Tired of being the "comfortable friend"

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Tired of being the "comfortable friend"
7
Wed, 11-19-2003 - 12:26pm
Hi everyone,

I'm new to this board, and I don't even know if this is where I should be posting this message, but I wasn't able to find a more appropriate place to get opinions about current friendships from people my age (31). I'm hoping you can help, or maybe point me in the right direction.

Just a little background.... Growing up, I was quite shy. My dad was loving, but strict, my mom was shy yet firm. My brother & I had a great family life, and we wouldn't have changed a thing. When I got to high school, I became very outgoing, and became known as the life of the party. My senior year, I transfered from an all-girls school to a co-ed school, and the boys swarmed. I was very cute, athletic, and just seemed to get along better with boys than I did girls (although I had plenty of friends of both sexes). For all intents & purposes, I was the "popular" girl. I got along with everyone at school, and never had an enemy. I stuck up for the shy kids, volunteered to tutor after school, but still maintained my "social status" outside of school. This trend continued into college, and even for a year or so afterward. However, things have drastically changed since then.

College was over 10 years ago. In that time, I have gotten married, bought a house, had a son, and have become a housewife. I was the first one in our "group" to get married (at age 22); the first to buy a house (at age 27) have a kid (age 29) and just plain "grow up." It seems that every time I hit one of these milestones in my life, my friends have become more distant. I don't get it, and I'm very hurt by it. I only have one other friend from my highschool days who I still talk to on a regular basis. We keep in touch by e-mail several times a week, but we never actually get together. She now has her own new clique of friends, that I am not a part of. I am more like a penpal to her that the hip highschool friends we used to be. While her social life is something to be envied, I am no longer a part of it. I have several other friends who I talk to, but they all have these other "groups" that they are a part of. I am not part of any group. I was told by one friend that I am the most "comfortable" friend she has. What does that mean? She only talks to me when she has a problem, and unfortunately, that's how most of my friends have become. They call me when they need to talk, or have something on their mind, but they never call to say, "Let's go to a movie. Let's do dinner. Let's grab a beer." I'm SOOOO tired of being the "comfortable" friend. I feel so left out. I don't know how I got to this place in my life. When my best friend Lisa tells me she is going out with her friends, I never get invited. However, when her dogs need to be let out because she can't make it home at lunch time, she calls me. I don't necessarily feel like I'm being used - I feel like I'm helping out a friend. I have had parties at my house so that all my "bits & pieces" friends (I know one person from my son's playgroup, another is a neighbor, another is an old friend - none of them know each other) can meet each other, but none of them EVER invite me to gatherings that they have with their other friends. It's almost as if they are embarrased of me for some reason. I'm starving for friendship, and I think I'm a great person. Nothing has changed about my personality, and I'm still a very outgoing, fun person. The only thing that has changed is that I'm a bit overweight from my pregnancy (although I've lost 26 lbs. recently) but that's about all that's different. I just want to fit in.

Do any of you have any idea why this is happening? Has it happened to you? What should I do. I just don't feel like I belong anywhere. Thanks for reading, and thanks in advance for your help.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-2003
Wed, 11-19-2003 - 12:41pm
Hey there-

I'm sorry you feel so lonely and left out. :(

I'm guessing from the sound of things you never left the area you grew up in? Have you been around the same people most of your life? Just as you might feel you are left out, so may your other friends believe it or not. Have you turned down their invites to do things because of your son or doing "family" stuff? The reason I ask is because I’m 33 and single, but every single one of my friends who have gotten married, and especially after they have kids sorta leave ME as a friend. Sure I see them, but only when the kids don't have a cold or their doing something with another couple. After awhile, I give up asking them to do things and a lot of times the ONLY time I ever get invited to one of their things is when it's a baby shower or something like that. Not my idea of fun. But that's just me.

The point is, people change and people grow. Interests and priorities change as well. You can't hang on to what was because it's not the same anymore. Perhaps your friends don't feel they have a lot in common with you anymore. I don't invite my friends with babies anymore to go to the movies with me because I know they will say no. So I invite them to maybe a quick lunch or something. No where near the amount of time I used to spend with them. It just happens, and it happens to most people.

Your friends maybe feel jealous of you too. Maybe they are reminded of something that they want but don't have at this time in their life. Just a speculation so take that with a grain of salt.

I think you best bet would be to pursue things that interest YOU. My friend with a new baby goes to this movie theater in santa monica on Tuesday mornings that is specifically for parents and kids only. Maybe you could get involved in your child's school or something. Or, pick one day out of the week that your hubby can take care of your son and make it a regular thing to see your friends or shop or see a movie.

Anyway, you're not alone; I'm just on the reverse end of things. :)

