really upsetting sometimes as I also have no family in this country.

But - I do love my own company, I love my kids and my husband and I love my hobbies. I am active online with many friends and seem to have built a life which is OK without friends around me. I try to be the best person I can be and hope that one day I meet someone who is just like me.

GrrArgh Thu 12-Sep-13 14:28:14

But whatdoesittake48 you can't expect your friend to invite you to things she isn't organising: that would be incredibly rude of her!

And in any case people do compartmentalise their friends to some extent, this is normal. I have various friends I simply would never introduce to one another, they are pretty different types; not a value judgement, but true.

GreggsOnLegs Thu 12-Sep-13 14:28:47

I''ve committed the ultimate sin!
I've posted on nethuns meet a mum boards!

Oh shit! Whathaveidone?

Yes I am desperate, but I try not to give those vibes
I'm just lonely

blibblibs Thu 12-Sep-13 14:39:44

I know exactly how you feel. I moved 3 years ago and after reading many threads on here where they say just be polite, smile, say hello and friendships will develope themselves.
I do all that and have many people to say hello to and discuss the weather with but no real friendships. I know far, far more people since moving but no actual friends sad
I don't know the answer, I just try to be happy with my own company.

JustinBsMum Thu 12-Sep-13 14:52:01

I think the idea that 'everyone else' has lots of friends is wrong. They may have just one or two groups they mix with but because they don't worry about it they appear to be happy and busy with their social life. So most people are in the same boat but don't worry about it or they have close links with family and that is all they need.

Try social hobbies such as badminton, knitting or art or sewing groups, writing groups are great for getting to know people (because amateur writers write about themselves and their life as that is what they know). If you are busy then there is less time to feel lonely.

Also, coffee get togethers and going for a drink after work can be quite tedious imv, the 'interesting' person you think you have something in common with is always chatting to someone else! you need one-to-ones to really get to know someone.

GrrArgh Thu 12-Sep-13 14:54:58

I find a big problem is knowing what 'friend' means. We all have our own definition.
For some people it's going to be the person you can call to come over and have wine and a movie in your pyjamas: I don't have any friends like that, though. (Mainly because dh is quite standoffish and doesn't like people in his home these days.)

I would say my best friend since I moved is someone I see once a month for a coffee, she has no children and lives a completely different life to me, but we have a great connection and I can talk to her about anything. I really value her friendship but we never do anything like spontaneously socialise or visit each other's houses.
But for some people that would barely count as anything more than an acquaintance.

I think I see other people being 'friendlier' with each other and because I'm not gregarious like that, I assume I'm missing out on proper friendship, but proper friendship is not a fixed thing.

Priceliss Thu 12-Sep-13 15:25:03

My suggestion (and note sometimes I can be shy) is to invite yourself. I know it seems a bit odd but just say i.e. for work drinks "is it ok if I come along?" people will see that effort and have you in their mind next time. Sometimes it's not intentional people honestly don't see it.

But I agree get into some activities outside of baby too like book clubs, exercise and don't feel self conscious or worry. You will make friends it just takes a little push and effort. I'm sure your a great person don't doubt yourself. x

GreggsOnLegs Thu 12-Sep-13 16:04:55

Just back from school run. Ds has befriended a new boy in his class and I mentioned to his mum about him coming round to play sometime, she seemed really niceand said yes a play date would be lovely >> so another potential friend.
Like I said, I can make friends easily enough, I just can't keep them.

Perhaps when ds2 is at nursery I'll have more free time to pursue hobbies and make proper friends then.

I'd love more than anything just to have one friend I could invite over for drinks.

Dogonabeanbag Thu 12-Sep-13 16:10:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Dogonabeanbag Thu 12-Sep-13 16:12:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sonofapreacherman Thu 12-Sep-13 16:21:14

Can I just say that I have a friend who complains about being left out and doesn't understand why people don't include her.

I have known her for 2 years and what I have noticed is actually that people DO invite her to do things - but when she's invited she will never give a straight yes or no answer. It's always very evasive 'maybe', 'perhaps', 'that could be fun' but never a firm yes or no.

