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Do I need to accept that I always have to put the effort in or I’ll end up lonely?

(16 Posts)
Readysetcake Sat 16-May-20 07:37:25

My whole life I’ve felt on the periphery. Never really part of anything.

I had a few damaging friendships in primary school one after the other, m where both girls controlled me and wouldn’t let me be friends with anyone else and would sulk be nasty etc if I tried. But they would often ignore me or play with others. This meant I started secondary with zero self esteem and struggled to make friends until the final years. I was so lonely and hated myself and ended up with serve MH problems. At home my parents were loving but my brother always hated me and made it clear he couldn’t think any less of me. Even told me once he’d be happy if I died. Lovely. All I wanted was for him to love and accept me. So between the friends and my brother I’ve developed a massive fear of rejection.

Anyway. Since secondary I seem to be able to make friends ok. But again, I’m always on the edge never a main vital member of the “gang”. I’m always an addition to make up numbers. And when I’ve moved on (due to uni, post grad, then moving to be with now DH) no one has ever bothered to stay in touch.

If I put the effort in it it’s all good, people will chat, be friendly, make plans, meet up (if I travel). But if I don’t then I never hear from people. This is the same with my brother. He has grown into a selfish but not unkind man. He lives for his family unit. If the lines of communication are to be kept open it’s me putting in the effort. I think he wouldn’t notice I wasn’t in his life if I stopped contact. It would only be my mum reminding him that I exist. I’m sad that I won’t have any relationship with my nieces.

Is it because I’ve moved around so much? Or is there something wrong with me and I’m not the sort of person people want to be good friends with? I seem to be the person people talk to when they need to vent or sympathy and then never bothered with. I see people with their close friends, group chats and girls nights etc and never have that. I got added to a group chat two years after it started as someone felt guilty as they’d let slip it existed. I’d been friends and social with these people for 4 years, saw them multiple times a week until I moved. I wasn’t the only one to move away but the only one not in the chat.

I do find it hurtful and lonely. I’m luckier than some I know as I have a very loving DH.

Should I just suck it up and accept that i always have to do the organising, instigating, travelling if I want to have ‘friends’? Or just settle in to being lonely and try and find enjoyment in other things.

OP’s posts: |
Readysetcake Sat 16-May-20 07:38:24

Gosh that was a lot longer than expected.

OP’s posts: |
Vellum Sat 16-May-20 07:52:33

I think you have an overdeveloped sense of the ‘pecking order’ of friendship groups, and are always checking to see where you are — in the ‘central gang’ or the periphery — and perhaps because of your early experiences, you seem to be looking for reasons to feel peripheral to the groups you’re in. The only people I know who have the kind of close friendship groups you describe are people who’ve stayed longterm in one place — whereas my university friends are now scattered around from Delhi to São Paulo to Washington — I think there you’re fetishising as normal something a lot of people don’t have .

I would examine each relationship I have from the point of view of whether it’s bringing me pleasure that outweighs my ‘effort’, and let go the ones that don’t.

And again with your brother — why are you insisting on pursuing this relationship? Would it matter terribly if you didn’t have one?

Menora Sat 16-May-20 08:02:45

I kind of agree with the above poster. Some people do seem to have these groups of friends but in a group like this it’s always less intimate in a way. I went to an all girls school and these groups existed, they are all still friends and I’m not part of it. The mum groups at the kids school contained 6 mums who were close friends - the rest of the other 100 parents also were not included in this group.

I don’t belong to any ‘groups’ at all. I have just friends. Either a pair of them so we make a trio or a single friend who I talk to. I don’t try to even integrate myself into groups. I just try to make friends with 1 person and if I am lucky, maybe even 2! I also go for quality not quantity.

I think you may be aiming wrong. All you need is 1 or 2 good friends not a group

Readysetcake Sat 16-May-20 08:05:33

Thanks for your reply.

I think I do t have a very healthy view of friendships so you could be right that I put that sort of close group dynamic in a pedestal, when it’s perhaps not the norm. Both my cousins are in friendship groups like that. But then they live in the towns they grew up in like you say. I just feel like every friendship I have my effort outweighs my pleasure in it. Which means I would have no one, suggesting that the problem lies with me

Regarding my brother I don’t think it would matter in terms of impact on my day to day life. I sometimes still feel like that little girl craving for his approval and love. And I see other people and cousins who have wonderful relationship with their siblings and Nieces and nephews and feel sad I will never have that.

I guess I just need ways to learn to let go.

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Vellum Sat 16-May-20 08:12:53

It does sound as if you put groups on a pedestal. Like the pp, I don’t have friendship groups at all now — I see individual people I like. Occasionally I introduce them to one another.

It sounds like it might help you to let go of the ‘shoulds’ — I ‘should be in a close friendship group where other people make huge efforts to include me’, I ‘should have a close relationship with my brother and his children’ etc. You sound as if you’re putting a lot of pressure on yourself to live up to things you have decided are relationship ideals.

searchaway Sat 16-May-20 08:30:24

I recognise a lot of what you wrote. It’s the same for me. I’ve done a lot of thinking and research into this. I’ve realised a few things. You either get lucky or not with the school friendship groups. A lot don’t but those that do have a tendency to brag about their “tribe” on social media. I’ve now come off Facebook and I feel so much better. There’s no way to compete with those “friends since primary school groups” and it will always make you feel like shit seeing it so don’t engage. I don’t pursue any friendships with people once I know they have a “friends since school” close/going on holiday tribe. The same goes for NCT group. If somebody is still holidaying with that group 10 years later then it’s pointless. You won’t ever be in the gang and you’ll only ever get what scraps of time they have left. Their priority will always be with the tribe and they’ll always make sure you know how brilliant their girlie weekends have been. Drop these people immediately. Focus on finding friends through shared interests. I now have several close/fulfilling friendships through work/hobbies. Do the things you enjoy and friends will develop from it. You have to have things in common for a friendship to prosper. So do what makes you happy rather than try to make friends. It’s a mind shift because I was always deciding what activities to do based on “will I make friends through this” it’s the wrong approach. Find your interests first. Use the meet-up website to join interest groups and good luck

Readysetcake Sat 16-May-20 08:35:53

that for the good advice @searchaway. We are due to move soon and then I’ll know no one again. So I think that mind set would stand me in good stead.

