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Feeling sad - I have not real friends

(18 Posts)
kitkat321 Sat 24-Sep-16 22:06:34

Firstly, sorry for the long post.

Every now and again this gets me down. Firstly, I know I have lots to be thankful for. I have an amazing daughter, a fab OH, a good job, my health and a nice family although I'm not overly close to them.

I've always been a bit of an odd one out. At primary school I was a geek and bullied badly for it. As a result my parents sent me to a different secondary school from my childhood friends and we drifted apart and our lives went in different direction - I went to uni, they went to work and started familes at quite a young age. I've reconnected with some of them but we have nothing in common these days.

At high school, I moved around the different groups - my bullying experiences has left me quite suspicious of people I don't know and I tend to hang back and get a feel for people before connecting with them - it's just a defence mechanism. I got on with people and never had arguments and I tried to rebel against my geekness. Nothing stuck though. I seemed to just drift from one group to another. When I was 17 I got my first proper boyfriend and luckily most of my friends at that time were his friends too but when we broke up a few years later I cut myself out a bit to make the split easier and they never reached out to me afterwards - I did reconnect with one of them as she works for the same company as me. I invited her for lunch and we got on great but then I never heard from her again.

At uni, because at the time I was with my boyfriend I didnt' really get involved in the social scene - my uni was very busy and i struggle in large groups so I only had 1 friend at uni who I still meet up with for a play date every couple of months.

I made some good friends through my first jobs but I decided to cut them out of my live a few years ago when they were horribly insensitive during a time when I had 2 miscarriaged (basically blaming me for it and offering no sympathy). It makes me sad that they aren't my friends anymore and I miss having close friends but not having them as close friends.

I have some work collleagues that I get on well with but I stupidly used to have a real aversion to socialising with work mates so would always refuse to socialise with them and now I'm out of the loop.

I've ridden horses for many years and have made some good friends through this but gave my horse up recently and therefore no longer have the regular interaction with these people who I used to see almost every day.

When I had my daughter we went to loads of toddler classes but I was again never quite in the loop and never invited to play dates etc. I met some nice mummies at the local toddler group but had to go back to work full time so don't see them any more and everyone is so busy with their own familes at the weekend.

I feel that it's a combination of bad timing and my own social awkwardness that has caused all of this and I'd love to have a close friend but also recognise that maintaining friendships is much harder when you have kids. Just before I had my daughter I also moved 35 miles away from where I grew up so don't really know anyone out this way making it even harder.

I guess this post is partly to vent but also to look for ideas of how to fix this? I do reach out to those friends that i do have but often they cancel on me or dont' get back to me for ages - it makes me feel like they aren't that bothered and they never, ever instigate things.

I'm not the nicest person in the world - I'm not bubbly, I'm a bit sarcastic (more than once I've been compared to Miranda from SITC). I don't want people around me all the time or to be constantly texting/on the phone as I do like my own space. But I'm not a nasty person, I don't really gossip, I like to try and help people if I can - it frustrates me when I see people who I know to be 2 faced and nasty surrounded by friends sad

Help!!

UrsulaBirkin Sat 24-Sep-16 22:29:33

Firstly, Miranda from SITC is the best one, hands down, and I love a bit of wry humour in a friend so that is no bad thing.

I'm sorry you feel blue - it's hard maintaining friendships in general once you have children. I do have some friends that I have know since 18ish, but now that I have moved away to the next city along for work purposes I can see very clearly how it will work out and don't imagine that I will see them more than a few times a year. For, me I feel so busy with work and children, plus seeing family that I wouldn't have time to give many friendships the time they need.

Mummy group friends often don't survive going back to work. It's not you.

What I'm trying to say is that your situation, although the individual parts and experiences are unique to you, is not unusual. I was bullied at school too and I think it does alter you and affect your ability to connect. I don't always think or expect the best of people. Sadly.

Regarding perceived brush offs - people are busy and they are tired. It won't be you. An old work colleague was supposed to be coming round to my house for dinner tonight but cancelled at the last minute due to feeling unwell. I was relieved. I have to drag myself out sometimes - and when I do I'm glad, but really, a lot of us thirties or older with small children and full time jobs have enough problems just connecting with our husbands and getting on top of essential tasks, maybe doing a bit of reading etc at the weekend.

Sometimes I like to imagine that in my forties it will be back to being a social butterfly again!

Is it one close best friend that you are hankering for? Or just people to go out with?

It does sound like you have a lovely life, but no life is perfect. But ... if this is really important to you - then you may have to overcome your defensive wariness and get involved in a deeper way. This of course will involve some luck e.g. an acquaintance that you know and like who is going through a hard time may lend you an opportunity to 'be there'. You will need to make your mark on someone.

