Do I move on from these friendships?
Bluetac19 · 22/11/2019 13:12
I've known a group of friends for around 20 years. We live scattered around the country but meet up once or twice a year. Despite this we've always been close.
They know I'm really struggling with childlessness and have found this particularly bad over the last year or so. When we met recently it was a really tough day for me but they didn't seem to notice. They talked about their children for a huge part of the day (of course I expect for them to talk about them. They are the most important things in their lives. However it was for the whole day). Shopping involved a lot of children's shops which was really hard. I'll never buy Christnas presents for my children because I'll never have children. That's not easy. They do understand my situation. I've been very honest with them in the past (the only friends I've opened up to).
I don't want to lose these friendships but at the same time I'm hurt at their lack of sensitivity when I recently saw them. Aibu at feeling this way? Are our lives just incompatable?
Havaina · 22/11/2019 13:38
That’s appalling. Talking about kids all day and going shopping for kids clothes with a friend you know is struggling with childlessness is thoughtless at best, cruel at worst.
My own inclination would be to move on. However you know they better. Have you ever tried telling them that constant focus on children is getting you down? How do you think they would respond?
If nothing else, the constant talking about children sounds incredibly dull, as if they’re only defined by their children.
SunniDay · 22/11/2019 13:49
Sorry to hear you are having this tough time.
Would it be possible to plan an activity so that you can all just have a bit of a laugh together. I'm not full of ideas but depending what your friends are like could be ice skating/ visit a gallery or show/ spar/wellys needed pub walk /board game night...
If these are your oldest friends (and I hope they are nice) perhaps they don't feel they need to treat you differently despite your struggles - which is hard in it's own way. I wouldn't give up on them too easily.
cstaff · 22/11/2019 14:02
I have no kids - not for any reason other than it just didn't happen. If i am out with friends or family and the conversation is about kids constantly - I don't mind some as I do like kids - but if it goes on too long I would just pipe up "ok time to change the subject - enough about kids" and they always oblige. I don't believe it is done out of badness and probably not in your case either.
I suppose what I am saying is just give them a chance and try either to change the subject yourself or say something like I do.
shouldhavecalleditoatabix · 22/11/2019 14:16
If they're really close friends of yours op can you not just talk to them? Explain you found that day very hard and request the next time you get together you do something not child related. It's not helpful to you but I doubt they meant to hurt you. Parenting is very absorbing and sometimes a gentle reminder that there's other things is needed. Sadly though I think you will need to accept these coming years with those friends will be different. I used to be super close with another couple but they struggled to conceive for years whilst babies just kept happening for me. As they adjusted and accepted a child free life I found them selfish and unreasonable in their expectations of us. Children excluded from arrangements and made to feel like they weren't needed/wanted in social situations. Despite them being relatives of mine (the couple) I rarely see them now and we have devolved to polite acquaintances. It's a sad fact that friendships change over the course of life and your own experiences.
Bluetac19 · 22/11/2019 14:27
Shouldhave - wow! You clearly haven't looked at it from their point of view at all. 'Babies just kept happening for me.' Well sadly not everybody is that lucky. They perhaps needed to avoid children as much as possible to protect themselves. You seem to think they've accepted their situation but you cant know that for certain. You have no idea how heartbreaking childlessness is unless you are going through it but it doesn't take a genius to work out that phrases/attitudes like 'babies just kept happening for me' is incredibly painful. Like a shot to the heart.
Cinammoncake · 22/11/2019 14:32
YANBU I agree with pp maybe try talking to them first, hopefully they can apologise and try to improve things. But also I'd say get out into some new social circles and pull back from these friends, but you don't need to drop them altogether, that child centric madness will subside in a few years and things will get better.
Beautiful3 · 22/11/2019 14:33
Do they know that you want children and struggling at the moment? If you haven't told them then do so. I'm pretty sure they'll feel embarrassed. I had a single childless friend, who never spoke about kids at all. I was pregnant with my second when she ghosted me. I think it was to do with wanting a child. I wish she had told me so that i didn't talk too much about them.
