to feel sad and lonely (friends)

(47 Posts)
Greenkit Sat 20-Apr-13 18:24:37

Probably not AIBU, but you get the most traffic and well, you know...

So I am 42, married, three kids 23, 16 and 15, I work full time (shift work) and I have no friends. There said it. Not one.

I have people I work with, I am an adult instructor with Army cadets and I have people there whom I know etc. But no one I would call a friend, someone who I could go out for a drink with, or invite round for a cup od tea or go to the cinema with.

^ They all do that, and I do go out with them, but I feel like i'm forcing myself on them as I don't actually get asked more tag along.

I'm not a shrinking violet, I can strike up a conversation with anyone. I am a good person, helpful, but not too in your face.

So what do you consider a 'friend' and how many do you have?

Why don't I have any? sad

MiniEggsJumpedInMyBasket Mon 22-Apr-13 11:27:11

Greenkit, my advice would be to stop doing things for people. From experience, people like yourself that are lovely and helpful and want to do favours for others, do get walked over. Users/Takers have a radar for people that are eager and willing to do things for them and take advantage of this, and of course never offer things in return.

I wouldn't say that I never do favours. However I only do favours for those that I consider to be very close friends. Not because I want something back, but because I know they will appreciate it, and also because my time is valuable and I don't want to spend it doing things for others all the time. I'm quite choosy about what I'll do and who I will do it for.

MichaelaS Mon 22-Apr-13 11:07:34

I agree that lots of adults are lonely now and it's a growing problem. I found the church fantastically helpful here. I am a member of a local small church and over 10 years all my best friends are now through it. They are local, they are mostly friendly, giving instead of needy, and have an ethos of mutual support and openness which is uncommon in many groups in society. Not all churches are like this, but many are.

We have a women's social group which is fab for deepening relationships from acquaintances into friendships. There are also lots of things you can "volunteer" at such as doing teas and coffees on a Sunday morning which forces you to meet people whilst letting you hide behind an activity.

Even if you're not interested in the faith, perhaps you could look at local church related activities like mum and baby groups or women's groups or older people's groups (whichever you fit into or feel comfortable with). I know my church would be happy to welcome anyone who said look I'm not interested in Christianity but I wanted to make some local friends and wondered if I could come along to x y or z?

Try it, you might be surprised!

Greenkit Mon 22-Apr-13 09:57:48

When I say used, I mean im happy to do stuff for people, drive places, help out. But if need help no one is interested or they are all (Hark at me 'all') busy.

I'm not needy or in your face wanting to meet every five mins, but it would be good to catch up once a month for tea and a chat.

I do have a hobby its Army Cadets and I get a great deal of enjoyment out of it, I run a unit and we go away on weekends and 10 days annual camp, and when we are away I am the life and soul of the party and people look me out for chats and advice. But when we come home, im forgotten...

I know my working shifts doesn't really help as I work earlys, lates and nights, a lot of the time it falls on a weekend when people get together.

ComposHat Mon 22-Apr-13 01:50:53

I moved to another city to do a PhD. I have never had a problem making friends, but in the new city, I've not really 'clicked' with anyone, like you I do social stuff, but none of these have developed into friendships As a result I'm desperately lonely, except for when my partner comes to visit.

It is weird because I really don't recognise this person I've become and I've become very withdrawn as a result. It seems really strange to say 'I'm lonely' as an adult, because it seems so pathetic in a way - but it really is a terrible, terrible emotion to experience and you have my sympathy. I have found that MN in a way has filled the vacuum I need for chit chat and silliness.

DionFortune Mon 22-Apr-13 00:02:09

I feel exactly like this at the moment, this thread couldn't have been better timed tbh!

I'm really struggling with loneliness too, I have always had friends who end up taking the piss, with the result that I keep people at arms length nowadays. Some wise words on this thread, I am furiously taking notes...

<I'm not really>

Me too! I have mates through dd1s activities and from my old work but not close mates. Where's everyone from and maybe we can all see if any of us loners live near each other!
I'm in Devon

ReluctantlyBeingYoniMassaged Sun 21-Apr-13 20:09:53

Loner here too! Just work colleagues for me.

