Monday, April 4, 2011

Girls without friends

Recently I have met a lot of new people.  We moved to this town 5 years ago, didn't know anyone and have built a life here out of nothing.  I am one of those people who talks to anyone and everyone so it should come as no surprise I know many, many people here.  We can easily fill our home when we host our annual Christmas party and I can find someone to go to dinner, drinks, movies with almost any time I want - if I make it happen.

At the Little Prince's birthday party I was standing with a group of women discussing popularity.  I fessed up and admitted I was decidely unpopular in school.  I never really had any friends.  Five women stared at me in silence. 

Hermes Scarf Friend:  Seriously?
Suburban Princess: was awful!
Hermes Scarf Friend:  I so don't believe that!
Suburban Princess:  Why do you think I am so popular now!?

What I am finding out about so many of the women I know is that they dont really have any other friends.  They know lots of people and get invited to things...but they dont have any friends.  Nor have they ever had any friends. 

We all know you must be a good friend to have a good friends but why do so many woman never reach out and be a good friend?  Or ever just try to have a social life?  Why don't they make the first move and text/email/call someone to go out for drinks or a movie or just to hang out?  I know a number of women who would spend entire weekends sitting home alone before they would think/want to make plans with anyone.  Is being lonely and alone more attractive than simply sending a 'Hey, let's get together' email? 

The Suburban Prince suggests it is because women are not able to distinguish between their dating life and their friendships.

Interesting.  Is it because women are so trained to not make the first move?  Should we hold other women to the same standard we hold men to?  I think women often make the mistake of thinking men are like our girlfriends and function the same way so it might be correct to think women make the mistake of thinking women are like our boyfriends and husbands and should be handled the same way. 

One woman told me she is so afraid of rejection that she never reaches out to anyone.  WOW!  This woman gets invited to every event...girls nights, parties, movies, dinners...yet is so afraid of being rejected by another woman that she would never suggest getting together.  Why is there such a disconnect?  When did we start worrying so much about being rejected?  Have women started being cruel to each other - if I dont want to spend time with someone I simply make up an excuse that wont hurt anyone's feelings.  Are women actually telling each other 'No, I dont want to hang out with you' ?

Another woman I have been friendly with sent me a text asking me if she has done something to offend me.  She said I havn't been communicating and she wants to know what she has done.  I simply hadn't contacted her for over a week because I have been busy with my own life.  First of all, this is not a conversation to be had over text messaging and isn't like she has been contacting me and I have been ignoring her.  I think she is getting a taste of what it is like when I am not doing all of the work.  She is taking it personally when she could've easily called or email or texted.  This is confusing to me.  She is bothered enough that I am not making this friendship happen but isn't bothered enough to make it happen herself!  She wants to be persued.  Instead of suggesting we go for drinks or dinner she attacked me.  During a recent daytrip I found out this woman feels too guilty to just sit in the car waiting while I load everything and get the Little Prince strapped in, get the tailgate open, pack up the stroller....but doesn't feel guilty enough to help in any way!  Does she feel as a woman it isn't her job to be a part of the team? 

Many women ignore female friendships for so long that when something happens in their life they find they have no one to turn to.  No support system.  No comforting hugs.  No one arriving at their doorstep with casseroles and baby gifts.  No one holding their hand at funerals.  No one to relate to.

Prairie voles, a monogamous rodent, have an interesting response to stress. When a male vole is put in a stressful situation, he runs to his female partner. Female voles, when stressed, immediately run to the females they were raised with.

A number of years ago I attended the funeral of a friend's mother.  She told me afterwards that you really find out who your true friends are when someone dies.  Aparantly I was the only person who wasn't family who went to the funeral.  But then it's always me.  I am always the one who goes to the games, funerals, pageants, interventions and anything else friends are supposed to attend.  The ironic thing is this friend is the same person who later ended our relationship by screaming at me, 'I am busy you know!  I dont have time for your silly little dinner parties!'.  Looking back at that I don't take it personally.  She was so unhappy with her own life and I was easy to lash out at.  This may explain why no one was there for her when her mother died.

Why are women so cavalier when it comes to their friendships?  Do we think female friends are as disposable and replaceable as some of the men in our lives?