Pisssssedofff Sat 24-Sep-16 22:36:35

I think a lot of people appear to be living the dream and have lots of friends but the reality is we are all pretty wrapped up in our own bubbles tbh.
When your daughter goes to school make sure you attend every party and stick around for coffee, don't let the little one be too demanding and that'll be a good chance to make some life long friendsx

Packergator Sat 24-Sep-16 22:46:28

Honestly? Most of the time friends seem like a pain in the arse. I'm constantly listening to bitching and sniping from sisters/other relatives about their apparent 'friends'...I swear that 99% of it is just keeping up appearances.

I find it hard to make friends because I'm shit at small talk, also socially quite awkward (prone to 'over sharing' and completely tactless), am useless at pretending that I find someone interesting/amusing if I don't think that they are and I do have a very dry, often inappropriate sense of humour that I seem to share with approximately 2% of the population. I have made my peace with this though! I have 3-4 friends who live scattered across the country, we've known each other since Uni, we don't speak for years and still meet up and it's been like no time has passed. Quality, not quantity. Friendships are tiring! grin

kitkat321 Sat 24-Sep-16 22:49:45

Thanks both - Ursula - I agree, being bullied has a long term affect on how you connect with people. I always expect the worst of people because that's what I've experienced. I had people setting me up at school i.e. pretending to be my friend and then publicly humiliating me so I do find it hard to trust.

I think it's the one best friend I want - if I wanted to have a night out at the cinema or for dinner I have people I could call on - not many but one or two if I needed to. I'm jealous of those people who've had the same group of friend since childhood and I do think it's harder to make friends with people like that as their already have their social circle.

I think I just need the right opportunity to step up and try and start a new friendship at that level.

Pissedoff - definitely - I do try and get involved in things. I'm on the parents forum of my daughters nursery (despite not really having time for it) because I want to meet people and I wan't to ensure that my lack of friends doesn't affect my daughter and the friendships that she goes on to make. I worry about her missing out because of me!

Packergator Sat 24-Sep-16 22:57:30

Just want to say that your last point resonates with me; my son will most likely be an only child and I worry that my inability to form friendships will have a detrimental impact on him, ie. he won't be invited on 'play dates' shudder, etc. Definitely going to have to compromise my own comfort for his benefit!

kitkat321 Sat 24-Sep-16 23:03:44

Packergator - I think we might be the same person!

Like you, I struggle with small talk and I don't believe in pretending to be friends with people/intersted in then when I'm not. I'm not rude but I don't believe in leading people on - I'm quite selective and maybe I'm too selective.

Like you, I'll have to make more of an effort for my child's sake. Currently trying to convince OH to have another child to reduce the risk of them being lonely because of her socially awkward mother!!!

Packergator Sat 24-Sep-16 23:14:55

You're not too selective; you have standards! Nowt wrong with that. Never apologise for who you are.

I wish we could have another child, but circumstances just won't allow. Well, they would if we didn't mind living in poverty for the rest of our lives!

I think it doesn't help that I'm almost 40 and can't be arsed with playground popularity games. I'm very much 'what you see is what you get', without being a dick about it- people usually use that statement to vindicate an entire spectrum of heinous personality flaws- but it's so hard to identify kindred spirits on sight, isn't it? Fortunately my son seems to be very much the social diva so I'm relying on him making friends to allow me to insinuate myself to their parents. Although, the mother of one my son's 'friends' (he's only 1) said hello and introduced herself as we were leaving nursery last week. She was very well dressed, had lovely hair and a nice smile. I made a sound in the back of my throat approaching a 'retch' and flailed out of the door. I really don't help myself...confused

kitkat321 Sat 24-Sep-16 23:21:30

Ha - yip we are definately the same person.

I don't want to make people like me - I want them to like me for who I am and if they don't that's fine but please don't pretend to like me and then slag me off behind my back as I find that really difficult to deal with.

I've never fitted in with the other mums that well but I do try my best!! I'm far from that polished and perfect mum - I'm usually covered in snot (my daughters not mine) and dog hair so not the perfect advert for a yummy mummy!

bluesbaby Sun 25-Sep-16 00:22:23

I have very few friends too, and by chance and luck, I've somehow managed to make a very close lifelong friend who I happened to share early childhood memories with, too. It can happen!

I would say that if you really do want to connect with new people, you definitely have to work on being friendly and open to opportunities to connect. Generally, I have a very closed and private personality - I'm shy too which doesn't help - and I know, coupled with my sense of humour, I come across as more serious than I am, snobby, and above everyone else - that's what people assume when you're not typically friendly I'm afraid!
You don't have to change yourself - just recognise your body language and maybe insert yourself into more conversations and show an interest. You don't have to do small talk to do this. Although finding small talk that are you comfortable making does help.
I still don't have a large circle of friends but I do have a select few I can call on, including a few more casual friends who I met through the woman I first mentioned. I'd still like to make some more, because I've got room in my life for more since I stopped seeing some friends who just weren't great for me.