I think she just like to see how she feels on any given day and make a decision about what she wants to do. But obviously that doesn't really work for a lot of other people and it also comes across as though she's waiting for a better offer.

I get on with her and enjoy her company but have stopped inviting her to things because of this - I don't want to be left hanging on til the last minute. She does it over everything - I invited her 2 dc to a birthday party and had to ask her a few times if they were coming and all I got back was "think so" and "probably".

I am not suggesting that anybody on this thread behaves in this way, it's just something I think when she complains to me about being left out.

I guess if someone makes noises about doing something you need to take it to that next stage and make firm plans. Just come across as enthusiastic?

GreggsOnLegs Thu 12-Sep-13 16:31:09

The thing is with my neighbour, she purposely excludes.me. She doesn't tell me about the things she does with other mums from playgroup. I know she went. Out for another mums birthday Friday because her daughter told me, we walk to school and back everyday 1 mile each way, when I asked her Monday if she'd had a nice weekend she said it was ok, I asked if she'd done anything or gone out and she said no. Which I know is a lie.
I don't mind what friends she has or what she does with them but why lie?
Sorry about random full stops my phone wouldn't let me do spaces

minidipper Thu 12-Sep-13 16:45:32

Greggs, sympathy. It's happened to me loads, especially with school mums. Friendly then dropped, as though you've done something unforgivable when you haven't. Really hard not to take personally. Got invited to a party once because one woman publically announced another was having a party. Seciond woman rolled her eyes and the invite was dropped through the door later. That same woman has been round to my house hundreds of times, helped herself to my tea and coffee as though she lives here, told me endless sob stories, been to my parties and for dinner a few times but never once reciprocated.

What I find odd is, she's a really negative person, quite hard work, yet seems to have an active social life, whereas I (think) I'm easy going. I used to get upset, then decided to just make friends who I have much more in common with. None of them live locally but we see each other a couple of times a month. I also see local mums at general social occasions but never get asked to the dinner parties etc.

But... I have noticed that it can become self-perpetuating. I think I've missed a few overtures of friendship because I stopped thinking people meant them. One woman drops by out of the blue to drag me out for coffee from time to time and another invites me for drinks. It took me a while to realise they were making an effort and I wasn't. They weren't necessarily the people I'd have thought I had things in common with. But we get on.

Lavenderhoney Thu 12-Sep-13 16:47:52

JustinBsmum that's a good point. Expectations are different from different people.

I make friends easily, but I don't have the time to be a daily texter/ fb update person. I have dropped by one new friend who was IMO very needy, daily calls and text, wanting to meet up every other day, I felt quite stifled. Thankfully she has found other ladies like her, they all knew each others business and what they had for tea etc etc.

I have a few friends I know I can arrange to meet for coffee, but I prefer 1:1 - unless its a big night outsmile they are happy to be occasional meet ups, like me. I don't really have the spare emotional capacity and back off very fast if someone gets needy. Self preservation, I've got enough crap in my life.

It depends what you want a friend for.

AndTheBandPlayedOn Thu 12-Sep-13 19:00:55

Wow, Greggs, maybe you don't really need your neighbor for a friend after all, if she is going to be like that. At least you know not to expect anything from her, (and to not trust her with anything personal).

It is ironic, but a little empowering to choose to not be friends with someone.

Do you think your neighbor takes you for granted because you live next door so she does not have to try to be your friend? Or perhaps you are in the role as neighbor, rather than friend?

