Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Is this cutting my nose off to spite my face?

(16 Posts)
Cleo81 Thu 24-Dec-15 08:54:13

So basically I ve been on maternity leave with no2 and have found it pretty lonely recently with lots of time spent on my own. I am friendly with lots of lovely people, most of whom I have met in the last few years since having ds, but I feel like the friendships are very one sided. I make all the effort. I think these people like me and are happy to see me if I make the effort but no-one is like 'oh I must see what cleos up to, I really want to see her or I miss her' they all seem to have other friends they see all the time and are so much busier than me.

I have done a little experiment the last couple of months and purposely dramatically cut down on contacting people to see what happens. What a surprise I have hardly seen anyone except maybe a couple of people who have initiated a meet up with me. I feel like I should just carry this on then but it will end up with me being lonely as I have been since starting the experiment. Dh thinks I am being silly and cutting my nose off to spite my face as I ve finally built up some nice friendships with lovely people and shouldn't throw them away. But what's the point if it's so one sided? They aren't really friends then are they? Just people I am friendly with.

Ds recently had a birthday party and they were lots of parents there. They all made an effort when they didn't have to and I had what I thought was a lovely chat with them all but I couldn't help thinking how many of these people would I still see if I didn't make the effort with them? Out of 7 of them I reckon 2 or 3 at a push!

I have always had this problem, always felt second best and that people aren't bothered by me. I remember even from school having this problem. It continued during uni and after that. I feel confused by friendships and wondering if I am being paranoid and expecting too much or if my feelings are real. I feel like when I was young I missed out on some fundemental lessons of friendships.

Previously I was a real introvert because of this but as I ve got older I think people would say I am confident on the outside. I am quite chatty and don't think before I speak. I do tend to speak about myself a lot, I guess too much and although I try I am not naturally thoughtful and giving. I think I must wear my heart on my sleeve too much and so if I am in a grump it shows. I guess I could be more cheerful and might come across as moany sometimes. I can be wrapped up in my own world a bit. I guess these are the reasons but when you get to 35 it's hard to change who you are as a person.

This is an ongoing problem I feel like it will never be solved. Part of me feels like I should stop trying to solve it and just concentrate on my family but that means being abit lonely day to day. I ve always put too much importance on friendships and I know that. But I think there must be something wrong with me that puts people off wanting anything more than a casual friendship with me and I don't know how to change that.

Sallyhasleftthebuilding Thu 24-Dec-15 09:02:32

I think alot of people would say the same. But maybe when you have a group you arent looking for that real friend, you become distracted by these non friends ...

lalalonglegs Thu 24-Dec-15 09:24:19

I think your problem would be if you were contacting your friends and suggesting meet-ups but they were ignoring you or making excuses. As it is, you have a group of friends who you like and want to see you but may be a bit slack about initiating contact. It would be entirely pointless to cut them off.

Mrswinkler Thu 24-Dec-15 09:31:16

I have this problem too but still make the effort to keep in touch. Some people are just crap at it and in the main they will admit this is the case and express that they are glad I make the effort.

What's hard is that if you are feeling down the whole thing gets blown up out of all proportion to the actual problem.

Try and accept them for who they are, don't go overboard in making an effort though - if you feel you are hitting a brick wall with some people ALL the time without them admitting they've been crap at initiating contact just let them drift.

Having a family eats up a lot of time, I've found friendships come and go in intensity according to what families are dealing with at the time.

Haggisfish Thu 24-Dec-15 09:33:48

I'm an instigator in all my friendship groups. If I waited for others to organise get togethers, we wouldn't do very much. It irritates me sometimes but I don't really mind.

Cleo81 Thu 24-Dec-15 09:35:16

Yes guess it would and would only be upsetting myself I don't think they would notice too much. I just get tired of making all the effort. They Obvisously make the effort with other friends, old and new, but not with me. It would just be nice to have people initiate it once in a while. I am not even looking to be best friends with them but feeling like they want to see me off their own back would be nice.

I feel like I can never get the friendly stage to move to the next stage. Dh is the kind of person everyone loves and he's said you need to do xy and z. Which I am trying but I am not naturally like that so it's hard.

