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Why do some women have such a hard time making friends: Nature or nurture?

Many women write to me perplexed about why they can’t form close friendships. They try new approaches, put themselves in all the right places, see therapists, and read relevant self-help books. They consider themselves interesting, loyal, kind, and friend-worthy people. But for reasons unknown to them, they have a tough time forming the intimate relationships other women seem to have and that they covet for themselves. Many admit to not having even one close friend.

A recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology offers some clues as to how both nature (personality) and nurture (experience) impact our friendships. Researchers at the University of Virginia and University of Toronto, Mississauga studied more than 7000 American adults between the ages of 20 and 75 over a period of ten years, looking at the number of times these adults moved during childhood. Their study, like prior ones, showed a link between “residential mobility” and adult well-being: The more times participants moved as children, the poorer the quality of their adult social relationships.

But digging deeper, the researchers found that personality—specifically being introverted or extroverted —could either intensify or buffer the effect of moving to a new town or neighborhood during childhood. The negative impact of more moves during childhood was far greater for introverts compared to extroverts.

“Moving a lot makes it difficult for people to maintain long-term close relationships,” stated Dr. Shigehiro Oishi, the first author of the study, in a press release from the American Psychological Association, “This might not be a serious problem for outgoing people who can make friends quickly and easily. Less outgoing people have a harder time making new friends.”

Families often have to relocate—across town, across the country, or across the globe. Yet, in many cases, their kids and young adolescents haven’t yet built up a bank of friendships or garnered sufficient experience at making new friends and at handling rejection. So the conventional wisdom is to try to minimize moves for the sake of your child, whenever possible, and to move at the end of the academic year. Additionally, parents are advised to monitor and, if necessary, help guide their children’s friendships during the first academic year after a move, which generally is the most difficult.

Moves during childhood affected adult friendships differently because of the unique interplay between nature (personality type, which is determined in part by genes) and nurture (in this case, the moves) for different individuals. That makes the answer to the question of why some women are more successful than others in making friends extremely complex. And this study raises the question of how many other factors come into play that we haven’t even yet considered.

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Category: MAKING FRIENDS

Comments (1,144)

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  1. Eddie Bole says:

    I tend to find that I get along better with married women, as I don’t feel so anxious with them. When I know they are single, then I get nervy as I feel they are judging me, etc. I also really like Asian woman, as they tend to accept me for who I am.
    Loving yourself and feeling confident is something I have struggled with most of my life. I have always looked after my elderly folks, so I tend to neglect my own needs for friendship and companionship. Frustrating!!! Hmmm.

  2. Pat K says:

    Dear All, I found a link to 11 most introverted countries in the world. http://lonerwolf.com/most-introverted-countries-in-the-world/

    Interesting bit of reading. I have come to accept the fact that I do like being with my husband, kids, son-in-law and grand-daughter. It is so fulfilling. I do socialize but very rarely. I feel more relaxed now than I have ever been after accepting the fact that I really do like the way things are.

    I love reading this blog though, it has helped me look at things differently and accept me for what I am.

    Thank you all so much. I will continue reading and putting in my 2-cents worth from time to time. My wish for all of you is that you have a splendid every day

    • Lanie says:

      Hi Pat K.,
      I loved the link about introverted countries. To me, Denmark seems the most ideal. Not only is it an introverted country, but it always ranks as one of the happiest, if not THE happiest country in the world. I think you summed it up when you said that you are so much more relaxed now that you have accepted who you are.
      When we are allowed to just ‘be’ ourselves that’s when we can be our happiest.

      Several years ago, I attended a wedding for my uncle over in England and was so excited to just take everything in and soak up the experience. Now, I really didn’t know anybody at the time, even though they were all close relatives, this was our first meeting. One of my uncles (not the one getting married), was peeved that I was ‘too quiet’ as he put it. He kept asking me over and over, why I was so quiet and then said to the crowd, “you know, you really need to watch out for those quiet ones.”
      It was the strangest thing, because clearly, I was not the only introverted person there, but it really made me so uncomfortable that I ended up having to quickly down a few drinks to loosen up and then I forced myself to engage in cocktail conversation with strangers. Sadly, when I think back to that trip, that’s what pops in my mind…not so much the other wonderful things.

      I’ve thought about his behavior and the only thing I can think of is that he was projecting his anger at me because of something that happened with another quiet person, or he had an ‘idea’ of how Americans should be (extroverted and gregarious) and I didn’t fit the mold.

      I really liked the ‘cactus’ description of an introvert. I think that’s right on! I also heard another one a while back that said that introverts were like rechargeable batteries, while extroverts are more like solar panels. :)

    • Tami says:

      Hello, how do I sign up to make comments? Seems I can only reply.

      Thanks.

  3. Lanie says:

    Hello All,
    It’s nice to read some of these comments and feel a kinship. I have no friends, but sadly, that’s by choice. I find it hard to meet people that I have anything in common with, and at 45, it’s probably not going to get any easier. I have always been a very good listener, but I find that it’s hard to meet people that care to listen to me. The conversation is always one-sided. I admit that I also love to talk about unusual things like astrology, numerology, religion, politics, and what can we do to make this world a better place? Granted, I am not always talking about these things, but I do conversations that have some depth. I just don’t do well with surfacy conversations and don’t care about what brand purse I’m carrying (which is never any name brand) or where I bought my shirt. I am an admitted introvert and really love spending time thinking about things. The hard thing, though, is I have a 6 year old daughter who loves to spend time with her friends, as she should. Of course, these days, kids don’t go outside and just play as they did when we grew up, there has to be playdates which involve adults getting together too. These playdates just kill me. I don’t show it, of course. I just smile and try to keep the conversation light, which is how these moms like it. For some reason, after each playdate, I am exhausted and feel like total crap. I wish it could be different…I wish I was more like these moms and just be satisfied with the light and fluffy. Thankfully, my husband is so much like me and we talk about everything. I guess he really is my only true friend.

    • Pat K says:

      Wow I am so very glad to have found this blog. I am from another country, speak excellent English without a heavy accent. I too have been unable to make any friends. I even belonged to a Bible study group for over 10 years and they excluded me from most of the fun things they did. The only ones I was included in were when it was as couples which included my husband. At 56 I feel lonely and saddened. I can even go to parties that my husband’s friends invite us too and no one talks to me. I mean no one talks to me. I will try to engage in a conversation and soon as they have responded they will make an excuse and leave me. I don’t have bad breath, am clean, not unattractive or weird looking. I don’t do what I call foo foo chit chat but I do try to. My husband thinks it is because I am such a prude lol, meaning that I don’t do the whole getting drunk, profanity and dirty jokes. Well I feel insulted by that whole scene. I was an only child and I don’t want to have a whole bunch of friends but just a couple. The ones I do attract though are usually weird or possessive as mentioned by other ladies here. I am currently friends with one that is very insecure as she goes on and on about her looks and has nothing to talk about except clothes, nails, her hair, and how good she looks. And I mean literally she does say that she is so cute and young looking.

      Why can’t all of us who belong or write on this blog start a little group of our own in whichever state or town so we can reach out to others like us.

      I am not wanting to socialize every weekend but just every other weekend. Just to have a good friend to talk to that is close by. Someone who loves hanging out at things like the museum, opera, movies even, and other little things. Potlucks etc. I live in Colorado and it is strange but I have invited many people to our home and they do come but only 1 out of the many has ever invited us back to their home. And they come to every potluck we have just to eat and talk amongst themselves. So I dropped that Bible study group and moved on.

      HELP Me please someone, tell me honestly what I am doing wrong. I welcome the criticism.

      • Laura says:

        I don’t have an answer but want to tell you sound like a really lovely person. Maybe you’re looking at the wrong type of people? Since you like museums, have you thought of volunterring at one? That would put you in contact with others who enjoy them.

      • Lanie says:

        Hi Pat K.,
        I think volunteering is a good idea too. You can also try meetup.com and create a group of your own with similar interests. I attempted to create one for introverts in my hometown and several people joined but no one committed to meeting up. It’s hard to get introverts to socialize…even with each other!! :)

        • Laura says:

          That is funny!!!

        • Pat K says:

          Thank you Lanie,

          I believe that introverts such as myself just want to meet up with others but not weekly or even bi-weekly. Once a month is about all we can do. I was not sure I was a introvert until I took a personality test and it surprised me but I guess I really am one as I would pick a book or good movie over a party.

          How do I leave comments without having to enter my name and email each time? HELP :)

          • Lanie says:

            Pat K.,
            I don’t know about the name and email thing. Mine automatically prefills with my info.
            Yes, I definitely agree with the once a month meet up. That’s about all I can do too. I’ve often wondered though if it would be different meeting up with people I really had something in common with. Sometimes it feels like work having to get together with others, and I don’t like feeling that way.
            That’s good that you know what your temperament is. In this society, sometimes introverts get a bad reputation and are seen as aloof and uncaring…and that’s not true. It’s just that we get overstimulated too quickly and need that down time. I’ve heard that there are countries that really value introverts, like Japan and Finland. Would be neat to visit those places!

      • Pat K says:

        @Laura:

        Thank you Laura for a great idea. I will keep that in mind. I did receive another suggestion via email to start a Meetup.com and I am seriously looking into that.