It must be awkward walking so much with her. Does she talk to you at all?

lisylisylou Thu 12-Sep-13 19:45:40

So glad to see this thread! My husband thinks I'm popular and says I can make friends easily and talk to anybody (that part is true). He says he can't do the same as me and that he is quite shy. I don't think that is true and I struggle to hold onto friends. When I first moved to the area where I am a neighbour invited me to a parent/toddler group with her and friends and proceeded to ignore me every time I went but still xpected me to be sat next to her which was just weird! Then I went to my neighbours party and she proceeded to slag off my employee (loveliest person on this planet) in front of me and tell everybody she was an unfit mother!! Anyway, I found doing my own thing made me happiest and not getting involved with gossip. Funnily enough then I started making friends, I still think I have 2 heads a lot of the time but I am me and am genuine/ not 2 faced and friends will find me! A lot of the mums talk to me at the school but I know I can text them but I don't like to impose myself onto them as I know they're always so busy.

fabergeegg Thu 12-Sep-13 20:39:31

I set up a charity and made some friends that way, especially when carrying out 'research' (long lists of non-threatening questions over coffee!). I've lost a lot of friends in the past and know exactly how it happened - I was flaky. As I get older, I notice that new friendships need more genuine connections to get started - there's rarely a second chance to make college friends who have 'always been there', for instance. I assumed there would be lots of chances to make friends with other mothers, but this hasn't been the case. Mummies seem to go about in packs a bit and are often too absorbed in their hectic lives to make friends. Also, maternity breaks are quite short. However, there are many, many mothers who are new to this country and very lonely. These friendships take a lot of work and can be hard to integrate into groups because of culture/language problems...but they're still precious. Modern churches can be quite friendly places now, though experiences differ. Ditto book clubs. I'm very doubtful about how much I really want a social group if it means sitting around discussing the time traveller's wife, though.

There's no point telling yourself not to be needy etc.. You can't change yourself and it's probably a circumstantial thing. If you can make any friends at all, drop them into conversation because it will reassure others that they're not your only source of companionship. Go to exhibitions. Volunteer at something - anything! Bake cookies for the neighbours. Ignore people who treat you badly as you probably wouldn't have much in common anyway.

GreggsOnLegs Thu 12-Sep-13 20:56:32

There was a foreign mum at ds1 school that invited me round for coffee. I was ecstatic and looking forward to it. I went round hoping for a chat and coffee but all she had invited me round for was to get me signed up for utility warehouse that she had started working for, I was gutted.

BerylStreep Thu 12-Sep-13 21:35:28

Greggs that wasn't so nice of that Mum.

I've been there - in my 20's I somehow found myself with few friends - had cut all ties from school, very little money, relied on serial monogamous relationships for company. I was really quite desperate for some female friends - proper friends, not just colleagues from work. I ended up having a friendship with a pretty toxic girl because I so wanted a female friendship.

I realised how horrible she was to me, and decided to cut her out of my life, along with anyone else who didn't make me feel good. It was one of the best things I ever did - very empowering. I joined a sports club and started playing a team sport. Out of that I met some fantastic people, who, 15 years on, are still really good friends, even though we hardly get to see each other because of children.

I think feeling lonely can become a bit of a vicious cycle, because you can end up coming across as needy and intense. One the things I do is that I will hardly ever decline an invitation, no matter what it is - even if it is volunteering to pour tea & coffee at school events. That way I meet loads of people and keep busy. If friendships naturally develop with like minded people, then great, if not, then I have had a great night out anyway. But I don't accept invitations with a view to trying to develop a friendship, IYSWIM.

The other thing to think about, as others have said, is to have an idea of what you want from a friendship. Daily conversations (other than at the school gate) or texting is not for me, nor FB, nor intimate discussions about relationships or sex lives. A weekly cycle or walk together for a bit of a gossip, or a get together maybe once a month for drinks is what I am happy with. What is it that you want from a friendship?

Lavenderhoney Fri 13-Sep-13 04:27:55

Greggs- that's awful! I hope you didn't do it!

SubliminalMassaging Fri 13-Sep-13 05:28:06

If you are making friends initially that's a good sign - it means you are not weird or unapproachable or giving off any signals that repel people. So where is it going wrong from there?

Try to analyse what you talk about and how you come across. Needy and clingy and desperate is terribly off-putting and makes people feel trapped and irritable.