One woman told me she would LOVE to have a best friend...someone to tell everything and do everything with but then this same women rarely puts any effort into her friendships.  Making friends when we are kids is easy.  Making friends when we are adults is not so easy.  In fact it is almost impossible from what I have heard from so many women.  I think there is a social stigma attached to being friendless.  Is there really something wrong with someone who doesn't have any friends?  Maybe there is!  Is it laziness?  I have to say yes when I think of a few women I know.  Is it lack of time?  Perhaps - but I know lots of women who have lots of time to facebook, twitter, watch tv and other time wasting activities but then they say they dont have time to cultivate their relationships outside of their nuclear family - I have never had any problem finding the time to have lunch or drinks or dinner with a friend and I have a husband, child and house to take care of too.  Is it lack of interest?  Maybe, but lots of these women tell me they are craving friendships!

A girl I know told me she doesn't call or 'bother' anyone because she feels she would be interfering with their happiness.  Another told me she doesnt reach out because she doesn't feel she would be very good company.  I find it amazing this has happened to women.  This lack of self confidence has not been seen in previous generations of wives and moms and has left so many of us lonely. 

My neighbour has a little girl 4 months younger than the Little Prince so one would think we would be together quite often so the kids can play together...but this mom actually told me she doesn't care one bit about a social life.  She actually built an entire playground in their backyard so she would never have to take her kids to the playground where she might have to interact with other people.  I can see what they watch on tv from my house but she isn't willing to suck it up for a couple of hours a week so her own child learns to socialize. 

There have been times when I am lonely.  It is hard being the one who makes all of the plans and arranges all of the get togethers.  My friends almost always show up but they never reciprocate and sometimes I just get tired of being the glue.  If I dont do all of the work I can find myself going weeks on end without any social interaction.  It would be nice if someone invited me to something for a change instead of waiting for me to make all the plans.  Katiesperk commented that she is a reciprocator - I wish more people would be like that!  I have no problem making the first move but then we never get invited in return.  So we never invite people again.

So tell me...are you in the same boat?  Do you have to do all the inviting or wind up sitting home alone all the time?  Or are you the person who doesnt reach out until you are invited to something?

Have a fabulous day!


Michelle said...

Well, I wish we were neighbors! Though, we might never get anything productive done (at least in the eyes of the men in our lives! LOL). I have moved a lot because of dear husband's job so I have often been the one on the "reaching out" side as it seems our culture has seemingly forgotten how to welcome someone new. I finally learned to chalk it up to others have very full lives and don't realize they need new friends and not taking it personally (sometimes much easier said than done!)

Though, it is different in different areas. Our last location (which was basically where we both grew up) was harder to make friends and really have a group or intimate friends to socialize. I really felt like I had to ALWAYS be the driving force. Fortunately, the area we moved to last summer is the complete opposite. People are outreaching and really want to get to know you. It was almost overwhelming at first in comparison. People are just very social here across the board, which we love. Our neighbors are wonderful (although they are all older and none have younger children) but they continually invite us - and our children - into their lives. I have also been blessed with a group of women friends that I can be candid and transparent with that are my age. Although, they are new friends they have blessed me so much!

I loved this post and wish everyone could read it!!!!

The enchanted home said...

Great post and a real thought provoking one at that. I agree SOME women are so shallow and/or insecure that they just would rather not make the first move and risk getting hurt so they don't and therefore probably lead very empty lives. It has always been important to me, to have at least a few really good friends. I am soooo blessed I have 5 people who literally are like my sisters/soul wouldn't be the same without them. They have been through every celebration with me and every disappointment....they have helped me through thick and thin. They epitomize the word freindship, giving and unselfishness. I think dynamics change when women get older, some are more confident and have no problem seeking out new friends, others get complacent in their lives and don't want to "risk things" so don't branch to me, (and I realize this more as I get older) is all about opening new doors...if what lies beyond isn't so great, shut it and move on..but often something wonderfully unexpected is there waiting, this has happened many times and I would encourage everyone to "open a new door" starting today!!

A Texas Gal said...

I see this all of the time. I love to go out, see my friends and truly love being around them, but I REFUSE REFUSE REFUSE to be the only one who plans, invites, calls etc.

So I know who my "give and take" friends are...and I know who my "take and take" "friends" are.

The take and take kind - they don't last long - because I know they won't be there for me when I need them.

So I have a handful of AMAZING girlfriends - ones close by and ones that live far away...and I'd rather spend my time with them than with the ones who only call me when they have nothing better to do.

I wrote about friendships in two posts...

KatiePerk said...

Such an interesting post! There were lots of points I hadn't considered. I tend to be a reciprocator. If I am invited, I will invite later...

