Where have all the good friends gone?

Does anyone else get nervous when they put something a little different out there and it gets no comments? Just me? I’m always worried I offended people so much that they couldn’t think of anything nice to say so they didn’t say anything all.

I’m also a hot, hormonal mess right now so I’m absolutely taking that into consideration as well.

A friend was supposed to be in town this week but because of the government shut down her trip was shortened from one week to just one day and we didn’t get to see each other. We’ve grown apart as we’ve gotten older–she lives on the other side of the country and our visits are few and far between these days. I didn’t realize how much I was looking forward to seeing her until her trip was suddenly cancelled and I had nothing to look forward to Thursday night or Saturday day. Now I’m feeling this intense loneliness descending. Even if the connection between us wasn’t the greatest, I really could have used the distraction.

The loneliness is compounded by learning today that a huge group of (women) staff at my work were invited to a (woman) colleague’s wedding this weekend. Now I don’t think I should have been invited, and it’s not even that I feel left out by not going, I guess I just didn’t realize how many other people WERE invited, and that pretty much all of them are people I consider friends. Like so many things it makes me realize that I don’t belong in most groups, even if I like to think that I do, or consider the people in them more friends than acquaintances.

I guess I’ve really been noticing this a lot lately. A couple of weeks ago I called a friend that I knew was having a hard time. The purpose of the phone call was to make her feel better but I realized five minutes in that I had no idea how to do that. What followed was 30 very awkward minutes where in I kept fumbling to provide support while she very kindly and graciously made it clear I was doing just the opposite. This is a woman I have considered a close friend since college but we’ve grown apart as distance (both geographical and emotional) have come between us. I certainly don’t fault her for the withering of our relationship; it was mostly me who pushed her away, especially during the past years of TTC, loss and secondary infertility. In fact, I am quite cognizant of the fact that my lack of friends is primarily my own doing, as I haven’t attempted much to either find friends or keep them.

The cold hard truth is that I really only have two real, close friends and I have no one to blame for that fact but myself.

Recently one of those friends broached the possibility of throwing me a shower before my wedding and while I thought that sounded wonderful, I was worried I wouldn’t have enough people to invite. In the end I was able to scrape together a list of ten women that I would have liked to have been there, but I also realized that besides my mother and the woman (actually two women) who offered to throw the shower, I would never call or text any of them with a problem or a suggestion to hang out (at least not without kids). Again, I really only have two friends I call or text regularly and they are the only ones I ever do things with. The fact that I can barely name eight women (who live within two hours of here) that I consider friends feels kind of pathetic (two people on the list were my sister and my mom).

I know that being a mom is part of the problem–it’s not like I have a chunk of time every Saturday to hang out with someone sans kids–but it feels like something else, something deeper is at the heart of this. It’s more than just a lack of free time keeping me from building friendships but I’m not quite sure what it is.

It’s not that I think I’m impossible to befriend, or that I’m down on myself for not having friends, it’s more that I’m just sad that I don’t have many people that I feel close to, that I could lean on for support.

I know I’ve written this exact post so many times before. I know lots of other women have too. An attrition of close friends is very common for women–especially mothers–and knowing that other women struggle with it actually does make me feel less alone (though not less lonely, if that makes sense). I know the barriers standing in my way and while I’ve tried to work around them, I also know that meeting a friend is a rare occurrence, no matter how much you put yourself out there. You can’t just a will a friendship into existence; it requires to many factors fall into place. There is a reason friends are so important–if they were easy to come by they wouldn’t be worth so much.

I also know that the next two years are not going to provide a whole lot of opportunities to meet new friends let alone foster new friendships. I guess I’ll just have to be patient and hopefully, in 2-3 years I’ll be able to really dedicate myself to finding friends. In the meantime, I’ll keep being so, so, so, SO grateful for the two good friends I do have. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without them.

Have you lost many good friends over the years? Have you made any new ones recently? Do you think a soon-to-be mother of two has any hope of meeting someone new?

16 responses

  1. I also have very few close friends. Sometimes it bothers me, sometimes it doesn’t. I see a couple of friends I’ve known since high school every few months but we don’t communicate much between those visits. I have two other good friends but they’re both single and live in the city. Not exactly conducive to getting together frequently with this mama. My bed friend and I communicate regularly though we don’t see each other as often as I’d like a lately I feel like she’s pulling back in some way. That leaves my sister and my husband, who are really my best friends. My sister and I talk almost daily and see each other and our kids at least once a week. My hubby though is my rock. What I can’t get from him, I get from my sister as far as support and understanding. Like I said, sometimes it bothers me sometimes it doesn’t that I have so few close friends. But then I was never popular and have always been a bit of a loner. I guess it’s just who I am.
    I’ll just work in keepin the relationships I do have strong.

  2. Oh yeah. I’m fairly friendless IRL. Someone I considered a very good friend moved to Florida a year or so ago. We had been growing apart for a while, though, so I think the geographical distance provides a convenient excuse. It’s hard to justify not getting together when you live only 15 minutes apart as we used to. I’m trying hard to find new “kindred spirits,” but my friendships haven’t progressed past lunches. I’m not knocking the lunches b/c those are important too, but it would be nice to have a girls’ night. And I share some of the blame too. I’m too much of a homebody and say “no” too often. I’m trying to find some friends in my neighborhood too. It feels like excuse after excuse, but making friends as an adult is much harder than I ever thought it would be.