        The most worth-while thing is to try to put happiness into the lives of others.
        Robert Baden-Powell

      • SC says:

        Some reasons are we dont like a group of too many friends together, boring, introverts etc. I tried like you too even be more caring,sincere towards them but still have difficulty making/retaining friends for the past so many years. Well at least I tried my best.. I don’t even have 1 best friend!By the way, I am 38 yo. Nevetheless, I still wish you all the best in life :)

    • Diana says:

      My husband has become my almost only friend, but I’m bringing him down. We recently moved to what I consider an isolated area of Washington State from Southern California. He’s doing great, talks to all the neighborhood guys, has found construction work and is socially and physically healthy. I have tried to continue running, no biking because the roads aren’t safe, no exercise or healthily living lifestyle or even in my age group women. I tried meet ups but the are all located about an hour drive away. I’m so miserable. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the person who has kept in touch with high school friends or people from my home town in NJ, where I grew up, but I did have groups of exercise/activity people that I could do things with…I walk around the neighborhood here, talk to the 80yr old neighbors, two women are in my age group but both work far away and don’t seem to need or want to do anything with me. BTW, I’m 49 and feel like I’m dying slowing…

      • Lanie says:

        Diana,
        My heart goes out to you. It is hard moving to a new place and trying to find friends, and it does seem harder as we get older. Being in a remote area doesn’t help either. Based on your comment of feeling like your dying slowly, it sounds like you are feeling depressed. I want to ask you a straight up question…what are you passionate about? We all need to have meaning in our life and to feel inspired. Are you working right now? BTW, 49 is the new 30! :)

        PS: I’m from Jersey too, Piscataway, and I don’t keep in touch with anyone either since I left the state almost 20 years ago.

        • Diana says:

          Thank you for your kind words. I’m a nurse, but no, I stopped working before we moved. My husband had a stoke before we moved, he’s fine, but prior to that we planned to try to retire on the beach in Mexico because it would be cheaper. Anyway, that plan changed. So I applied and was hired at a local hospital here, but after a few hours of orientation, I decided I couldn’t go back ten years in my career and work as a floor nurse for twelve hours. I don’t want to knock the nurses that fill that role, but it’s just not for me. I’ve been very fortunate to have worked in amazing hospitals in fulfilling roles. I do hope for an interview later this week in a larger, more advanced hospital 2 hours away. I’ll figure out the commute later. So it’s a little brighter now that spring is here. I’m gardening now, so don’t miss the lack of friends. Having friends really does require devoting time and energy. Why is it that guys have such an easy time? My guess is that they don’t require so much constant contact. We used to drive from the Vinland area to High Point to go camping that would be about as close as I’ve been to Piscataway!

          • Lanie says:

            Hi Diana,
            Yeah, I think you’re right on about guys not needing that constant contact, and, they don’t need the ‘intimacy’ that women need in a relationship. We want to be able to share our thoughts and feelings with our friends. Guys could care less!
            Friends do require a lot of time and energy..some moreso than others. I find now that I’m older, I am so picky about who I spend my time with. I made a friend a few months ago in our neighborhood and our children got along great, but I noticed that whenever we talked, she was checked out and just wanted to talk about herself. She also still loves to party, which is not my scene anymore, and she also likes women, which I don’t have a problem with, but she keeps trying to pressure me into exploring other options…with her! Needless to say, I’m a little uncomfortable with her coming onto me so much, so I started to distance myself. So now, I’m back to being friendless again..but that’s ok.
            I was going to ask about the weather in WA and if you feel it is affecting your mood? I am definitely affected by weather, which is why I live in FL. Now that it’s getting nicer and you’re gardening, you may start to feel better.
            I’m sorry to hear about your husband, and I don’t blame you for not wanting to go backwards in your career. I do think that a 2 hour commute is way too far to do everyday…but that’s me! I had a former co-worker who tried to do 2 hours one way and she lasted 2 months before deciding to rent an efficiency close to her work, and then she would go home on the weekends. That may be an option for you to think about?
            My husband and I also talk about retiring in another country. We watch International Househunters all the time and envision ourselves as ex-pats living abroad! :)
            I have been to High Point too, for hiking. I used to love exploring that old hotel that is up there near the lake. My first husband and I used to hike all over Jersey, and the Appalachian Trail, and we used to canoe and camp on the Delaware a lot. That is one thing I do miss about Jersey.

            • Diana says:

              I think if I get the job, we would get a small travel trailer and I would stay for two or three days, go to the gym or do yoga or something that I’m missing here. Warm sunshine=happiness. My brother lives in Naples, Fla, nice place to visit, but busy, like California, but with an East coast edge! Isn’t it great that even with NJ being the most populated state for it’s size, there are enclaves of peace and quiet to camp and canoe? crazy that some of the most beautiful, serene spots are hidden there. How is it that some people never outgrow partying? Your comments about your friend made me laugh. When I moved from NJ to CA I didn’t know anything about anything and was always the last to know. Now, some of the best friends I’ve had were gay, mostly because they were active and not bound by traditional restrictive relationships, I guess. No one ever asked me to change sides, you should be flattered!

              • Lanie says:

                Diana,
                Sorry for the late reply. I was out of town visiting my mom for mother’s day and forgot my laptop!
                Yes, I am flattered that she asked me to change sides, lol, but I’m happy with what I got. 😉
                That’s funny that most of your friends turned out to be gay…I’ve often wondered about some of mine too. One person in particular who I dated for about 2 years in high school. He was never interested in sex, although we got along great.
                Yoga sounds awesome! I joined Planet Fitness around New Years and only used it twice. Ugh! I just don’t like the vibe there but was sucked in by their great $10 a month membership. I’ve always loved yoga but the classes around here are so expensive and we are on a tight budget.

    • Gracie says:

      LOL–Lanie, when I read your post, I thought that I had written it myself. A person once told me that I do not know a single stranger–yet, why do I feel left out? It’s super easy for me to talk to strangers, but maintaining conversations with people over a longer period of time is frustrating because I don’t know what to talk about, and when I ask questions to get the other person to talk, I was told I make people uncomfortable.

      • Lanie says:

        Hi Gracie,
        I think it’s so cool that you ask questions to get other people to talk. So many people don’t do that, in fact, they just ramble on about themselves and real ‘surfacy’ stuff.
        Maintaining conversations is tough, and I think our society is become almost impaired at doing it because we don’t do as much face-to-face time as we used to. Everything is text, email, social media, etc. Even at the my old job, my boss sat 10 feet away from me and we would just IM if we needed to talk. How weird is that? lol!

    • Daina says:

      I think I’m a lot like you. Not only am I an introvert, but I can ‘read’ people, and it turns me off so many of them. Little in common; I prefer my own little inner world and dealing with other moms and facing their cliques at my daughter’s activities is an ordeal for me, even though I do not show it. But, I do not wish I was like other moms; I can’t, and I won’t. I would rather remain true to myself.

      • Lanie says:

        Hi Daina,
        You sound like me…an introvert AND a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). Dr. Elaine Aron coined the term to describe people who are very in-tune with their environment and have a heightened nervous system. She has a great book called The Highly Sensitive Person and The Highly Sensitive Child that I would definitely recommend. Here is an article that talks about it too:

        https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201107/sense-and-sensitivity

        As you mentioned, getting together with the mom cliques is tough, and I also have wished that I was more like ‘them’ too..because it would be easier. But like you said, that is not who we are. It took me a long time to accept my introverted, highly sensitive self. Now I just try to see the positives…like being more introspective and creative. :)

        • Daina says:

          Lanie, thank you for this link. I am going to check it out. There are some days when one just hurts and when we remember what we are it makes it a little bit easier.
          Does anyone else just hurt sometimes because they were never part of an in-group right from grade school? Always felt a little different? But refused to compromise one’s self to be part of that crowd?

          • Lanie says:

            Yes, absolutely. Things that happen in childhood can make a huge impact on our self-esteem, and we carry them even into our adulthood.
            I was talking to some folks on another forum about bullying and how it effects them even now when they are in their 40’s and 50’s.
            Things that happen to us when we are young can be devastating because it happens during the stage at which our brain is not yet capable of protecting itself.

            Criticism at that stage isconsidered a personal failure..and shunning or being excluded falls into that category.

            We all want to be accepted for who we are, and we all want to fit in, but being different is often vilified.

            I read an article not too long ago about ‘popular kids’ and how to be popular you truly have to ‘not’ be yourself, because you will not be accepted if you voice any opinion that does not go along with the majority. Can you imagine that, having to go along with everything even if it went against what you believed?

            I think as an adult looking back, I would have had way more regrets doing that then being shunned or bullied for just being myself.

    • Pat K says:

      Lanie, you sound so much like me and at 58 I too realize that I will not find anyone that shares my interests easily. My ex-Bible study ladies found me too overwhelming I am sure. I too find that people love to talk to me about themselves but don’t really care to listen to what I have to say and interrupt a lot so I have given up on real conversations. I do have to say in defense of the ladies during playdates I believe that they keep it light to make sure no one gets hurt or offended. It is the same at work, I don’t talk about anything really because it can cause hurt feelings, offense and/or tempers to flare. I keep it to just about food as I have no ideas about hair or makeup. My best friends are my husband and my daughters and now soon-to-be daughter-in-law. We get along very well and that is enough for me.

