A friend who is stingy with time?

Published: November 19, 2010 | Last Updated: November 19, 2010 By | 7 Replies Continue Reading


Hi Irene,

I’ve read your book and enjoy reading your blog. For the past year or so I’ve found myself in a strange place with some of my girlfriends. I’m 41 years old and have had many of the same friends since high school, all of whom are married with small children. I always hoped to have children and I hold out hope that I still might one day, but that is looking less and less likely.


My problem is one friend in particular, who accused me of being "stingy" with my time and ungenerous. I was hurt, mostly because she lashed out with such venom. I pointed out to her that she was only making time for me in large group settings and that her full-time job, family, trips, and other activities made it nearly impossible to see her.


I told her that I was lonely and that it was hard to be the single person and always happy for everyone else (she accused me of NOT being happy for other people). She relented a bit and is now making an effort to make time for me, but often that means suggesting I come watch her son’s hockey game with her (Her son is my godson).


I guess I had finally admitted to myself that I wasn’t really enjoying her company. I have made new friends who are also single and started new hobbies (which she has not shown any interest in). But now she is making a point of trying to arrange get-togethers and I’m not really sure I want to meet with her anymore. Do I just have to tell her that?




Dear Debra,

When a close friend lashes out at you in anger, it hurts and isn’t easily forgotten. In this case it led you to reassess your friendship.


It sounds like your friend’s time is quite consumed because she is juggling work with parenting and other responsibilities. I’m not sure why she accused you of being stingy with your time when it is more likely that she, out of necessity, has to ration hers.


Does it have to be an either-or situation? It sounds like you have a long shared history between you. Can’t you nurture your new friendship and interests and still see your old friend and your godson on occasion, too? There’s no harm letting her know, too, that you enjoy your hobbies and have found some single friends with similar interests.

Hope this helps!

Best, Irene


P.S. If motherhood is something you still yearn for, don’t give up yet.


Related posts on The Friendship Blog:

Friendship by the Book:Making Time for Friends

Making time for friends: Snail Mail or Email?

Guest Post: The Mother Divide – Friends with children and friends without


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Comments (7)

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  1. Irene says:

    Why don’t you approach your once-friend and tell her that you feel awkward and you know she does too. Say that you understand and accept that you are no longer friends but that it would be more comfortable, both for the two of you and those around you, if you had a cordial relationship that allowed each of you to say hello and acknowledge each other’s presence.

    If she says no, you’re back to where you are. Regardless, you can take pride in knowing you made the "first move."




  2. Anonymous says:

    Hi, I fell out with my BFF almost over a year ago now. It has been difficult for me and was quite an acrimonious ending. However, we have shared interests in that our children go to the same school, are best friends and also play in the same football team. I see her and her family several times a week. However it has been almost 6 months now since we acknowledged each other, let alone even spoke to one another. At the time emotions were high and it was all still very raw. However recently I have begun to feel at peace with the situation and accept the friendship is over and we both need to move on. I have managed to cultivate new friendships within the school etc which has helped as has she. However, we have recently had to come into closer contact at the school and I have felt uncomfortable not even acknowledging someone who I used to talk to about everything. We do not even exchange eye contact. I have noticed if I am in a room she finds it uncomfortable and makes an excuse to leave. I am not sure how to approach the situation as it was she who imposed the “we must not talk ever again” situation but I’m sensing her discomfort also. I do not want to make the first move as 6 months ago I did say we should be civil which she decided against, but her behaviour confuses me. Why could we not at least acknowledge one another. Any suggestions on a resolution or should I just accept it will be awkward from time to time ?

  3. Anonymous says:

    I have been reading this blog for a few months now due to a situation almost exactly like yours. A important long time friend of mine has been picking fights with meet almost yearly for the past few years for not emailing her or communicated to her in the way she prefers (as opposed to having actual face time which she cannot give being a busy mom…my preferred interaction). The general problem is the same as yours: I’m single without kids and she is married with kids. I feel like I have adapted to her new life and have been very understanding that she has so little time for me. However, she feels jealous of the time I spend with other friends.

    When we were younger and in the same place in life we understood each other. However, now she makes comments about the “free time” I have as if that is always so great, not getting that my life has its challenges.

    So, I too have tried to figure out how to keep her in my life. I miss a friendship that cannot be the way it once was, yet I have a desire to keep the friendship. However, I now feel anger toward her that I never felt before because of unfair criticisms of me. It is very hard to back track a close friendship. Especially since, I am also the godmother to her children.

  4. Emily says:

    I am single and childless. In my opinion, I am still young and hoping to one day find the right guy to have a family with. However, it seems a long way off. I met my best friend 6 years ago and at that time she was newly married, but no children. We would spend a lot of time together at work (because we work in the same office as equal colleagues) and also outside of work. Thursday nights every week without fail used to be our night. About 3 years later she became pregnant and we still remained very close througout that expeierence. I was extremely happy for her and supportive in every way. After her baby shower, she sent a heart felt card thanking me for being the best friend a pregnant girl could ever have.

