I’ve been dating. Friend dating that is. As you can imagine, it’s been a challenge.
Last year, Mr. Fab and I moved to a new city at the opposite end of the state. As part of the move, I prepared myself for “friend dating” getting myself out into social situations where I could meet new people and hopefully make good friends.
Friend dating is hard enough, but I think it’s doubly so, when children won’t be common ground on which you can build a friendship. Irrespective of this handicap, I’ve been making an effort to meet new people. I joined a gym and have been challenging myself to strike up a conversation with someone new every time I go.
Last week, while I was waiting for my class to start, I smiled at a friendly-looking woman and initiated a conversation. It was general ice-breaking chit-chat, a comment about how the class seemed lighter today and that the traffic had been heavier on my drive over because the Junior College was back in session.
“Oh right,” she said. “I wondered about that. I drop off my daughter at the school and then drive my little one to pre-school and it took me ages this morning.”
Before I ping-pong a comment back or ask her a getting-to-know-you question, another woman stepped into the conversation and said, “Oh, you have a preschooler? I have a preschooler, where does yours go?”
And then she quite literally stepped into the conversation. She all but put her body between me and my potential new friend, as if I wasn’t even there.
In the past, I would have been devastated. You know the feeling when your heart sinks, your stomach sinks lower, and your entire body follows along. I would have felt dejected, rejected, ashamed, and worthless. I would have slinked away to my little childless corner and stayed there feeling worthless.
But I didn’t. I laughed. Out loud.
Because it finally dawned on me, it’s not about me, it’s not about my childlessness. It’s not even about moms elbowing us out of their important conversations.
It’s about one self-centered and pretty bad mannered individual on a mission to find her tribe, to fulfill her wants and needs, in this case to find a sympathetic ear to listen to her woes about moving her kid to a new school in the fall. She definitely wasn’t going to find that in me.
And the truth is, I was doing a similar thing. I was putting out feelers, looking for common ground, trying to fill my own needs and find my tribe. And these women, the second one especially, weren’t going to fulfill those needs.
The whole ludicrous situation made me realize just how far I’ve come. This year will mark nine years since I got off the baby crazy train. It’s a long time, but I’m happy to report that the Mom Snub bounced off me in a way I never could have imagined nine years ago.
Still, this puts me back in the friend dating game again. But it helped me realize that moms aren’t the enemy, it’s just that I need to find woman—childless or otherwise—for whom motherhood isn’t the sole focus of their existence at this time in their lives.
Maybe in 15 years or so, once she’s packed her kid off to college, her priorities will change. Maybe then we can become friends then.
If I’m not too busy with all my other new friends.
I find with me it’s the nasty attitude that upsets me rather than the fact they are parents and I am not although I do have a spoilt niece who is a ginger tabby cat called baby!
Yes, this is very tricky for me. I’m in my mid-thirties and I know literally no one in my small community over 30 who is childless (just a couple thousand residents where I live). There are many wonderful women whom I get along with quite well, but who plan trips and outings with their kids and other parents/kids as their main form of social interaction. I don’t really try to befriend parents much anymore until they are empty-nesters! Although that could mean we have a twenty-five or thirty year age difference, I’ve met some wonderful women that way.
Lee W. Cockrum says
I am really struggling with friendship issues right now. I am a person who loves to do things with friends, and I love deep friendships. I have a few friends who I have these sorts of relationships with, but they have fizzled/morphed/changed over time, for various reasons. One reason is that they have kids, so have various other commitments that take up their time. One problem is that both my husband and I were close to this one couple…we did things with them, and also separately, both she and I, and her husband and my husband. They do have one child, and her husband started getting friendly with a guy he worked with…they have kids, and are part of a larger group of families that do all sorts of holidays and such together. So they started spending much more time with them. It’s not that my friend doesn’t do anything with me, it’s that she has less free time, and we haven’t done anything as couples in a long time. So of course she is much closer with these other women. I am so hurt and so jealous. I feel so alone. It doesn’t bother my husband that much as he does not have the same social needs that I do, and he actually prefers smaller gatherings rather than large. Making close friends seems to become more difficult as you get older.
Joanne Saltfleet says
It’s perfectly natural to feel hurt and jealous as when you get left out of things it hurts!
