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Trouble with single, childless friend who just doesn't 'get it'!

(18 Posts)
ghosty Tue 29-Mar-05 03:36:53

I am having a bit of bother with a friend of mine. I met her 3 years ago when I first moved to New Zealand with DH and DS.
She is the same age as me and we get on really well most of the time as we have very common interests etc etc. Bizarrely we lived in the same town in Holland at the same time when we were children ... she is half dutch, half kiwi.
Anyway, recently we have sort of fallen out. I say sort of because I don't tend to fall out with people but she has fallen out with me. She says that I am being crap at listening to her problems (she is going through a rough time at the moment, break up with boyfriend, issues with her past, body clock ticking and wanting a husband and baby etc).
The problem is is that she doesn't understand that I just can't drop everything at the drop of a hat to see her and she just doesn't get it. I try really hard to make arrangements to see her but she doesn't want to spend her free time with children (she is a nanny and spends all her time with kids when she is working) and doesn't understand that I can't go out every Saturday shopping and drinking coffee etc and leave the children with DH ... I would love to but I do need to (and want to) have quality time with my DH and children as a family. She gets pissed off when I can't talk to her on the phone when I am busy doing dinner/bath/bedtime things.
This weekend she had a huge tantrum and sent me 4 massive emails telling me how crap I was as a friend .... .
I have tried to explain to her that what I want comes last in a long list of things and that my children and time with my husband (who works long hours) have to come first ... she just says that is a cop out and that I am rubbing her nose in it because all she wants is 'a loving spouse and children' like me and I have nothing to complain about.
She is doing my head in ....
Any words of wisdom???
Have never had this kind of tirade from any of my friends before ... admittedly all my friends have kids so everyone understands what family life is like ...
How can I help her and how can I help her understand that it is nothing personal that I can't see/speak to her every hour of every day???

bobbybob Tue 29-Mar-05 03:41:45

Is she depressed?

I would consider what would happen if she meets a new guy, gets married, gets pregnant has her own children. If you suspect that you wouldn't see her for dust then ultimately it's not a loss.

I only occassionally see my childless friends because THEY are too busy. I think she needs to get used to her own company a bit more.

suzywong Tue 29-Mar-05 03:44:03

hi Ghosty, just finished lunch?

Well if she doesn't want to spend free time with children then that's just too bad, cos I doubt you want to spend your (minutes) of free time with a moaner.

How very very very rude and self-centred to get pissed off with you because you can't talk on the phone at bathtime. In my house when I hear the phone go anytime between 6.30 and 8 I just -know- it's someone who doesn't have kids.

She sounds very unpleasant, if you want my opinion, what the hell does she want you do do for her? II'm not sure you can help her tbh as she doesn't sound like she wants to do anything else but wallow, I mean you can't give her a child or a man.

haven't exprienced this personally but I've heard about it a lot, single childless women accusing easy going but hands-ful married mother friends of rubbing their noses in it.

I think in these circumstances there is no more powerful medium than the old handwritten letter. Get her a nice card and a bottle of wine or chocs or some sperm or something and just write that last sentence in it

I'm very harsh but fair

ghosty Tue 29-Mar-05 03:44:47

She has been depressed bobbybob ... and I am trying to help her with it ...
Of course I know that I won't see her for dust once she does have that husband and baby that she craves but she doesn't see that.
At the moment I am at the verge of telling her to take a hike as I don't have the time nor energy to cope with a tantrumming 34 year old when I have a 5 year old and a 1 year old at home ... but it isn't in my nature to do that ...

ghosty Tue 29-Mar-05 03:48:03

@ suzy re. sperm!!!
Norty ...
Just waiting for DD to wake up from her nap actually
You are right, she is a pain in the ar$e right now ... and she does talk about herself and her problems all the time ... but she obviously needs to talk it over and I am happy to, just not at 5.30pm ....
She also had a go at me for never being at home ... um, so do I have to wait in for her to ring????