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you wrote this!! We just moved to a brand new place and I am so excited to meet new people, but while we lived in our last town for 5 years, I met some great people, but I am the SAME as you! I always plan the parties and invite everyone only to be sitting at home when WE don't plan something...I know people are busy, but I just don't understand it sometimes. I DO take it personally and wonder why we don't get invited to more events, but then I look a little deeper and find out there AREN'T more events; we are the only ones who plan things! I am extremely afraid of rejection and have sometimes doubted myself as a friend, but I know that I am a great friend. I, too, am always that person at funerals, pageants, games, etc...only to find myself at those same events alone because my friends don't reciprocate. Anyways, I'm so glad you wrote this so I don't feel like I am alone's just frustrating sometimes to be in this situation. Who wants to sit home every single night? We love to go out and socialize and want to find other people who want to do the same!

I hope you have a great week!!!! :)


Natalie said...

Your post really spoke to me. It felt like you wrote all the things that have been in my head!

I have definitely experienced this. I was the one who planned birthday lunches, bridal showers, etc etc. When my bday came around, not one of them did anything :/ Not that you should expect it but I felt like I was giving giving giving with nothing in return.

highheeledlife said...

As always your posts offer much insight and are thought provoking.

Having undergone many changes in my life both living in a new place (going from city to country living); being under renovations (limiting entertaining opportuniites)and adjusting to post accident life - I have noticed some long time friends ~ understand my need to take socializing slow and that at times I may retreat (to re-energize), and don't take these times personally... while others are "What about ME".."ME, ME" people and over time fade.

Along with my long time understanding friends, I have been blessed with new friends (you are among these), who also understand my MIA moments.

It's important to look at all facets when it comes to friendships ... understanding and not taking things personally is a key ingredient.
Also technology as much as a blessing .. has changed the way people socailize and relate to each other ... which does affect the bonding between people.

Again great post! and don't forget to email me some dates you have available in your schedule for coming out the country. xo HHL

Miss Janice said...

Oh SP LOVE this post! We've moved so many times in our 28 years of marriage, I often wish I could bring all my friends from all parts of the country and move them onto my street. Believe it or not, I do not have close friends in the town where I live now. It's horrible, 'cuz I love having good friends around. I do pretty much everything by myself. A lot of my good friends live an hour away and some are they come up to see me from Broward County {about an hour away}. Anywho...personally, I would rather be by myself and with my husband than to socialize with people just to be socializing.

hostess of the humble bungalow said...

What insight Princess!

Friendships do need to be tended to like a garden...weed out, water and plant more seeds...enjoy the blooms.

I have been fortunate enough to maintain friendships from grade school...have lots of aquaintances from volunteering and different clubs but the closest ones are those of gals that I have seen regularly and speak to on the phone weekly...even if it's just to check in and see what's new in their patch.

If we were close by I can see some fun filled days spent laughing and sharing adventures.
The fact that you are so outgoing is what is appealing...
you are my kind of people.

MommyLisa said...

I guess I try to do inviting. I have, but I don't do it often enough - you know?

Marilyn *Pink Martinis and Pearls* said...

Very thought provoking and honest. One thing I have learned is that many people who were once in one's social circle due to shared child involvement end once that activity ends. I feel email and texting can also have a dark side that chips away at face time and can erode relationships. I believe it can make people insecure such as your friend's response which happened to me recently.

I was having security problems with my email and unsubscribed to newsletters that were coming in, one being a friend's newsletter. I received an email from her immediately accusing me that I didn't care about her business anymore when she had been supportive of mine. I wrote back and told her what was going on and suggested a simple phone call to a friend (to me) would have cleared this up for her. I am now apprehensive to contact her because of her attack and judgement. But like her, I am also assuming rejection awaits me. :)

Ms. Bake-it said...

What a great post! No matter what the basis is of a relationship, it takes work. Both (all) parties involved have to put forth effort into it in order for the relationship to thrive. Some women tend to be self-centered and want the friendship to be all about them and some are too insecure and afraid to take the first step toward initiating a friendship.

