36-year-old sister sitting at home, alone with her cat, waiting for her life to begin?(25 Posts)
I'm a regular who's NC-ed for this and I just want a few opinions on whether there is anything I can do to help, or whether I should continue to do nothing, as I've done so far.
My sister is 36, has a FT job, her own home, a cat, a small number of friends, but very little social life to speak of. She goes home most nights, has a bath and sits watching TV with her cat. This would all be fine, if she was happy, but she has expressed to various people that she feels life is passing her by and she says she would love to meet someone, yet she does almost nothing about it. She's had crushes on various men over the years and had a fairly disastrous attempt at internet dating, but she is still a virgin and has never had a boyfriend of any kind.
She also suffers from depression and this is part of the problem, but many people with depression have a decent social life and a partner, so I don't see it as being insurmountable. She takes medication, but refuses any type of 'talking' treatment.
I've encouraged her in the past to get out more, join things, widen her social circle, etc, but it invariably comes to nothing, even if I give her money to try something new, as I have in the past with regard to classes for something she'd expressed an interest in. The only thing that she really likes to do is go on holiday, but she doesn't really have anyone to go with as her social circle is so small and most of her friends are married and have families.
I'm married with young DC myself and don't live that close, but I do worry about her and feel that life IS passing her by. So WWYD in my shoes, if anything. I feel I need to resolve to either help her or give up as we're such different people and in the past she hasn't always appreciated my suggestions. However, if I can do something to help, I'd like to try.
I think she needs to forget about Internet dating and just follow her interests - find something she really enjoys and do it. Volunteering is good - gives her a purpose and gets her out and meeting people.
What about organisations like Spice? Lots of activities/holidays for singles.
Mot just focussed on meeting partners.
She could go on the sort of holiday where you volunteer e.g the National Trust.
If she likes walking there are lots of walking holidays with groups where you can go as a single.
She needs to join a group where there is a regular activity several times a week in the evening/weekend after work. It need not be a 'hobby' as such but maybe volunteering or charity work or something in the local church.
Anything that is timed to get her out of the house in evenings and weekends would be good where other people rely on her to turn up which gives her the incentive to get out and make the effort.
I know it is not everyone's cup of tea but how about maybe singing in a choir? Our cathedral is always looking for new members for its various choirs. You dont have to be a fantastic singer but just willing to turn up 2 - 3 times a week. Can she play a musical instrument? There are lots of local orchestras and music groups who want members.
I dont sing myself but ring the bells in the cathedral and 2 other local churches and there is a nice group of people. Its surprising how many bell ringers met their other half through standing about in dingy cold church towers.
There are often social activities and trips associated with church groups so its not all singing and ringing and praying. People of all ages volunteer and you dont have to be religious. Churches are often desperate for people to volunteer to do stuff and its a good way to get into the local community.
Agree with Beta. It would be good for her to take up something where she was part of a team that needed her. Bell ringing is a v good idea actually. And if she is not church-inclined it doesnt matter as I have yet to see a ringer stay for the service!
But no doubt she will poo-pooh anything you suggest. Is there anyone else you can enlist to invite her to something?
Katisha - are you are ringer?
I've been thinking of starting an MN bell ringer support thread.
No although I do fancy it. However I am in the church choir (no choice about staying for service!) and can't fit in another practice evening.
Thanks for all these suggestions - they're great and if I was in her shoes exactly the kinds of things I'd be doing to meet others and broaden my social circle/connection to my area.
I'll make a little list and bide my time until the next time she has a moan and then perhaps I'll send it to her. If I just send it apropos of nothing she'll ignore it, like she's ignored most of my suggestions in the past, or followed them up just enough to be able to declare that they don't work (i.e. utterly half-heartedly).
It's frustrating to stand by and do nothing, but it's her life. I just can't help feeling she's making a bit of a mess of it. But again, that's her business.
Anyway, if anyone else has any bright ideas, I'd love to hear them.
Does she accept that a 'life' won't come knocking at her door but that she has to make changes if she's not happy?
Because until she is willing to accept that her life won't magically change without her changing it, then she will stay like this, sadly. She has to go after what she wants. It won't appear without effort on her part.
I've been guilty of this. Wishing without acting. Wanting to close my eyes and open them again to find myself holding a glass, standing in the middle of a group of great friends, wearing a killer dress that shows off my size 8 figure!
But not willing to do the things that I need to do in order to make that a reality!
You can't help someone who isn't willing to help themselves.
With regard to anyone else being able to help - a colleague at work introduced her to a (much-younger), guy a while back, which was kind, but of course it didn't work out. She tends to have two sorts of friends 1) married with kids and don't really do the kinds of things you need to do to meet new people or eligible men; and 2) single women like herself who are as clueless as she is!