Are you too negative? Do you moan to often? Do you bitch about others to a degree which is not acceptable? Are you a catastrophiser who gets all wound up over over imagined slurs or slights, and turns minor problems into huge ones? Do you over-share? Do you take offence to easily and end up falling out with people? Do you blurt out insensitive things which offend others?

Do you dominate the conversation too much, or boast and make it all 'me me me'? Or is it the reverse - do you make others do all the work, so that they end up babbling to avoid awkward silences? Or do you talk to a normal extent but just talk about boring things? Do you have a good sense of humor?

Or is it your DS? You say he's a bit of a pest - is it much worse than you care to admit? Is he what's stopping people inviting you over?

It's really difficult because it's not like you can ask someone else to be honest with you and then give you a character assassination, and even if you could, there are aspects of our personalities that we just can't change. But if you suspect you know what it is that you do wrong, you can work on it, to an extent.

Mostly I think you just need to find people who are like you, who you click with, and don't try to punch above your weight socially, if that makes sense. Be realistic about who you approach for friendship or you'll keep getting knocked back.

GreggsOnLegs Fri 13-Sep-13 08:07:51

I have got four friends that I text and meet up occasionally with but I don't go out to the pub with type of people. They don't live local.
I'm looking for a closer friend, the type my mum has got, who pops in 3-4 times a week for a coffee and a natter and shares lifes ups and downs with and go out with occasionally.

I do need to look at myself, I need to see where I'm going wrong.
Maybe my expectations are too high.

WahIzzit Fri 13-Sep-13 10:22:37

OP cannot offer much advice am afraid as I too struggle with making and keeping friends. Its shit isnt it sad that horrible feeling of loneliness and rejection.

I moved away a few years ago and haven't really managed to make any friends. There are two 'mummy friends' who I met at toddler groups and we text and phone occasionally. I have visited one at her house a few times - at her request, but she has never been to mine despite me inviting her many times. She promises she will but never does. The other is quite new and has said she will pop in sometime. I wont hold my breath though.

I have been feeling rather sorry for myself too recently. DD has started nursery and this first week has been going in for a short time. It is about a mile away, so been quite difficult for me as I have had to make two journeys there and back, with a wriggling baby who hates the buggy. One of these friends I mentioned offered that I could go to hers one morning, which at the time I would happily have accepted. She then said she has a lot of housework to do, and it felt really awkward to then accept her offer as I felt I would be in her way.

I do not want someone who is always at mine or vice versa, living in each others pockets. I like my own space, but I also love company. To me a friend is like what you said OP, someone who I can see a few times a week for a coffee and a chat. Someone caring who will come and see me if i'm unwell. Or go shopping together. With no family here either it gets so so lonely, and I wonder what is wrong with me and why I struggle to make proper friends.
I am chatty and pleasant, I listen to others speak and show interest in what they say. But it sort of doesn't moe on from acquaintance to friend.

It feels to me most people already have their established friendships and social circles and are not bothered about letting any new ones in.

Walkacrossthesand Fri 13-Sep-13 10:35:50

I would say that few people (especially patents of young children) could find time for 3-4 natters/week with one person other than their OH! Retired people with no dependent offspring, maybe (is your mum in that category?) but even then it wouldn't be a sustainable pace for many people. You sound rather lonely - are you a single parent?(sorry if this is stated up-thread)

chocoluvva Fri 13-Sep-13 10:43:04

I'm sorry you're lonely. sad

I think it's hard to give advice without knowing you, but I hope you can use the advice that's relevant to you on this thread.

I would just add that you can't hurry friendships or force them. It takes time to be really relaxed and comfortable with people and having a shared history (through your DC or whatever) is one of the main things that strengthens the bond of friendship.

worldcitizen Fri 13-Sep-13 11:21:11

The thing is with my neighbour, she purposely excludes.me. She doesn't tell me about the things she does with other mums from playgroup

It truly hurts just reading this

Wow, Greggs, maybe you don't really need your neighbor for a friend after all, if she is going to be like that...Do you think your neighbor takes you for granted because you live next door so she does not have to try to be your friend?...

