Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Where I go off on a tangent about friends

This is a spin off post from my previous post. I know that one sounded pretty chipper, so you might be surprised to read what you're about to read. This post might seem a bit strange, but really, I'm not thinking too negatively here, just being more...realistic?

I hate to be a quitter, but I don't think it's possible for me to meet new lady friends, or even couple friends for the two of us. I've decided that I'm going to not focus on this so much. I'm going to focus on what makes me happy--even if most of those things are solo activities--instead of being sad that I don't have a best girlfriend to get coffee with. I'm entering the stage of life where many of my friends have young children, but not all do. Many friends (both those with and without kids) have simply faded away. Some just live too far away to try and keep things going, which is ironic, given that we have so many ways to keep in contact. I might have touched on this before, but it's like those who have drifted away found new friends and don't have a need for the old ones. Maybe it's just life has changed and there isn't so much in common anymore? I don't know.

In a way, it's like being single again, when everyone else is dating or married. Through Facebook, I know that people who might have not hung out since high school are now getting together because they both have children near the same age. Facebook is a blessing and a curse. You can find out what some girl you had classes with in college ate for breakfast, but you'd never get together with her if she was in town on business. So strange.

I'm going to post a run down on my friends as it helps me to talk it out, to put things into perspective. Maybe I'm not seeing something that I should be seeing. I love all of my friends, in spite of our differences, even though in my comments to come, it might seem like I'm picking on them or something...

High School: I only talk to (as in phone calls, regular emails, visits) 2 people from high school. One lives about 3 hours away, and is my oldest friend (and my maid of honor). I'll be her bridesmaid in April. But, our keeping in touch is sporadic, and the distance is definitely a factor. The other friend lives nearby but has an infant and is pregnant with #2! :) She will be turning into a SAHM come summer, before baby #2 arrives. In my very limited experience with my ONE other SAHM friend, we'll drift apart. Even if you don't have kids, you still have work gripes, boss issues, etc. to chat about. What do you have when one stays home with two little ones and one works at a desk all day?

College: We were a tight circle of 6 (me included), but I now only talk to 3. The other two--one of them has vanished pretty much. I mean, she's alive, but she only turns up when someone's getting married, and in the case of the last time I saw her, it was her being the bride. The other one...I don't know what to say about her.

So of the 3 who are left: One lives ~30 mins from me, which is great, but she is infrequent about keeping in touch. It's almost like she forgets about contacting people? We always have a fun time together and we're similar, personality-wise, but I can't put my finger on it. She's not married, still lives with her parents, is only on year 2 of her career, so we're living completely different lives, especially with work. I'm years beyond her with having worked since graduating college. Another lives across the country and is a WOHM. We probably communicate the most (via FB) but it's nothing huge, since distance factors in a lot. Not to mention, she had a baby around Thanksgiving so has been on maternity leave and enjoying her new son (which she should be doing!) and older daughter. The last one was my roommate for 3 years and my best friend while we were in school. While she got her masters and worked for a bit after college, she got married soon after that, had a baby within that first year, stopped working and is able to be a SAHM to her now-two kids. She lives about 3 hours away also, and again, that makes it so hard.

Post-college: I have made one friend, besides Turtle :) I met her while working at my first post-college job, but we actually connected on a message board and realized that we had a lot in common...including employer! (it was a large one--we worked blocks away from each other) We're still friends (she was in my wedding) but she also has a lot of "hometown" friends, the people whom she's known since the teen years, and since they live close by, it's easier for them to get together. She's single and searching, and we do have a lot of crafty things in common, but she has more of a "carefree" lifestyle right now because she lives with her sister who doesn't care about what's for dinner or needing "together time" :)

I don't know, maybe I expect too much? Maybe I don't know how to be a better friend? I don't call people up to chit chat about what's going on, which seems like strange for a woman (at least according to my husband!). I used to do that, when I was younger, but now I feel like I'm going to bother people or catch them at a bad time or I don't know when the family has bedtime...sigh. I am great at email and IM though! :) I'm not good at inviting people to do things--I often feel like I have so much other stuff going on that I neglect relationships unless someone pokes me.

Maybe I want people to be like me? I know that's impossible...but it seemed to be easier when we were all in similar life stages. And now that I'm in the post-wedding, pre-kids stage, it seems like there's no one else out there who I can meet. I've talked about this before, so if you're still reading, thank you for not closing the window. I know that there are lots of women like me (I follow their blogs) but why can't one of them live down the street or across town? Someone who doesn't really enjoy shopping at the mall, but loves a good antique store or yard sale? Someone who can dig in a garden without freaking out about dirt or doesn't think it's weird to buy an old mirror and imagines stripping off the old paint and refinishing it?

