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The old no-friends chestnut...

(37 Posts)
specialsmasher Tue 16-Aug-11 06:57:10

I’ve been feeling so unhappy lately that I thought I’d look for some reassurance on here. For a variety of reasons I seem to have arrived at the age of 40 with no proper friends – by which I mean people who straightforwardly like me; who phone up; who want to spend time with me; who I feel relaxed and happy with. I can’t even imagine how it would feel to have a really good group of friends. I desperately envy people who do have this.

I missed various chances – without realising how catastrophic it would be to my life & well-being – to make and maintain friendships. I didn’t really get, along the way, that these were important times (university, for example) and that I would not get endless chances to meet people in a way that was likely to be lasting. Worse, I messed up many friendships that I did have – hard to explain why or how - but various people who might have been lasting friends have been lost along the wayside.

Since having children, I have made one or two friends, and was really happy to have met one particular friend who seemed to like me and we had a laugh together. She has tons of friends though, and things have petered off over the last couple of years – it’s me who suggests meeting up, and although she often agrees I would like her to text occasionally so that I feel like she really would like to have my company.

The worst thing for me is that my self-esteem has taken such a battering because of this that I’m worried that I will not be able to be a friend anyway - who wants an insecure slightly desperate new friend? I feel like this doesn’t match my actual personality, but it is an insidious change which I battle off but which is tiring.

I’m worried that my relationship with my dh will suffer. I wish I could just get on with enjoying him and my dcs, and just not worry about the other stuff but my brain relentlessly thinks about how few people actually give a toss where I am, how I am, or what I do, that it’s exhausting.

I tried the toddler group approach, and I’m on a committee for my dd’s school -I try to stay positive and get ‘out there’
I posted on here a couple of years ago about this, so apologies if this rings bells! As you can see, it’s no better.

Thanks for reading – I’ll check later if anyone responds – got to look after dcs now!

Although my dh knows, I can’t bring myself to say to him how unhappy I feel – it wrenched at my stomach all day yesterday but I didn’t say anything, asI feel so humiliated & I can’t bear for him to pity me.

specialsmasher Tue 16-Aug-11 07:59:49

I may just give this one more try through active - though it was a little therapeutic simply to write it down.

LittleHousebytheRiver Tue 16-Aug-11 08:06:06

Hi special
I remember your post about this before and am sorry you are still struggling. It is hard for you to move forward when you are unhappy because it gets in the way of your friend-making.

There are parallels with people who are desperate to find a boyfriend or girlfriend. I think we need to feel good about ourselves and like ourselves before we become attractive to others. So working on self esteem and focussing on activities that make you feel good are the way forward.

I think friend making has to be a constant process through out life. I find new friends, some stick and some don't. Some move away or I move and a high proportion were just "situational" friends and don't travel. And some I try to be closer friends with and they don't want to know!

Also I found when my marriage broke down that several of my friends shied away in case it was catching! But others came forward because they identified with how I was feeling. And they have been a life line.

Would it help to look around and see who might be going through tough times and need a listening ear? who you could be a help to? Whose kids you could offer to entertain so they can go to outpatients, the solicitor or whatever?

Practise on us, we can be your virtual friends and give you feedback on how you are doing!

itwasthat Tue 16-Aug-11 08:08:11

i didnt want to leave this unanswered but have you considered that there are loads of people in the same position as you. i get from your post that you are racking your brain with this idea that you have no close friends. if you ever peruse this forum quite often people will start with my dh and i have very few close friends and never go out, ive read that so often on here! i actually think its very common to lose touch, esp as women as the focus becomes husbands and children. i think in order to deal with this you need a change of mindset, because as you say even if you made a new friend tomorrow i do think they take years to cultivate! because everyones homelife is busy too, why do you think you are focussing on it so much? are you unfulfilled in other areas of your life? or do you genuinely feel lonely on the whole? do you get much spare time?

specialsmasher Tue 16-Aug-11 08:11:55

Really kind of you to respond, littlehouse. All you say makes sense - I need to focus outwards...

