• Resolving Problems

The brush-off: Is my friend using his kids as an excuse?

Published: October 1, 2013 | Last Updated: October 1, 2013 By | 8 Replies Continue Reading
Kids consume huge amounts of time and energy but a reader wonders whether his friend is using his kids as a brush-off.


Hello, Friendship Doctor:

I have a dilemma involving someone who at one time I considered to be my best friend, but I am not so sure anymore. He has kids now and I know once that happens, for obvious reasons, friends don’t have as much time to get together anymore.

What really bothers me though is it has seemed like he has practically almost lost interest altogether in our friendship. We would usually hang out on average about once a week. Now nine times out of ten when I ask him to do something, he blows me off and it seems like I am always the one that has to initiate it.

I haven’t set foot in his house for months, and when we do get together it is always brief. I understand kids are a big responsibility but I feel like sometimes he almost uses that as an excuse. I feel like if he really wanted to hang out, he would at least try to make the time for it.

I don’t want to bug him all the time but I am not sure what to do at this point. I feel like it is time to let go and move on but we have been friends for so long it’s not an easy thing to do. I am getting to the age where making new friends isn’t so easy, so I am just trying to hang on to the few that I have. Any advice would be appreciated.

Signed, Jim


Hi Jim,

I’m sure it’s hard for you to gauge the extent of your friend’s involvement with his kids, other family, or work but if you have a sense that he is brushing you off—that may well be the case. Don’t take it too personally though. It is more than likely that with changes in his life situation, he simply has less time and energy for you and other friends.

Since you do feel so close to him, let him know that you have always valued your friendship. Explain that you realize his time is consumed with his kids right now and you don’t want to create additional pressures by always initiating get-togethers. Giving excuses–and hearing them–has to be a strain on both of you. Therefore, tell him that as much as you want like to spend more time together, you’’re going to leave the ball in his court. His response may provide you with additional insight into what’s going on.

People’s lives don’t always mesh with one another. Your friend may be having a rough time right now. So don’t give up on the friendship completely. At some other juncture, he may be more available and interested in your friendship.

At the same time, you’ve realized you need to make some new friends, so start working on that, too.

Hope this helps!

Best, Irene

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Category: one-sided friendships, RESOLVING PROBLEMS

Comments (8)

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  1. Jim says:

    Hi everyone. I am the person that submitted the original post. I want to thank all of you for your input. I have been learning to cope and adapt to the situation but now I have an even much bigger problem, and I don’t really know what to do. Another friend of mine who isn’t the one mentioned in the original post just recently moved in with his girlfriend and she had a baby. Since that time, he has texted me here and there but now I feel like he has completely shut me out of his life. Recently he has outright stopped responding to my texts, and I feel as if he is basically writing me off as a friend. I somewhat understand the reason for it. Our coversations about life were becoming pretty negative with a lot of our time spent talking about the past. His last text to me basically said something along the lines of “tired of remember when….I have a family now looking for a house I don’t need anything else.” This really hurt me a lot because it sounds to me like he is shutting me out of his life for good. What bothers me is he was just as guilty as I was with talking negative about life then all of a sudden he changes his tune. In my opinion, I think he could have handled it differently than he did but now I am wondering what to do from here. Should I just let it go and forget about it? I really hate the idea of losing a friend since I don’t have many and I am feeling extremely lonely and depressed. I don’t really know what to do anymore. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • Sel says:


      Things change when people enter relationships or get married and have families, people generally won’t have the same amount of time to hang out as they have other people to consider now.

      Children are life changing and like Marisa has stated once kids enter the picture everything else is secondary and so it should be, same goes for when people enter a relationship or marriage without children involved as those relationships are primary relationships and need to come first.

      I am sorry you’re going through a tough time with your two friends, it sounds like they’ve both moved on and the second friend made that very clear when he sent a text that indicated that he was tired of remembering the past and that he has a family and is looking for a house so in other words he’s saying he’s got a new life now and has very little if any interest in going backwards.

      Should you forget about it and let it go, well it doesn’t sound like you have much of a choice in the matter so yes it might be best to move on and find some new friends.

      • Jim says:

        Thanks for the reply. I am happy to say that things have been getting better for me. I feel like I am starting to let go of some of the resentment I had toward my friends not being around. The friend who I thought had written me out of his life has been talking to me again. We still have not had a chance to get together but he has at least been trying to make the effort. I have been seeing somebody so that has helped take my mind off things a little. Just goes to show things can get better if you hang in there.

  2. Marisa says:

    The truth is once your kids come, everything else is secondary. It has to be. Your friend has moved onto to a different more important phase in life and no longer has time for the casual hang out. Good luck.

    • Anais says:

      That doesn’t excuse to forget about your friendships completely. We all understand parent hood is hard, and don’t expect to text every single day but forgetting me completely and using the excuse I’m so busy but have time to post and such on social media makes it truly seem you can give to fs about the friendship who have been there for you since the beginning

  3. Jim says:

    I totally get what you are saying and it has been a big shock for me. I am actually in my late thirties and my friend is a couple years younger. I guess in a way I was kind of lucky because all through my twenties I was able to enjoy a lot of time with friends. The problem is you start to think that it’s going to last forever. I do stop by and visit the kids so I am not shutting his kids out of my life by any means. The biggest problem I have is not hearing from him for days when it takes two seconds to send a text message. It’s basically just common courtesy related stuff.

    • Amy says:

      I’m the only one of my family and only one of my friends in my age group who doesn’t have kids, so I do understand that there is an imbalance in relationships with friends who are parents.
      I’m 49 and not sure that there are clear texting “courtesy” protocols. In my limited experience, I have fiends who never text, friends who only text, friends that respond to texts immediately and friends who rarely respond. I even have one friend who doesn’t know how to text and doesn’t want to learn. It sounds like you guys have unclear expectations of the texting component of your friendship. I hope you guys can have a conversation with a satisfactory outcome.
      In my relationships, when I keep my expectations realistic, I’m rarely hurt or disappointed.
      Good luck.

  4. Any says:

    Having children changes people’s entire life and priorities, finances, spare time etc. It’s hard for someone who doesn’t have children to truly understand this. Your friend has entered a different phase of his life, so he’s changed while you haven’t. If you’re in your twenties and he’s the first of your peers to experience fatherhood, this is a a big shock for you. If your friend is working and his partner stays home with the baby, he may be even more reluctant to spend time away from his kid, to catch up on bonding. That’s the sign of a good father.
    If you think in terms of “blowing you off”, you end up feeling like a victim, and that’s not helpful for the friendship.
    When my friends had kids, I learned to see them as a package deal, embraced their kids and formed relationships with them. You could see if your friend and the baby might go to the zoo and give his partner a day with friends or a day to relax.
    Accept that for a while, and maybe forever, your friendship won’t be the same. Your friend’s life has grown and you can grow with it or not. I’m not saying he’ll never have time to hang out like he once did, but that he may no longer want to or not want to right now and that’s not a reflection on you.

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