I just KNOW that the second I do get pregnant or if we adopt a child, there will be all sorts of invites to things from other women. Why is that the only time we feel like we can bond with each other? (Well, wedding planning can bring out this, too...) If you're not a bride-to-be or a mom, you can't connect? (What do women usually ask each other when they meet--how many kids do you have?) This all might be an oversimplification, and an overstatement, and I'm sure it is. It's just the best way for me to describe how I feel and what I see. I wonder what it is like for women who never had children at all--women like my aunt, who didn't find her husband until it was too late for babies? Like a former coworker, who from her hinting just couldn't have them and for whatever reason, she and her husband never adopted. They find their ways. I will have to find mine.

I'm not hating on my mom friends for giving attention to their children. I understand that their babies are their main focus, and I don't want them to be labeled bad mothers. I think I thought that as time went on in my adult life, and people drifted apart, there would be new people to fill those spaces. And that hasn't been the case, which leads to my disappointment and frustration.

Another tangent of sorts, but semi-related:
I was talking with one of my doctors about children recently, and how I'm nervous because I'll be 31 next month and we still don't feel ready, but we're starting to enter the beginning of the end of child-bearing spectrum. One of us doesn't make enough that the other could be the SAH parent, but we don't have enough to eek out ~$1,000 monthly for day care (what infant care costs around here), not to mention the increase in health insurance and all of the other necessities babies need. She asked me a few questions about my family and my in laws (mostly in regard to their availability to help)...and then she said something quite profound.

She said that when it was time, there would be a way to do it. She said that it wasn't my time because the way wasn't there. She didn't use God (I know she's a Christian, not sure which denomination) but one could put God into this context. I liked that. It felt right to me. Sort of along the lines of God not giving you more than you can handle. To me, it was like saying that you can't force something if it's not going to happen. Almost like when you're locked out of a room. You can rattle that doorknob all you want, you can try to break the door down, but if it's not going to budge, it won't open. Why waste the energy to keep trying when it's pointless? I guess worrying can be like that, too. All my worrying and thinking won't change the way things are or the way things will be in the future, so why waste the energy? Why I can't remember this when I start thinking in these directions? :)


  1. I've gone through a lot of these feelings with friends too, and I've found you just have to invite them to do stuff. If it's important to you, make time for it. You can't make other people change, but you can change yourself.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Meghan! You're right, and it's what everyone tells me--it's what I'd tell other people if the tables were reversed. It's hard when many of my friends live far away and have moved on. I haven't had much luck meeting new people, never mind hanging on to the old ones. I've been trying to find more opportunities to meet new people, so I haven't totally given up...yet.

  3. some advice: 'decide' which friends you really want to keep in contact with, then make a schedule of calling and card dropping and even possibilities to meet half way for dinner. To make new friends- get involved in a hobby, friends might turn up. You are doing sewing now (fun!)- that might be an opportunity for new friends (even if they are old) or to invite an old friend to the class- the nice thing about school- you were doing things to make memories- now with friends, it is just eating and keeping in touch- we need activities to make new memories- do I make sense?

  4. I am in much the same situation--married, no kids, no close friends nearby. I am in two classes but the other students are either much younger or much older, and my knitting group is very old women and me. What I came to realize is while I had this feeling that I "should" have a group of female friends I go out with on a regular basis, I don't really need or want that. I occasionally exchange long e-mails with my best friend who lives several hours away, and that helps me get things off my chest in terms of marriage or other things on my mind. I also text and g-chat my other best friend, a gay guy who recently moved out of state, and that gives me the happiness boost I get from that friendship. And really, the rest of my relational needs are met by my husband. I wonder if thinking about what you get or want from your friendships might help you decide what actions to take. Good luck :)

  5. Hi Jessica and thanks for commenting. Actually, I think you might be one of the blogs I follow (if I guessed correctly)... (I also follow Meghan's & Priest's Wife's)

    You make a good point with the "feeling that I 'should' have a group of female friends..." part of your comment. At times, I have felt the same way--do I really want this or do I feel pressure to have more of a social life? I don't know from whom this pressure comes--society? other people I know? Most of the time I am happy on my own, doing my own thing.