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-12-2003
Wed, 11-19-2003 - 1:24pm
I'm sorry I don't really have any advice for ya, but I just wanna say that you are not alone! For the most part, I could have written that post myself! Except I was only 17 when I met my husband, 19 when I had my first child, and the friendships all dropped off quickly after that. I was lucky to have lots of help from family with my son, so I never turned down any invites from my friends, still, the invites just quickly stopped coming. I have made aquaintances, and even reconnected with old friends and that's when it really started to bother me, when I saw that my old friends are all still so close to each other, and while most of them are still single, some of them have married and have kids' as well, and they seem to always have time for each other, but not for me. =(
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-18-2003
Wed, 11-19-2003 - 5:51pm
I've been there...I was married at 21 and had my first of two children at 23. Was married for 10 years and all of my friends went on with their life. The one that really hurt the most was my childhood friend. Grew up...she was in my wedding..there when my first was born and then vanish...I ended up hearing she got married from my hair dresser. People change. I cant hold anything against her because I did get in touch with her years later when her husband died suddenly. She explained that we just grew apart. Nothing I did made her go away. So now, I'm no longer married but have two wonderful kids and I just moved away from a town I lived in for 37 years. About 30 miles away in the country. I dont know anyone here, yet I feel as if I'm all right with that. Find something that is of interest that you could devulge yourself in ...for you only. I started taking guitar lessons a year and a half ago and I love it. It's very relaxing to come home from a day of work and play the guitar. I also started to go back to school and am working on my masters. It's one night a week and the homework keeps me busy. When I see my grades and credits going up, I feel like I'm really accomplishing something for myself. As you get older, you have a hell of a lot of "acquaintances" but the friendships you really need are your family members...they will always be there for you!
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-22-2003
Thu, 11-20-2003 - 3:55pm
I am wondering if this happens because you don't really have interests in common with the various groups. For example, a friend may have a group that goes out and spends time talking politics, and she knows that yuou are not interested in that. It may be that your friends perceive you as not having much interesting to say, which of course hurts. But you may consider it a wake up call. Look at yourself in the mirror: what do you generally talk about? Only your family, kids and local gossip? If this is the case, you may want to look around yourself, start reading magazines, start learning about new movies, new books (local libraries are great places, most are also kid-friendly), places to go (a nearby park?), etc. It will be good for you.

However, I want to add that, regardless of your personal failings, your friends are not very nice if they come to you only for favors. maybe it is time to start screening them off. Next time they ask you to watch their dog say 'Sorry, i am too busy." and spend time doing something interesting for yourself!! I am sure you will find a lot of potential in yourself.
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-15-2003
Thu, 11-20-2003 - 8:35pm
Hi there!

I'm notorious for long posts....I just can't seem to be short and to the point, so if you don't wanna read the book, move on....no offense taken!

The same thing happened to me. I hung out with the popular crowd and was very involved in highschool. I was involved in the drama club, the school newspaper, and was football stat keeper. I got pregnant the summer before my senior year. I crammed my senior year into one semester so I could finish before my baby was born, got married and had the baby. My husband was in the military, so we moved away. I quickly lost touch with most of my closest friends.

I think mainly it was that our lives were so very different and we were in such different places. I was taking care of kids and hubby while they were going to college and parties. During that time, we really had no common interests and had a very difficult time relating to each others lives. Later, I was going to college, dealing with papers and exams while taking care of a family. They were just entering the work force and still dating or just getting married.

I'm 33 now and I recently reconnected with several old friends (www.classmates.com is a great site!). And we do have more in common now. Most are now newly married, have either very young kids or are just starting families. My kids are now teenagers. I can relate to what most of them are going through, cause I've been there, but I don't think they necessarily understand where I am in life now (Our son just got his drivers permit OMG!!! and our daughter just went through puberty and has a sexy little body that grown men stop to look at (and she's only 12!!!), and she has just discovered boys....my hair is turning gray as we speak!!!)

I don't worry much about losing touch with the old friends. I just look for new people to connect to. And that's kind of hard to do for me. There are not too many 33 year old women that have 15 year old kids and are still happily married to their highschool sweethearts. Sometimes I think I'm on a whole other planet!

I do make friends at work now, but I tend to have the role of "shoulder to cry on" and "advice giver". I think maybe again that's because I grew up so much earlier than they did and have more experience in "the grown-up world".

By the way, if there's anyone with a similar life experience and similar age, I'd love to connect! It would be great to find someone who is in a similar place in life!

Anyway, my advice would be, don't sweat the loss, instead look for new friends that have common interests and are in a similar place in life. If you can surround yourself with new friends, the loss of the old ones won't be so painful. For example, you obviously like golf (your user name)..is there a young golfers club in the area? You might find new friends there that have common interests. Anyway, welcome to the board! This is my first post on this particular board too, but I'm great at lurking!

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iVillage Member
Registered: 06-26-2002
Wed, 11-26-2003 - 12:18am
I could have written this post myself except that I am single and so are many of my friends, and I didn't really go through a popular and outgoing phase in high school. Other than that, I have been in your boat. I have also been the "friend" people turn to when they're bored, have a problem, or have no one else to talk to. (one year, I was on an out-of-town internship, and then the phone calls were pouring in. Then when I got back in town, those same "friends" stopped calling, and many didn't even return my calls. Go figure!) I also find it difficult to develop and maintain an active social life. Plus, I've moved a lot and am not exactly the most outgoing person. So you're definitely not alone! As one of the other posters said, you'd probably be better off distancing yourself from your current friends and refusing to do them any more favours (unless they reciprocate). You could also look into joining some groups e.g. maybe parent-kid groups at school or some fun classes/activities where you'd meet more young mothers like yourself. You'd probably have more in common with those new people.

I hope this helps. Take care and hang in there,

Sapna aka sap198

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-27-2003
Thu, 11-27-2003 - 6:21pm
I have no idea why they would not want to still know you like the old gal that they hung out with. It seems kind of weird. Maybe you need to cut your ties to them and grow...get over those high school friendships and let your new ones flourish..."cut the weeds out of your garden...let the new friendships grow". There is no question that asking me to take care of someone's dog is an imposition on my time, I would atleast expect to be asked to coffee or dinner once in awhile to show some acknowledgment or appreciation of your devotion to this person. I have dogs and nobody breaks their back to walk them if I dont go out, etc. Those groups they belong to are probably singles who are also trying to meet. My philosophy on dating now is at our age, we single women look like we want marriage from dating,and there are a lot of freaks out there that would take advantage of that, so probably they have a lot to complain about, but at the same time don't want to show some bitterness about being single, so they hide behind these social lives. It still looks to me like they are not going to fullfill you because your paths have altered in life, so drop your highschool image and refind yourself.. forget your friends for awhile and think about yourself.