• Few or No Friends

Friendless in a new town

July 30, 2013 | By | 4 Replies Continue Reading
After getting married and moving to the country, a woman finds herself friendless, without a social circle.

Question

Hi,

In the past year I have moved from the city to the country, away from my family and friends. I moved because I was in a relationship and knew he was the one for me. I kept my job in the city and now commute over 150 miles each day. Since then, I have gotten married, become a step-mom to four children, bought my first house, and…oh yeah, I have no friends. I feel so down all the time. I have so many wonderful things going on in my life, so I just don’t understand why I can’t feel happy.

Since my move I have found it particularly hard to make new friends in the country. Since I’m married and a mom now, I have lost interest in going out to drink and party all night long. That’s what my city friends and I used to do all the time. They no longer want to hang out with me and frankly, the feeling is mutual. I feel like I have no one to talk to in this world. I try to talk to my husband, but he’s not a woman and cannot fill that void.

My family members tell me to make friends with the wives of my husband’s co-workers, but they knew my husband when he was married to his ex-wife (who, by the way, is an incarcerated drug addict.) Every-time we get together with his co-workers and their wives, they always feel the need to mention his ex-wife’s name and ask how she is doing.

I also feel that with friends I do have, I am always the one who initiates hanging out. My friends (including my best friend from grade school) never call or text me or ask me to do anything. It’s always the other way around. I’m confused, sad, mad, tired, stressed out, and just depressed. I am crying a lot now and feel that this may be starting to affect my relationship with my husband, because I’m not myself anymore. Help, please: Is it normal for me to feel this way? Is is possible that a woman “needs” friends in order to live a happy and fulfilled life?

Signed, Alison

Answer

Hi Alison,

First of all, you seem completely normal considering your circumstance. Secondly, you are not alone in your situation! After a move, and especially after a big life change (marriage and instant motherhood in your case), it’s not uncommon for people to find themselves friendless.

Do women need friends in order to live a happy and fulfilled life? I would argue that yes, they do. Many research studies have demonstrated that solid friendships improve mental and physical health and general life satisfaction. The fact that you realize this gap in your life needs to be filled shows how self-aware and intuitive you are.

We need friends in general, and you are spot-on in concluding that your husband can’t meet all of your emotional needs. Expecting him to do so could be harmful to the marriage. As for your particular circumstances, you’re enduring a very long commute, you’re adjusting to a new town, you’re adapting to a new lifestyle, and you are helping care for four children whose mother is in prison! That is a lot for any one person to have on her plate. So, yes, you absolutely need friends to help you navigate all of this. Ideally, over time, you will have several close friends and a number of acquaintances in your new town who can bring out different sides of your personality, share many of your interests, and meet your various emotional needs. But don’t focus on the ideal right now. Concentrate on finding one friend who lives near you with whom you can share some fun and relaxing times and, eventually, deeper feelings and thoughts. All it takes is one authentic friend to make a big difference in your life.

How can you find her? If you’re not comfortable with your husband’s co-workers’ wives (and I can totally see why you’re not), try to get out into the community on the weekends as much as you can, and project an open and friendly attitude. You are feeling down and maybe even depressed right now, so that might feel fake. But the truth is that people will be more likely to strike up a conversation with you if you are lighthearted and warm. Once you start having better interactions with people, you’ll feel more energized and more like your old self. Then, if one of those people meet at a cafe, the library, the farmer’s market (you are in the country after all, right?) or your step-kids’ school seems like someone you could befriend, go ahead and ask her if she’d like to get coffee sometime. “I’m new in town and would love to get to know more people,” is the perfect excuse. It might take time to find someone with whom you really “click,” but the effort will be worthwhile in the long run. (The time and energy spent on your extra-long commute will cut into your ability to nurture friendships, making this an even greater challenge for you at this point.)

As for your “old” friends and your frustration with being the initiator: Think about which of those friends you care most about, and share your feelings with her. Ask her if there is a reason she never reaches out. If she gives you one, listen and consider it rather than lashing out defensively. It’s possible that there is no reason, and it’s just a pattern you’ve fallen into with your friends. You’ve trained them to rely on you to keep the friendship going. This might be difficult to talk about openly, but it would be better for your closest “old” friend to know how you feel than for you to continue to drown in sadness and resentment. She may very well step things up, giving you a chance to draw strength from that friendship as you also work to make a new one.

Finally, while you attempt to spark at least one new friendship and repair at least old one, you might want to consider seeing a therapist about your depression. A friend could make you feel better, yet feeling better could also help you make a friend. Why not try both tactics at once? (If you choose to do so, I hope you can see a therapist during your lunch break at work so as not to pile on more “tasks” to your already busy schedule.)

Best wishes and I hope this helps!

Carlin Flora
Author of Friendfluence: The Surprising Ways Friends Make Us Who We Are


*Carlin Flora is a friend and colleague of the Friendship Doctor.

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Category: HAVING NO FRIENDS, Moving and friendship

Comments (4)

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  1. Amy says:

    Change, even good change is stressful. I’m not surprised after all the changes there would be a let down and even some depression.

    What screams out to me from Allison’s letter is that she seems not to be communicating with her friends and potential friends. She isn’t setting boundaries, or asking for what she needs. Her entire situation has changed, so she may need to renegotiate and reestablish the parameters with her old friends, they aren’t mind readers and they might not understand her time constraints.

    As for new friends, Allison would benefit from giving her husband’s friends wives another shot, since she never actually told the women she was uncomfortable being asked about his ex. Since she’ll likely encounter these women at office parties and other social events, she might as well make an effort to at least make friendly acquaintances with them.

    If she is indeed depressed, talking to her doctor or a professional would also be helpful.

    • Carlin says:

      Excellent point about how she should give her husband’s coworkers’ wives another chance. I wanted to assure her know that that is not her only potential pool of friends, but, you are right that communicating more honestly with them could yield a great new friendship!

  2. Sheryl says:

    Such sage advice. I can’t blame the reader for feeling frustrated and even depressed. I do hope she is able to find at least one good friend; it’s amazing how just that is enough to lift one’s spirits!

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