I guess part of my problem is friendships with groups and individuals I thought were meaningful, always seem to be one sided. Repeating pattern over the years. And the more it happens the more I think I can’t handle rejection and should just cut off and not even bother to try and make friends when I move.

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Menora Sat 16-May-20 08:38:50

Friendships are the same as romantic relationships you need to make sure the person you are investing in is worth it!

searchaway Sat 16-May-20 11:13:16

Don’t be put off. When you move, find a few hobbies that you are really interested in and find the friends who are likeminded. When I think of the one friend I’ve maintained from pre marriage/pre kids days, there’s no way we’d ever be friends if we met now. We have opposing views on everything and that makes the friendship quite tricky but we stay friends because of history. So rather than focusing on making friends, focus on you. Who are you? What are your opinions? What do you like? Do you enjoy running? Join a running group. Sailing? Sailing club. Reading? Start a book group in your area. If you’re just focused on building friendships you’ll end up spending time/energy on people that aren’t going to stick. I’ve got a long term friend I met through work. We don’t live near each other but are in regular contact and it’s 50/50. We both adore politics and all the arguing/intrigue. It’s our thing. That binds is together. Anything goes down with politics (Boris getting Covid) she’s the person I message first and vice versa. You have to have a bond to maintain over time/distance. If it’s just going out for dinner/drinks every month then it’s convenient but won’t last the distance. Hope that makes sense?

NoMoreDickheads Sat 16-May-20 11:45:58

Over the last year or less (I'm 43!) I've finally started to get my head round this.

A therapist told me to only message people once and se if they reply. This way you will know who supposedly cares about you/is interested. You may find there are only one or two. That's ok. It will actually help your self-esteem to not have people in your life who don't put as much effort in as you.

The other thing is that if people treat you badly one way or another, block them. This actually gives your self-esteem a real boost, as you're affirming to yourself that you deserve more than how they've acted or failed to act.

Make your own entertainment and do your own thing, and be happy with it. Any friends are an added extra but you're not reliant on them for your sense of self worth/happiness.
Oh and PP's are slightly right that you could go along to groups who have similar interests. Sometimes this will work and sometimes not, so keep trying when you feel like it.

I found that going to meetups based on demographics (age range, or LGBT or whatever) didn't work for me, but it does work for some people, maybe.

I'm into a particular game, and going along to groups related to that was ok.

You may have to accept different types of friendships such as short term or fairly casual/through an interest group at first, then hopefully gradually developing with individuals.

The main thing is to try not to let any of it get to you and effect your opinion of yourself.

Best wishes. xxxxx

Readysetcake Sat 16-May-20 18:44:26

Thank you @searchaway and @NoMoreDickheads for your kind comments and helpful advice. I think you’re right when I have to find own entertainment and be happy with that.

It’s so hard to change my mindset and not feel like I’m constantly being rejected. But I know I have to so I don’t keep driving myself mad and feeling so depressed. I could probably do with some decent counselling as I’ve so many bottled up things that I can’t seem to let go of.

I left FB a while ago and definitely feel better for that and only follow a select few real life people on instagram. It makes a big difference and I thought I was doing pretty well. I think chatting to an old friend yesterday brought up a lot of old stuff as people keep i thought we’re close keep in contact with her but not me (no resentment to old friend, just fact)

Anyway. Rambling now. Thanks again!

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Readysetcake Sat 16-May-20 18:45:28

* as people I thought were close to us both keep in contact with her and not me

OP’s posts: |

I think these situations are much more normal than magazines / chick flicks etc would have us believe. Especially in this day and age when people move a lot and don’t live in their hometowns.

Also it’s totally normal for people to become absorbed in their partners and / or family life at the expense of friendships in their 20s, 30s and 40s. Some of my old school friendships are just starting to rekindle after years of dormancy because we have a little more time now we’re more settled into this phase of life.

There’s no group anymore though. I think groups require physical presence to maintain (and when I think back on it the groups from school and university were in a constant state of flux anyway). Individual connections are much more sustainable.

buckfastattiffanys Sat 16-May-20 21:45:50

I was in a "tribe" from early high school until our late 20s, so about 15 years. It just felt like a normal friendship at the time, but there was a bit of a falling out at one point and I'm only in touch properly with 2 of them now. They're both still in the city I used to live so don't see them that often.
I somehow managed to find myself in another tribe of couples when married (now divorced). I'm not really sure how it happens - there's usually a co-ordinator that gels the group together. Organises a get together, weekend away or something and then it takes off from there.

But now I'm a bit like PP have described. I have 2 pretty good friends I try to see regularly and other friends here and there that I socialise with differently, some from work. I like to feel included (my confidence took a know when I divorced but I'm working on it), so I"ve started to organised more things and involve more people sometimes.

There's only one friend I would ever really share personal things with and thats one of the original school friends group. Just because we've known each other through so much.
I like the perspectives and strategies shared by PP.

Packamack Sat 16-May-20 21:53:27

Since secondary I seem to be able to make friends ok. But again, I’m always on the edge never a main vital member of the “gang”.

That's because hanging round in 'gangs' is something the vast, vast majority of people leave behind when they leave school. confused

You are chasing a fiction.

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