Reader Q & A: Feeling like the odd woman out

Published: November 1, 2008 | Last Updated: November 1, 2008 By | 3 Replies Continue Reading


Dear Irene,

I have just come across this website and I must say it is one of the most delightful discoveries I have ever made! I do have an issue with my friends and would be grateful if you could give me your opinion as I have given it a great deal of thought but have pretty much stayed at square one.

I have a group of close friends (four in total). We met at University and since leaving two years ago we talk regularly over the phone and see each other almost every weekend, except for one friend who lives down South and we can’t see as often.

Within the group we all have our little roles, mine being the ‘listener’ or ‘mother’. I have always had difficulties opening up so I am also known as the one who ‘doesn’t talk about her feelings’. Don’t get me wrong, whenever I have needed help or advice they have ALWAYS been there for me and I appreciate that so much.

During these last few months, I have noticed a change. I seem to have lost a lot of patience when talking to my friends. The things I once found so amusing are now things that can irritate me and I find myself thinking that they can be rather ‘self-centered’ and take me for granted which can sometimes lead to me feeling somewhat upset.

When I try to share this with my friends I get either reactions of guilt from them (which I then feel bad for), surprise (which makes me think I’m I just paranoid) or just get nervously laughed at. After these thoughts I tend to feel really guilty and will usually try to "make up" for things.

I am getting frustrated because I can’t seem to solve this issue. Do you think it is just paranoia? I feel so bad for having these feelings towards my friends so if you could give me your opinion it would be great!

Thank you!!
Signed Anonymous Across the Pond, UK


Dear Anonymous:

It is so nice that you have kept your college friendships alive. It’s natural that each woman in a circle of friends would tend to have a different personality. Although you have much in common that initially brought and now keeps you together, you come from different gene pools, with different experiences, and have different personalities.

You mention that you have assumed the role of ‘listener’ or ‘mother,’ in your group providing advice and counsel rather than sharing your own feelings and emotions. This may be because you have a greater need to maintain boundaries and refrain from sharing intimacies than do your friends. For whatever reasons, you are uncomfortable getting too close to these friends.

It doesn’t sound like you have paranoia but it does sound like you may be feeling impatient and more irritable than usual. Perhaps, you are uncomfortable as a member of a close-knit group or perhaps, there are other things going on in your life—having nothing to do with your friendships—-that are weighing on you now.

These friendships sound important to you and worth saving. Seems like you have many options; here are a few suggestions: 1) Take small steps to express you own needs and emotions to these friends rather than relegating yourself to the role of an observer and listener; try out the role of being more of an active participant, 2) Try to figure out if there is something else making you less patient than usual, 3) Skip a couple of weeks and see if you feel better next time you get together, or 4) Spend less time with these women and expand your friendships so that you don’t rely as heavily on this one group.

Only you can tell you whether your discomfort is a sign that you have changed and are itching to move on—or whether something else is going on. If you determine to change your relationship with the group, you should seek a graceful way to do it, creating more distance without completely cutting yourself off from these women.

Hope this is helpful.


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Comments (3)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    There is a critical shortage of informative articles like this.

  2. Starrlife says:

    I’ve found that groups, especially, have built in resistance to change so that if one member grows/changes in their needs from the group that you can hit a huge wall. I like your advice Irene- sometimes we expect more from our friends than we do from our marriages- that they’ll just somehow sense what we need and not need a clue in to what’s going on. In this case it sounds like if you don’t know what is going on they won’t be able to figure it out so the secret is in you getting in touch with yourself? I hope that isn’t experienced as unkind…

  3. Irene says:

    Hi Starrlife:

    That was a very wise observation about groups of friends.

    If you think it is hard for a friend to adapt to a changed you, presenting a different ‘you’ to a group multiplies that difficulty!


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