I’m sorry to hear that keeping connections going is a challenge. It is for me and my guy, too. Like you, my deepest challenge is around one couple. Before I met my guy, I was close to the wife and husband. They were childless for many years and then, surprise to them, had two kids in three years. I wasn’t dating my manfriend at that time, but we’ve been together now for two years and we have yet to do anything as couples. Our guys have never met. They were so eager for me to find a partner and…nothing since. It’s apparent based on social media that they have a big group of friends thru their kids that they spend – understandably – a lot of time with.
A year ago my mom died in the hospital and the wife came to be with me and my guy as she died. I’m forever grateful for her being there. Yet it was odd that after the funeral, I didn’t hear from her until December. Then again in May after my dad died. (Perhaps she’s now my friend when death happens – ha!). In May she made a comment that I seem really busy with my man friend. I countered with, “Actually, I’ve been really busy caring for my dad with dementia.” She was aware of his health status. Then I said, “You guys seem really connected with parents in your neighborhood and at school.” She cocked her head and said, “Really? Hmm, I guess we do see them a lot.”
All this to say, the desire to reach out to her/them is rare these days. A lesson I learned from many years of dating is to not push if reciprocity isn’t there. It still stings. Yet, based on my status, I’ve also had to move on and work on other connections.
I’ve worked on strengthening other friendships and connecting with others who are grieving deaths of loved ones. Perhaps this “my connecting point” right now – those who are grieving and/or childless. And that’s OK. It’s just not what I expected would happen with this couple.
I agree, making close friends as an adult is difficult!
It’s natural to feel hurt and jealous as being left out hurts!
I found some great girls to go out with on meetup. I’m the only married one in the group, but none of them have kids and it’s nice to we have some common hobbies.
I had not heard of meetup. Thanks
I so appreciate the outlook and attitude this site and Lisa model. Sometimes it’s hard, and it helps to have a positive perspective. She is so right. Making friends as an adult can be difficult for anyone, but even more so for those not in the mommy club. I am also finding now as the years go by, not only do people exclude us, but now the Grandma snub is beginning. I can’t help but wonder though, what in the world did these people talk about before they got on the reproduction train. What happened to art, music, even the weather?!
I totally agree!! I miss being able to have intellectual conversations not centered around reproduction!
Emily Morrison says
I am in the same boat with moving to a new place. I was just telling my husband the other day that I am very fearful of being rejected as a childless woman in a sea of mothers. He told me that if I was rejected, it wouldn’t be because I was childless, it would be because the women are self centered and he didn’t think that this circle we’ve found ourselves in will be like that, just based on what we’ve seen so far. I sure hope not. I really want to go into this with a positive attitude, and not be quick to judge. I hope my fears are irrational and that I can do the best I can to initiate friendly conversation (a difficult task for me, as I tend to be a bit introverted until I really get to know someone) and make new friends, childless or mothers. Fingers crossed!
Brilliant last line, Lisa. I laughed out loud. But I think the whole post is great, because you’ve really hit the nail on the head. What a rude woman the second woman was. It was all about her needs, whereas conversations should all be about give and take.
I don’t consider myself great at making new friends, but I do work in fantastic fields (art & puppetry!) and get to meet AMAZING people! All of whom I want to be friends with! Many of whom I’m on good, friendly terms with, a few who go on to stay close friends. I don’t DO a lot with any of them – too busy trying to pay rent most of the time! but then, as I am working, I am always meeting amazing new people!
thinking back to Lisa’s story, wouldn’t it be funny if the first woman thought, when the 2nd woman showed up, “oh no, someone who wants to talk about babies all the time – I was SO looking forward to an actual ADULT conversation with that other woman!” – not ALL mom’s want to talk about mom stuff all the time! ;o)
I have a few friends who I think kinda stay connected to me because our shared interests represents THEIR OWN interests, and hanging on to friends who AREN’T all mommymommymommy gives them some freedom and lets them keep some of their own, personal dreams alive!
I feel your pain of making new friends while in a new city and not being a mother.
I moved to a small town not too long ago from a big city – and 99% of the women have kids – and at a younger age too (in their early 20s or younger). I’m in the my mid-30s (and on the fence abt. have kids yet am having major baby fever bc I’m ‘at that age’) and it’s awkward being my age and a non-mother where women a decade younger than me are moms. I feel they are ‘more’ than me in a woman sense because they are mothers – eventhough I know that is not true.
And women I meet older than me they mostly have kids and the really older women (whose kids are almost grown-grown) are the ones left to befriend – which sucks bc we don’t have much in common.
I have met one really nice childless woman (but she has had a couple miscarriages before) and she is decades older than me. But it is super rare to meet another non-mother. I’m always shocked when I do at this point in my life.