jabberwocky Tue 29-Mar-05 04:40:37

I had a therapist who said to me once, "There are seasons in every relationship". This is so true. If she can't be friend enough to understand your situation, how on earth can she expect you to drop everything and talk about hers? I hate confrontations so, tbh, in a situation like this I just tend to let it ride and not respond at all for a while. Gives everyone a chance to think things over and cool off for one thing. And then you get to see just how much (if any) that you miss having this person in your life.

eidsvold Tue 29-Mar-05 04:42:20

She really needs to get a grip - unfortunately she seems like the type who won't get it until she is in that position and then will be annoyed at her single friends for not making more of an effort to keep in touch with her. Sounds like she wants all the consideration etc all her way rather than understanding your position.

IT seems like you are dealing with another child by the sounds of it.... a huge tantrum and 4 massive emails - if she has the time for that she needs to get herself a hobby. It also sounds like she is jealous.... when you said she tells you that your priorities etc are a cop out and you should be lucky to have such a loving spouse....

perhaps you need to clarify that the complaint is not about family demands on your time but her demands....

Does she have no other friends - perhaps she has also driven then away with her demands on their time and friendship.

Perhaps you could refer her to a therapist - someone who will take the time - at her convenience albeit with an appointment to listen to her problems.... there is only so much you can listen to before it gets tired and old.....

I mean - where does she get off demanding your time and attention like that?!?!

So after that ramble - sympathies but I think she is selfish and self centred but am not sure how to make her get it....

bobbybob Tue 29-Mar-05 05:05:44

Ghosty, are you worried that you will lose her as a friend? Would that actually be quite nice? Is there a part of you that craves the peace and quiet that not having her in your life would bring?

Are you more worried about how you will look (to her, or yourself) if you allow the friendship to lapse?

A nanny that wants children, but doesn't want to spend time with your children - what kind of friend is that?

ghosty Tue 29-Mar-05 07:13:28

Bobbybob ... I am not 'worried' about losing her as a friend, if we go our different paths, then so be it ... that is life ... but I don't want to end a friendship on this type of note ... ie a row ...
And yes, the peace and quiet would be nice ... but not if it ends bitterly ... that never sits well with me, I tear myself up about that kind of thing. I prefer it if friendships end, for them to end naturally and quietly as if no-one noticed ... IYSWIM??
The peace of today has been lovely, she is pondering on my last mail where I told her I wasn't prepared to fall out over a difference of opinion and I would talk to her when she was prepared to be rational and not go into another tirade ...
I don't care how I would 'look' ... if the friendship ends, I am not like that ... but like I said, I would feel very uncomfortable if we ended the friendship on a sour note like this ... it just doesn't sit well with me. I mean, even if I have the tiniest little barney on MN (not that I have had many ... just a couple of teeny tiffs) I worry about it for days and I haven't even met anyone on MN (apart from you )
Just the person I am, I hate confrontation and I hate rows ... I do row with DH but we always sort it out, no sulks etc and we never go to bed not talking ... can't bear that, makes me feel sick.
She is a lovely girl really, we normally get on really well, but she is a bit needy and 'me, me, me' which I can cope with, but not at the moment when she is demanding so much of me and I really can't help her in getting what she wants. I have told her that she needs to get out and meet people, singles like her, that she won't find a man drinking coffee with knackered mums who wouldn't know a goodlooking bloke if he offered himself on a plate to her ... well, that is maybe a slight exaggeration, but you know what I mean ....