Italiangreyhound Sun 25-Sep-16 03:59:26

Kitkat I am sure you are perfectly nice and lovely but your past has made friendships hard for you. I will give you advice/thoughts, please feel free to ignore it. (Just so you know I've had anxiety and counselling for that, and that really helped)....
-Counselling may help you to put to rest some of the lasting impact of the bullying when you were younger (bullying is so terrible, and I am so sorry)
-I really think some assertiveness training would help you, it would help you see yourself as important in situations, so when people let you down (and it happens to us all) you can respond in a right way - it doesn't mean the friendship is over, but sometimes it just means we need to say we are unhappy about something.
-You several times mention old friends from the past, I'm over 50 now and I can honestly say I am not in regular contact with anyone I went to college with , let alone school! I get occasional emails from people I met in my past but all my friends are ones I made since moving here and being married, most since the birth of our daughter.
-my biggest source of friends has been NCT, Toddler groups, school and church (Bible study group for mums), all my close friends have kids our dd's age.
-Our friendships started out talking about nappies and sleepless nights but they changed - what led to the change was doing things with the mums regularly, like going for coffee or lunch or going for a walk with one other mum once a week, like a meal, pub trip out a few times a year. -People have moved and left the area but I have a core of about 10 or 11 really lovely female friends and one male friend. I would say if that number only ab are people I would call close friends, which is fine.

Italiangreyhound Sun 25-Sep-16 04:06:41

Kitkat, I do not think you need to be fake with friends but you do sometimes need to engage in small talk in the early days. Because that is how you 'grow' friendships, revealing bits about you and the inner you, as time goes by.

If someone meets me and I never reveal anything about me we will not develop a friendship. But if I tip my whole life out in front of them one day, then that's going to scare them off! So making and staying friends does involve some 'skill' and sometimes if we feel it is all pressurized then can make it harder, IMHO. I was very shy when younger and I often used to feel left out. I made a conscious decision when dd was a baby to stop worrying if I did not get to go to every thing that was happening.

If you have another baby, please do consider an anti-natal (like an NCT) course because these can be a great way of making new friends.

Our dd was an 'only' child until we adopted when she was 9. I did not want her to be lonely so made sure we invited lots friends over and, of course, this meant that the mums came too so it helped me make friends with the mums.

One thing that has struck me in what you say is this... "I struggle with small talk and I don't believe in pretending to be friends with people/interested in then when I'm not."

If you are not interested in them, why do you want to be friends with them?

I think you may need to take a step back and just think, this may become a friendship, it might even be a great freindship, and I won't know until I know a lot more about them. So just relax, and listen.

If you good listener, attentive, they will make the effort.

I am guessing you may be more introvert, and as you know this will mean conversations can be draining (I am an extrovert, so conversations are energizing for me), so be aware if you are doing stuff with others you will need down time or whatever and do not push yourself too hard.

Good luck. thanks

AristotlesTrousers Sun 25-Sep-16 06:55:01

Whereabouts do you live, OP? There may be MNers in your area!

kitkat321 Sun 25-Sep-16 21:32:54

Thanks for all the comments.

I definitely am an introvert and I do find it a it draining sometimes to keep in touch with people and I do have to force myself to do it - it's not something that comes naturally to me. My mother is the total opposite and can't spend more than 5 minutes on her own/without phoning or texting someone.

I think it's a good point that was made about being assertive - ironically at work I'm very assertive but when it comes to friendships I think I take everything too personally. When people cancel on me I take it to heart. I was supposed to meet a friend for a catch up on Monday, she cancelled last week and said she might be able to do Friday and would confirm and get back to me - I never heard a thing and this is not the first time she's done this. I'm not sure how to deal with this as I feel that chasing her up makes me look needy and maybe she geniuinely doesn't want to catch up? She'll say she was busy but believe me when I say her idea of busy is my idea of quiet and the fact that she can't squeeze me in suggests I'm not that important to her.

I did some birthing classes when I was pregnant but moved out of the area just before my dd was born and although I'm still in touch with the friends I made it's more just on facebook - we had a couple of catch ups initially but then because I'd moved a fair bit away I wasn't able to attend the baby classes with them - I did try but it was a nightmare driving that distance at rush hour! Then we all went back to work making it more difficult. One of my work colleagues is still in regular contact with her NCT group and it makes me sad that I've not got that.

Aristotles - I'm in renfrewshire, scotland. Would love to meet MN's in the area!

