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Friendship Problems

(17 Posts)
FaultLines Thu 16-Jun-11 19:00:57

I seem to have lost the knack of making friends and am becoming increasingly lonely, frustrated and bitter.
Years ago (pre-children) life was a social whirl, but then most of the old crowd moved away and we’ve struggled to retain friendships with the ones left behind and failed to make proper friendships with the new people we’ve met. Life is increasingly lonely for me since we had children – as the company of my husband and children just isn’t enough for me. I am naturally shy but have overcome this as an adult, and had several close friends and a wider circle of less close friends in my twenties. I don’t struggle with the basic social skills, but somehow now friendships never go beyond the level of acquaintance. I do what I think are the obvious things to make/retain friends – arrange nights out for groups, have occasional parties, invite couples round to dinner/barbeque and visit the cinema/bars with other mums. But then the friends never invite me/us back. This is at first hurtful and then ultimately I get bitter and resentful as I see they are not reciprocating my friendship. Often, I’ll go out with a group of friends and they are all talking about the things they have done with other couples or other individuals from the group since we last met and I wonder why this degree of closeness no longer happens for me.
I don’t know what to do about this, as friends have always been important to me. Now I see myself skimming the surface of friendships, never making strong connections and wonder where I am going wrong. The friends we used to be close to have moved on, but we haven’t – and there seems to be no real space for us in the lives of the people we meet in our lives now. It makes me so sad, as I love to be in the company of friends.

Have others got similar experiences?

crispyseaweed Thu 16-Jun-11 20:21:30

Yes I have. The mums at my DS's (10yrs old) school are mostly unfriendly and DS never gets invited round, although he has many friends in school and is popular. I also have never been invited for coffee besides inviting several mums to me for coffee. I have had one group invite and went and its was nice but thats it.
When my older 2 children (who are now grown up) were small we lived in London and life was a busy social round.
It gets me down a bit, but in the end i just think "Blow it!"
I am a nice person, outgoing, friendly and caring so not sure here either why my social life is dull. I am a SAHM so not with adults working all day ;
maybe that is why?
I would love to have a friend or two who just pops round for a coffee , or a girlfriend i could go round to for a chat whenever i felt like it. I have been living back here in my home town for 2 yrs now. I do have one good friend I have known for years, but the other few I know are just not that friendly at all. I have tried to make the effort but they just arnt interested.
Where do you live Faultlines ?

FaultLines Thu 16-Jun-11 21:26:49

Thanks for the response, crsispyseaweed. Your experince sounds very similar. Interesting that you say 'I am a nice person, outgoing, friendly and caring', as that indicates you still have good self-esteem despite it all, which is great. I'm at the stage where I'm convinced I have some serious personality flaw!

Unlike you I'm not a SAHM, I work long hours- and I know that not being at the school gate hinders things - but that is only part of it. I really struggle to 'fit in' somehow and would love a close friend nearby.

strawberryjelly Thu 16-Jun-11 21:32:55

I used to feel like that and thenyears later when i started making friends at places apart from the school gate, I realsied where I had been going wrong.
The first was that it was not all my fault! it takes 2 to make friends so if they are not making an effort either, maybe it's just not meant to be.
Maybe you simply have not met anyone you really click with?

The other point is that your post seems to say you always do things as a group- with lots of women. do you know if they pair off or are friends outside that group? Maybe they aren't and don't want or need any more close friends.

One more thing- I realise now I used to wait for a potential friend to make the first move- I was hesitant about taking it further by suggesting a 1:1 coffee or a lunch or whatever- in case of rejection. are you doing this maybe?

My new friends have come from the usual situations- neighbours, people I meet through work ( I am self employed and work from home but do have some contacts), and even online forums, connected with my work.

Could you find other ways of meeting people and maybe making the first move a bit more?

I've also learned, and learned to accept, that friends come and go- over the past few years I must have lost about 4 "close-ish" friends whose lives have just moved on- ex coleagues from years ago, etc etc, but they have been replaced with new people.

I only have about 3 really close friends- one lives next door and the other 2 an hour- 2 horus away so don't meet that often.

Just keep trying and don't get too down as it's amazing how friends suddenly pop up from nowhere.