SoleSource Sun 21-Apr-13 20:07:55

Recently made a new friend but I think she is lovely but a bit of a user. It is very difficult to find good friends.

MiniEggsJumpedInMyBasket Sun 21-Apr-13 17:44:01

I think as long as you feel happy with the friendships Neo, and feel that you are benefitting in some way from them and you like those friends, then they're fine.

It sounds like your talkative friend is perhaps just being a little thoughtless rather than malicious or rude, as it sounds as though she does nice things for you and is a good friend. Your friend that does you favours probably values you as you repay her friendship in other ways; perhaps you offer excellent advice or are always there with a listening ear.

I think, for me, it's when a number of factors combine that I can't put down to a friend being thoughtless or down or whatever, added with the factor that I'm not getting anything from the friendship at all, that I decide to call time on a friendship. It rarely gets as far as being a friendship as such before I tend to notice these things and make a decision though iykwim

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Sun 21-Apr-13 17:37:21

MiniEggs I have a very dear friend who has done a lot for me over the years but she always talks about her own troubles for hours and never gives pause to hear mine.

It annoys me but I sort of put up with it because she is good company and would help me if she could.

I have another friend who I rely on a lot for lifts and things but I always offer to help her out with her DC...I regularly reiterate that she's to call me to babysit where needed.

Does that sound ok to you? both friendships I mean?

Dominodonkey Sun 21-Apr-13 17:15:27

YANBU - You do have to make an effort to keep friends. I have about 3 or 4 people that fall into the call at 3am category but sometimes I have felt I am losing people and make the effort to organise things to do with them. I think sometimes you have to be brave and contact someone who you get on with to go out for a coffee or to the cinema - then they might turn into friends rather than aquaintances. People I know who have lots of good friends are all very supportive and have loads of time for their friends.

MiniEggsJumpedInMyBasket Sun 21-Apr-13 16:39:48

In my experience, Neo, friends that 'use' are generally toxic people across the board anyway. For example the woman that I referred to earlier that I felt was a bit of a user expected me to do her favours at the drop of a hat but would never do anything for me, expected me to listen to her woes constantly but never even as much as asked how I was. She literally wanted me to sit there and listen to her on the phone every evening for hours. About all different kinds of problems. Plus she had a habit of making nasty little comments dressed up as compliments or disguised as her just being 'honest'. I think, if I was the type to let her use me then I can safely say she is a user/taker. In that she was willing to use me as a babysitter, an agony aunt and also as a verbal punchbag. Obviously I sussed this out not long after getting to know her, and decided that she wasn't friend material, at least not for me, and was able to slowly back away from her.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Sun 21-Apr-13 16:06:18

Marmite that'a very self aware of you to think of. I have had experience of a good friend cutting me out all of a sudden. It was because I couldn't make a pre arranged date...she called me up and told me I'd done it too often (I'd done it about 3 times in 3 years) and to her this wasn't good enough.

I was very hurt as I love her as a mate. I didn't be forgiveness though as I was shocked really.

Can I ask what people mean by "Used"?

MiniEggsJumpedInMyBasket Sun 21-Apr-13 14:14:05

Marmite, I used to be used quite a lot and used to end up then cutting people off. What I find more nowadays is that I am getting better at sussing people out when I first start to get to know them. For example I got to know one mum at the school and after a while it became clear that she was out for what she could get (babysitting, someone to listen to her endless woes, and she also kept making nasty/personal comments). What I did was put some boundaries down; I now only see her in a group situation, both with and without kids, so I am able to talk to others apart from her. I started declining any requests for favours and she soon stopped asking. I'm quite vague with her, happy to make general chit chat but I decline any invites round to hers where there will be just the two of us. In other words, I make sure to treat her as an acquaintance rather than a friend, but hopefully to her I am still friendly and chatty, I just don't let her 'in'

exoticfruits Sun 21-Apr-13 14:07:12

I think it best to aim to have lots if acquaintances and don't expect a lot from them - some will become friends in time - some won't.

marmite69 Sun 21-Apr-13 13:52:31

God you lot are so wise! I think I have had too high expectations of friends and when they let me down I just cut them out of my life, with the result that now I have no friends! But should you let yourself be used just to keep a friend?
I'm an only child and am mostly quite happy in my own company, but as someone said you have to give out to get back,which if I am honest with myself I haven't done.
I think it easier to be a man,dh has fishing friends,golf friends ,he doesn't see them at any other time but they don't seem to mind.
Sorry waffling now but some posts just really made me think!

emsyj Sun 21-Apr-13 12:17:10

MiniEggs talks a lot of sense I think - you have to remember that the friends who are true friends will be very much in the minority. Nobody has 20 or 30 amazing friends who would support them through a breakdown, or a divorce, or offer them a roof if they were in trouble. If you have one or two, then that is very very lucky and you should treasure those people.

Folk who are 'popular' (for want of a better word) have low expectations of others and don't invest too much in social acquaintances. I have several groups of friends and with most of those people I would generally keep conversation light and not expect them to listen to me talking about problems etc. By way of example, if I had had a massive row with the ILs or whatever, I might mention it in a lighthearted way and say, 'ooooh they're a nightmare' but I wouldn't sit and cry and have an in-depth discussion about it. There are probably two people I would do that with - and one of them is my mother!

It's enjoyable to have lots of friends, but don't make the mistake of thinking that a friend who you have a night out with, or go to soft play with, or have lunch with at work is the same as a true friend who you can ring and say, 'god I'm bloody miserable today, can I come over?' If you treat a social friend the way you would treat a true friend it just doesn't work very well IME.

I spent years having high expectations of all friends and therefore spent years feeling disappointed. Now, I have zero expectations of 99% of people and it makes life a lot easier. I don't take things personally - as a previous poster said, people who treat you shoddily tend to be like that with everyone. If you are likely to feel resentful of doing someone a favour that you know they wouldn't return if you asked, feel free to smile cheerily and say, 'Oh gosh, sorry, I can't!' They won't be offended - they're not like you, they don't have the same high expectations (of themselves or of others) - they'll just ask someone else!

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Sun 21-Apr-13 10:15:45

MiniEggs I agree.....I have just made new friends and weirdly it coincided with me not caring so much what people thought of me....I think 've stopped being so guarded.

I was very guarded...wouldn't let anyone in for fear of being judged. Then Ihad a life changing experience and had to pull my DD out of private school....all my previous persona...being succesful etc was taken away...and I had to change.

As a result I made a lot of new friends rather suddenly...they just appeared....it was when we went to a new (state) school. People were just so friendly and so helpful....I was open about where we'd come from and how we didn't even have a car anymore....and people were great. I also try not to judge others....some people aren't so friendly and I think "Well they're fighting their own battles and who know what?" so I just try to be smiling and nice to people and it seems to work.

Before that, DH and I both had no friends apart from Uni mates who all lived in another part of the country. Suddenly DH has someone to go running with....I have people to have coffee with...people pop round....it's different because We're different.

Christelle2207 Sun 21-Apr-13 09:49:57

I sympathise op. I have school/uni friends but they all live 150 plus miles away so see very rarely. Have no local friends, though there are some people I am friendly with and occasionally socialise with. Also friendly with work people but would never see them outside work. Dh's situation is very similar so we get ourselves through it and visit faraway friends when we can.
I'm expecting dc1 at the moment and plan to make a concerted effort to meet new people through that, if it doesn't work then I really am screwed.
What doesn't help is the area we live in, which neither of us is from, seems to be full of people who have been here for ever all with their own established friends etc. We both found it easier when we lived in London which is full of "outsiders".

dimsum123 Sun 21-Apr-13 09:39:09

Kittens, I think you're right. I don't really enjoy close friendships but at the same time I wish I had a close friend who lived locally to me.

I have one friend I've grown up with really, since age 16, we are 43 now, but she lives an hour away so we don't see each other that often. We are always trying to persuade the other to move closer.

I agree with the pp who said that the friendship that builds up over time when you go through major milestones together are hard to find later in life.

I think I am looking for another local friend like the one I mentioned above but it's impossible as I'm 43 now not 16. That friendship is so easy, we can call up anytime, talk about anything, but also neither gets offended if we can't call for a while if busy etc.

I suppose I know a few local mums who I could call at 3am but am not sure they are 'friends', just decent people who I know would help out if they could.

MiniEggsJumpedInMyBasket Sun 21-Apr-13 09:30:19

I know this is going to sound mad but for me, things improved when I stopped giving a shit and taking things personally. I've been treated badly by a fair few friends in the past but a while ago I decided enough was enough and that I was going to draw a line under it and not dwell on it any longer, accept that they were probably bitches and did it to as many people that they could get away with, and that I was going to be a lot more choosy with who I was friends with in future. I also decided to get close to fewer people, and to try to identify who was a casual acquaintance, and then if the casual acquaintance didn't act like a 'friend' I wouldn't be disappointed. And I've had a real think about what my boundaries are and what I'm prepared to tolerate. And the other thing is I've decided to keep people at arm's length more, and be very very choosy about who I will and won't confide in.

What I have also done is cut out anyone in my life, in a very subtle way, that I think has been a toxic influence. I had a couple of 'friends' from my DCs school that I felt were up and down with me, and often did/said quite toxic things so the first thing I did was pull back from them. I found having a think about my boundaries really made me make my boundaries firmer and made it clearer to me the kind of friends that I want.

Oddly since I've stopped giving a monkeys, I have more people inviting me out and wanting to be my 'friend' than I ever have done. I'm not quite sure what the turning point was for me not caring, it just sort of happened really. I'm never going to be one of those people that is in constant photos of nights out on FB, nor am I ever going to be a 'friend collector'. But that's because I choose not to be. I've realised I do actually really like my own company. I like seeing friends and acquaintances too, but not all the time, I like my own space too and time to spend with DH and the DCs. During the school holidays at Easter I met up with friends and their children once, but they were two lovely friends whose company I really enjoyed and the kids all got on well together. I'd sooner that than meeting up with different people every day and having to keep in touch with so many 'friends'. One FB friend of mine is always out with different people, tagging them on FB and posting photos, and it makes me feel exhausted the thought of having to keep up with, and socialise with, so many people!

I'd say these days I probably have round 4 or 5 people I'd say are true friends, in that they would be there for me if I needed any support or help. Three of these are online friends, and two are local. I don't see them all that often or keep in extremely frequent contact but I know they would be there for me if I needed them. I am close to my sister too.

I treat most other people as acquaintances really. I have nights out with them, or a coffee or whatever, but I don't expect anything from them. If I go out on a few nights out with them and then they arrange another night out without me it doesn't bother me, as I didn't rank them as a friend in the first place, so I have no expectations and just enjoy it when I do see them, if that makes sense. I make small talk at the school gates, and will go on mums nights out or chat at kids parties, but again everyone is very much at arm's length. I do still get people that treat me badly from time to time but I shrug it off and on reflection they are usually like it with loads of people anyway.

KittensoftPuppydog Sun 21-Apr-13 09:18:15

Is there a type of person you attract, maybe because you are repeating patterns set in childhood? Or maybe you attract the type of people who can sense that you are a bit needy or shy and therefore think you will be easy to manipulate?
Perhaps, also, you don't really enjoy close friendships, but just feel that you should have them. I found that I got really irritated by 'demanding' friends when actually they wanted me to do stuff, like meet them, or chat for hours on the phone and I found it all a bit stressful.
Everyone is different. I enjoy working with people and taking classes where there is a common interest, but I don't really enjoy small talk or chatting. Took me years to work this out. I'm still lonely sometimes, but realise it's partly my own fault.
Please don't be sad. You're not alone, as you can see.

Greenkit Sun 21-Apr-13 07:54:19

I am at work at the moment so can only put a few snatched words down. I will read and have a think.

LookingForwardToMarch Sun 21-Apr-13 07:33:46

Also billy no mates here sad

I had a few friends that I spent all my time with a few years ago. But eventually realised I didn't want to carry on with that lifestyle (ashamed to say it but drugs)

A few clean years later and just having had dd1 ( she's 9 weeks smile I realised I had no proper mates anymore.

Greenkit Sun 21-Apr-13 07:06:20

Thank you so much for all your responses, without sounding a bit mean, its good to know im not the only one.

TBH since I have left school, im not sure I have ever had any 'friends' I try and be a good friend but tend to be used and dumped.

I dunno, maybe I should make more effort with the people who are around me?

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