duckymum Tue 16-Aug-11 08:14:17

I'm no help really, but just wanted you to know you're not the only one in this situation. I feel like this a lot.
I think I somehow don't "get" the little social niceties, so people may think I'm a bit odd. I'm quite happy on my own a lot of the time - then I remember what I'm missing out on. DH makes loads of friends through playing sport, but that is not my thing at all!
I don't want to hijack your thread with my tales of woe, just let you know there are more of us. Keep on being out there and I hope you click with some people soon.

specialsmasher Tue 16-Aug-11 08:15:35

I know there are lots of people in my position - and I'm happy to focus on my family and not see people frequently otherwise - it's just the knowledge that they aren't there - the old friends which people have - which I find upsetting - it doesn't seem possible to change this. You're right - I need to feel happier with it or just ignore it and get on with other stuff as it's how I feel that's the problem!

specialsmasher Tue 16-Aug-11 08:17:07

Feel free to hijack! It does help that I'm not the only one - it does seem straightforward for sport-loving men! My dh has golf buddies who easily become beer buddies it seems.

TartanKitty Tue 16-Aug-11 08:23:48

I'm sorry I don't have any advice, but am in the same situation as you. I'm 27 and basically don't go out because I don't have any friends at all. I have a new baby so thought i'f throw myself into various groups and make loads of mum pals, but the reality is that after the hour or two having coffee/walking in the park etc it ends and I'm left feeling ever more lonely. I struggle to put myself 'out there' as I am terrified of rejection. Like you, it is probably a self esteem / self worth issue. Reading your post made me think maybe it is more common than many of us think. That doesn't help much though, sorry. Hope someone comes along with a flawless formula for making and keeping friends. I'll be watching with interest.

itwasthat Tue 16-Aug-11 08:26:10

i think men have different friendships though, they may laugh raucously with each other but they may not then see each other for months. i guess what im saying is that theyre not emotionally dependant upon them.

i agree you cant change the fact that you dont have old friends around, are you on facebook? why dont you try reconnect with old school buddies. though beware you may just get a few emails and it dries up! but thats life people are busy. do you have school reunions?

one thing you have some element of control over is making new friends, but if you feel miserable or unhappy chances are you wont make any. its a bit like when youre actively seeking a bf/ partner and nothing, yet once you stop looking they suddenly appear in droves! there is no easy answer to this but you are not alone in feeling this way. the best thing to do is focus on the positives you have and not dwell on what you dont have ... easier said than done but see if it makes a difference

lilolilmanchester Tue 16-Aug-11 08:27:45

sorry you're feeling like this - it is really hard to find new friends as an adult, I think. Are you in the UK? If so, have you tried posting in relevant Mumsnet local? People might have some ideas of things you could go to locally with or without the children to try to meet new people?

ChitChattingaway Tue 16-Aug-11 08:35:19

specialmasher - that sounds just like me! Add to all of that moving countries and I now only have a few acquaintances. But I am trying REALLY hard to put a lot of effort into developing friendships at the moment. It's hard, because I just not naturally very good at it, but I have found a few women who I really like and who seem to like me and I'm determined not to lose them as friends by accident!!!!

specialsmasher Tue 16-Aug-11 08:42:24

That sounds brilliant chit - I really hope it works for you - you sound cheerful! I worked abroad as well - you don't realise at the time what you are giving up potentially by not being around, do you...

LittleHousebytheRiver Tue 16-Aug-11 08:52:43

You sound as though you are looking backwards quite a lot and regretting past choices. While it may help you avoid making the same mistakes again, it is pointless to dwell on thing you cannot alter.

How about resolving to chat to one new person every day, and maybe try to ask one person to meet/do something with DC etc? Even if half fall flat you will move forward.

specialsmasher Tue 16-Aug-11 09:37:53

You're right I'm feeling very regretful at the moment, Little, and also right that this isn't always helpful. Today I'm going to try & give myself a rest from the dwelling...