  3. If it makes you feel better, I have this frequent dream of taking a trip to California to visit you, Rain (from Weathering Storms), and K’s cousins! Then I remind myself that not only do I not have the funds, none of you live anywhere near each other, although you’re all in CA.

    But anyway, I don’t have a lot of the kinds of friendships you mention, and sometimes that gets me down. I do, however, have a ton of people I’m friendly with. There’s a group of moms at preschool I chat with regularly, a group of families at synagogue I enjoy talking to, etc. I do wish I had more people I could call with anything, anytime, but it does cheer me up to remember there are actually a lot of people I like, who like me.

    And adding onto what Christina said, for a long time I felt like my sisters didn’t really “count” as friends. But in reality, I like them and depend on them. I hang out with my aunt, too, and my mom, and I love seeing my cousins. So I try to get over the fact that hanging out with relatives makes me feel like I have no “real” friends.

    • I would count my sister as a friend, but we’re not that close. I never call her, and rarely see her, except when the whole family gets together. For a year we lived literally across the street from each other and I STILL never saw or talked to her. We’re just very different people in very different parts of our lives.

  4. Make a plan like for your garden. Start with phone call once a week, plan on 5 mins to ‘touch base’. Short. But repeat regularly. Then add second person you call regularly to ‘touch base’. SHORT, 5 mins. Assume this is ok and welcome. Because most people today are lonely and not reaching out first……. but oh boy will they like you doing it. Remember FIVE mins max.

  5. I definitely just have a cpl close friends here (2), and a handful of friends I can hang out with from time to time, but also go weeks without seeing. Like you mentioned in your post, I think that’s pretty common for women in their 30s. I also have a cpl close friends from high school / college that I see when I go back to MN, but that’s maybe 1-2x/year. Quality over quantity! 🙂

  6. I suffer from the same problem, and the people I consider close friends might not consider me close in return. Between parenting and this ridiculously time-consuming job, I don’t have time for phone calls, let alone girls nights. This is one reason I’m so grateful for blogs and twitter – I can form relationships on my own time. No, they’re not a substitute for close IRL friendships, but they’re not NOTHING either.

  7. Oh yeah, I’ve written about this before, same same same situation. I keep reading/hearing that you have to attack it like a job (friend-making), but when you already have two OTHER jobs (your paid job and the “mom” job) there is really no time to devote. I’m trying to take small steps. I don’t want a slew of friends, just one or two that live in the city and I could call for an evening get-together after the kids went down would be nice.
    As for not commenting, I’ve been horrible lately…I’m definitely reading, nodding my head, feeling things…

  8. I think half my blog is about my bff’s and my other lack of friends…It sucks, but that’s one of the reasons I’m so grateful for blogland and now my twitter friends. No it doesn’t beat that hey let’s go grab a cup of coffee, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t eventually have that too. Of course, geography plays a big part in that….but if we move, I look at my list and say “Oh I have friends there, we can move there.” I’m not the best at making new friends and my old friends are the kind of friends who I can go months without actually talking to and yet we pick up right where we left off. But it would be nice to have a few “close” friends near by to just go grab a cup of coffee or a drink with. You’re definitely not alone!

  9. I love that my husband and I have moved a lot, but it also sucks because every time we move we have to find new friends. This last move has been especially hard because instead of getting out, we have spent the year working on our house. Hopefully I can meet some new moms in a few months!

  10. As a couple, we’ve lost an entire group of friends, mostly due to normal life changes and a dash of infertility. It’s hard, but I’m slowly finding new friends. S is a little less social and seems to be struggling with it.

  11. This is why I love the bloggy world. Someone somewhere gets how I feel when others I know IRL don’t. I feel like this has been a commonish theme lately. I am trying to gather my thoughts so I can write a post on it too. Reading all the posts about friendships has been making me think about my own lately.

    I moved to a new city this year and even though my friends live 1-1.5 hours away, they aren’t close enough for me to grab a quick, last minute lunch. Making friends is hard for me anyway and the mom groups around here seem to like hanging out in places that my 1.5 year old isn’t quite ready for. I’m also starting to realize I need the physical aspect of hanging out in a friendship. If a friend is close enough to hang out with every now and then, I want to do that. A phone call or an email every 6 months doesn’t quite cut it for me in that case.

  12. I’ve actually found that I’ve established more friendships as I’ve gotten older. I turn 40 this year, and I feel more surrounded by love than I think I ever have in my lifetime. But I also know that this is partly because I have reached out to offer it, opened myself up to it … which was not the case before. Friendship doesn’t come easily for me.

  13. Playdates are the bomb!! I’ve made 3 fairly close friends over the past 2 years because they happen to have a kid my daughter’s age. Seeing as we live in the middle of nowhere, it’s a welcome thing!

  14. I definitely think it’s not impossible to make new friends at this point. For me, several of the new friends I’ve made lately are parents of Tadpole’s preschool classmates. Tad gets invited to various birthday parties, and at this age they involve parents standing around chatting while the kids run amock–perfect opportunity to chat with adults! Not all of these turn into super close friendships, but it’s at least a place to start.

  15. I haven’t figured this one out either… someone asked me not too long ago where I find community and I fumbled around for a while and realized that I do have a few close friends, but we keep moving! And that makes it hard to keep up. I’ve never been a social butterfly. More of a social moth.

    Having said all that, I’ve also been neglecting my online community… I turned the calendar page and thought Holy shit! October! Esperanza’s baby is due really soon! And logged on to find 21 unread posts from you, among many other neglected blog-friends.

    So came by to check in. Remembering what a seismic shift it is to have a baby.

    Thinking of you.

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