A newish mother finds it hard to make new friends

Published: October 11, 2011 | Last Updated: October 11, 2011 By | 5 Replies Continue Reading

new friends takes time, self-confidence, and creativity



Dear Irene,

Friendships have become a sore point
for me at this juncture in my life. I am in my 30s and have a lovely husband
and toddler son. I used to work full time and hence, never really developed any
friendships in my neighborhood. I’ve met a few people at social events but
never followed up.


Now that I’ve been home for the past
few months, I feel so much at sea with the new friends I’ve made at our community park. These moms have kids who are at
least three years older than my son. I feel disconnected from the other moms
who talk with each other, meet at school, and leave their kids for playdates. I
feel rejected because they don’t call me— or do so only rarely–and now I am
beginning to feel they don’t like me and don’t really miss me/us if we aren’t
at an event or gathering.


I feel like I don’t have much to offer.
I am a well-educated professional with interests and hobbies but people seem to
be intimidated by me. I have kept wondering if it is just me or the type of
person that I am that doesn’t work for these friends. I come from a highly
intellectual background from educated and well-travelled parents.


Now that I am re-connecting with some
old school and college friends, I feel afraid of being rejected by them too,
i.e. they may not call me after our first conversation or may not show interest
in keeping in touch.


As I walked through a greeting card aisle
today, I saw cards for a best friend and close friends. Over the past ten years
of my friendships, I was trying to think of someone I could give this card to,
or someone I could get one from. Maybe one or two people came to mind vaguely.

I really want to change myself so that I can work on things that I have control
over and nurture close relationships. Right now I just feel at sea and lonely
that I don’t have a close and fun relationship with a friend.

Signed, Amber



HI Amber,

You’ve undergone a number of major life
changes in a relatively short period of time: You’ve gotten married, have become a
mother, and have left the workforce. You’re living in a very different type of
setting from the one in which you were raised and there may well be a mismatch
between you and many of the people around you.


Given these factors, having difficulty making new friends doesn’t sound that unusual. It
takes time to get accustomed to the role of being a full-time parent and to
find your place in a new community. It’s great that you are reaching out to
other young moms on the playground—-but you may be the type of person who is
more comfortable with one or two close friendships rather than the "cocktail
party" type who craves a group of acquaintances.


When we’re lonely, it’s natural to
think about reaching back into the past to resurrect relationships with old
school chums—but be cautious. You may realize that you have even less in
common with these friends—except for your shared history.


Your note raises several questions that
may be worth considering:


1) Have you tried to place yourself in
situations where you can potentially meet people who have more in common
with you? For example, can you join a mom’s group with mothers and toddlers
closer to your son’s age? Can you arrange to get out of the house one evening a
week to pursue a hobby or interest, or join an organization with other women in
your community? Are there any former co-workers that you would be interested in
getting together with from time to time? Is there a neighbor whom you could
invite over for coffee or tea while you son is napping?


2) Could you be mistaking a low mood
for loneliness? If you aren’t feeling good about yourself and feel like you
have nothing to offer to other people, it’s hard to get close to others. Are
you having changes in appetite, sleep problems, or other symptoms that might be
associated with depression?


3) Because of your insecurities or
shyness, could you be giving the impression that you aren’t interested in
making new friends? Are you timid about making overtures to people whom you
like to get to know?


I raise all of these issues as
possibilities for you to think about. Don’t give up hope or be too hard on yourself just because you haven’t yet found a
kindred spirit on the playground. Building relationships takes time and also
some creativity in thinking about new ways to find friends if the ones you are
trying haven’t worked.

Best, Irene


Some prior posts on The Friendship Blog about making friends:


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Comments (5)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I stumbled upon this post doing a Google search! Finding female companionship is NOT easy. I had a very active social life pre-children. I had gal pals from school and my job that were fun and easy to talk to. My husband and I had couple friends that we would socialize with on a regular basis. Fast forward a few years and 2 kids later…social life? Not so much. I left that exciting job to stay at home. Great for the first year or 2. Stayed in touch with some of my friends, enjoyed the new-ness of being at home full-time. The past 2 years, I’ve been depressed and lonely. I’m not in a neighborhood with any sahm’s or young kids. I’ve met some moms through my kid’s school; but some sahm’s are a rare breed. Some are miserable and not people I want to get to know. I’m not a mom’s group kind of person, and I currently have no hobbies. I’ve lost touch with many of my female friends from the past. They have their own lives, careers, travel that they are into. I know being a mom is about giving up a piece of yourself. I feel like I’ve given up everything, and when I feel un-fulfilled, I am also miserable to be around. I do these affirmations, I am smart, nice, fun to be around, bla bla. They don’t really help. I know I do not want to rely on my kids to make friends for me. I want my OWN group of friends…not through the school or playgrounds. I am going to be going back to work soon for financial reasons. I hope to dive into something I enjoy where I can meet some nice female friends! thanks for letting me vent!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I went through the same thing when I quit working to stay at home with my son in my 30s. It was a lonely time. I couldn’t understand why no one in the play groups wanted to be friendlier. I have some good qualities– a good education, looks, good enough social skills to succeed in a job that required social skills. I never had trouble making friends in other times in my life– college was a blast. I found that I’d have a few play dates with another Mom, but it would peter out after a few months. My child is well behaved. I bent over backward to be nice— I couldn’t understand it. I think there are a lot of insecure women staying at home. If you don’t have the same conservative world view that many of them have– you aren’t validating their choices and you are part of an “out” group. I was happy to have the choice to stay at home but I saw it as a temporary thing and not the only valid option. I like to travel– I have interests other than my kids, and I talked about them. I think there are some subtle social cues that I missed. To make friends with them, I should have conformed more– however, I’m not that sorry I missed those cues, looking back on it. I don’t want to be like them. They were boring! 🙂 Remember, this is just a season in your life. The landscape will change in a few years, and you’ll have more contact with other groups. Hang in there!

  3. Anonymous says:

    hi not sure if this will help or not


    its a short video of a guy making new friends in a park.

  4. Irene says:

    I’m sure it will be very helpful to the original poster and other readers.

    My best, Irene

  5. Anonymous says:

    Irene– love how thoughtful you always are in all your responses, always giving such great perspective and increased awareness. 🙂

    I just wanted your new-ish mom readers to know that they aren’t alone– I posted a guest post last week from another new-ish mom sharing what she’s learned along the way about transitioning her friendships: http://www.girlfriendcircles.com/blog/index.php/2011/09/motherhood_friendships/

    Always impressed with your postings! Cheers!


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