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How to support a single friend

(34 Posts)
MrsSpagBol Wed 08-May-13 19:06:47

Hello wise women of mumsnet, hope you can help.

Just looking for a bit of advice on how to support / advise a good friend. I feel not so much a lack of empathy but rather that we discuss the same issue over and over and I am running out of positive/uplifting things to say ( I am perhaps also preoccupied with semi imminent arrival of PFB).

That said, she is a good friend and don't want to be self absorbed; I want to be helpful and not dismissive.

Issue is that my friend is single, 30 and desperate to be married. This has been a recurring theme for the last say 7 or so years. I've always been quietly encouraging, sympathetic, empathetic, made (hopefully) helpful suggestions, etc etc but at the end of the day - she wants to get married and she wants to get married yesterday.

She is not dating anyone; no one suitable on the horizon. Meltdowns this year have increased in frequency - obviously turning 30 was horrendous (may not seem too old for some, but culturally was a significant milestone), then today received her ex-boyf's wedding invite and she burst into tears at work.

I desperately don't want to come across as smug married. But in her view, I have perfection (married, baby on the way). I've done the whole marriage does not equal life perfection, I am very open about how it's hard work, I have tried to say it's not the great fix all, suggested alternative life goals, a bucket list etc etc but the bottom line is that I can't change what she wants.

She is not jealous I don't think (well if she is she doesn't say it to me) and I've encouraged online dating, introduced her to the few single guys I or my husband know, but I am at a loss as to what to say now that is actually helpful. I have also spent hours and hours listening to her wedding plans, looking at dresses and rings and being an active particpant etc etc - trying to give it my fullest attention.

I just today, having received 35 (!) whatsapp messages in quick succession and having been on the phone for ages with her in tears, feel that I really can't think of anything else to say and I can't ignore all these messages.

What would you say or do?
What can you say that is not patronising?

Any suggestions welcome.

Chubfuddler Thu 09-May-13 21:39:01

Perhaps she should just marry someone who wants a visa. If all she wants is to play dressing up.

themidwife Thu 09-May-13 21:40:47

You sound a really nice person OP. she does not I'm afraid. There you are pregnant & needing to rest & prepare for your baby & she's draining every ounce of your energy in a really selfish way. You need to put yourself first for a little while & gently explain that you cannot say anything new apart from maybe that desperation is not attractive to men & they will run a mile unless she relaxes.

MrsSpagBol Thu 09-May-13 22:43:15

Hi Quintessential - no have never posted on this before lol! confused

Thanks all for the advice. Nite x

QuintessentialOHara Thu 09-May-13 22:46:58

I cant believe that there are two women out there who has planned their wedding to minute detail, without even dating..... confused

Either that, or your friend has another friend who is as frustrated as you!

Mumsyblouse Thu 09-May-13 23:09:27

I have a friend pretty much like this, not the same culture but not British culture in which being single over 30 is social death and everyone comments on it. So, I understand her desperation. BUT: I'm afraid I don't indulge her wedding fantasies, I say 'what'? And have given her a copy of 'He's just not that into you' because whatever some perhaps more balanced people think about being open to women going after men, she is completely unable to read the signals of disinterest and does very inappropriate things even (and especially) when the guy is starting to back off. Oh, and she would marry literally any man that asked her but also has very unrealistic expectations so that good candidates never come forward.

But= do set boundaries, 35 messages and crying down the phone is not reasonable, except once in a blue moon, and you shouldn't indulge her at all, as it is simply reinforcing that her not having a husband is some type of disaster when it is not. Keep on with the grounded advice and don't let her overwhelm you especially as you won't be able to keep up that level of support once the baby is here.

I do feel for you, I feel my friend is desperately unhappy and has some really risky and unsafe things all in the cause of attracting literally anyone, yet she is a lovely person and needn't behave like this.

LemonPeculiarJones Fri 10-May-13 11:24:43

OP I think I agree with your DH. I wouldn't want to spend time with someone like that.

She's not seeing men as prospective life partners, best friends, lovers - she's viewing them as conduits to allow her to achieve a lifestyle confused

If a bloke said, right, I'm single because I will only accept a size 6 figure, massive tits, she's got to be ten years younger than me, must be fertile and ready to be a SAHM for good etc etc - ie view prospective mates as complete gender stereotypes and in an awfully superficial way - it would be clear that he was an arse, and perfectly clear why he was still single.

The big house, dream wedding, blinging ring stuff - it's all bullshit.

Of course cocklodgers and wasters must be avoided but what matters is someone who gets you, makes you laugh, someone who'll stroke your back while you cry, someone who'll always stick up for you. Someone who thinks you're fucking wonderful.

She has got everything arse about face. She really, really needs to rethink this.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 10-May-13 12:11:37

"High salary, she wants to be "kept""

Oh dear... Feminism is just something that happens to other people in her case, isn't it? hmm I really fear for the kind of person she will eventually end up with.

You have to stop feeding her obsession and if that means a few harsh words, I think it'll save you a lot of pain in the long run. Or maybe you point her towards this board and let her read a few cautionary tales where 'marry in haste, repent at leisure' applies.

EldritchCleavage Fri 10-May-13 12:22:31

I can see some elements of what you have written about her as fairly common West African thinking, tbh (yes, I know I'm generalising).

Relations between men and women there and among the diaspora can be, in my experience, more cagey, more..^adversarial^, somehow. But if you get stuck in that thinking (quite judgmental, seeing yourself as 'worth' certain things and so being very demanding, including materially demanding, of prospective partners), then what happens is all you as a woman tend to end up with are the players who see it as a game, spend a bit of money on you, have a bit of fun with you (i.e. quite a lot of sex) then move on pretty quickly. Which quite frankly can be marvellous (wish I'd done more of it!) but isn't what your mate is looking for.

I remember my Nigerian ex-boyfriend (quite a catch on paper, your friend would love him) telling me that the kind of attitudes your friend had were the NUMBER ONE TURN-OFF for him and his friends. They had their share of superficial demands (chiefly about looks, of course) but by and large they wanted the same basic things we all want, a kind, loving partner who offered support as well as fun and who would be a good parent, and in it for the long haul even when there were setbacks.

If your friend wants to reduce dating to a list of demands, including material demands, she is ultimately commodifying herself. And in those terms, she is a depreciating asset as she ages. Men have the power when dating takes place according to these kinds of values. It really is very unhealthy.

As well as counselling, I suppose you could gently point out that her way has not worked for her, so it may be worth trying something new: dating not for 'the one' but for fun and new experiences, and in order to learn how to take a risk, because no worthwhile relationship ever happens unless you take a risk, open up and make yourself vulnerable.

Lavenderhoney Fri 10-May-13 12:43:23

I agree with your dh - she sounds very draining. If you only see her once a month, she is even odder to be texting endlessly and sobbing down the phone. Just with the lack of contact she would have naturally backed off a bit and other friends would have taken up her time. I expect you are getting all this angst because you are the only one who will put up with it.

What would you talk about if it wasn't weddings and high rollers? Really, you should be charging to listen to hersmile

Is she going to all these events alone? They aren't really events to do alone. At least one other friend to share the fun and memories with. And repel drunken blokes who won't push off/ someone to talk to when everyone around you is having fun with their friends.

And I am quite agog at her with a list of attributes her future man must have. Its all very aspirational. Has she ever had a boyfriend or a LTR? Does she attract the sort of man she wants? Men like that tend to be pretty good at spotting someone who just wants them for lifestyle benefits.

There's nothing you can do- maybe she could join a dinner party dating thing? But if I were you I would detach a whole lot more. Maybe she could write a blog about her search for mr perfect?

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