CailinDana Tue 16-Aug-11 11:46:02

I seem to make friends easily so perhaps I can offer some help. I think the best way to go about it is when you first meet someone consciously try not to worry "Do they like me, is what I'm saying ok, etc etc etc" and just force yourself to relax (not easy I know). People feel at ease and secure around confident people. I'm not particularly confident but I do well at appearing confident to begin with until I know a person well enough to let them in so to speak. I know it sounds false but it's not really it's just a tactic to get over that awkward period until a friendship becomes more solid. Ask a person questions about themself, friendly questions that aren't too intrusive, and be sure to ask opinions, as people like to feel what they think is important. It can be very interesting to just listen to someone and give them free rein on what to say. Nod and smile, ,make mmm noises as they speak, react to what they say in an appropriate way (ie if they say "Can you imagine!" respond with clear surprise) make them feel listened to and they will warm to you very quickly.

Here's the warning. If the person witters on endlessly about themselves and doesn't ask any questions at all, strike them off the list for possible friendship. A person worth knowing will happily respond to your questions and they will also bat the questions back to you. If the person goes a step further and asks other questions that you haven't asked then that's a very good sign. Give a person a few different meetings to start asking questions and if they haven't done it by then, hang back and see if they get the message. If they don't start talking by then they either aren't interested or they're not good friendship material. No loss, you tried, move on.

If a person does warm up to you try to move the friendship on by inviting them to coffee or to your house for lunch. Make is casual and make it so that they can leave if they feel like it. Let them know in subtle ways that you like spending time with them and that you'd like to do it again. Remember most people are just as worried as you are about what people think of them and they need reassurance just as much as you do.

Is that helpful at all?

LucyRaggyDoll Tue 16-Aug-11 11:58:23

I think that people often have a "Hollywood" impression of friendships. We expect that everyone else is in a group of friends like Sex and the City or Friends. And actually the reality is very different!!

Self esteem is so important, and if you have the idea that everyone else has something you don't, then it can make you appear bitter or negative. Which isn't attractive.

As someone else said, friends vary with different times and different circumstances. I'm friends with my colleagues at work, but that friendship is due to work - and wouldn't convert easily to home life. And that's ok.

And definitely give yourself time to develop the friendships. Don't go all hot and heavy, expecting that is what friends do!! smile People are busy - so allow them time to fit you into their lives.

But I guess my real point is to try and be realistic. All is not always what it seems! Value the things you have with your DH and DC and love yourself. Others will surely come to love that too.

didyouseewhatshedid Tue 16-Aug-11 12:01:32

ah, specialsmasher, friends are overrrated I reckon. Provided you have your family, you are okay in my book. FWIW, I have had hardly any proper friends since I moved to where I live now from another part of the country. If you are that bothered, hobbies are usually the way forward. Bit of an obvious suggestion, I know.,

LucyRaggyDoll Tue 16-Aug-11 12:02:22

Good point CailinDana about asking questions. I was thinking about my SIL who often complains she is lonely and has no friends. She stayed with me and my DH for a week and didn't once ask anything about us! So we asked lots of things of her, but it turned into a monologe moan. Which of course made us want to avoid her and understood why maybe she didn't have the friends she wanted!!!

Not that this is especially applicable to the OP, of course. smile But a good reminder to listen and ask about the other person.

messymammy Tue 16-Aug-11 12:08:41

OP I can sympathise, infact, I bet there are far more than you would expect who are feeling similarly. See here for a whole thread about how lots of people are lonely and yet very few talk about it smile

waitingfornaru Tue 16-Aug-11 13:02:56

I'm 42, lone parent with two very young children. I haven't had a single female friend since secondary school.

In fact, I haven't had a single female friend throughout my adult life. blush

I have been in 3 long-term relationships and my partner tended also to be my best friend, so never had need for anyone else.

I gravitate towards men though as friends as my interests are less shoes and more wingnuts kind of thing, but even now two years after moving into a village, I don't have a single friend.

Not one. Not a sossidge! There is no-one. I've tried toddler groups and talking at the school gates, everything.

I'm fairly shy and have a recent relationship history which has battered my self-esteem though so when chatting to someone new, all I'm thinking is, 'Can they tell? Does it show, what happened to me?' No doubt they can see that in my eyes and back off. sad I give in to cold sweats when talking to anyone new, I'm that concerned they'll think I'm too odd.