Easterndream · 22/11/2019 15:16
I think that because they are old friends, and don't live really near you so meet ups aren't too frequent, you could take a step back from the friendship group in your own mind and maybe only engage in activities that are less likely to be opportunities for child talk etc. Maybe suggest an activity meet up, a film, theatre etc and skip the general meal/ chat ones where conversation is more general and therefore most likely to be about kids etc. Either that or maybe meet up individually with the friends so you have more of an input as regards conversation and activities.
lifecouldbeadream · 22/11/2019 21:06
Having struggled with pregnancies I try very hard (now we have children) to be mindful of those who don’t or whose ages/stages are very different, not least of which because only having one thing to talk about makes you boring.
I try really, really hard, but in a group setting it’s quite tricky to keep everyone else on/off message.
If they are really good friends, talk to them, perhaps not all, but the ones you are closest to, perhaps they might have a word with the others.
I believe that most humans are good people, and I’d like to think that if any of my friends said to me that they were finding it hard then I’d make an extra effort to be even more on top of it. I’d hate to lose a friendship over something that could be managed.
lanthanum · 22/11/2019 21:27
Maybe one strategy might be to say next time that you find it a bit difficult as the only childless one, but you realise that obviously they want to swap news about the kids, so how about you join them just for the evening. Hopefully then they will make a conscious effort to talk about other things at that point.
Longfacenow · 22/11/2019 21:33
Sorry OP I think time to step back unless you feel able to say something or ask to change the subject. Just after a death of someone so close to me a friend who I had sobbed to for hours about the loss started moaning about her same relative and didn't stop at each contact. It went on for months until I pointed out I would have given anything to have my Z back and moan about them doing X and she very kindly checked herself.
shouldhavecalleditoatabix · 22/11/2019 23:02
@Bluetac19 of course I would never and have never said anything like that to them. I am acutely aware of the awful pain they went through and no you're right I will never understand the pain and distress they went through but I did physically hold her hand while she lost a baby in hospital and support her through three unsuccessful ivf treatments so I do know a little of what they experienced. They have been going through this for 20 years and they have accepted they will not have children. They stopped treatment and changed their lives. Obviously it's a pain always there but they have absolutely found a way to move on. Sadly that means they have little desire to be round our children and don't understand the nuances of parenting sometimes. I probably didn't phrase things well but I was trying to say that as time moves on relationships change and you may find you have less in common with your friends.
shouldhavecalleditoatabix · 22/11/2019 23:04
I have just re-read my first post and it does seem pretty callous doesn't it? It's missing an absolute ton of info out about the complex relationship but I definitely could have worded things a lot better. I reiterate though that the point is that even the closest of friends can drift away when life takes you in different directions. Sorry for your situation op
Slappadabass · 22/11/2019 23:13
When I was pregnant a close friend lost her baby who would have been due around the same time, I made such a conscious effort not to 'rub it in her face' I hid any Facebook posts I made about the baby from her, was vague about any baby plans etc when she asked, even though I was obviously over the moon to be expecting I was quite aware how shit the time was for her and didn't want to make it worse. It's just basic human compassion to not try to hurt someone.
I would tell them how you feel, they need to know that they are tactless and basically just mean.
Cyllie33 · 22/11/2019 23:14
I have a similar situation. I will never have children and my friendship group is now forming round children. It’s tough. I think while staying friends with them the thing that’s helped me most is making new friends in different circumstances. That doesn’t mean I leave my old ones but need new places
Leighhalfpennysthigh · 23/11/2019 10:39
On threads like these it's always easy to say get new friends, but the reality is that when you don't have children so many opportunities to make friends eg toddler groups, school gates are closed to you. Not everyone has the time or the inclination to join clubs, go to night classes and all the other suggestions people make and not everyone can make friends at work. That often leaves people lonely and isolated and feeling even more outside society than they already are (and believe me we get to,d we're freaks often enough).
Surely the solution is for parents to actually make a bit of an effort with their childless friends to keep that friendship going and maybe compromise a bit and not talk solely about children.
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