^^^^^And this also makes me cringe

I cannot understand why the development of a friendship has to be so forced. I fail to understand why moving next door to someone would necessarily mean we'll have to be friends.
I don't get it. Why not having people in your life who are neighbours, acquaintances, co-workers, friends, close friends, best friends, etc.....

I doubt there is great chemistry with everyone and it is not uncommon to know someone and then get introduced to others and hit it off with them, more than with you.

Sorry gregg I really don't mean to come across as mean, but maybe a perspective from someone who sees these things very differently from you could be helpful, not sure.

If you would invite me to go to a baby group with you and I would think of you as okay and nice, nothing more and nothing less than my neighbour, then why should I invite you to my new friendship circle???
I don't get it.

Someone else here talked about their only friend who doesn't invite her to join her to pub outings with other people.
Why should she?
She might be YOUR only friend, but this doesn't seem to be the case in return.

Reading so many comments and views here makes me feel anxious "almost like trapped". I can almost sense, why so many here have difficulties keeping friends as it all seems so forced and full of expectations.

GreggsOnLegs Fri 13-Sep-13 13:36:07

I'm not a lone parent.
I am from a huge family and moved miles away to be with dh. I am used to a lot of people round me all the time, so I struggle with having large parts of my day alone with ds.
I tried another baby group today. Ds loved it. All the other mums were in their cliques and I smiled at a few and said hello but no one spoke to me. We will go again though because ds enjoyed it so much.

Jessicarthorse Fri 13-Sep-13 13:41:24

OP, I think your use of the word 'cliques' is revealing.

These are grown women, not school children. Try not to view them as enemies.

sherbetpips Fri 13-Sep-13 13:45:01

Priceliss i agree, I invite myself to stuff all the time, people are busy they might think you don't want to be included. Also be careful not to 'lovebomb' someone when you make friends, being invited over constantly puts a lot of pressure on the other person. Also don't have too high an expectation of people, just because you had a nice day together doesnt mean you will be included in their social activities going forward. Give friendships space to grow and if it has been a couple of months, give them a call and see if they fancy coming over, going to the park, etc.

sherbetpips Fri 13-Sep-13 13:46:12

re the cliques thing as well dont give up on that, you will often find there are members within a clique who dont fit in as well as the others, they often drift to new friends when someone makes the effort. dont bother to try to infiltrate old cliques though, no point.

GreggsOnLegs Fri 13-Sep-13 13:46:33

I don't see them as enemies, but I do find them intimidating, I couldn't just go up to a group of them and start chatting.
I tend to single out the ones on their own and chat to them, but there weren't any at that group.

Jessicarthorse Fri 13-Sep-13 17:07:20

But the word 'cliques' implies that they are somehow being exclusive, bitchy, deliberately excluding you. You need to work on why you find other adult women so intimidating - if you had better self esteem this whole 'I can't make friends' shizzle would become less of an issue.

BerylStreep Fri 13-Sep-13 17:07:42

I met one really good friend at a baby group - it was like we were separated at birth, we had so much in common.

Other than that, I never met anyone who I really clicked with. Baby groups always feel a bit dismal and forced to me. I think activities without children are so much more enjoyable.

I think it would be an idea to consider SubliminalMassaging's points - ask yourself, do you do any of those things? I think we probably all do from time to time, but if it is a regular thing it could put people off.

I must say, I honestly wouldn't have the time or inclination to share my life with someone to the extent that I was seeing them 3 or 4 times a week. That's what my DH is for.

worldcitizen Fri 13-Sep-13 17:53:24

You've mentioned this one as well... Just back from school run. Ds has befriended a new boy in his class and I mentioned to his mum about him coming round to play sometime, she seemed really niceand said yes a play date would be lovely >> so another potential friend.

Like I said, I can make friends easily enough, I just can't keep them.

I don't even know what to say other than what someone else mentioned here already.
Please don't lovebomb!!!!! As of now, she is only the mother of a boy your son is starting to befriend.

I know I am not being helpful here. I am sorry, I think I should just shut up.

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