      • Diana says:

        I noticed when I am around my daughters and sister we all talk at the same time and frequently interrupt each other, none seem to mind and eventually we complete a discussion, or any at the same time. Since moving, I realize I have to slow down my thoughts and work at listening and not speaking. I don’t mean to be rude but do realize that it comes across that way. So, please be patient with us interruptors, some of us are trying to control that bad habit! Life moved so fast for me when I was a kid I never considered whether I fit in or not, I was just go go go. Now things are moving a it slower and everything is so retrospective, it was easier to be young, now I’m trying to be so careful, it’s awkward. Keep writing ladies, I feel like this really helps!! Besides, no one can interrupt when typing! Thanks, Diana.

      • Lanie says:

        Pat K.,
        I think that is great insight about the ladies at the playdates. I’m sure that’s why they keep things light. I actually have a playdate to attend with my daughter later today. I’ll keep your advice in mind while I’m there!

        I can totally relate to the interrupting. I do get frustrated because I feel like the person I’m talking to doesn’t care what I have to say, but I also understand (like Diana mentioned) that it’s not intentional. A lot of times, they just want to relate to you and if you say something that they can grab onto, they will run with the conversation…and run you over! 😉

        My sister has the gift of the gab and I’ve just accepted that I’m primarily the listener and she’s the talker. It is so healing for people to just be ‘heard’…which is why sometimes you have to write about it if you can’t speak it. 😉

      • Dani says:

        Your comment about being a good listener and finding so many conversations one-sided really hit home with me. I have one almost 11-yr old daughter and have realized that I seem to shy away from forming close relationships with her friends’ mothers. My closer friends are typically mothers, but have older or younger children and don’t live in our school district. I find so many parents to be competitive and attention-seeking with their own children…they’d much rather talk than listen. Their kids are either gifted or special needs, but always requiring special attention. My friends are more supportive because their kids aren’t in competition with mine. I recall my mother’s attitude on this issue…she was never one to brag publicly about us and found others’ tendency to do this to be annoying. She’d say “they’re just kids!” I am as a rule not an attention-seeker and find myself being out-talked by these moms who are frustrated their children haven’t gotten special treatment for something or want to report achievements to me. Facebook only makes it worse.

        • Lanie says:

          Hi Dani,
          When I read your post, I had to laugh!! I just had this discussion with my husband the other day about a neighbor friend of mine who is constantly telling me how special her children are. She keeps mentioning that her daughter is being tested for gifted and that her son is very advanced for his age and how it is because she home schooled them at 8 months old. I’m like seriously?! 8 months old??! What I have found with people like her is that they are usually overcompensating with their children because of something they feel bad about within themselves. At first it bugged me, and my comment to her was “ALL” children are gifted, and that is something I truly believe. Then I just let it go and let her brag because I know that she feels bad about a lot of things she’s done in her past and is still doing, but believes that at least she is a good mom..which she is.

          I am not an attention seeker either. In fact, I avoid it like the plague! But I am trying to be more open minded and less judgmental about people that are different. In the past, I have not been so good about that, maybe because I feel like us quiet people are often judged too harshly. Being quiet or introverted is often vilified and was even being considered to be included in the latest DSM-5 as a contributing factor to personality disorders. Thank goodness they rethought that stupid idea! Introverts truly get a raw deal and I think that is why we tend to hide a little bit, to avoid some of the judgment that we intuitively feel before anyone else does.

    • Azalea says:

      I’m glad others have similar experiences . . My husband is my only true and best friend. Still, I feel lonely for female friendships, and don’t understand why it’s so hard for me.

      • Lanie says:

        Azalea,
        I’ve wondered that too, but now I realize that a lot of it is by ‘choice’ for me as to why I don’t have many female friendships. Being a good friend requires some work, and a lot of times I personally don’t want to invest the time and energy into it…especially if the relationship is just so-so…and I mean for both of us because I’m not everyone’s cup of tea either. I am a little intense and deep and some people are put off by that. Everyone has different ideas of what friendships should look like…some are fine with just lots of acquaintances that you have just a casual relationship with, while others, like myself, want deep meaningful friendships where you can share all your dirty laundry and not feel judged. I find that the latter is a much harder to find..especially as we get older because we are so busy and don’t always makes time.

        • Diana says:

          So it does seem like whether we have friends or not is at least in part our choice. People are always telling me so and so runs, you should run together. I run to quiet my mind, the aloneness is how it works. I have run with groups and its ok, you pass more miles and gab about anything without noticing being tired. I think walking is best to get to know someone, even someone you already know. I recently went for a long walk with my daughter in the woods and we talked about everything. It seemed safe and without distractions, other than birds and wildlife to look at or talk about when we needed a safe topic. I had a similar experience with my younger daughter hiking in the desert, walking and talking is a safe meeting ground. People should maybe date on walks instead of at bars! I see ladies in my neighborhood walking every morning, I wonder if I would have anything in common with them? I sure do enjoy reading this post. Do any of you girls walk?

          • Lanie says:

            Hi Diana,
            I walk almost every day. Before my daughter started Summer break this past week, my husband and I walked every day at lunch time. Now, we have to walk separately since she is home. Like you, I enjoy it both ways…with people or without. I am able to do a lot of thinking time when I walk alone. I never wear ear buds or listen to music. I want to hear nature and my own internal conversations. We have a walking trail next to our home that’s used quite a bit and I am always amazed at how many folks have ear buds in and don’t make eye contact with you when you are trying to say hello. They can’t even muster up a simple wave or a smile. I make a game of it and try to predict who is going to ignore me or who is going to say hello. I know it’s silly, but I love analyzing human nature.
            I also read a cool article on walking barefoot and how beneficial it is for you. It’s called grounding or earthing. Here is the article if anyone is interested:

            http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/11/04/why-does-walking-barefoot-on-the-earth-make-you-feel-better.aspx

            • diana says:

              Thank you. I glanced at the article. I go barefoot sometimes, usually out of laziness to find and put on my shoes!

        • Azalea says:

          Lanie,

          I know what you mean by wanting deep and meaningful (and trustworthy) relationships because I want the same. Luckily, a work relationship I have with my favorite coworker is starting to develop into a friendship. We have so many things in common. It’s possible that women (and men) have friendship challenges simply because of personality type. Mine is INFP and “highly sensitive person”, and I bond with very few people, so I am very happy to be buddying to someone I like a lot at work, and a few others online, buy and sell websites for example where I email back and forth sometimes.

          It is alright that you want to hold out for a better quality friendship . . you deserve and your personality type probably needs it.

          • Lanie says:

            Hi Azalea,
            I need to take that Myers-Brigg test and see where I fall too. I am also highly sensitive and so is my husband and my daughter. We’re a fun bunch, for sure!!

            That’s great you found someone at work that you get along with so well. Some of my closest relationships were with people I worked with and that made the job so much better too. What I noticed is that the more stressful the job, the better the relationships. I watched a TED talk yesterday about stress and it said that the more stress we have, the more human contact we seek because of the release of oxytocin. We seek comfort during stressful times…usually in the form of venting! 😉

    • Dani says:

      Your comment about being a good listener and finding so many conversations one-sided really hit home with me. I have one almost 11-yr old daughter and have realized that I seem to shy away from forming close relationships with her friends’ mothers. My closer friends are typically mothers, but have older or younger children and don’t live in our school district. I find so many parents to be competitive and attention-seeking with their own children…they’d much rather talk than listen. Their kids are either gifted or special needs, but always requiring special attention. My friends are more supportive because their kids aren’t in competition with mine. I recall my mother’s attitude on this issue…she was never one to brag publicly about us and found others’ tendency to do this to be annoying. She’d say “they’re just kids!” I am as a rule not an attention-seeker and find myself being out-talked by these moms who are frustrated their children haven’t gotten special treatment for something or want to report achievements to me. Facebook only makes it worse.

  4. cindy says:

    Wow the moving at young age is so relevant to me. I moved alot when I was younger and have always been quiet and shy. When I was very little (2/3) I moved from US to MX .. I had a lot of friends there. 10 and 13 year olds played with me because I had lots of toys and lived in a nice house my parents built. I was happy there. Then my parents moved back to US. BIG CHANGE. I couldn’t speak english I went to preschool and it was awful. I couldn’t understand anything and I was so shy and it was awful remembering it. I began to understand judging and could feel the kids judging me that I couldn’t speak english. Through the first years of elementary I advanced my english speaking skills but was still shy. I made friends then, my parents are very sociable (my mom) and my dad too but he’s quieter. At church and parties I made friends. Then we moved again in 1st grade. I had many friends in my school and in the new school I was shy. These kids buillied me. They called me a copier and it made me even MORE quiet and shy. AWFUL. Then I moved BACK in 3rd grade to my old school, by this time I was a painfully shy, quiet ridden kid outside my family. my parents never had enough money to put me in activities or anything. I was so shy, some girls tried to befriend me in 7th grade and I ignored them because of how quiet i was. I then became friends with these weird outcasts who were not anything like me. Thankfully by 8th grade I had good friends who were like me but the shy me never reached out to them during the summer and I fell back to no socialzing at the begining of highschool. I am doing better now as a junior but I still never hang out with friends and only have two close friends its really sad. I think the moving and bullying i encountered 1 and 4 grade made me the awkward shy person i am today. I wish i could change this but i don’t think i can :/ sorry if this has a ton of misspellings … I never really opened up about this before x

  5. vee says:

    Hi, I have the same issue and lately I have noticed it more or paid more attention. I don’t have any girl friends. To be Honest I don’t understand why either, I am kind and caring. I am a single mom and I am very independent. I am very honest and maybe my honesty has gotten them upset but I don’t like to lie to them, I like speaking the truth because I want the same from them. My guy friend told me the reason girls don’t like me is because I am attractive, I am fit and most girls get jealous of that. I always try to motivate my friends in going to the gym with them and compliment them when they look good but they always ignore me.

