Why is it so hard to make adult friends? That’s the question posed recently by Kara Baskin at Boston.com, in a hilarious take on how hard it is for moms to make other mom friends.
I often meet moms that I really like and with whom I think I could have a great friendship. I try to give enough hints, without seeming overeager, that I want to “take things to the next level” — meaning “be actual friends, not just people who say hello to each other in passing” — and either my hints are not hinty enough or I’m completely unlikeable. I’m not sure which.
If I could, I would copy and re-paste Baskin’s entire article because it cracked me up. Here, she describes what happens when you try to make a friend with someone who isn’t quite as eager: “An adult won’t shun you in the cafeteria. Instead, she’ll concoct repeated excuses to keep you at bay. ‘I wish we could get together, but I’m booked til July! Work is crazy!’ (Meanwhile, she doesn’t work.) ‘I would LOVE to meet up, but poor Madison/Hector/Fauntleroy has such an insane nap schedule because of his new vegan diet! Never know if we can meet til day of! Can we let you know?’ (Inevitably, Madison/Hector/Fauntleroy will be in a coma the day of your rendezvous.)”
Arguments about working in or outside the home and veganism aside, Baskin has a great point. I’ve tried to make mom friends in my own neighborhood. In rare cases it has worked. In most cases, it has failed miserably. I’ve attempted to analyze where I’ve gone wrong, and I think my problems include the following:
1) I have almost zero time to do anything fun. I’m practically a shut-in, tethered to my laptop, writing about postpartum depression and also for Babble, answering emails, building my nonprofit. Either that or I’m off traveling, giving speeches and attending conferences. My leisure time is spent almost entirely with my husband and two kids. A new story from ABC News says working moms often suffer social isolation. While I’m glad to hear it’s not just me, I’m not sure that makes me feel any better.
2) I’m never at the place where the other moms are. My kids go to private school so I’m not at the neighborhood bus stop every morning and afternoon. I don’t play tennis. I’m not at the gym. There just aren’t many places where I can interact and build a friendship.
3) I work in a field that makes most people cock their heads to the side and say, “You do what? A blog? That’s, uh … interesting.”
4) I’m not particularly gregarious so I’m not likely to wade into the middle of a group and make myself part of it. It takes me a long time to get to know someone and feel comfortable. Being introverted and suffering from anxiety does not help in the friend-making department.
There are some moms (hi Jennifer!) who are lovely, open and welcoming to me. Others obviously aren’t much interested, and they’ve made it clear. All too clear. Ouch.
Baskin explains the stages of grief for moms like me who either have been dumped or given the Heisman by women who just aren’t that into you: “There is denial (you reply to the email with some convoluted plan of meeting up ‘soon!’, even though it will never happen); anger (‘What!? This bored, vegetable-obsessed mother of Fauntleroy doesn’t want to be my friend? Is it because I don’t feed my kid vegan cardboard? $%^ you, Vegan Mom of Fauntleroy!’); and paranoia (‘Is there something wrong with me? Do I give off a desperate odor?’) until you finally just let it go with a breezy, passive ‘No worries; hope to see you soon!’ email.”
I’ve spent more than my fair share of time in the paranoia stage, but I think I am now moving toward acceptance. My life rocks. (Yes, I’m from the 80s. What’s it to you?) I adore my zany family. I love the work I do. I love the places I get to go, the amazing and accomplished women who’ve become my friends (though it would be nice if they lived in the same state). The things I have achieved. I have got to stop wasting energy on people who have no energy for me.
As Baskin says, “Do not chase these people. They’re not worth your time.” Say it with me now, ladies: No more chasing.
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