I am lucky in that I have two very close friends with whom I have been friends with for over 25 years as well as a few other long time friendships. We are secure enough in our friendship that it does not require daily contact with one another but can easily pick up after a lapse in time. Then there are the ones I consider more along the lines of acquaintances. There have been some people that have come into my life that I thought would make great friends but where I ended up being the one to always initiate calls and invites. When that happens I have to admit that I gradually break off the supposed friendship. There are times I prefer to have some alone time and may decline an invitation, but I return the favor at another time. I will not be friends with a person who is resentful of time not spent with them or requires some type of daily communication and have recently broken off a friendship like that. People tend to be busy and a real friend should understand that and not take it personally. I am a very family oriented person and have a large Italian family so I do tend to spend a lot of time with my family. This particular “friend” began to resent all the time I spend with my grandson and I had no choice but to gradually wean her from my life. I was not too bothered about it because we really were drifting apart and going in other directions. She is very high-maintenance / high-strung and it always had to be about her – no reciprocation at all.

I think it is very important for women to have friends and, most especially, at least one very close friend and have encouraged my dil to cultivate some friendships.

Because of what I perceive as your outgoing personality and wit, I must admit that I too find it surprising that you were not popular in school. But, then again, I am not the same person I was in school either.


Bring Pretty Back said...

This post was great!! I just returned from Vegas where I was Matron of honor in one of my childhood friends wedding. Another friend of ours was there as well, the two of them lived together when they were younger in another state. Some people at the wedding were surprised the other fiend was not the matron of honor and I was. This is why... they grew apart. The other friend herself said, they grew apart. They didn't take the time to keep in touch. This was perfect to read today. I agree 100 percent with every single word!
Have a pretty day!

Leigh Powell Hines said...

This was a good post, SP. I'm guilty of both if that is possible, and I think it is.

I had a friend just drop off the face of the earth, and I was offended by it because I really liked her, but I guess I wasn't important to her. We ceased all contact after her daughter got in pre-school. I thought it was so weird. She had a second child and I did not. My good friend said that perhaps she just got busy with life, but I think it goes in line with what Pink Martini said about "child involvement". Different schedules of pre-schools, etc. I tried to keep in touch, but she just wouldn't respond to things so I decided it was not worth it. She didn't like Facebook so she took herself of that. FB has its faults, but it does help some people stayed glued together or else, i think many more people would drift apart. I have found that if I didn't make the effort than I wouldn't hear a thing...

And on the thing about the funeral. I feel really badly that I didn't attend a friend's father funeral. She didn't attend my father's either. My dad died first. But it was out of town, and my son was sick, and one of our cars was in the shop. The timing was just bad. I think it bothered her, but it was just difficult.

Sometimes, I find it is easier to just have a few close friends to do things with, and the rest are "colleagues" or as I call them "work friends". We get together so our kids will be entertained, but don't do much socially outside of the hours....9 to 5 pm weekdays.

Janice said...

we have discussed this before and I am so glad you blogged about this. I just this week did the invited again...women are vicious. I am 45 and you are preaching to the choir sister. I have decided I am moving to the deep woods where no one can find me. Including family! You and I can attend out own parties. haha but I love people. So I will keep on and just smile...
your twitter friend (tucker2j)

Unknown said...

Great post, and good for you to continue to be who you are and just be the friend that you know you are. Even after being hurt. Been there done that.

I have struggled since moving back to Minnie with female friendships and I do love to plan, but I also love to be invited, although it is usually me doing the planning and inviting.

I wish that women understood the impact that they have on one another. Thanks for writing this.

Teena in Toronto said...

Friendships are so important. Gord and I do a lot of stuff together but I make a point of getting together with friends without him too. Like tomorrow I'm going to see a movie with two friends. And I had supper last week with three friends.

Mrs Stepford said...

Wow, just wow. That post has been one of the most thought provoking things I have read this year.

I am so guilty of feeling 'lonely' and not having female friends (its hard when you move a lot like I do), and as much as I try to make the effort - it's not easy to tell a new friend. Hey, make the effort back will ya?

This post deservingly needs to be published in a womens magazine for ALL to see - not just the lucky readers who have found your blog.

I am copy/pasting and sending this to the women in my life.


AiringMyLaundry said...

Friendships can be hard. I've had some friends where I feel like I have to make all the plans and it can get frustrating. Eventually I get irritated and stop making plans.

Travelbugmom said...

Wow, so much in this post~I don't know what to address first! Well, I'm the PLANNER...the DO "er"....the "cruise director" if you will. For many, many years, I felt if I didn't initiate the GET together it wouldn't happen. Over the years {much older than you]....I began to realize that I have wasted a LOT of energy on [for lack of a better word] "unnecessary" friendships.