    • martha howard says:

      I am sooo glad to see that other women have the same problem–I thought I was the only woman in the world that did not have friends- I am 56. I was very shy and introverted as a child and was brutally teased. I truly like people but always get nervous when they get too close. The women at work socialize together, and it makes me so sad to be excluded. They are nice to me and include me in conversation, but never invite me to go with them when they socialize outside work. I am usually a quiet person and have a hard time keeping conversation going. after so many years of rejection, I prefer the company of my cat and my husband. I wish I could make friends, I feel like a freak for being a loner.

      • Darlene says:

        Hi Martha,

        I’m not as sure about what may be happening with vee, but I am fairly sure about you. It seems clear, from what you’ve written, that your shyness has put a barrier between yourself no others. They obviously like you, but likely don’t invite you to do things because they sense your discomfort.

        It’s hard to change that, but it can be done. You may have some self confidence issues to a point that it may be worth considering seeing a therapist. I’ve done that and it can be very helpful. The idea is to find ways to improve your self confidence, so that you are more comfortable with yourself and with different situations. At the same time, you can try reaching out to these ladies in small ways, like asking a few of them to go for a coffee break with you and then trying to relax and enjoy being with them. You sound like a nice, likeable person, with a little help and effort on your part, this situation can improve for you. Best of luck!

        • Bronwen says:

          Hi I am also in my 50s and marthas story sounds very much like mine. I am very shy and an artist who is somewhat unconventional. I also get very nervous when people get too close to me and I think it is due to past rejection. ironically, once I started to accept the fact that maybe I am just too different from most people that I gained confidence. I am joining an artist studio in hopes of finding other women who experience life in a different way. I am lonely, but would rather be alone than be hurt again.

      • Meg says:

        But what happens when you feel like your relationship with your husband is falling apart? My husband has been my best friend for 26 years. Now that we are nearing the “empty nest” time of our lives, we’re finding ourselves incompatible. I wish I had a close friend to talk to about these things. I have a sister, but we are like enemies. I keep all this bottled up inside of me. Its like I’m longing to talk to someone about this, but then I don’t want people to know that I’m having marriage trouble. I’ve found comfort in reading all the posts to this site. I was feeling I was a loner in this world. I didn’t move a lot as a child, I moved a lot in my 20 year military career. I now teach middle school and most of the teachers are young enough to be my son or daughter … I don’t fit in. I love teaching, though. The kids are like my new kids since mine are growing up and moving out. I realize I’m rambling. I teach math, not language arts. Ha!

        • Laura says:

          You may find the empty nest time a pleasant surprise. Our 30 year marriage experienced a renaissance of sorts when our kids went off to college last Fall. We found ourselves feeling like newlyweds again. It has been so much fun!

        • JAM says:

          I have always been artistic and literary. However, we did move a lot when I was a kid. I didn’t realize it at the time b/c for a long time, making friends was natural. But after moving again and again, I had to start forcing myself to keep making friends to avoid being lonely, and grew weary of always being the “new girl” or the stranger, hoping to be accepted. By high school I belonged to two social groups, but I just didn’t enjoy their ridiculous company. I told myself I did, and that I needed them. But looking back, I was so miserable . These groups stole stop signs, hitchhiked, made out with strange boys they met at the beach, said really obnoxious and stupid things, etc. I tried to laugh and be a friend, but on the inside, I was afraid to do the things they did. By my junior year they were doing drugs. By my senior year I was not hanging around with them, just a couple of individual friends. In college I had to basically start over, trying to find nice girls to be friends with. I even joined a sorority. These girls were not nice. They were overly concerned with their appearance, accomplishments, boyfriends, and befriending and becoming enemies with girls every week or so (alliances always changing). And I was so stressed and anxious by this stuff by my junior year in college, it was affecting my whole life. I focused more on finishing school, rather than friends. Then went to grad school, got a job and concentrated on fostering relationships with my aunt and uncle who were in the same profession as I (librarians). Then met my husband. His friends were fun to hang around with b/c they laughed and joked a lot. His relatives were a different story. They are high stress, screaming, arguing, perfectionists, etc. No wonder my hubs is so quiet and nonconfrontational! And my side of the family in which I come from, we had a couple that were mean bullies. I was well trained growing up to tip toe around them, be the emotional grown up, never confront them, do what they wanted, etc. When I left in my 20’s, I was determined to find balance and be neither an abuser nor let others abuse me. I spent many years thinking, studying, practicing healthier behaviors. I am a very healthy, happy person and do not visit them much, if at all. They are high, high stress and very mean on a regular basis. No thanks. Anyway, I got to talking too much about myself. I’ve met many many people in my life, old and young, and many different kinds of people around the world. So many people are wayward, have poor morals (esp. when young), are very self centered, etc. It is hard in general to find kind, giving people that are also well balanced and don’t get too clingy or jealous and don’t get too careless and self-centered. After many close as well as superficial friendships, knowing many healthy and unhealthy people, I have come to a few conclusions in my own life. Once you are married and have children they naturally become “level 1″ and friendships become “level 2″ or lower relationships. It’s the way society is generally organized. Do what makes your heart sing. Nurture some friendships, both light, serious, deep, and superficial, with different kinds of people. Let people come and go, it’s the only way b/c we cannot hold on and choke them. Friendships change b/c people are constantly growing, changing, being influenced,etc. So just like you can’t recapture a previous event, photo, moment, etc. in the exact same way ever again, you cannot recapture a person you saw last week, last month, last year ever again – they will be altered in some way the next time you see them. Have some steady things in your life that you can control, like when you get up each day, what you eat, how and when you exercise, etc. But accept that most of what life gives you will be a series of surprises, both subtle and supersize. We have a measure of control, esp. over some details in our lives. But a great deal is not up to us, including friendships. We can influence much more than we can control. If your friends are into things that are truly immoral or dangerous or criminal, and you want to stay friends with them, let them know you care about them, but will never support destructive choices. If you have a great friend now and are afraid of losing him or her, remember nothing stays static or the same, and they won’t even be the same person (at least in small ways) as the years pass), so you are trying to hold water in your hands. Let things change, grow, and surprise you. Be there in small, thoughtful, and sometimes big ways for friends when you can. But remember that people are made up of millions of factors that affect their health, lifestyle, choices, likes, dislikes, values, opinions, interests and there are too many factors for us to actually lasso and tame them. People will be who they are and need the space and respect to do that. Don’t pine over that great feeling you had having a best friend all through your elementary school years, or in college, etc. Yes, grieve what is lost, then smile and move on. You have the power to keep stepping, running, and flying – so keep going. It’s great to have something to hold on to, to depend on and we can really long for that. But you will change over time as well, and that Bible study or yoga class or daily walk, etc. that you’ve been doing with this or that friend for 2+ years may suddenly not be what you need anymore and you may really wish to shake your life up for awhile. That doesn’t make you a bad friend or an awful person, just a growing person, with changing needs. It’s like being on the sea. The sea’s tide, horizons, weather, creatures, etc. are ever changing, as will the boat ride you are taking through life. Don’t hold on too much to things that were. Good things can come again if you are open to them. Learn to love your own company and that of your family’s the most. Be your very best friend. Take amazingly good, kind, sweet, happy care of yourself. It will make you so much happier and a better friend when someone comes along. Sometimes we’ll get hurt. But not too much if we have good, healthy boundaries and we are honest about them. Everyone really needs to walk a solo journey through life. Enjoy your company, and that of others that share your path for awhile. Every bit is enriching.

        • JAM says:

          And Meg, specifically,
          Just wanted to say a couple things. Look around and see if there are any other teachers or staff that you can strike up conversations with. My hubs is a teacher and sometimes they like to blow off steam and have fun laughing and talking about the ups and downs of teaching together over coffee, etc. Anyone to meet at the officer’s club, etc?

