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To think that after nearly 5 years of knowing someone they would start a conversation once or twice....

(28 Posts)
grapeandlemon Sun 29-Aug-10 20:10:29

More of an "off my chest" post but would be interested to hear opinions.

I made friends with someone from NCT nearly 5 years ago. We were both the same age and the youngest of the group so gelled well and lived v near each other. Our girls got on really well so we organised meet-ups every week and really kept it all going.

It has recently struck me that she almost never once initiates conversation throughout or meetings/ days out whatever, even dinners we have been on I have always started up the conversation and topics. I thought I would do an "experiment" the other day grin and not talk until she started talking about something and it was dead silence apart from the children of course. She sometimes asks me brief questions which of course I then answer but no response from her. It seems to be worse that I remember it before.

I am not really a big talker or huge personality but it is actually quite tiring now to be around her which sounds awful I know but I feel it is me making all the effort.

Do you think I should hold off for a while and see if she is forthcoming. I have no issue with her she is lovely and totally inoffensive but perhaps this has all been about the children...realisation...!

mitochondria Sun 29-Aug-10 20:18:46

You don't know me, do you?

I really struggle to think of things to say. I worry that my topic of conversation is going to be boring / stupid so often don't say anything at all.

atswimtwolengths Sun 29-Aug-10 20:23:47

Funny you posted this. I was sitting on a train today opposite two men. They obviously knew each other very well. One kept initiating conversations - the other would answer but didn't initiate a conversation himself. There would be a silence and then the first man would come up with another topic of conversation...

It was really embarrassing for him, and I recognised that this happens with me when I'm with quite a few people. They seem to be happy to respond, but don't say anything for me to respond to. (These are people who have sought out my company, ie phoned to see if I want to go out, before anyone thinks they just don't like me!) I do get really fed up. It seems only normal that if I ask a question (such as what do you think of X) then they should respond asking what I think. That seems a normal conversation to me.

mummychicken Sun 29-Aug-10 20:25:54

My FIL is like this, drives me nuts, it is very tiring trying to fill the silences. I now no longer bother apart from to offer him a cup of tea.

Sometimes silence doesn't have to be uncomfortable and if she is happy with being quiet then perhaps take a magazine next time. (I am not known for my diplomacy grin)

horatia Sun 29-Aug-10 20:29:51

Some people are happy to be quiet in the company of friends. Maybe she wonders why you always feel the need to chat?

quiddity Sun 29-Aug-10 20:37:46

What mitochondria said.

I have terrible social anxiety even with close friends (which is why I only have two of them). Of course that only makes it worse--I get so anxious I can't think of anything at all to say. I wouldn't be able to phone anyone to suggest we get together, for fear of boring them to death.

BertieBotts Sun 29-Aug-10 20:38:12

My sister is like this and really struggles with it. It might be shyness rather than laziness. Could you just ask her a question and then do lots of "Hmm" "Oh!" "Really?" to encourage her to keep talking? Or try to find out if she has any interesting hobbies/interests/stories etc.

grapeandlemon Sun 29-Aug-10 20:40:34

Well this is it horatia I don't "feel the need" at all quite the reverse. I am a quiet person by nature myself but when I have made friends with someone I do open up.

She seems like a successful person in her previous job she would have had to be v confident so it is quite strange. She has always been v friendly and smiley hence why we get together but I have just had a huge realisation that it is a bit one sided. I make conversation because I am genuinely interested in how her life is and like to hear her opinion of stuff.

Edinburghlass Sun 29-Aug-10 20:49:34

Does it matter who starts a conversation? I know that I'm a good talker but not a very good listener. I'm ashamed to admit I might not even notice if the conversation was one - sided. However, if that is an issue for you, as the children get older, perhaps it's more likely that you'll drop them off for a play date rather than hanging around, so even if your friendship with the mother tails off, the children could still remain friends?

muggglewump Sun 29-Aug-10 20:52:25

I can't think of a thing to say, and worry if I say something it will be stupid, and I'm really awkward and if I do say something it comes out all wrong.
Perhaps she's like me?

grapeandlemon Sun 29-Aug-10 20:58:46

mugglewump is is sad that you are fearful of making conversations. The way I feel about it is that, if I like someone and spend time with them I don't care a bit if they do say something silly or whatever. but I just need something "back", it is hard to explain really.

Edinburghlass I sincerely think that is the way it will go....smile

skintbint Sun 29-Aug-10 21:00:14

i've known my mother for 40 years and have never heard her start a conversation.

Katisha Sun 29-Aug-10 21:14:11

I know two people where I have to be the one to start the conversation. It's very wearing and it just doesn't feel like a meeting of equals. I don't like being made to be no 1 talker. I want it to be a two-way thing.