    Maybe the socialization I do have works for me and I'm not seeing that. Maybe I need to make peace with it? It might not be traditional, but I do "talk" with friends via email and Facebook, and I am a member of a message board that's been around a long time. Some of the people I have never met, but I talk with them almost daily and know more about some of them than I do my "real life" friends. Most of this socialization is done during the work day, which is when I have time for a quick email or a text. After work, I don't have the time/energy/availability now--not with a job, a husband, a house, other things going on. My geographically-closest friend might live 10 mins away, but it's easier for us to FB chat at night after her son goes to bed than it is to try and grab coffee. Plus, I am also tired at the end of the day :)

    Maybe it IS really all about my perspective? And like you, I do get a lot from my husband. Many of my friends are single and not liking that, or married but never see their husbands since they work so much. I am lucky that my husband has a fairly straightforward job, and of course, I'm blessed to have him in the first place.

  6. Hi PW--thanks to you too! And yes, you make a lot of sense, as usual :) Better watch out, I might be dubbing you "Auntie PW" soon! You're absolutely right, you need new things for new memories. That is the perfect way of describing it. People do get stuck in ruts and it can be hard to get out of them.

    I did something very spur of the moment earlier today. I sent out a last minute Facebook "event" to some friends who live fairly close by to stop over for pizza and whatever on Friday night. It started with DH wanting my brother to hang out with us, but I said, hey let's see who else wants to stop by? I don't think DH saw that comment on HIS page yet, but oh well ;-) Felt good to be daring!

  7. Rabbit, have you heard of Meet Up? It's an organization that plans activities all over the country with the goal that participants meet new people. http://www.meetup.com/about/ It might give you the flexibility you're looking for to meet new people when you have the time and energy to do so.

    And I agree with Priest's Wife--just because someone is at a different stage of life than you doesn't mean you can't be great friends with them. All of my friends are at a different stage of life than me, either unmarried or married with children, but that doesn't prevent me from building relationships with them. Focus on what you do have in common, not what you don't.

  8. Meghan--yup, hear of them, checked them out. Not a lot goes on in my area, I'm kind of rural. I will check again though, you never know what's new.

    Oh no, I didn't mean my post to sound like I couldn't/wouldn't be friends w/ people in different life stages!! I hope I didn't upset anyone :( I still consider myself friends with the people I am friends with now...at times, it's like we have nothing in common anymore besides what school we attended. And the women I do come across (at work, in classes, even reconnecting via FB), it's the same--they are interested in and do different things than me.

    But then again, I've always been kind of different, lol.

  9. I have a lot of close friends. . . but none are anywhere close to nearby (other than my college roommate, who now lives two hours away).

    I have very different issues than I've had in any of my other locations. . .

    A less populated area. . . TOO MUCH work. . . and tons o' married people.

    I don't mind hanging out with married people. . . but. . . they don't always hang out as much! Also, sometimes it can be weird when you're going to a BBQ with ten married couples from work. . . and you're the only singleton.

    I've really never been in this spot before. I normally work with a bigger mix of people and live closer to big cities. I've met a few friends through meetup, but it's not easy.

    What's funny. . . is that last weekend, I was asked to join a Moms group. I was like. . . "Uummmm, but I'm not a mom!" They don't care. :) Also, I have made two new friends over 65 in the past few weeks. . . so. . . the demographic is pretty different here for me!

    Just wanted to share because I normally don't have problems with this, and I think it's generally easier for single people. . . but not so much where I am now! I feel your pain!

  10. I see you commenting in your "Comments" section that you yourself don't have a lot of time to go out because of work/spending time with hubby/house stuff/errands etc. But that is the same stuff that everyone goes through. And its not just that they are in different "life stages". They are busy too. Just because they are busy with a baby rather than painting a house doesn't mean that you are growing apart from them.

    What is going to make you grow apart is the fact that you are ANTICIPATING growing apart. Just because they have kids and aren't working anymore, doesn't mean they still can't relate to your job issues...being overworked, hating your boss, wanting something more. Just because they don't live in a house doesn't mean that they aren't interested in gardening or antiquing. Perhaps you don't have people to do any of those things with because you never asked. Just because you don't put it out there doesn't mean they aren't interested.

    You said that you are taking a sewing class...which is awesome. And if you wanted to do it on your own, thats fine...but did you ever think to ask your friends if they wanted to join you?

    You may have more in common with others than you think you do. But if you don't ever talk about it or put it out there for them to see, they won't ever know it. I've told some of my friends that I wanted to take up knitting. Some of them laughed at me...some of them thought it was a great idea. But if you don't put it out there, no one will know. I think you'd be surprised.

    Sounds to me like you are putting walls up to attempt to prevent yourself from getting hurt. What you end up doing is just shutting people out.


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