          My husband and I are not really that compatible or similar either. We are in the thick of several children at the moment, but once they are gone, I know we’ll have a lot more time together. I realized that because my hubs and I have very different perspectives and opinions about things, it’s best for us to be a little more independent of each other. We are busy with a lot of cares and duties during the week. Then on Fridays or Saturdays we like to go out for a drink or coffee or something for just an hour or two and chat and catch up, because we have missed each other!! We like to go for a walk together on the weekends. I try to keep it light, and at the same time, mix other things in so we don’t get too much in each other’s faces, for lack of a better phrase. Regarding you and your husband, you might consider a marriage retreat (there are many faith based retreats and probably secular ones, found easily on the Web), or strike up a sport together such as tennis, etc. that you can do without talking too much about the serious stuff of life or getting into a disagreement, etc. Even just go to a local festival, theater, etc. If your problems are more serious than different personalities or overcoming the challenge of finding hobbies to do together, try to find counseling or another way to gravitate toward each other. If he is seriously dysfunctional or abusive in some way, maybe get help before giving up. Just some thoughts and best wishes for you and your marriage and great happiness. Peace, JAM

    • Darlene says:

      Vee, I gave this a bit of thought. Not sure what’s going on, but suspect you are rubbing some of the women you meet the wrong way. I am not a very mainstream woman and I can’t relate to a lot of women (nor they to me) so I ended up needing to find people I could relate to more. That turned out to be other independent women. Maybe you just need to find your people, people who would enjoy your independence and respect your honesty.

      I would also suggest treading very, very lightly about motivating others to go to the gym….that would be a very touchy subject for most ladies out there. :)

    • girl123 says:

      Vee-
      I’m sorry you have to deal with that. I could have written your post, and it makes me sad.

  6. rafa says:

    It is amazing how hard it is to get a woman attention and interest in a conversation, is almost impossible to establish a friendship with them, I’m talking about woman in the US in general even woman from another nationalities that are living here for some time. I’m a 50 year old latino male I go to bars, the gym, the restaurants, at the office, on the street, I tried to be friendly and start conversations, very few woman say a word or 2, I feel they always think I’m after something else, I just sincerely want to have a chat and get know them a little be . I consider myself clean, decent, considerate, respectful and average. I usually do NOT write on this forum but is kind of frustrating dealing with US woman.

    • Tom says:

      I disagree, women are for the most part happy to talk. Perhaps it is your approach or the setting. It is easy to pick the people “on a mission” and do not want to talk versus those who would be interested in conversation. I have better conversations with women than men.

  7. LaTrice says:

    When I was growing up, I didn’t have a difficult time making friends. The most challenging would be to keep my inner circle-even though I was judged based on my physical appearance. Because of those judgments, the actions of others had made me feel extremely insecure about myself.

    I knew that I wasn’t like everyone else, and I had to learn how to embrace myself as an individual-which took some getting used to. Not only did I had to learn on how to be my own best friend, I needed to accept myself for who I am. Just because I didn’t have a closet full clothes and shoes, I didn’t frequent the hair salon on a regular basis, and I was constantly wearing my hair in a ponytail, the actions of others didn’t justify how poorly I was treated. Their behavior was atrocious, and it wasn’t something that I should have to tolerate. I decided to change my inner circle of friends, and get rid of those that refuse to support me-due to their own selfish reasons. Honestly, my efforts had made a HUGE difference!!

    Friendship is something that can’t be taken for granted, but it’s important to love, respect, accept, and support each other-no matter the differences. It feels good knowing that I’m surrounded by those that love me to the moon and back, and I will continue to cherish those friendships for the rest of my life.

    • Darlene says:

      I really like your message, LaTrice. You found your people and refused to be friends with others who weren’t treating you well. You also made friends with yourself…great message. :)

      • LaTrice says:

        Thank you, Darlene. It took a while for me to accept myself for who I am as a human being, so I had to learn how to embrace my own individuality. I feel that there’s no need for anyone to try so hard to be someone’s friend, so why bother begging?

    • Cristina says:

      Bravo! LaTrice. It sounds like you are not “beggar” but what if instead one is a “beggar”, in this case one cannot choose friends Any advice?

      • LaTrice says:

        Friends shouldn’t “beg” you to be a part of your life, as well as begging to be your friend. If they really love and care about you, they would take the initiative to get to know you as an individual. Actions will have to speak WAY louder than words, so allow their actions to speak for themselves. Be yourself, and embrace your individuality. There’s no one like you on this planet.

        Be friends with those that not only like you for who you are, but will accept the differences about you. I’m talking about those who are supportive, and positive people. They’re going to encourage you to be your best, and to bring out the best in you. They will NOT judge you based on your overall appearance. For those that are negative, stay away from them, and their energy will bring you down.

        I hope that my answer helped you, Cristina.

        • monika says:

          Cristina, you are so correct, I believe women are very judgemental and quite critual towards each other and I put it all down to sheer envy and jealousy. Over the years I never take note of people that much in terms of what they think of me and the reason for that is that I don’t allow anyone to put me down or I don’t need one’s approval to do things. i just get up and do things and get things done and get my life sorted out while my friends having partners and husband and kids are struggling. They never ask me how I manage all on my own but yet their first remarks is that I am lucky, no, my life was never a lucky one but a very HARD one, full of obstacles and disappointments pain and sheer sorrows. They were never there to support me, not even a phone call. I made the effort in sending txts or ringing them to find out if they are ok. Sometimes I rang their house and was told they are just going through the door. They never return my calls, in the end I embrace myself as an individual, change my number and continuing living my life with the thoughts that I may not have close friends but such is life. I rather to be alone than to be unhappy with fake people around me.

          • Neeta says:

            Wow..you are so strong. I have a very hard time forming relationships with women and I feel I try so hard. When I was in the corporate world they would often gang up against me. Never invite me to drinks after work. It was so weird. I am sort of quite and introverted but very intelligent and know a little about many things. The feelings of rejection I feel are difficult to deal with. If only I could just giggle and laugh and be that glowing personality I see them as. In any case I was touched by your comment and could relate. I too have had a difficult life and sometimes I wish I was “happy go lucky”..Ok ..I off to be alone.

  8. arlene says:

    I have read much of what you have to say. I am friendly, outgoing, and have many positions including interior decorator, real estate agent and psychic. We can go from A to Z on any topic.

    When puberty hit, I realized friendship was down hill. Boys came first, getting ready for boys came first, sitting by the phone waiting for boys came first, and should your friend get dumped, well the friendship was on the go again until another boy came along. It is a lonely time.

    When I was in my thirties, I discovered that boys were now replaced with housework, housework and more housework seem to come first. As my husband was a travelling salesperson and was off a few days every week, I was often sitting alone at home with my daughter because there was no one available. Even the woman next door told me I could use her pool but she was too behind in her work to come and join me. Obsessive cleaning.

    Now in my sixties, nothing has changed. ALL THINGS COME BEFORE FRIENDSHIP, except now it is still the obsessive housework, the grandkids, the retired husband, the adult kids moving back home, etc. and as a divorced woman, with no grandkids, life is lonely. Woman ask me all the time to give them a call, and I do, but it is between Housework Project A and B, basically a small window and the whole time they are not present, they are worrying about if they get home on time, did they miss a call. They were better off to stay home.

    BASICALLY, I think women do not value friendship. They talk about it, see therapists about it, read books about it, even put ads on Kijiji, but given the opportunity to take action, they muck it up every time. I would love a female friend, but the dribs and drabs they offer are not worth pursuing. I too agree, men have the right idea, YES I CAN MAKE IT, NO I CAN’T…not a big song and dance that I have to wait and see just in case the dog gets a cold, or the fridge stops running.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Hi Arleen, I totally agree with what you’ve said and thank you for articulating my feelings exactly. I grew up in the same house at the same schools until I left home at 18, pregnant to move in with my boyfriend. I was so glad to be out on my own as there were issues of violence and abuse I couldn’t wait to be away from. What I didn’t realize back then was that these issues can manifest themselves in any relationship with people that have various personality disorders (of which I knew nothing about). I’m now 44, divorced 5 years ago and have not a good friend in the world. I say good friend because I mean a friend whose willing to give you the time of day. I have found throughout my adult life the only people that actively seek out friendship & make the effort to build a relationship have turned out to have major personality flaws & their motivation for establishing the friendship wasn’t genuine by that I mean they had an agenda. So because I’ve been hurt in many friendships, by family and in relationships I’ve now decided to cut people off who exhibit these traits that I’m so good at spotting now, and only try to establish a connection with like minded people. Well so far I can say it’s a good thing I don’t mind my own company and the TV is…well, effectively my best friend, that is until I find a real one. Good luck & I hope you find the love & friendship you truly deserve. :-)

      • Dani says:

        Hi Elizabeth,
        I hope you keep trying to find the friends you deserve. I, too, have ended friendships because I felt exploited, dumped on, overlooked for people who had “more to offer,” etc. But I feel that I do have a small group of loyal, worthy friends now. I think it is very normal and healthy to decide that some people simply aren’t worth it, despite how much they want you to believe they are and claim you’ve hurt them by establishing boundaries. I wish relationships were simpler a lot of the time. I’ve also come to accept as an adult that the big cluster of friends I had during my high school and college years simply aren’t typical for most adults. We have too many competing obligations, including our families, and they are the ones who deserve the most attention anyway. Anyway, keep your standards high, but allow people to make mistakes in friendship, too. We all let each other down sometimes.

    • LaTrice says:

      I have to agree with you, Arlene because not too many women value friendships today. Although I can’t speak for everyone, I feel that some women would use, manipulate, and abuse those are trying to be supportive of them. Add disrespect, overstepping boundaries, jealousy, and control to the mix. The results will be catastrophic!!