Cleo81 Thu 24-Dec-15 09:38:01

I definitely do overlook potential new friends and miss opportunities at the time. I am not good at reading signals, I rush into things and make friends with people I like and initially get on ok with without thinking do I have things in common, do we actually get on? But then I don't seem to find people like me anyway. I think perhaps I expect too much with these regular meet ups too. I am not good at being on my own.

Joysmum Thu 24-Dec-15 09:38:17

I think most of us feel this way at some point.

What we forget when we feel like this is what things would be like for the passive types of people that don't initiate meets ups with us if everyone who always seemed to organise then this task stopped. I think they'd never go out rather that swap personality types.

It's all too easily to take things personally but I've realised as I've got older that there's a big difference between those who don't initiate being with us because that's their personality type, and those who don't initiate with us but do initiate with others.

I'm an organiser, many of the people around me are passive and wait for things to happen rather than making them happen for themselves. They seem to drift through life instead of making what they what happen. They are passive, not snubbers and this doesn't reflect how little we are thought of. Big difference.

Cleo81 Thu 24-Dec-15 09:41:40

Mrs- yes I see what you're saying but do you find they are just that way in general? As I used to think that about a couple of them but they manage to find the time to initiate contact with others and reply to their messages. So I feel low on the pecking order and can't understand why it's not the same for me. When I see them they are like yes I saw x, y and z and did this and went there and I think why wasn't I invited to something then?

RedMapleLeaf Thu 24-Dec-15 09:56:24

I think that your experiment sounds like game-playing, and I don't think it's healthy. It seems to have left you feeling low.

I think you should be clear on your expectations, e.g. ignored or let down two times and you won't send a message or make plans a third time.

I also think you need to be clear what you want from your friends. It's bloody hard when you're down or bored or lonely, but they are not responsible for your happiness.

Finally, I would look to create more circles of friends not fewer.

Cleo81 Thu 24-Dec-15 10:19:20

Thanks red. Yes, you are right with some of what you say. It wasn't a game I just got fed up with always contacting people and decided not too. No game involved. I am not going to cut anyone off and not be friends with then anymore, I am just not going to be the one who makes all the effort all the time. If it's a bit more turn taking with effort then that's fine.

I feel if I laid down some rules people really wouldn't want to be friends with me. It would be too demanding. I don't feel like the friendships are close enough to start laying down the law. In the past I ve cut people off if they haven't lived up toy expectation of friendship and so have very few old friends which has led to this problem. I was young and that was wrong but I do feel people are very ' oh cleo won't mind' and don't take my opinion or wishes into account and I am abit of a doormat now. It's gone too far the other way and I find it hard to find the balance.

I have tried to subtly, I hope, air my views to one friend. When we have bee talking about friendships or a natural friend who's not very good at replying to messages I have said I get upset and annoyed when people break plans when they are made and let me down and if I have to make all the effort. She agreed and was like yes if it's all the time. I said, yes I don't mind occasionally as I know these things happen, but if it's all the time I get annoyed and give up. She agreed. So she definitely doesn't see herself as that kind of person even though I think she's the worse offender for that. I don't think I can say any more.

I have also told a couple of friends I am finding it hard to full up the days on maternity leave and feel isolated. They agreed that it is hard too but no effort made to contact me about meeting up despite this. So even putting my heart on my sleeve and admitting things, which was hard, has made no difference and they sort of said they were like that too!

I think I have a bit of a warped view of friendships.

whatdoesittake48 Thu 24-Dec-15 10:35:23

I also used to worry terribly that I was an awful friend. People would talk to me but I had no closer friends who I could rely on to ask me out. I ended talking this through with a counsellor who made me realise that Inam an introvert but that there is nothing wrong with that. I came to accept myself as I am. I stopped trying to be one of the girls when I obviously am not.
Strange thing happened. A new friend came into my life and it is a mutual friendship that goes both ways. I am happy to initiate because she does too. We both make an effort. I have one friend but it's enough for me. It works but only because I was myself and I have up trying to be something I wasn't.

RedMapleLeaf Thu 24-Dec-15 10:39:31

I meant 'game playing' along the lines of "stamp collecting", collecting stamps of resentment. For the whole month of your experiment you're collecting stamps for each day somebody didn't contact you - building resentment and strengthening your belief that nobody cares for your friendship. When, in fact, there might be many reasons they didn't contact you that day. And all the time it's actually a month of unhappiness and not spending time with friends, which is what you actually want.