Chickyboo Tue 29-Mar-05 07:50:19

I feel really sorry for you ghosty. I have just become a new mum and find it very hard to keep up with friends. If she is your closest friend I'm sure she'll get over this depression and jealousy thing, maybe you'll fall out for a while but as long as you leave the option to pick up again, I'm sure you'll stay friends. She has to stop leaning on you so much, you have enough responsibilities. Alternatively, you could spend an afternoon with her and see if that satisfies her. Good luck

WideWebWitch Tue 29-Mar-05 07:58:06

Ghosty, it sounds like you did the right thing, you behaved like an adult, emailed her nicely. So you have to wait for her to come round I think and try not to worry about it. She does sound very selfish but I remember being a bit like that when I was single and childless, I just didn't get it. And it's probably weird for her (NOT excusing her btw) because not only do you have what she wants but as a result of that you can't give her what she wants, which is more attention from you. I had a friend like this and tbh we're not friends any more (not just this, other things too in my case) - I just couldn't handle the combination of jealousy and neediness. You are behaving like an adult, she's not. You can't do much more than that.

Freckle Tue 29-Mar-05 08:53:50

It does sound as though she is being selfish, but isn't that a symptom of depression? When your own problems seem so insurmountable that you couldn't see someone else's if it smacked you in the face?

I've been in the situation where all my friends were marrying and having babies and my biological clock was ticking ever more loudly. It's not an easy situation and sometimes it is difficult to see that the very fact that your friends are married with children changes their ability to be there for you.

Having said that, I don't think I ever behaved like a tantrumming 2 year old .

Your email sounds as though it should calm her down enough for her to see that her behaviour is rather demanding. Could you perhaps arrange a regular get-together at a time which suits both of you, either with or without children? If she knows she can have time with a friend where she can let off steam and talk through her problems, she might be less inclined to call at inopportune times and get p*ssed off when you can talk.

Jimjams Tue 29-Mar-05 08:54:43

I would send a calm email saying the things you have said, and then leave it. Finish it with something along the lines of you hope you can still stay friends as you value your friendship but you are unable to put her needs above those of your children so tough (but nicer than that). She sounds very childish.

Jimjams Tue 29-Mar-05 08:57:17

oh just reread your last mail. Sounds to me like you've done the right thing. And even if she is depressed- sorry but she still carries responsibility for her behaviour.

pixiefish Tue 29-Mar-05 09:03:02

ghosty- ignore her. She's not much of a friend to behave like that.

Before I met dh and then had dd some of my friends had already started on the family thing. I was single and knew that if i wanted to see them then I had to fit in with the kids (which i did) This involved helping them out sometimes (even if it was doing the washing up when I went round for a coffee)

(As an aside- Sad to say that when I met dh and had dd my friends changed and didn't realise that I couln't drop things at the touch of a hat. So I have had to move on. I still see them but not as often)

stitch Tue 29-Mar-05 09:10:17

well said jimjams, thats exactly what i was thinking

motherinferior Tue 29-Mar-05 09:17:36

There are several things going on here, I think. One is the fact she's in that position - I've been there too - where it's incredibly hard to realise that people who have the things you want - someone to love, and children - might find life difficult too; but the other is the fact that she sounds as if she'd be a v self-centred friend whatever your mutual circumstances. I used to have an absolute best friend like that, who wanted me to drop everything for her 24/7 - and then vanished out of my life when she found a new boyfriend and moved in with him. Whereas I have friends now who would, I think, love a partner and probably kids as well - but who are generosity itself towards me, and utterly understand the constraints on my life.

I'd actually explain that it's not just the kids - you have a life and needs too!

ghosty Tue 29-Mar-05 09:37:07

Thanks guys,
I just read through my last email to her to see if I could cut and paste it on here to show you what I said, but it is too long and deep so I think you would all get bored ... LOL
Basically what it said was that we need to think about what is going wrong and how we can fix it, and respect eachother's differences in our situations and be a bit more gentle with eachother .... I have outlined what I think her problems are and then talked about where I am coming from, in the hope that she can see and understand that I am not being crap, just busy being a wife and mother ....
Chickyboo, she isn't my closest friend ... my closest friend is someone who I grew up with and would die for ... but she is a friend who is going through a crap time at the moment and although if the friendship was to end I wouldn't be devastated, I do care for her and want her to be happy ....
You've all been really helpful ... if you really want to email I can post it but promise not to fall asleep!
G xxx

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