      I’m thankful to have my best friend, and my closest girlfriends in my life today. It’s difficult to find good friends in this day and age. I don’t friendships for granted, and it will ALWAYS be something that I can cherish for the rest of my life. :-)

      • Rosanna Mitchell says:

        I completely agree with you Latrice I have friends whom I cherish both male and female. But I think in some instances women not always but sometimes can be very nasty to other women I don’t really know why. Jealousy and control does seem to be a big factor. I had a friend who I knew for over 10 years we where very good friends al of a sudden she started to try and control my life telling me what to do etc. I had started a relationship with someone and she did not like it at all. And if I didn’t dance to her tune she became very nasty with abusive comments. I warned her if it didn’t stop our friendship would cease. I become very anxious and started to experience panic attacks. Meantime my so called friend got in with another group of women and dropped me like a ton of bricks. I was upset at first but I then thought I am better off without this person. I now have two lovely friends whom I cherish no nastiness just great times together. Don’t put up with abusive relationships with other women live is to short lots of nice friends out there I found some myself.

        • LaTrice says:

          I don’t understand why women have to be so mean and nasty towards each other. It seems that some women don’t know how to be supportive and respectful of each other’s goals-especially when someone doesn’t know how to be a friend.

          You did the right thing, by standing up for yourself, Rosanna. Although I don’t know your former friend at all, she seems very insecure and controlling. Her negative energy and attitude can weigh you down, so her dropping you like a hot potato is good news. She did you a HUGE favor!!

          I’m glad that you were able to be surrounded by friends who are good to you.

  9. Chloe says:

    Darlene and Tanya, thank you so much for your replies! You are both so kind to take the time out to write the above.
    It is so nice to know I’m not alone. Last night I bought two books on amazon on your advice Darlene. I also read up on social skills and one thing I read was that it’s hard to not like someone who smiles, it said to smile at someone every hour, I’ve smiled at everyone today and had a great day, I feel like something so small has made a big difference in a small space of time. The thing is I think I do find it easy to get excited and for change to happen, it just never seems to stick, so I’m going to try my best to be positive, smile, forgive myself and love myself. I think you may have hit the nail on the head both of you. I think I need to find a way to like and love myself, with more time and more things I enjoy and hopefully the rest will start to follow, sounds simple doesn’t it! Ha
    I do have a beautiful daughter and a loving husband who is also my best friend so I am very lucky, I just want to enjoy my life for a change and not be bogged down with this crap anymore.
    Onwards and upwards, I’m glad to have met you both, what a brilliant blog and wonderful people
    Xx

    • Darlene says:

      Something tells me you will be just fine Chloe! It isn’t easy, but if you keep working at it, slowly but surely things change. When I have a “setback” now, which doesn’t happen very often anymore, I do something meaningful to remind myself why the world is a wonderful place…it works!

      All the best to you and your wonderful family

  10. Chloe says:

    Thank you so much for your reply and your advice Darlene, you are an angel..
    I did work with a therapist a few years ago but since I’ve worked with a couple of life coaches.
    They help for a while but then the horrible feelings of self hatred and feeling sick with myself come back, feels like a broken record just playing over and over. I agree that I do need to learn to like myself and to learn some social skills. I love reading books and get really excited when I read different strategies and learn more about how we work. I just need something to stick! I’ve read about telling yourself you love yourself in the mirror every day, I just need to keep doing it, I guess I have been looking for a quick fix! I have this thing which is kicking in now from my childhood telling me I don’t know how to start helping myself, my mums voice is in my head telling me I am stupid and thick! Which kind of makes me freeze if that makes sense.
    I honestly hope I can get somewhere for once, I keep taking steps backwards, there must be a way out. At work I make an effort, always say hi etc, they all just seem to get on better with each other, a girl who sits in my pod is much quieter than me and even she gets asked to lunch etc, the arrange lunches without asking me, not that I’m desperate to go but it would be nice to be asked. I just feel like I’m an outsider.
    X

    • Darlene says:

      You sound like a sweetheart, Chloe! But if you don’t believe it, others will have a hard time seeing that. Everyone thinks differently, but the idea I gave, working on and succeeding at something challenging is a powerful way to silence those voices of self doubt. The idea is that It should be something that is hard for you to do, either technically (say like oil paintings) or physically, like learning to ski, or even emotionally, like giving a voice to your feelings to someone in your life (for this one you may want some professional guidance for it to be safe and effective). I am an outdoorsy type, yet was fearful of heights…so I set it as a goal to push a little out of my comfort zone on the ski hill and master that before pushing again. It creates a sense of competence, of value….those negative voices just can’t argue with that!

      It takes awhile to create a new habit, of any kind, they say it takes 6 weeks to change a bad habit, by doing something consistently better instead. Maybe put together a plan, where that time is devoted to building yourself up. That could mean, for example, avoiding negative influences (bye mom for a little bit? :), signing up for kayaking courses (or some such challenging activity), group therapy geared to building you up, etc. I realize you have obligations, but your free time could be devoted to you for a set period of time….and countering the negative messages. Maybe you just need a real, serious jump start, then you can keep working on this at a less intense pace, so it sticks. You may need to schedule some time regularly for the rest of you life to keep you on track, but even if you do, the payback is worth it, in my opinion. :)

      This is tough, Chloe and it is pretty crummy to feel this way, I get that, I really do. But I feel very confident in saying that if you want this, you can do it :)

    • tanja says:

      Hi Chloe, I could have written this post. I have not gotten help. For some reason, people can tell when you lack confidence and may not want to be around long. My sister says she can see it in me and I don’t always know how it comes across. It may help to focus on some positive things such as you have a husband that loves you. It is like the quote in the little prince “to forget a friend is sad. Not everyone has had a friend.” I tend to count my blessings when I feel sad and think about the people I do have in my life. One being my husband, that is my best friend. In spite of all that, negative thoughts can still creep up. How is your relationship with your mom now? My mom would say the same things at times. I try to think of it that she grew up in a different time. Her intentions are good, but when it comes to giving me advice on raising my own children, she has no clue. She did best as she could given her circumstances at the time. Keeping this in mind, helps me still have a relationship with her and try to be more empathetic and understanding to her situation. My mom did not have it easy. So, now being 36, it is my job to work on my confidence and not my mother’s. It is my responsibility to try to get out of these self deprecating moments by taking a walk, practicing in the mirror as you mentioned or doing a hobby such as painting or taking time away from technology all together to read my kids a story, point to pictures, make a game with them or simple watch elmo with my youngest. Your right, though that negative thoughts will still creep in, but the point is to minimize how often it happens Sometimes, around the time of the month, it is the worst and I cry and cry and cry. You need to be forgiving with yourself as well and allow yourself to cry tears and then say that is okay, tomorrow is another day or there will be a next moment in that day that could pick up, That moment wasn’t so good, but next moment will be better. Nothing wrong with having a good cry either. It helps rejuvenate and feel like you can move on to something else. Another thought is to ask your husband to cuddle, I sometimes have my husband just hold me for a long time and I feel better to start doing things I am supposed to such as resume, paying attention to my kids. It also helps to organize an outing once a week whether it be an art class or a coffee date with a girlfriend or a playdate if you have kids, or join a group, volunteer somewhere once a week. I try to tell myself these things and there are still some weeks that are pretty bad, but the weeks that are good I pat myself on the back. Hope it gets better and thank you for writing your post, I don’t feel so alone now.

    • Sue says:

      Hi Chloe, you mentioned that you feel like your mom is still like a voice bringing your self-image down,etc. Something that has helped me so much is the work of Peter Gerlach at sfhelp.org where he breaks down the therapy called IFS- Inner Family Systems. Discovered by Richard Schwartz not long ago, it is a phenomenonal idea that has helped me understand my negative thoughts or “self-talk” about myself or my shortcomings. Before discovering my “inner family,” I just put-up with terrible shame over any little thing I thought I had done wrong or had irrational fears etc. Now, however, I have a method of quickly discovering why I’m feeling or thinking such untrue things about myself, and getting my True Self – the wise part we all have inside – back in control and back to feeling clear, optimistic, compassionate and curious.

  11. Sandra says:

    Funny, the women I see with many ‘friends’ tend to not always be the nicest people. Often times, its about what you HAVE and your experiences I.e. cottage, shalet, trips, etc. Not really because you’re a great friend. We live in a very materialistic society and the closer to the big city you are, the worse it is. Sometimes its better to be true to yourself and have 1 true friend then follow these types of women and have 1000 pretentious friends. Be strong and keep reaching out.

    • Ann says:

      Something about what you say rings very, very true!

      And if you feel compelled somehow to not be your “true” self, then you have to wonder what person the people you call friends are friends with?

      In any case, life is way too short for (true) “frenemies” (imho).

      • Daina says:

        Agreed, Sandra. It is also very difficult when other women are always claiming besties and it’s almost like you are not allowed to be friends with someone for that reason. I would have thought that women in their 40s would have outgrown such selfish and insecure behaviour but I guess not.