I find it hard to find the balance.

I think it helps to have different levels of friends. Each level has different expectations.

I have also told a couple of friends I am finding it hard to full up the days on maternity leave and feel isolated. They agreed that it is hard too but no effort made to contact me about meeting up despite this. So even putting my heart on my sleeve and admitting things, which was hard, has made no difference and they sort of said they were like that too!

But it's not their responsibility to fill your days up. They'll have their own struggles, some that might make it hard for them to make arrangements. But perhaps a plan to meet once a fortnight is something that they can commit to? And if you have to arrange it, so be it?

icandothis64 Thu 24-Dec-15 10:53:20

Can I add a couple of comments from my own experience?

Basically there are two types of people. Those who are excellent at keeping in touch and organising stuff. And those that aren't. For tHose that are not good it does not mean that they don't care or don't want to see you. If that was the case then you would find them ducking your suggested dates and arrangements. So that's the signal you should look for, not who initiates contact.

Secondly. Proper friendships take a really long time to evolve and you may have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find the prince. Don't worry about it. Sounds like you might be a tiny bit over analysing it. Over time you will get to know people better and the natural order will rise to the top and you will find yourself with those really special friends you are looking for. But don't rush it. I met my best friend at antenatal group when we were both pregnant. Our kids are 16 now. It probably took 6 years before we became properly really close. Just enjoyed lots of meetings before that with T and without others. There were others I our group at the time but they slowly dropped away as it became clear that the two of us had the most in common.

Hope that helps and enjoy the fact that when you do contact everyone. They want to see you. That should say it all.

loooopo Thu 24-Dec-15 11:38:22

Do you have friends from work? Can you pick up with old friends.

At the ante-natal, new mummy, mat leave, nursery, school gate, childrens hobbies encounters, initially these are just that random people passing through your life because they randomly gave birth in the same year as you. you may share a brief bonding moment - it may over time develop into a longer term friendship - but it can be very transient - people go back to work, move nurseries, schools, change clubs, move house etc.

Just look on these transient encounters as acquaintances that may or may not evolve. Sometimes all you need is another human being to get you through the day.

Maybe you are looking for something that is too intense and it may come across as too overwhelming?

Have broad ripples/circles of "friends" - one or two old friends - some newer acquaintances and some random encounters.

I even find walking my dog and having a random brief chat with a stranger who I will never meet again valuable. Was the same when children were small - chat by the swings, at a play group - I did nt need for this to develop futher and in fact it would be a real pressure to feel that I had to swap numbers, meet up, invite them around etc.

Everyone is busy with their families etc. You sound like you have good insight about your self and how to socialise but maybe expectations are a bit off kilter?...

Though this phase of life is like no other - in the past you had family, old friends, work friends, hobby friends etc all slowly evolved over time. This new mum phase - hoards of random people come in and out of you life. I have 4 kids all at different schools, boys and girls, who all do different hobbies/sports - if I tried to keep up or in with them all I would go demented - I also have a huge family and old school/work/uni/hobby mates I have accumulated over the years.....

Cleo81 Tue 29-Dec-15 16:45:26

Sorry not replied been busy caught up with Christmas.

No friends at work as I work freelance. My dh isn't bothered about friends and any social thing we do is organised by me. It's exhausting. So I guess this is part of the problem I haven't got people I see everyday.

Yes, I am quite analytical and try and chill out about it but I find myself getting rather lonely if I don't contact people and feel like there's something I can fix in myself which would stop this

I get what you're saying about two different types of people but I feel like these people are perfectly good at contacting other people who they don't want to loose contact with but I am overlooked. My best friend regularly seems to have other friends to stay for the weekend or says she's seen such and such but doesn't ininiate contact with me.

Another friend verbally agrees to possibly meet up on a certain date which I know is only a loose arrangement but then I hear nothing from her and that day passes by. I used to keep that day free for her but don't any more. Once she cancelled because her dd was ill but then when I saw her next let slip she went shopping with her dd, dm and df and is always talking about seeing one friend or another yet no contact from her to me.

I get tired of making all the effort and doing all the contacting. I want to be the passive person people contact and the person people want to see.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: