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Had enough of making all the effort and am going to become a hermit

(366 Posts)
stayanotherday Sun 18-Oct-20 23:01:55

Hi

I'm a single woman (47) with no family.

I've been in the same job for 17 years, soon to be made redundant. Worked on a very friendly team for years. Worked hard but we all got on and had a laugh. Have also built up what I thought was a circle of good friends over the last 2 - 10 years by joining groups and doing voluntary work because it's wrong to feel lonely and not make efforts. No issues with neighbours but they keep to themselves.

Since lockdown we've been wfh. The office is closing anyway. I've messaged everybody about every 10 - 14 days just to say Hi and check in. I've asked now and then if they'd like to meet up for a (socially distanced!) coffee and if they were free for a chat on the phone which was declined.

I get people have their own lives and I've tried to balance caring enough without constantly demanding or bothering them. I also get it's a hard situation for all of us and everybody's struggling. There's been no arguments or unkindness but they just haven't bothered in return. Thought we were close but am shocked to realise that's not true and the friendship ends at the door.

I left it to see if anybody would get in touch since about a fortnight ago. They haven't. I've decided not to get in touch again. I don't want to be a needy nuisance and can't do anymore. It's not as if I've got nothing else to do as I've been applying for jobs, working, studying, shopping and doing housework.

I'm in a lockdown area so am limited for now but to be honest I've had enough of trying to make friends, ending up making all the effort and can't do it anymore. I hate being completely isolated and that it's come to this but I've been let down too many times in the past and I'm not being a mug anymore. It's knocked the sauce out of me.

The next few months will be interesting. I can work anywhere in the UK and might have to move to follow the work. If that happens I won't look back or bother with people anymore. It will be so hard but at least I'll know where I stand. Society didn't want me and now I don't want its pain anymore. No wonder we're such a lonely society. I don't know why I posted really, just wanted to put it somewhere.

Sorry for the essay and thanks for reading.

OP’s posts: |
AcornAutumn Sun 18-Oct-20 23:48:18

My situation has similarities. A few friends have vanished with lockdown. If I call them, they’re happy to chat, but they don’t get in touch with me and I know what that means.

I’m sure some would say “you don’t know what people are going through, especially now.” But I’m 45 and my experience is that people who really care will keep in touch.

I don’t see work colleagues as friends as I try to keep them separate from my personal life.

I am hoping to move and if the people who haven’t wanted to be in touch try to go back to our old friendship when I’ve moved, I don’t think I can be bothered. I’ve had my fill of trekking about to meet people. I will do it for close friends but not for the people who’ve drifted away now.

I know one of them is actually having a great time, as indeed many are if they’re spared the horror of the commute.

I’m hoping for a new home and a cat or two. I do still have mum, to whom I’m very close, but she’s 82. My sister and best friend will be a bit of a trek to see when I move but that’s fine.

I guess many friendships are transient. I’m quite introverted anyway. It’s more I’ve been hurt at lack of interest from some people but life is ever changing!

I suppose if we’re quite keen on being a bit hermit like, it’s not surprising if other people have found that through lockdown. Also, I’ve only got so much emotional energy available, if that makes sense.

SomeoneTellBorisHeHasDandruff Sun 18-Oct-20 23:56:12

I’m sorry to hear this OP.
My advice would be not to give up on trying to make new friends. Could it be possible that you just haven’t found your people yet? The friends who are real keepers and make just as much effort as you to keep in touch.
Covid has caused many people to concentrate on themselves and their own family unit which is understandable. But you won’t be alone in feeling isolated and I really hope you don’t feel being a hermit is your only option going forward.
I know it is difficult with the restrictions but do you have any hobbies or groups you could explore locally? Something new in your life which you can enjoy but could also open up the opportunity to make new friends? How about volunteering?

stayanotherday Mon 19-Oct-20 00:11:20

Thanks very much both for the replies!

It does make sense Acorn. It's a shame a few have drifted. It's true about finding out who really cares when the chips are down. It's good to be aware of it and you're right to be selective about who's made efforts in return.

Thanks for your excellent points Someone. You're also right and hope you're not in the same boat. It's just a little strange so many mention being isolated but when you reach out....there's only so much you can do and as Acorn said, only so much running around you can do.

Yes, maybe I haven't. I study with the OU so could maybe get more involved in a study group. The cinemas and groups are all closed as is my voluntary work group but will look around to see if there's anything I've missed while looking for jobs. If something comes up somewhere else then will take it from there. Thanks!

OP’s posts: |
SomeoneTellBorisHeHasDandruff Mon 19-Oct-20 01:04:57

You are welcome, I hope you find some interesting opportunities but I understand it is very difficult right now.
I’m not in the same situation but I easily would be if it weren’t for my DH. I keep in contact with 2 friends via texts but I’m very much someone who finds going to work is enough social interaction for me. I am a singular person really and struggle socially. I can understand though that WFH really does make a big difference to the isolation.
I wish you well and I really hope things get better. Good luck with your future job hunting.

stayanotherday Mon 19-Oct-20 01:13:19

Glad you have your DH Someone. Completely understand how working all day and having somebody to come home to is consuming enough when you're an introvert.

Thanks a lot for your replies and suggestions. Hope things continue to go well and sending you good wishes.

OP’s posts: |
princessconsulabananahammock Mon 19-Oct-20 01:42:40

@stayanotherday lockdown has been an eye opener but I found out a long time ago that if you are not on hand for or convenient in people’s lives they will stop making the effort or make out that fitting you in is such a massive effort on their part and really they are doing you a favour.

I’m mid 40s. Single. No kids. I moved away from my area probably about a 40 min drive away but since I have moved about 3 years ago I can count on one hand the amount people have made the effort to come and see/meet me. Even though I go back to my old area all the time to see people. I’ve got friends all over the place. I have friends who were further afield when back home and used to go to their areas all the time but yet I still have to compromise and meet half way even though unused to travel to them all the time.

I get people are busy and have families and kids and people have mental health issues etc (so do I!!) but i think people start to take advantage as you always pander your them and never say no. I’ve stepped back massively over lockdown as just had enough. Just because I do not have children doesn’t mean I’m available on tap so I understand you frustrations.

rainbowninja Mon 19-Oct-20 04:35:03

Is there any one particular friend you could reach out to to say how you're feeling? You talk about not wanting to be a needy nuisance but it's ok to have needs! I've got a single female friend, similar age to you who also seems really lonely now she's forced to WFH.
Do you do much online? All sorts of groups now meeting online, book clubs, choirs! Live comedy gigs, whatever floats your boat...

MoiraRoseisupSchittCreek Mon 19-Oct-20 05:21:36

You're far too young and engaged with life to become a hermit, OP.

I'm not going to make excuses for anyone but work colleagues can be notoriously flakey as friends but don't let that put you off having cordial relationships at your next work place as you might very well make a friend or two.

What helped me was massively lowering my expectations of people!

LambChopAndAsparagus Mon 19-Oct-20 06:22:40

I've only never seen work friends as that. I wouldn't socialise with them as I like to keep work and my private life separate as far as possible.

I have a lot of acquaintances and a few people I can call up if i fancy going out for a beer but they're all in relationships and I'm single so that's another consideration and quite often they already have plans with their partners, wider family, other friends...

Tbh, I'm no better in romantic relationships than I am in friendship ones!

I have aspergers which doesnt help. I find i get quite overwhelmed with social interaction and need a lot of time to 'recalibrate'. I do get lonely at weekends though.

I've got a week off work coming up and I've already messaged a few people to meet up for coffee but, if I didn't, the week would pass with me seeing no one.

I do feel lonely and I worry that this is it for me now - 45, single, no true friends... i think i must be doing something very wrong but i don't know what.

I used to have a 'best friend' but she also had aspergers and, in the end, our traits clashed and we fell out. It seems to be a common theme with aspies - we have a friend for a limited time and then move on. I don't seem to have any trouble meeting or getting to know people but i don't know how to turn that into friendships. I do all the things you're supposed to do - i ask about them; I remember things they've told me; I try not to talk about my own areas of interest too much but I sometimes find it difficult to keep a conversation going because of it. And I wonder if I'm just 'hard work' at times.

Then again, I found the woman I used to be best friends with quite difficult - I felt her hyper focus on topics was too much and she is very single minded and inflexible but she always seems to have a lot of friends. I think some people just have a 'vibe'.

LambChopAndAsparagus Mon 19-Oct-20 06:30:49

I know a lot of people who have had friends for 20+ years. In some cases, I know 50somethkgns who've had friends from primary school. I think some of them arent even all that nice at times - some can be selfish, unkind, lazy in their friendships etc but they still seem to be popular and have people wanting to keep in touch with them.

I suppose there's nothing about me that makes people want to be with or around me 🤷🏻‍♀️

SnuggyBuggy Mon 19-Oct-20 08:23:42

I don't really understand how friendship works and I've never had any luck with joining groups or volunteering despite it being the Gold Standard advice. The worst thing I did when I was lonely was actively seek friends, the constant trying and failing to find my people really drained the life out of me.

Low expectations of people helps and I'd just do things you enjoy and that can be done alone.

AcornAutumn Mon 19-Oct-20 08:34:54

Lamb “ I suppose there's nothing about me that makes people want to be with or around me”

I’m sure that’s not true. It’s sheer dumb luck. My sister was lonely in her 20s, I was mad busy clubbing. In our 30s, she found friends and all my Clubbers got married and had babies! So I was lonely and had to make new friends.

It’s sheer bad luck and timing sometimes. Probably more than we know.

There’s a time for everything. This is on the Tube at the moment and it makes me feel better.

www.goodreads.com/quotes/909731-this-is-the-time-to-be-slow-lie-low-to

TiggerDatter Mon 19-Oct-20 08:40:32

friends are overrated! I’m 58 and I have lots of friends, from all stages of my life. I don’t have any expectations of them, I just enjoy their company. I’ve never relied on them, I make no real effort with them and I don’t communicate with them much. To me that’s what friends are for, just the good times, never the bad. For those I have my dog!

AcornAutumn Mon 19-Oct-20 09:01:37

Tigger - I wish I could find out that sort of thing in advance.

I’ve had the support of friends through illness and major injury and it means a lot to me. I always do the same - not just for my friends but recently for someone I don’t really know who had spinal surgery and not much help.

I no longer want the sort of person who just sees friends for fun.

AcornAutumn Mon 19-Oct-20 09:02:22

Tigger “ I make no real effort with them and I don’t communicate with them much.”

I’m not sure I’d call them friends, more acquaintances.

Beebumble2 Mon 19-Oct-20 09:56:00

Sorry that you’ve experienced such a lack of friendship.
I think the current situation has weeded out those who aren’t really friends. I’ve experienced two people not communicating since lockdown, one was being flaky anyway, but the other was always accepting offers of meet ups.
I now realise that the initiation of meet ups was always from me and both have accepted holiday hospitality from my family. Feel used.
On the bright side your post has prompted me to get in touch with a friend who’s on her own, for a meet up.

MusicMan65 Mon 19-Oct-20 10:24:09

Hermit eh? Where do I sign? Sounds good to me. However, if enough Hermits get together in a Hermit community, then we won't be Hermits anymore...d'oh!

52andblue Mon 19-Oct-20 10:40:46

I think lockdown and the thought of the next few months to come has put us all under pressure. People have turned in on themselves.
People are not using precious mental energy the way they were so friendship is harder to find and maintain

Pyewhacket Mon 19-Oct-20 10:44:45

I tried to be initiate some sort of social life with the people I work with ( I work in the NHS ) but nobody could be arsed so I thought bollocks to it , I'll just stick to close circle of friends I've know since I was at school/University and a few long term colleagues.

Anordinarymum Mon 19-Oct-20 10:46:47

if it were not for my children and grandchildren I think I would be in the same boat as you OP.
We live differently now. We are all islands. I walk my dogs and go swimming and sometimes chat to the odd person as I go about my business but I find that especially with older people they feel more vulnerable; and you never know who has some sort of weird agenda so for the most part people who are genuinely nice tend to keep to themselves.
Don't feel alone though.. there is always mumsnet and of course the ubiquitous TV

BobbinThreadbare123 Mon 19-Oct-20 10:54:57

I can relate to this. I'm also Aspie so I find it hard to be as social as people seem to want. But then again when I've suggested meet ups they flake out on me. I don't know how to play the game. Also never had any friends at school so don't have any of that history to fall back on. Don't do huge amounts of texting either (especially not in the current very boring life we're all leading). Meetup types groups have been tried and were as cringe-inducing as you could imagine. I'm late 30s and won't be having any kids, so the mummy friends won't appear. Luckily I have DH who is a good buddy as well as a husband.

WomenAndVulvas Mon 19-Oct-20 11:01:55

It sounds like you would be better suited to living in a village. In my experience, small communities don't make it easier to make true friends,but they make it nearly impossible to lose touch with people - they'd have to actively start avoiding you. You will keep bumping into them and this gives you continuous opportunities to stay in touch and build a relationship - even if it isn't a true friendship, it does keep loneliness at bay.

Foxinthechickencoop Mon 19-Oct-20 11:13:52

Aw I’m sorry OP. That sounds really tough.

I just want to put a slightly different slant on it. I’m sociable. Very. I love people and really need to chat and see people daily, it really boosts me.
But... I work, and I am renovating a house, I have small (pre school) children and a husband and older parents who need attention. And I absolutely worry all the time I’m neglecting friendships (I have several who are in your position) and my friends and try to keep on top of it. But I have zero childcare apart from when I’m at work. So any meet ups have to include the children. Which isn’t fun for friends or the kids.
I do get really worried about neglecting these friendships and please believe me, I don’t want to, but have you got any tips on how to make those friends feel valued when I can’t see them practically. I’d love a night out with them or just a glass of wine in the pub or a long walk Or shopping trip etc. But how do I do that with very small children in tow? Plus I’m in bed asleep by 9pm because of children getting up very early.
I do text them regularly and make sure I comment thoughtfully on social media stuff. And I do tell them the above when I speak to them.
But I’m also conscious that I’m a chatterer and it’s been sort of set in my mind that I talk too much and people don’t like to use the phone these days, so again I hesitate to telephone for a chat...

floralheadband Mon 19-Oct-20 11:22:13

I can relate to this two peope I thought were good friends have pretty much ignored me through all this. I do have some friends who are getting in touch but they all live far away in different cities and I haven't been able to meet up with any of them since this started.

I appreciate that people have their own issues but it was my birthday a few weeks ago only one person outside my family sent a message to say happy birthday even though I send cards. I don't mind too much but I always worry that perhaps they are trying to drop me and I'm not getting the hint, who wants to be that person! I also worry they might be having a tough time and thats why I'm not hearing from them and perhaps I should send an email one more time to see if they are well?

Its very difficult as in my 20's I realised that not everyone sees friendship in the same way as you might. People who I saw through really tough times for them flatly turned their backs on me when I turned to them for comfort when my Dad was very ill. For a lot of people friends are viewed as a resource for them and easy to discard or ignore when they don't need them.

I am very lucky to have one very good friend (who unfortuntely lives quite far from me now) and a loving family but the majority of friendships are situational and not really something you can rely on.

I have never been a demanding friend, I don't need contact every day, week or even month but its nice if you're not alway the one making contact and bothering the other person.

I'm in my 40's now, I work from home normally and its difficult to see how I would meet new friends as I don't have many mainstream interests and don't often connect with women my own age.

I feel a bit sad about it but I accept it and I'm quite ok being alone much of the time or just with dh.

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