  12. lb says:

    Women over analyze EVERYTHING. And I mean everything and that makes a horrible combination when you get two or three women together. I’ve noticed that men can get together on a whim, or invite their best friend over the day of. Women always have to think about whether the house is clean, do I have food and drinks for company , do I have a baby sitter,etc. etc. All things comes first before friendships. What we don’t realize is that most of that stuff doesn’t mean anything when it comes to friendships. I’ve had a situation where my boyfriend had planned a surprise dinner party for me. Three weeks in advance he invited all of our “couple’s” friends and many of our single friends. Most of the men showed up, and only one female came. These are common friends not just mine or his. He told me that the females all sent lengthy emails every single week saying things like,,,, I may,,depending on this and that and this and that, what attire,,should we bring anything, is it formal or informal and then at the last minute would say they CAN’T come. All the guys said definitively yes or no. He told me out right, he doesn’t know how I deal with them. The one thing I disagree with on most of these comments is that friendships don’t “JUST” happen. Just like marriages, you have to work on a friendship, you have to invest in a friendship. If the cleanliness of a house is more important than having a good friend over to talk, then guess what you are most likely not going to meet with your girlfriend much. We need to value the intimacy of a friendship more than our obsession with analyzing.

    • Darlene says:

      You are right lb, I smiled when I read your post! We women do make our own lives more complicated for ourselves. Men are smarter about these things, think

  13. Jenell says:

    No mention of asperger’s?

  14. karen15 says:

    Hi

    I have read most of these replies. And here is my input. What we have is what has been given to us from nature and from nurture. My mother nurtured me to be a ‘ghost’ and not a person of interest – i was the cleaner, the counsellor, the one who should be hidden, the one who did not need to be defended. my brother kept telling me i was adopted. and my father was off making money. my grandmother loved my brother – gave him everything but made me work for it. it was easier to hide then participate in the family. i was made a joke of consistently by my brother. my mother never went that issues – she thought it was sibling interaction. though she never had that when she was growing up. and basically she was ignored. i truly believe that my family had an enormous impact on me.

    nature – was i shy to begin with? I don’t believe any one is shy, i believe some are more introvert but can be loved out of that and i certainly wasn’t. it kept me in my place. I am a large woman – i passionately would rather be small but that will never happen. certainly experiences when i was very very young left profound scars. they are only coming to light

    the journey – my personality was reinforced by my ex husband who interacted well in the beginning when it was just him. the children came and he started to drift because my attention was on the children and that made him angry. he was playing around for years. If he had waited, he could have had a great long marriage but he got angry, he abandoned the family and was nasty about it. sort of like my brother…

    so now i fear relationships but yet i want someone to help me through this. friendships take time and many times they are false because they say one thing and do the opposite. everyone that i seem to know is looking out for themselves and do not really look at who actually might be suffering. i have asked to join things when i have been in real need but have been refused so it keeps hitting in the gut-

    but i will carry on after i have run it through my brain for about 2 days because i know that i am a worthy person and i can do things differently.
    it is my choice.

    • Lauren says:

      Yes, you are a worthy person Karen.I am sorry about your childhood. You were treated badly and you did not deserve that at all. YOu made a good point about nature or nurture. Yes, when it is nature AND nurture, the outcome can be so much more painful. You were treated badly, AND you were a sensitive child. That made it doubly difficult for you. As grown ups, we often tend to unconsciously repeat patterns from childhood.

      Have you ever thought of speaking to a therapist? This may be helpful, but if it is not possible, then do some research and reading yourself. There is a lot of good and helpful info on the internet and there is a good book entitled “Codependence …The Dance of Wounded Souls” by Robert Burney. It may be helpful to you.

      I wish you all the best,
      Lauren

    • Janie says:

      Karen, I agree with you totally. I too was a ghost & my 2 brothers seemed to be more important. My mother didn’t seem to like me & my dad was in the bars & not home till they divorced when I was young. I think the ghost will be with us till the day we die. I had years & years of therapy & it seemed to only make me angry about how I was treated. I don’t feel I got better permanently. I think the pain is embedded in us through out our adulthood & all the therapy in the world won’t change us. I love how some people think that is the end all answer to this pain. I had a horrible marriage that failed & an 18 year relationship that ended in his death. I have 2 boys that really don’t give a crap about me. I think I know why people move to Florida, not for the weather. Anyways I refuse to run away & don’t plan on any new friendships in the near future. I will keep shopping at thrift stores, riding my bike, gardening, going to festivals alone, fireworks alone, grocery shopping alone, walking my dog alone, crafting alone, etc. I never thought I would end up so alone in my senior years but here I am all Alone!

  15. Darlene says:

    Hi,
    Glad to have found this website, there are a lot of insights here.
    After reading these posts, I thought that I should give back to those here and share my journey….I was moved from place to place a lot as a child, my family life was full of stress, chaos and strife. Most of my energy was used up in coping with my family and trying to survive. I had few friends and no resources left over to learn how to make friends. Over the years, I had a few friends here and there, but struggled with loneliness and isolation. I am happily married, but felt like I needed more connections in my life.
    So….in my early 30’s I began trying to learn how to talk to people, by putting myself in positions at work and other places to be with other people, to observe what works for others, to try new things to get along. I’m not talking about being someone I am not, I’m talking about learning about how to connect and give myself a chance to become part of things. I chose people I felt were decent people, that’s critical and tried to open up a bit and to trust (very hard for me, as I can’t even trust my own parents). Slowly, with some therapy, gentle self evalutation (what works, what doesn’t) I discovered the person I should have always been. I am actually quite funny and likeable! Who knew?!? People like me, after all these years. Still a bit of a shock to realize that.
    Basically, I learned to like myself and to realize that I deserve good friends, then I learned how to communicate that to people. It isn’t about being someone you aren’t, or being fake, or anything of the sort. It’s about being yourself and having the tools and skills to connect with others. As hard as this journey has been, I wouldn’t go back for anything.
    All the best,
    Darlene

    • Jen says:

      Beautiful story Darlene! Ours are very similar! And so great of you to share how effective a path of therapy and gentle self awareness can be. It took me many winding years to realize that learning social skills is an avenue for my authentic self, and is not “being fake” at all. Very affirming and inspiring. Best wishes on your life journey!

    • Chloe says:

      Wow, that’s amazing, I would love to achieve this myself.
      I only got moved twice during my childhood but I too am a sensitive person. My brother went to boarding school and I didn’t, so we were treated differently, my mum says that they did what they thought was best for us both which i’m sure is true but now me and my brother don’t have a relationship, I adore him but I don’t think he is that bothered about me. also I had friends when I was little at primary school, but the older I have got the harder I have found it, at the moment I don’t really feel like I have any friends, a couple of people I see occasionally but I feel very lonely, especially when my husband has lots of good friends, I feel awkward in social situations, I try so hard to be friendly and interested in others but it just seems to be the same pattern over and over, I don’t think I have ever really known how to make friends. I just never feel like I fit in, which at the age of 37 is a bit too long I think. Darlene I would really appreciate some advice, I feel so bad about myself, almost sick with myself sometimes as I feel so flawed. I don’t know whether its me, my upbringing etc etc. i also had commitment phobia and worked with a therapist and go through it, my husband thinks it could be something to do with that? I so want to move on from this, I’ve had it for too long. any advice any of you can give me I would be so grateful.

      thanks so much Chloe xxx

      • Darlene says:

        Chloe, I was only a little younger than you when I began to figure this out. It can be done, seriously :). I doubt there is anything wrong with you that learning to like yourself and learning some social skills wouldn’t help.

        Thrilled that you are working with a therapist! From my own experiences and reading other stories on this blog, it doesn’t seem unusual to have trust or commitment issues, either. My suggestions would be:

        Look in the mirror and forgive yourself…you are a fine person with tonnes of potential.
        Find things to do that challenge you and that you enjoy, mastering something challenging does amazing things for your self esteem.
        Read…read and read…books that will help you understand yourself, maybe your therapist can suggest some. Books are meant to get you thinking, no one book has all the answers, but for me, each book I read gave me another piece of the my puzzle.
        Stop looking at how many friends you have or don’t have. Instead, put yourself in a position to simply enjoy chatting with others, no agenda other than to learn to relax and enjoy. I did this with some nice folks at work, to work on my social skills. If you feel that this area is lacking in your life, there are books to help with social skills for adults too.
        Watch your husband and get clues from his successes, men and women aren’t exactly the same, but he has mastered some things, you can learn from this and apply it in your own way.
        Be patient and kind with yourself.

        Every single bit of progress will slowly build, you will fail here and there, but if you are open, those experiences also teach valuable lessons, especially if you look at them as lessons, rather than something to feel down on yourself about.

        I hope this isn’t too preachy, but I believe that anyone can improve their social situation and be happier about that part of your life, I really do. The effort is so worth it, I look back and am deeply thankful that I dug in and figured this out.
        All the best to you!!

        • Chloe says:

          Hi Darlene,

          Having a set back :( I don’t belive I can do this, I have tried so many things so many times. I had such a good few days but then my mum was to nice, I had a few rows with my husband and some people at work were weird, all these things have got me feeling really bad about myself again. No wonder I don’t have many friends, I’m so up and down. I don’t really respect myself so why would anyone else. I feel sick at myself, I just wish there was something that could actually help, not just for a few days or weeks. Anyway sorry for the not very positive message, feeling quite low :(

          • Darlene says:

            Chloe, I cant tell you how many setbacks I had over the years. It’s okay, really and I mean really :). So, it sounds like a few things have knocked you off balance, tested the fledgling self confidence you have and you feel bad again.

