Where Have All My Good Friends Gone

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?

10 responses

  1. Hmm. The lady who doesn’t even respond to texts? That is so rude. Maybe something awful is going on. I know I withdraw when I’m in a bad place. If nothing awful is going on and she’s just ignoring you, wow, rude!

    I am getting better at initiating meet ups. It’s hard because like yours, my husband is just not interested so I have to choose between him and outsiders (since the two will never hang out together), and that’s no fun.

    If I were in your shoes, I wonder if I would try to let the others go and focus on those relationships where people do reciprocate. I think this is how most people are – most don’t have many good relationships even though it sometimes appears that way.

  2. I don’t have any good advice because I’m in a similar place to you but worse (ie without the few good friends). Just wanted you to know you’re not alone.

  3. I’m a strong introvert and my husband is even worse. I freely admit that most of my friends (if I really have any, given how infrequently I see any) are extroverts that contact me. Between full time work and two small children, I have precious little free time and I tend to want to spend it with my family. That and logistics with naps means I don’t socialize much! I doubt it has much to do with you, and more with other’s need or lack thereof for interaction.

  4. I’m a classic introvert and even I feel that I need more social interaction in my life. I have very very few friends these days, and most of our weekends are spent alone as a family. I have no answers for how to make this better, I feel that I don’t have the energy for it right now (one MORE thing to try to “work on” ugh).
    I agree completely that the one who didn’t return your texts—rude. Unless something truly awful was happening in her life at the time, there is absolutely no excuse not to return a freaking TEXT (phone calls, I get, I’m a terrible phone-avoider). Even to say “super crazy right now, can we postpone?” or something. I do NOT get people like this!

  5. First of all….*Waves frantically at another extrovert with an introvert husband*!!!

    I struggle with this too. Most of my friends (a small circle) don’t reach out often, and it makes me feel like I’m doing all the “work” in the relationship. But, I think most of my friends are much more introverted than I know.

    It’s a balancing act…but I would love to hang out at a cabin with another family. I really think that sounds like a blast!!

  6. I could’ve written much of this! I always wonder about those people who never reach out to me, but when I contact them they’re always busy. Who are they busy with? I’ve actually talked to my therapist about this, and she pointed out that people who are “always busy” aren’t necessarily doing anything that exciting – visiting their grandmother, buying curtains, just overtired. It’s still hard to feel like I’m not at the bottom of the list, though.

    I try to pay attention to things people say when we DO get together. So even if I initiated it, if they say something like “let’s do this again next month” or “next time, let’s swim in my building’s pool”, I figure they are probably sincere about wanting to see me.

    It’s hard, though.

  7. I’m pretty much in the same boat, I do all the planning, AND the travel. We live in the middle of nowhere and I’ve had ONE friend come here for our kids to playdate. Otherwise G and I are always on the move. Luckily they seem to want us at their house, so there’s that. It’s super weird to spend so much time at someone’s house you know where to get the extra toilet paper and then have them text you just before the easter egg hunt for your address because they’ve only been to your house once. *shrug*

  8. Your friend who hasn’t texted you back is just rude. Even if she is going through something, there’s no excuse not to send a simple text back. Ugh. I have a friend who has been through a terrible divorce and has been dealing with it for about 4 years now. While I understand her situation has been rough/life changing, she has turned into a complete flake. I NEVER see her, she rarely returns texts, and has barely even acknowledged anything we’ve gone through with Grayson. It’s frustrating and hurtful. And yet, I keep reaching out. Sometimes I wonder why. With my good friends who I see regularly, we make it a point to try and get our next meeting on the calendar when we are together. I think as moms we have to be so deliberate with our friendships or they do tend to slip away.

  9. Well, I think it sucks that your friends are like that and especially the one that doesn’t even take the time to respond to a text message. That’s just plain rude and I don’t think I’d reach out to her ever again. I don’t have any advice about how to socialize. When I was bio-childless I found it easier to hang out with people that either had grown kids or no kids. I thought that once I had a child it would be different and I’d meet all these new people and we’d be friends and have play dates…yeah, not so much. I don’t feel like I fit in ANYwhere anymore. I met quite a few moms while I was on maternity leave but have only stayed in contact with 1. The rest seem very “clicky” and also seem to have enough friends. Whatever that means. I’ve found that the more technology takes over, the less interactive people are as a whole. It sucks, really. I’m a working mom and I would really like a few other moms to hang out with and chat with and have weekend play dates with but it’s just not happening like I thought it would. I’m also the “old lady” of the group whenever I DO find myself around other mothers with young children. It sucks. I feel for you. I understand how you need it and it’s not there. Unfortunately I don’t have any useful advice for you. 😦 I’m sure it’s not you. I’m sure there’s nothing wrong with you. People suck, plain and simple.

  10. I’m looking forward to being able to get together with people again. For now, pretty much all of our socializing is with people from our faith community because we know nobody here otherwise. When we do see friends from before we moved, I do all the setting up and it’s kind of a drag but at the same time, a lot of it is both that we have a more structured day than anyone else so if we propose a time it’s more likely to work and that everyone else is much too lazy to plan anything (or they feel like they do a bad job planning things and would rather not). It certainly isn’t just you, it’s hard to maintain friendships, especially when people don’t reciprocate.

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