Sophisticated Lady

Published: January 18, 2009 | Last Updated: January 18, 2009 By | 1 Reply Continue Reading


Dear Irene,

First, thank you for a wonderful website. Second, I can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong. I’ve come to the conclusion that perhaps I have a higher need for interaction than most people. I’m turning 40 and when my husband mentioned throwing me a birthday party I realized I have no dear friends to invite. I have never known anyone that I would call a “best friend” and was painfully shy and awkward growing up.

I know many women very superficially. Over the past 20 years, three people have told me that I come across as polished/sophisticated and that it is threatening to others. That has never been my intention and I am not trying to cultivate that image, in fact, to combat it I work at being self-deprecating and watch what I wear to casual events with women I would like know better.

I would like to have friends to go out to a dinner/movie/coffee with 2-3 times per month. Is that unreasonable? I’m at the point of thinking maybe it is. We moved five years ago to a new state and have one child. I’ve tried to organize coffee meet-ups with other school moms, most of whom do not work outside the home, and my invitations have either been entirely ignored, I am asked who else is attending, or I get a “not sure if I can make it, if I can I’ll meet you there.” There are two school mom cliques and I can’t seem to get into either, and it’s been four years. While they are polite, neither my child nor I am asked to participate in their group activities, e.g. a week at summer camp or weekend visits to vacation homes.

I tried to organize a dinner group with neighborhood women and it never materialized. I went a handful of times to a neighborhood gardening club and one woman there clearly had a problem with me as I was on the receiving end many times of her verbal jabs and putdowns. I finally had enough and didn’t return.

Two other women have actively pursued being my friend. One came on very strong and frankly felt like a stalker; the other brags constantly, which I have no interest in listening to. During this same four years, I’ve developed very superficial friendships with six women. Only two of them have ever issued an invitation to me for anything, I’ve always asked and they’ve always agreed. I changed jobs two years ago and invited a few women at work out for coffee/lunch. Two people took me up in those two years and they’ve never invited me again even though we work together peripherally.  

For added measure, my husband and I have no couple friends that are our age – and never really have. All couples that we’ve gotten to know and gone out with have been from his work and are generally at least 10 years older than us. I am very thankful for these relationships, but it strikes us as odd and we can’t figure out why we don’t have any couple friends our age. Sounds like I’m having a pity party here, but maybe I should just start to be happy with what I have.

Thank you,


Dear April,

Thanks for reading my blog and posting. It sounds like you’ve done all the right things to nurture friendships with other women. Like you, I’m having a hard time understanding why you aren’t connecting. Yes, you’ve moved and changed jobs over the past five years, but it sounds like your friendship problems started before that.

A few thoughts/questions come to my mind: What are the people like in your community and at your workplace? Are they very discrepant from you in terms of their educational, cultural, ethnic or religious backgrounds? Are these people of your ilk? Perhaps, the differences between you and them are challenging to overcome—and perhaps you or they aren’t accepting or tolerant of differences.

You shouldn’t have to be self-deprecating and to dress-down to garner friends. Best friendships come easily when women feel comfortable being themselves—warts and all. Perhaps it’s your uneasiness in being yourself that other women find off-putting.

Forming couple friends is always a dicey prospect. Instead of two people having to get along with each other, the complexities are multiplied when spouses are involved. Just because two female friends are close doesn’t mean that their spouses will feel the same way about one another. So it’s great that you’ve made couple friends through your husband’s work.

I sense that you feel like you’ve tried very hard to make close friends and feel like you have failed. Would you be comfortable asking your husband what he thinks? He knows you and your situation over time; he is also the person who is most familiar with the cast of characters, and may be able to offer you new insights. Two other alternatives would be to confide in one of the women you feel closest to and to ask her advice, or to seek help from a counselor or therapist. With your motivation and sophistication, I’m certain your problem can be resolved with the help and objectivity of a trusted third person.

Best wishes,

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  1. April says:

    Irene – you’re correct, there are some major differences between myself and the two major cliques, I had not thought of that. Reflecting on all of this a bit, I’ve come to realize that I’ve been so busy taking care of my family over the last decade that I’ve dropped what few hobbies and outside interests I used to have, and those can be great avenues to meet new people. I’ve just been trying to make friends where it’s convenient for me, work places and the carpool line and that simply isn’t a wide enough net. For example, everyone I know is in a book club, I never have been because I cannot imagine when I’d have time to read. That right there should have been a red flag – everyone should have some freedom in their schedule to enjoy things that they find meaningful. I need to slow down and re-connect with hobbies I had years ago and make time for them. Another thing would be new interests I’ve had but have not pursued. I would love to learn how to quilt, but I’ve never believed I could find the time! I’m going to investigate local quilting groups and see if there is a beginners group to join. I think finding groups where I have a mutual interest with others who are there might be a better place to start w/new friendships than perhaps trying to force something that wasn’t based on anything other than convenient geography. As well, hopefully this way people get to know me (and vice versa) based on more than just superficiality — a shared and respected common interest.
    Thank you,

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