I really don't want someone being scared that I will judge them on their conversation. It makes it really awkward.

horatia Sun 29-Aug-10 21:18:18

Would you feel able to ask her why she doesn't like to start conversations?

Does she seem distracted as if there's something else on her mind?

hormonalmum Sun 29-Aug-10 21:30:46

Skintbint - I must be your younger sister - my mother never initiates conversations either.
I think this is why I have struggled socially most of my life. I am currently feeling like an outsider at the school gates as lots of the other mums have been meeting up in the holidays etc.
Perhaps she is socially more competant when there are more people around?

skintbint Sun 29-Aug-10 22:28:03

grin
i've been pondering this a lot of late. if you are my younger sister (i do have one) then do give me a ring grin i think it's time we had a chat about how she is...

she just visited me and i swear it sucks the lifeblood right out. in two weeks she basically answered questions, no small talk, no 'how was work', no 'the kids have been fine, x did something daft' nada. nothing.

i feel so guilty about it. and then i feel sheer rage (which makes me feel even guiltier lol. i mean, she's my mother.)

cumfy Sun 29-Aug-10 23:20:46

Sounds like you're more of an extrovert and she an introvert ?

hormonesnomore Mon 30-Aug-10 00:20:33

My ex was like this (among other things) and the last time we went out I was just so exhausted with the way our relationship was going that I deliberately didn't start a conversation.

Silence. Not a word. I realised then that I didn't have the energy to keep the marriage going.

You have my sympathy op, it's very hard work.

grapeandlemon Mon 30-Aug-10 07:32:29

hormonesnomore that is how I feel - like I need so much energy to keep it going and it doesn't feel fair.

When I ask her if she's Ok or how her holidays were she will say "fine, yeah good thanks" and that's it.

cumfy Mon 30-Aug-10 11:11:11

Has there been a change over the years ?

Just seems quite a long time to not notice.

AlwaysCross Tue 21-Dec-10 19:00:21

A few years ago I realised that in most of my friendships I always work at the conversation. (I think I must have been reading something that started analysing what kind of person you are, or something.)

So I started paying a lot more attention to the whole thing. I wait a lot more to see if other people initiate conversations or not. To cut a long story short I realised that my parents in law never initiate any kind of conversation with me. Even if the three of us are sitting in a room in complete silence, they still don't! I realised that for literally years before that I'd always asked them about themselves, what they were doing, their plans etc etc. Basically they're more than happy to witter on about their own lives, but couldn't give two shits about mine.

It's left me in a really weird situation with them. When I'm with them I smile a much as I can without it seeming forced. And I wait for any kind of question or starter from them. It never really comes. I get the odd, 'Sleep well?' and that's usually it for a whole weekend visit. Over the last couple of years they've grown frostier and frostier towards me. They can see that the situation has changed, but they don't understand it.

Anyway - I would love to know if anybody else has ever been in a similar situation.

JamieLeeCurtis Tue 21-Dec-10 19:08:38

Oh, I recognise this scenario too. I agree with what you said atswimtwolengths, that it can leave you feeling you quite resentful. I do try to understand that most of us, actually are not as confident as we appear, but some cope with it by filling in conversational gaps (me) whilst others are reluctant to talk first for fear of saying stupid things.

But when it persists I think it does cause a block in certain relationships, because the more talkative person starts to feel a bit paranoid that they are wittering on inanely while to other is sitting in smug silence

atswimtwolengths Tue 21-Dec-10 19:09:21

Oooh I want to come in here!

I've had a lodger for the last few weeks who never once initiated a conversation. Well, when I'd pick her up from the station on Sundays she would say 'How was your weekend?' in a very polite kind of way, but then no matter what I said I'd done, she wouldn't make a further comment.

I was giving her a lift to and from work (50 minutes each way) and after a week I realised I was the only one trying to start a conversation. So the radio would be on and there'd be something of interest being said and I would make a comment. I'd either get a grunt or 'Yes' or 'No' or 'Dunno'.

I decided I wouldn't instigate another conversation unless she did - for the last three weeks the journey has been silent.

Like the frosty in-laws, she obviously knew something had changed but her analytical powers ended there.

She wasn't shy, she was just lazy. If I asked her a question eg 'Do you think you'll go away this summer?' I'd get a short answer (in a pleasant voice) but she wouldn't ask the bleeding obvious back.

I was so glad when she left.

atswimtwolengths Tue 21-Dec-10 19:12:16

Yes, JamieLee, it certainly made me feel as though I was talking rubbish and that she was judging.

To me, though, it seems natural if say there's something about The Apprentice on the radio and I say to her 'Who do you think will win?' (bear in mind she watches it avidly) then she should not just say 'Dunno', but 'Dunno, who do you think will win?' It's easy conversation, isn't it?

atswimtwolengths Tue 21-Dec-10 19:13:38

I feel for people who are shy and with strangers - that must be really difficult to deal with.

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