FaultLines Fri 17-Jun-11 09:20:16

strawberry jelly - thanks, you make some interesting points. Yes, I think I do avoid making the first move sometimes, as I fear rejection - but, this is based on the bitter experience of rejection. The hardest thing I find is the old friends who we were once closest to, who we still see in social situations (such as school fetes) who don't have time for us anymore. If we'd fallen out with them I'd understand it, but we don't fall out, they just stop returning our invitations.

Also, tomorrow for instance I'm out with a big group of mums who I've known for years. Within that group there are smaller groups who go round to each other’s houses for coffee, or even go on holidays together with the families - but who, despite my better efforts, have never developed that closer bond with me. I try to smile and join in, but underneath I find it hurtful and am also embarrassed that I seem to be the only person in that group who is not in a closer friendship with any of them.

crispyseaweed Fri 17-Jun-11 13:18:42

The only mum at the school I am really friendly with , and who agrees that the rest of the mums are most unfriendly , has just invited me to the school summer party...
We (boyfrnd and I) wernt going to go as its £50 for 2 of us, but I think i really want to go now as its will be good to make new friends there.

Flowerduet Fri 17-Jun-11 15:39:12

In my experience if you stop "trying too hard" then things happen. I too used to worry about these kinds of things then I got used to doing my own thing with dc and suddenly invites started to come. Friendships are funny things, they wax and wane.
Also agree about finding friends from other areas of life. Just because two women happen to have children doesn't mean they'll "click".

Stop worrying, get on enjoying life, invite/spend time with who you like without worrying about reciprocation.

FaultLines Fri 17-Jun-11 15:53:32

Ok......i'll try to stop worrying! It's just that it feels like it's a cycle that's hard to get out of. And I can see it repeating itself with my DD (but that's another story).

letsgetloud Fri 17-Jun-11 21:38:00

I know how you feel. I am also naturally shy but feel I have overcome it to a certain extent. I try my best to make conversation and can usually keep the small talk going etc.

I have been attending a toddler group two mornings a week for over a year. Dd3 has made one little friend and I am friendly enough with her mother when there, but doesn't really extend to outside toddlers.

The other day I heard two women who have been attending for 6 months or so, didn't know each other before they started at the group, arranging to meet up over the summer holidays. I was hurt as I talk to these ladies twice a week for months but they obviously didn't want my company.

I am a SAHM and only really have the company of my children and husband and like you it is just not enough. I do feel isolated and lonely. I have became quite chatty with dd2's friends mum and we have met with kids in the park etc. She only lives round the corner but doesn't seem to want the popping in and out for tea scenario.

I too understand I won't click with everyone who has a child but I had hoped to have clicked with a few more than I have done.

I really hope you manage to get through the outskirts.

cupofteaplease Fri 17-Jun-11 21:50:13

Wow, I could have written your OP!

I am very lonely at the moment. I used to have loads of friends, but since moving my dd's school I no longer see the old friends (they all still meet up, I read about it on Facebook, but I am not included in the event invitations etc), and I haven't been accepted by the new village crew. Dd moved school in October and I still haven't been invited for coffee by anyone. In fact, I'm largely ignored at the school gate. Luckily I only have to do the drop off/pick up twice per week now, as it really gets me down.

I'm worried about going on maternity leave in October as I won't even have my work colleagues to talk to- I'm scared about the loneliness. It doesn't help that my dh works very long and unusual hours so I am alone every evening too.

I used to have lots of friends, so I know I'm not a bad person. I just don't know where it all went wrong. <sigh>

letsgetloud Fri 17-Jun-11 22:16:49

Faultlines - yep I see it repeating itself with my dd2 too.

cupoftea. Dd1 changed school a year ago too but I have never been invited for a tea or a coffee. I suppose I need to just face the fear and be the one that invites.

crispyseaweed Sat 18-Jun-11 19:57:59

We should all get together..... but I imagine we are all at opposite ends of the UK?
I am in Wilsthire....

FaultLines Mon 20-Jun-11 11:58:01

Yes, I'm up North - not very handy for a get-together!