Does she accept that a 'life' won't come knocking at her door but that she has to make changes if she's not happy?
Yes, she does. But it doesn't make her go out and make any changes. I've had that conversation with her so many times it makes me feel weary just thinking about it.
If I were your sister I don't think I would appreciate a list of suggestions - no matter how well meant or how loving your motive. I would just want to moan on my sister.
If she's not happy with her life (which actually sounds rather nice to me, apart from the depression of course), then she does need to do something about it herself.
Can you just be there, be very very encouraging and supportive about her efforts, and encourage her to so things she actually would enjoy for their own sake, not things she feels she "ought" to do to "meet someone", or whatever. You sound lovely, I hoe you can see her finding a happier time.
She probably needs someone to go with her to help her start. It's all very well telling her to do these things- she probably knows all this but you can become paralysed with indecision and not wanting to make a commitment and it's easier to do nothing than do something. I'm fairly outgoing but I find it hard to pluck up the courage to go to new things. A weekend residential activity like painting or walking or basket weaving would be better as it is as short period and noone else will know her but she might get an interest. Could you go with her?
bilbo I take your point about a list maybe being rather obnoxious. Ho hum. I like to have a moan from time to time too, as we all do, but I've been listening to her moan about the same thing for two decades now and it gets hard to listen and not say 'For goodness sake, do something about it then!'. I know part of the problem is the depression and she's also shy and hates doing things on her own, so that doesn't help, but sometimes we all have to be a bit brave.
What really saddens me is watching her every year diminish a little more, lose a bit more of her spark, get a little more cynical and dejected. I'd love to see her happy
I may just be projecting here having been there, but there's a difference between saying oh yes, I know, I understand... and actually REALLY getting it.
I knew I had to make changes and yet some part of me still expected it all to fall in my lap.
I also set myself up to fail, cos then I could say see, I tried, I can't do anything, I'm a helpless victim...
It requires a really serious attitude change and it's more difficult to do than people think. And you know you have to change, but it's a funny kind of know. Because you somehow don't.
I can't really explain it very well.
A weekend of basket weaving? I think that might finish us both off!
But no, it's very hard for me to get away. I have two small DC and a DH who works very long hours in a very stressful job. We also have a major building project going on at the moment. So while I'd love to go and hold her and hand and go along to a few things with her just until she feels happy to go on her own, I don't livee close enough (two hours' drive), or have the free time to do that.
No, I get what you're saying Hecsy. You actually put it very well and I think it describes me sister's paralysis on this issue very well.
I wouldn't send her lists. Could you spend some time with her? Perhaps commit to a night out once a month - or have a weekend away? Try to help her get her spark back. If you invest a little time in her you can slowly slowly encourage her to get involved with some other stuff.
If she loves her cat, getting involved in Cats Protection might be something you could suggest subtly.
I just noticed you don't live that close. Could she come and stay over at yours sometimes and the two of you go have the odd dinner/drinks night out while DH babysits?
i second the ideas of the National Trust working holidays and walking holidays. I have a single friend (male) who was sitting at home saying that all his friends were married, he had no one to go out with etc etc.
I sent away for the NT brochure and he signed up. He really enjoyed it and goes on loads. The volunteering trips are only for a weekend and the other people are mainly single so you don't feel left out (I have been on one myself).
And walking holidays are good because, again, the other people are single and as you are focused on an activity there are no awkward lonely bits to fill in.
Could she come and stay over at yours sometimes and the two of you go have the odd dinner/drinks night out while DH babysits?
She does sometimes to come to stay and we go out together and do things, but that doesn't solve the problem of her social life at home, which is what I'd like to help her address.
I'll take a look at the NT volunteering weekends. As my DC get bigger and easier for DH to manage at the weekends I could perhaps go away on something like that with her.
Rather than send her a list I would get possibilities
e.g. this web page National Trust Working Holidays
You can fill in what you want, where you want and dates and just see what is available. She could do a very short one first to see how it goes.
Lots of other organisations have them-just google volunteering holidays.
She could take up running-and get fit at the same time-guaranteed to have a lot of men.
Sounds like my SIL used to be. The depression maybe plays a bigger part than you realise. It can seriously affect self esteem which makes trying new things alone all the more difficult.
I recommend just being there for her, listening, supporting and not judging. Gently try to boost her self esteem when you can, and hopefully that will build her confidence.
Also, life as a single woman is fine, I hope she doesn't feel pressurised to be "a couple". Good friends are more important than partners sometimes.
In my SIL case she discovered yoga, which helped her body, mind and social life. Her depression slowly lifted. She's still single and happy. It's lovely. I don't think lists of suggestions would have helped. She needed to think of her own solution.
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