Having said that, I'm currently emailing a woman who's planning to move into my village in the next few months, met via a random post I put on 'the other mum's site', she sounds pretty kooky and has a similar past, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

I know none of this helps, but I'm prepared to admit I don't have a single friend, so perhaps I'm not the only one that doesn't hmm

(I probably am!)

Hardgoing Tue 16-Aug-11 13:30:48

Sorry you feel like this, it must be horrible. However I agree with the person who says that you might have a bit of an idealistic 'Friends' version of what friendships are like which is not that close to the reality. Unlike you, I have always seized the opportunity to make friends at university, at work, everywhere (not hundreds, just one or two good friends in the different places I have worked). However, despite this, I have still found myself lonely at times recently (early 40's), and I certainly call people more than they call me. I have come to the conclusion that when friends have little children/their own lives, that if you get the chance to connect, great, but that this may be more infrequent, you may not be their top priority any more, and that this ebbing and flowing is just part of life. You may move back somewhere, or get more time, and pick up an old friendship. Expecting too much, and too much closeness, can sometimes just not work with our busy lives and people end up losing friends over this when actually, the friendship may be fine later on.

If your friend always wants to go out with you, then keep calling/texting. Some people hardly ever call you but are delighted when you call. Keeping open to new friendships is also a good idea. But, TBH, you are the top priority for your own immediate family and although friends are lovely to have, you probably won't be their top priority all the time. I do have one great friend who I speak with reasonably often, but some of the others we really go 6-12 months without speaking, but when we do have a phone call or going out, it's like that time never passed and we have a great time.

I think if you are genuinely upset and crying over this, this is a shame, as you do have a couple of friends and are in groups like the school one, and this suggests to me you actually feel quite low in general and are fixating on this.

HPonEverything Tue 16-Aug-11 14:46:38

Hi, I just wanted to reassure you that you're not alone - I'm in exactly the same boat as you for pretty much exactly the same reasons, and it makes me sad every single day.

I failed to make any lifelong friends at school or uni. I now live hundreds of miles from 'home' and work in a 99% male environment. I have friends who are male but it's just not the same thing. I could've written waitingfornaru's post myself.

As others have said, I feel I also have an idealised view of friendship, and perhaps those who appear to have many friends, aren't actually as close to them as I would ideally expect from a friendship. I also have very poor self esteem and assume people would not want to be my friend, that I'm not worthy, and so I hold off from people in case they think I am too pushy, and that probably comes across as me being unfriendly but really I'm just misunderstood. I'm stuck in a bit of a vicious circle really sad Really I need to make a lot more effort to get out there - join a sports team or orchestra or something - but where I live it is not easy.

I'm pinning a lot of hopes on my impending DC1 as a way of meeting people, but I'll be pleasantly shocked if I find a real true friend because I never have in the past. I think I am at severe risk of PND as I'm so isolated, and have always lived to work in the past. Without work, and with no friends, I'm scared. At the moment I literally have not one person I could call on if I needed someone. If I go into labour whilst DH is away on business I will have to give birth alone, the MW doesn't seem to believe that I don't have a single other person.

I feel for you, and I'm so glad you posted because reading your post and all the replies have made me feel much less alone with this.

specialsmasher Tue 16-Aug-11 15:05:02

THanks for the tips Cailin - thoughtful of you to write them - I do think it's good to remember to listen rather than to worry about how you come across the whole time. It's also very reassuring to know that I'm not the only one who feels like this (neither are you, Waiting!)

I'm grateful for the kind words, the words of sense, and also the occasional gentle shake which I have had on here! A lot of wisdom on here and I will listen to it.

specialsmasher Tue 16-Aug-11 15:08:02

You're certainly not alone either, HP, and having a child IS a good way of meeting people - the couple of friends I have are through having DC. Congratulations on your coming baby! Actually, there is a choir near me which I was thinking of joining - young baby who doesn't go down easily in the evenings is putting me off at the moment, but I may pursue the idea...

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