    Initially, when her son was born and she was out on leave, she would call every day and I would visit her weekly, just hanging out at her home with she and the baby. It was nice and I was feeling good about our friendships, because I had had my doubts about it continuing once the baby came.

    She returned to work 3 months later and it went downhill from there. For the past 3 years we have fought with each like crazy, mainly because I always found her to be so unavilable to me. Just recently, we finally had a real conversation (only took us 3 years), where I expressed to her that I just plain missed her. I told her I felt like we were no longer close and it killed me, because she’s my best friend. Her response was that she no longer wants close friendships with anybody and does not do anything with anyone in her free time that is not a family member. She advised she considers me one of her best friends though. She asked me to just be happy for the time we have together at work since we are lucky enough to work together, but she cannot give time outside of work because she has too many things to do. I tried to explain that I wasn’t asking for every Thursday night like before, but maybe once a month we did dinner or a movie. She said she couldn’t commit to that. I was obviously upset, but what was I to do? It’s her choice.

    Since that talk, she has been extra nice to me at work and has even called a few times before or after work. I do wonder if she is doing this because she feels bad/guilty or because maybe she does also miss the friendship. It’s hard for me to understand how you would want to just let your close friends go because you had a child. I expressed to her that I have many friends with children who do make time for me and that I am more than willing to tag along to the zoo with the kids if that means spending time with a friend. She retorted that she didn’t understand how these friends of mine can give me that time, it’s too hard for her. She swears she cares about me and it has nothing to do with me as a person. I believe her, but I am still left wondering how did such an amazing friendship become so downgraded because a child was born? I know that if I am blessed with kids one day, I will make every effort not to forget my friends and to make time for them. It only seems like good sense to me to do that.

  5. Cat says:

    I’m married without kids. When my friends had children, I bent over backwards for them – I knew they were making life-altering adjustments and wanted to be there for them. I’m a willing baby-sitter, don’t mind the kids tagging along at times and flex my schedule a fair amount to accommodate unforeseen kid-related circumstances.

    But I wonder if I’ve now established a pattern of that’s going to be considered the norm forever …. some of my friends’ kids are heading into kindergarten and those friends still seem unable to hold up their end of the friendship – by which I mean accommodate my schedule from time to time, or otherwise make an effort, even if it means a slight inconvenience to them.

    I realize that until they leave for college (and even beyond!), kids have a huge impact on parents’ lives and social worlds. But it seems unfair that they should hold the “trump card” forever when it comes to socializing. After all, they chose to be parents, and surely in making that decision they knew they would have to learn to juggle!

    At some point soon a conversation is coming where I articulate what I expect … I don’t even expect half the effort I’ve made to accommodate them, but I do expect something.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I always think these situations are so interesting. During my mid-late twenties I was single and most of my friends were married/involved and starting to have children. I always felt so alienated when they were discussing wedding plans, baby showers, etc. If I ever tried to steer the topic away I was told that I didn’t “understand” blah blah blah. Eventually I felt that maybe I didn’t understand and it was frustrating and lonely for me. Well…guess what? I ended up meeting someone and getting engaged and now we are planning a wedding. I, however, don’t babble on about my wedding plans and alienate some of my still single friends. I also realized that most college educated professionals don’t get married until later and maybe young married woman can be naive and selfish because they don’t know any better and didn’t really have any other goals.

  7. Laura says:

    Debra is where I find myself at 34 years of age. As a single and childless adult, the implicit expectation of society of us is that (1) you will always be flexible with your time and resources (read work involvement/picking up the slack and paying higher level of taxes) for the sake of those with family; and (2) when you assert your right to time on your own terms, you are selfish. That’s the judgment people make.

    Because the unconscious judgment is that one remains single and childless by choice and because we’re too darn picky. And the assumption is that because you’re single, you have oodles of time and they, being mothers with full-time jobs, need all of the empathy because they had kids, etc.

    The sad thing is that many of us remain single and childless out of circumstance and not choice and people who get married and have kids seem to forget that. It’s a mythology that there is a soul-mate for everyone out there.

    My advice to Debra: have a heart-to-heart talk with Married-With-Kids Friend and say that these accusations were hurtful and unfounded. And that part of an equal and balanced friendship is understanding everyone’s needs, yes, even those of single people. We have rights too. Just as she expects empathy because of her many responsibilities, she should exercise the same with someone who is single and wanting to be a mother at the right time and with the right circumstances.

    No one has the right to vent their frustration on you because they chose to marry, have kids, keep a full-time job, etc. Married-With-Kids Friend needs to deal with it better. It was her choice after all.

    I have had “cool-off” periods with friends because of pettiness like this, where I only meet with them on occasion and not accept every invitation. Debra has a right to that too. Checking in by phone is also a good alternative. And getting together for the sake of the godson is also a good way to keep good relations.

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