The comment CupofTeaPlease made really struck a chord: i.e.I am very lonely at the moment. I used to have loads of friends, but since moving my dd's school I no longer see the old friends (they all still meet up, I read about it on Facebook, but I am not included in the event invitations etc). I've found this, too - looking on Facebook doesn't help at all! I've tried to ignore it more recently, as I find my mood always dips after I see old friends meeting up through it.

Strangely enough, it helps to see that other people (you guys) are having the same issues, even though it won't solve the underlying problem, of course.

baytree Mon 20-Jun-11 14:34:41

Here is something from a conversation the other day which I hope may strike a chord. I have got to know I great American woman who has moved back here to her Hs homeland to work with him on a leisure business. She is outgoing friendly interesting and fun. Her youngest son needed to finish his last 3 years of education so he is at the international school.
Yesterday she described to me how difficult it can be to make friends in this school social circle and that she has met only one friend and has come home from "events" crying her eyes out.
And this is from a confident woman. Basically I think if you tick the right boxes in the other persons frame of mind then they make the effort. This is even more ruthlessly carried out in this sort of international setting, where people make friends and move on fairly quickly. It's not about the individual being right or wrong (right or wrong boxes) but subconsciously are they choosing on the basis of are they the "right profile" for them.
Things to try: set up a walking group, book club, something different from invites for coffee or lunch.

lexp72 Mon 20-Jun-11 17:17:17

This could be my post! my relationship is also very rocky and we are thinking of splitting but feel I have no one to talk about things with anymore. Like you i am fine at the aquaintance stage and then things never get any further I have drifted from old friends since I had my daughter 2 years ago and am a SAHM too so very lonely. In my case I think it's partly my fault as I never felt at home here, got depressed and retreated from people. Worrying about my daughter turning 2 soon as I have no one to invite to a party!

lonelywoman Mon 20-Jun-11 21:21:33

FaultLines, I could also have written your post - moved to the UK more than 10 years ago and in ALL that time haven't made a single deep friendship connection with anyone!

I have made a lot of effort, I work part time so have met so many potential friends both at work and at the school gates. I have arranged lots of outings, asked loads of people over for a coffee. It's all perfectly nice....but remains at an acquaintance level, never develops into anything deeper.

The loneliness is excruciating, to the point where I recently emailed my family this article: to describe how I was feeling (though obviously not the living alone socially isolated part).

I feel so lonely. It has become part of me.

I am ashamed of feeling so needy so I remain the confident smiling mum in the school drive and colleague in the office, I would never discuss this with anyone outside of my family and old friends, spread far and wide across the globe.

For a while I drove myself mad wondering if there was something wrong with me then I reminded myself that I used to make close friendships so much more easily and; for all my faults, they seemed to connect with me no problem.

I also reassured myself that it wasn't just a case of old friends all from home country vs British friends in new old friends come in all shapes and sizes from different parts of the world.

I still obviously visit, phone and skype my friends far away as much as we can..........but the lack of anyone to talk to face to face is a deep hole in my daily life, it really is.

I don't beat myself up about it anymore, I just accept it now and have no expectation of making any close friends. I'm just really really sad that my life has turned out this way because my female friends are so important to me, my long distance circle and DH are all brilliant.........but; what I wouldn't give for a handful of close friends who phone up or pop around for no reason other than because they love talking to me!

Technoprisoners Tue 21-Jun-11 11:41:03

There's a lot of similarities between the posters on here, myself incuded. I had l quite a few good friends and an active social life pre-dc. It was largely work-related but still relevant. Now, after 9 years of being a SAHM, there is no-one I could have a heart-to-heart chat with or just hang out and enjoy company. That Guardian article is really depressing, and strikes such a chord. It's the erosion of confidence in yourself which is the killer - loneliness does change your personality and make you have less to say/have fewer ideas about stuff etc. I am not shy: I know how to make small talk and be polite and acknowledge people but I feel denied anything beyond that. Usually, I'm busy enough not to notice or worry too much - I hae 3 dcs and a busy home life; but it is there, nagging away in the background, eroding the person I used to be.

Maybe we could think of ways to give each other step-by-step confidence boosts? Little tricks or tasks to help us exercise our social muscles? Like some positive affirmations, or striking up a conversation with a stranger this week, not with friendship as the ultimate agenda, but just to change our mindset?

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