            It’s going to happen, over and over and all you’ll want to do is crawl in your hole and give up. Don’t! Instead, soothe yourself by having something nice happen, while you feel this way. Walk the dog, play with your daughter, read a funny book, watch a funny movie. Then, when you feel a bit better, learn from what happened. What exactly happened and why exactly did it knock you off balance. What button did it push? Understanding and awareness is key to mastering some coping skills.

            Over time, you will need these skills less and less, because you will have a more stable sense of worth.. I used to experience pretty much the exact thing, feeling good because some good things were going on, then bad because some bad stuff happened. The key is to figure out why the external world has too much control of you, as it did me. One book I can suggest is codependent no more. I can get the exact title if that isn’t enough. Really helped me with this part of my problem.

            You can do this, Chloe, but it is going to be challenging at times…exhilarating at others. Hang in there, okay?

          • Darlene says:

            Hi Chloe,

            I hope you are okay, I know how hard things can be sometimes.

            Thinking of you.

  16. Edna says:

    I can’t count the number of times my family moved when I was a child, and I know I went to at least 12 schools before grade 9. I’m also an introvert. I tend to appreciate deep, close one-on-one friendships; I’m not much for a ‘girl’s night out’, in fact, I don’t know what I would do if in that situation. Anyway, ten years ago I moved with my husband for his job, and I have been lonely and sad ever since. I work outside the home, and I’m not afraid to join new clubs or to talk to strangers. I’m pleasant–funny, even, and it seems that people want to be my friend. I get invited out often. But I don’t connect to anyone that I meet, so eventually, the calling, the texting, and the emailing from these wonderful women stop. I’m not sure what to do, because, like I said above, I feel lonely and sad almost daily. I want friends, but I don’t want the ‘lightness’ of a casual friendship. I want to feel a connection like I use to have, but I think as you get older, your friendships change and becomes lunch, the gym, dinner etc. You don’t have the deep conversations anymore. BTW- thank you for your site and article. :)

    • Kay Geeguardia says:

      Friendship is like dating. Very rarely, you can skip all the superficial “light” stuff and move directly to intimacy and have that work out. More often, you need to “date” first and build up to more intimate friendships. Like you, I’m an introvert but I can muster extroversion when I’m motivated to. I suggest you put on your most extroverted self and make the effort to go to the events, be part of the activities, and then plan your follow up with the women who interest you most. Be the one to suggest and invite, give it time, and see what grows.

  17. Jen says:

    This is for Islandgirl,

    Hi! I am writing back to your most recent message on my email, but didn’t see it on the blog. So I just hit “respond” and hopefully you will get this….

    Perhaps your area has a higher cost of living? I can’t remember if you mentioned where you live. The midwest in the United States is not too bad. But you are right, it is a BIG challenge! We cook a lot from scratch, hardly EVER shop (!) and when I do, almost everything is used, from Goodwill or Salvation Army or yard sales (except unders and shoes). And nobody knows the difference as long as our clothes are clean LOL. We also get used cars and are blessed that my hubbie can walk to work if/when the car breaks down. The kids have tons of used toys, games, books, etc. We get used bikes from yard sales, etc. The only time it gets really stressful is if a necessary appliance breaks down and sometimes with medical bills. We are so grateful for all we have and don’t need to live like Martha Stewart. ha ha Hope you are getting along o.k. Best wishes.

    • Islandgirl says:

      Hi Jen,

      I’m still trying to figure out how to get around in this site. I don’t know what you mean that you didn’t see my reply on the blog? I see it.

      I do live in a high-cost area. I no longer teach as I’m on disability for chronic illness and chronic pain.

      I’m super impressed with how well you’re doing with managing your family finances and lifestyle, and I’m glad it’s easier for you to do that in the midwest. The other thing is, because of my health issues, I have a lot of expenses that I can’t control.

      I sure do miss teaching though. I love kids. I taught 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades at a public school. What do you teach?

      Islandgirl

  18. Karen says:

    Hi
    I’ve read a number of your comments about the challenge of making and keeping friends and this blog inspired me to start up a meetup group here in Auckland, New Zealand for women wanting to make new friends.
    In less than 2 weeks the group has grown to 82 so there is certainly a need out there.
    A group of 12 of us met for the first time last Saturday at a local cafe and it was great. There’s been lots of positive feedback.
    If you haven’t heard of it meetup.com is a worldwide organisation where people can meet others with similar interests. You can find a group and join it or start up your own if you like.
    Best wishes
    Karen

  19. Islandgirl says:

    Throughout my life, I’ve had friends at times, and at other times, I’ve had to go it alone. I think this is normal and natural given human nature and the changing seasons of our lives. This forum really makes me think more about my past friendships and when I could have been a better friend to others, and why so many of my friendships came to an end. I can see myself in so many of the stories here.

    One thing that sometimes happened to me that might help explain why some of you feel baffled about being left out, is that I have had friends whom I’ve gotten close to, who didn’t want me to be friends with anyone else but them. I know that sounds like elementary school stuff, but believe me, some women are still that way even as adults. Sometimes I chose to drop friends who imposed that kind of ownership on me, but other times, I chose to stay friends with the person, and I would be distant with everyone else.

    Personally, I don’t play games like this with people, but I had no problem accepting the fact that others do, and if I wanted to be their friend, that was the stipulation.

    I think this is why I understand when established friends won’t let me in. It’s human nature….

    “You say why? why? Tell them that it’s human nature. Why? Why? do they do me that way?” – Michael Jackson

    Now I’m chronically ill and in constant chronic pain and I can’t have normal friendships anymore, except for a few email buddies who are in a similar situation. It’s too bad, but that’s just part of life, I guess. For one thing, I’m up all night and I sleep all day, and that’s just one of the reasons I don’t fit in with the mainstream and can’t maintain a friendship in the real world.

    It has been interesting to me to see the same social dynamics play out on the forums I’ve joined for my illnesses. We usually never even knew what each other looked like and yet the same social crap played out over and over again, and that has really made me think. I guess this is just the way people are. Human nature. Heh.

    I’ve gotten solace from reading about Sister Wendy. She’s the nun who taught about art on PBS. Google her interviews, or check her out on YouTube, if you’re interested. Try typing ‘Sister Wendy living alone’ into Google. She seems to have being alone down to an art. I find her to be very inspirational. Maybe her story will help others here too.

    I hope those of you who want friendships will find them soon.

    • Jen says:

      Ilsandgirl,

      You are right, there are people who get very possessive. I had a couple of friends like that in the course of my life and I felt very choked. I totally understand the human nature there, when we find something we like or that’s good, we want to hang on to it and don’t want it taken away. Friendship just really can’t be that, b/c we can’t control others and make them our emotional or phsychological prisoners for our own sense of safety. Friendship by it’s very nature (I believe) is fragile and unpredictable. True friendship is sometimes wounding, sometimes gratifying and above all, is NOT for sissies (insult not intended). So we arm ourselves with a sense of humor, we comfort ourselves when people leave or betray us, we remember we are the only ultimate “steady” in our lives. Even spouses can be hurtful and leave us, as many have experienced. I am in a place in my life where the wounds piled up and got to be too much, so I stepped back. Some solitude has been great, but too much has been lonely and a pain in the rear end. So I am praying and trying to go where the Lord leads me. I am very sorry for your suffering. I suffered for 9 years b/c of mold in our house. We thought we got it all about 6 years ago, b/c we did a remediation and couldn’t find anymore. But after these past 6 more years of suffering horribly, we FINALLY figured out it was just too high of a level of mold for me and was making me terribly ill (the rest of my family has been fine). All it took was putting a few dehumidifiers in our house, which we just recently did, so I am coming out of it and feeling better, praise God!! I feel like a million after years of deteriorating health, and thinking I wasn’t going to make it thru. I hope your situation improves!! I appreciate the “pen pals” here. Thank you for your insights and wisdom. God bless you!!!!

      • Islandgirl says:

        Hi Jen,

        Thanks for your reply. What you’ve written about friendship here really helps me and rings true to me. I’m sorry to hear you’re going through similar circumstances too. You seem to have gained a lot of wisdom from your experiences and I admire that.

        I’m so glad you were able to identify that mold was at the root of your health issue and that you were able to get to remedy it with humidifiers. That’s awesome. Isn’t it amazing that some folks react that way to mold, when others in the same household have no problem with it? I’ve heard about many others with that same issue. I don’t think they knew to try humidifiers though, that’s good to know.

        Thanks so much for your support, too. :)

      • Nathalie says:

        Jen, you worded such a complicated concept so eloquently and simply. Thank you. It really does seem to boil down to what you describe and I resonate with. Personally, I don’t push or force anything. I believe the right people will appear in my life at the right time, as I will appear for them in theirs’. I witness way to many people fill their lives with empty friendships in hopes of obliterating loneliness, when really, only we can do that. I’ve recently realized: Love yourself, be your own fried….the rest will fall into place…

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