A big thank you to the 35 people who took my little survey yesterday. I’m sorry there was no option to write in your own answer–I couldn’t figure out how to do that! I swear I tried, but it wasn’t meant to be. I was hoping to get at least 50 people to respond, so I’m going to wait on sharing the results until Monday. If you haven’t already, I’d really appreciate if you took five minutes to answer ten questions from my little survey. I’d be much obliged if you took the time.
I will be the first to admit that I’m not a perfect friend. I fuck up on the friendship front ALL THE TIME. I’ve mangled some significant relationships in my day, done things I’m not proud of and acted in ways I’d rather forget. My actions have been the cause of, or played a part in, the destruction of a few really important friendships. I can, and will, take responsibility for the ways in which I’ve been a bad friend over the years. I don’t consider myself a saint.
And yet I notice, time and time again, that in almost all (seriously, there are only two, maybe three friendships in which this is not the case) of my friendships, I am the only one who ever reaches out and initiates contact. I’m the only one who ever calls, emails or texts. I’m the only one who ever suggests we get together. I’m the only one who ever does ANYTHING first. Sure I have friends who will respond to me if I do reach out. I even have some that will actually get together with me, if I plan it. But I have no one (with precious few exceptions) that ever takes the time to reach out to me. If I stopped contacting them all together, I would never see, or hear from them again.
When we were struggling with secondary infertility, and our friends were pregnant with their second child, I didn’t reach out to them for over a year. And you want to know how many times I saw or talked to them? Exactly zero. When we get together now (ALWAYS because I’ve asked them if they can meet up), they can’t believe there was a whole year during which we didn’t see each other. I want to scream, THAT’S BECAUSE I STOPPED PLANNING SHIT FOR US TO DO! They don’t even seem to realize that it’s always me who initiates contact. It’s kind of infuriating.
My best friend at work can usually hang out every once in a while, when I ask, but she never approaches me asking if I want to do something. I don’t think she has ever even suggested we get together. Her son is the same age as Osita, and I’m always trying to set up play dates, but she never asks me if I want to get the kids together. If I didn’t set stuff up, we’d never socialize outside of work.
Since Monito was born, I’ve texted one friend to see if we can get together for lunch FIVE TIMES and see hasn’t even responded. I’ve texted both her numbers each time, and emailed her three of the times, and she hasn’t so much as offered one word in my direction. As far as I know, she’s dead (except a mutual friend assures me she’s still very much alive–and has the same number). I was one of only 30 guests at her wedding not two years ago, and now she doesn’t even take the time to respond to my texts? On FIVE DIFFERENT OCCASIONS?
I try to meet other new people and it seems they all fall into one of two camps. Either they don’t seem very interested in hanging out (I’m never sure if it’s just with me, or if they just rather do their own thing in general) or they love hanging out but already have TONS of friends they are hanging out with. These are the people that are booked for literally months in advance, with trips to wine country and weekends at cabins with other families and their kids keeping them busy. These people seem like a lot of fun, but their friend quotas are already full. They don’t have time, or space, for me.
Sometimes it feels like I’m fighting an uphill battle, because even if I did find a family that wanted to hang out, Mi.Vida doesn’t really like to do the big family hang out all that much. While I relish the idea of spending a weekend in a cabin with another family, it would be torture to my husband. I’m an extrovert, and I NEED to have meaningful interactions with other adults to feel whole. Whereas my husband is an introvert, and he already feels stretched thin with all the socializing he’s required to do for work.
It sucks and I don’t know what to do. I’ve tried reaching out to people but no one reaches back. I’ve invited one woman’s daughter over for three play dates in the past five months. I know she has another boy from Osita’s school over all the time–the two families live a block away and trade kids constantly. And yet she’s never invited Osita over to play. Sometimes I think we’re making plans to walk home from school with our kids together and then her babysitter shows up. Clearly she’s interested in her daughter having a friend, but she’s not so interested in one herself.
I’m not sure what to do. People say it gets better when your kids are in elementary school. I’d like to hope that is true, but my track record is so dismal, I just don’t feel like I’m ever going to meet someone who actually wants to do something with me. If I stopped reaching out to my friends, I wouldn’t have any (again, except for a precious few, and I’m SO, SO THANKFUL for them). I know everyone is busy, but I don’t know how I’m not supposed to take it personally. It would be one thing if it took a few months for someone to reach out, but I’m pretty sure no one would. Ever.
I know I’ve written a dozen posts just like this one, but I just don’t know what to do. Being with other people is a really important piece of my happiness puzzle. I’m starting to worry that there is something wrong with me, that people don’t reach out because they don’t actually want to. That I’m the person who invites herself to sit down at a table without realizing that no one wants her there. Maybe all my friends are just too polite to say “no,” when I ask them to hang out. Maybe I should just take the hint and stop calling.
What is your experience with your friends? Has the transition to parenthood enriched, or damaged, your social life?