I'll clarify, with having 4 children it is impossible not to KNOW many many people through school and sports. At any given time in the last 20 years, my circle of friends have changed.

I think the answer you may need to hear is that "YOU ARE WHO YOU ARE" and no analysis is needed. The "friends" I thought I would have for LIFE have hurt and surprised me. There is no rhyme or reason to who I feel closest to. My neighbor who lets the dog out for me in a pinch to the college friend who got my son an interview at J.P. Morgan to the couple we met on our honeymoon and have seen only a handful of times....I feel close to them all!

So lastly, my dear BLOG friend....there is a connection....I will be a BLOG friend for as long as you BLOG!!

m.e. said...

OHHH my gosh! I am really struggling with this exact thing. I was the ringleader of a book club. Organized, invited, etc. For over 2 years only one person ever reciprocated! (ok I refuse to count invites to home parties for the purpose of buying something when the hostess has never ever had me over for even a cup o coffee) I felt like it was high school where they were nice to my face but never really included. I think you should be paid for the public service this post has done. You diagnosed and treated a rampat social disease!!! xoxo thanks!!

Suburban Princess said...

m.e. I have stopped going to shopping parties if the hostess has never spoken to me for anything else. It's so tacky! It's like saying, we dont really want you but would you mind sending your credit card?

Jenn @ My Kind of Strange said...

Well....first I'll say great post. I agree with everyone else that it was thought provoking. Where I will differ is that I am NOT the planner. I don't know why...haven't soul-se arched enough to figure out why I hesitate to make that first step and extend the invite. But, maybe the answer is right there in my choice of words...I hesitate. I always have my whole life. My fir St job as a teenager was in a clothing store as (of all things) a greeter....wrong position for me. My first day the store manager told me I was to stand at the front of the store and say hi to people as they entered. My response..."for no reason!"

I am now 39 years old and I have one friend who am am the close to being able to sharing everything with after a relationship of roughly.....oh.... 8 years off and on. She's the planner...for sure. She is the one at lunch who returns unacceptable food...I eat the unacceptable food or le ave hungry...she lodges complaints and demands service...I take what they give.....I suggest that perhaps (surprising to me) that there are a lot more of the painfully shy (me) than there are of the outgoing types (you gals). Which is not to say I don't enjoy going out and doing things...I'm just very reserved...I don't engage in conversation as much as others...I'm the awkward one that smiles quietly at funny things. Your friends or ex-friends rather are likely to fall into the painfully shy category.

Painfully shy is a world where you you break out in sweat and experience a good deal of anxiety at the thought of gathering in a room full of people in social situation. One-on-one...mostly I'm fine...takes me a while to warm up but then after I've warmed up you can't shut me up.

My friend that does all the planning is due for a visit in a couple of weeks...she invited herself which didn't give me a pause until I read your post today when I realized that...yes, you're right...if she had not never would have occurred to me to offer. If it had I would have immediately dismissed the thought with the notion she wouldn't want to stay with me. If you've done one thing with this post you've made appreciate my planner-friend and I'll make sure to show some appreciTion...plan something in the future...ummmmm...maybe.

Jill said...

I'm chiming in a bit late, but loved this post and also all of the comments. I tend to be the "glue" as well and do most of the planning, asking, and driving! I got divorced last summer and that is another true test of who rises to the top and shows true friendship. I was stunned that some of my long-time "friends" (15+years) did not even bother to check in, while some women I've known less than a year have been so supportive and caring. You are so observant in your blog post and hit the nail on the head in several examples. And, I would also like to point out that, as a female who has worked in the corporate world over 25 years, these same examples illustrate why women are still struggling in so many areas on the working world-- we are our own worst enemies.

how i met your father blog said...

i'm so glad i saved this post to read when i had a minute to sit and digest.
i think this is so true, especially what your husband said about women not being able to distinguish between dating life and friends life. i find it hard for me to recognize boundaries and to balance the two.
i am often the person, though, do do the inviting, the planning, the arranging. when friends say "i never see you anymore," it's oftentimes because they haven't taken a minute to ask what i'm doing or what my plans are or if i'd like to grab drinks/dinner/coffee.

thank you for posting -- there's a lot of great food for thought here!

Anonymous said...

Great post that I am coming late too, as I'm without child or dog I know hardly anyone around here, I just don't meet people and am very isolated. I bumped into an old acquaintance tonight and took his phone number, I will make a point of making a coffee date with him as he is also without children or a dog and that's how folk round these parts meet!