I've thought about joining my local running group although I always prefer to run alone (I absolutely cannot hold a conversation whilst running - I need all my attention just to focus on breathing!) - I might just have to bite the bullet and do it to try and connect with people.

Italiangreyhound Sun 25-Sep-16 21:39:35

Kitkat if you are bothered by your friend not confirming you could get in touch and ask what happened. Whether you offer to reschedule or not is up to you. You could say 'Did you just forget?' and if she says yes you could say that if she wants to catch up another time she can make arrangements when she knows what she is doing.

Join a running club, if you like, and just see what happens.

It partly sounds like you are trying to make friends to satisfy someone else (your mum?) rather than you. You say you are an introvert, maybe find a small pool of good friends, but be aware it takes time.

Please do try some counselling to get ride of any negatives from the past.

Good luck.

kitkat321 Sun 25-Sep-16 21:51:14

No definitely not doing it for anyone else and I don't want to be like me mum - that's not the type of person I am but I would like to find a couple of people I can call friends and really connect with.

I have some friends now that if I'm being brutally honest I keep as friends because I have so few and although they wouldn't be the type of person I'd pick to have as a friend I'm also aware that I do need to make more of an effort and be less pickly.

I'm in two minds as to what to do about my friend - when I had my dd I tried several times to make plans and every single time she said she'd get back to me/would suggest a time etc and never did. I finally managed to pin her down after months of trying. I suspect it's partly because she's very anti children and perhaps thinks that all I'll want to do is talk about my daughter but it's the absolute opposite - I want to catch up with her to get a break from the mummy stuff for a while.

I'm quite passive agressive so my natural instinct tells me to do nothing, wait for her to get in touch with me and when she doesn't take it to heart like I always do (I know I'm my own worst enemy).

Re the counselling - is this something I'd do via the NHS or private?

emsyj Sun 25-Sep-16 23:13:15

"I'm jealous of those people who've had the same group of friend since childhood and I do think it's harder to make friends with people like that as their already have their social circle."

I'm really curious as to what it is you're envious of here. In my experience, people who've had the same group of friends since childhood are pretty rare in my circle, and they tend to be people who've never moved away or had any life experience. People who've grown up in a small town and all gone to the same primary, same secondary, then got a job and stayed local - that type of thing. Otherwise people tend to naturally 'drift' as they grow up, move away and build their own lives. I have a few friends from school that I'm still in touch with, but I would only class one of them as a close friend. It's not a cohesive 'group' as such - although we do tend to all get together once a year at Christmas, as people who've moved away tend to be around visiting parents at that time of year. It's very much a 'small talk' conversation on the Christmas night out though - we aren't all super close.
I wonder if you perceive that other people's friendships are closer than they really are? I have lots of friends, but very few of them are people I would call on if I had a problem or an emergency. The one friend from school that I mentioned above, one friend from University who I only see about once a year but who I know would drop everything if I asked her to (and I would unhesitatingly do the same for her), maybe one friend who I met when I was 22 - maybe, I have actually called her at 1.30am with an emergency and she did come, but now we both have lots of kids and full time jobs and I would hesitate to dump on her at the moment. But that's it in terms of 'true friends'. I think the idea that a group of very close friends (like in the show 'Friends', for want of a better example) is 'normal' is very unrealistic. I know zero people (and I have a large social circle) who have lives like that, where they have a group of very close friends that they've known since childhood. Most people I know have a handful of close friends who they've picked up at various points of life (generally a disparate collection of individuals rather than a cohesive group), plus a wider circle of 'social' friends who they'd go out for a night with but conversation would be lighthearted, plus a wider circle of 'acquaintance' they'd stop to chat to in the street and who possibly feature in other social engagements (e.g. you'd go to a party held by a 'social friend' and they'd be there and you'd socialise with them there) but wouldn't actively pursue individual social contact with. What is it you hope to get from your friendships? If you can pin that down, it might make it easier to work out how to get there.

Italiangreyhound Mon 26-Sep-16 08:27:50

kikat 're counselling, if it is effecting your mental health (depression, anxiety etc) try GP for NHS referral. If not, go private.

I only asked if you were doing it for some other reason because you seem not to like some of your friends but you have kind of explained that you have few and so want to keep even not so great friends.

IMHO I would leave this friend to contact you. Could it be she wants kids and has fertility issues you do not know about/is single and wants to be with a partner?

The best way to get a good friend is to be a good friend. Really help when people need you, really care about what is going on in their lives, really listen, but also have really good fun days or nights out.

It is very like any relationship, you get out what you put in (hopefully).

BUT it must be reciprocal, if you end up doing all the helping, all the listening, it is not a real friendship.

Good luck. smile

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