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How to Find New Friends
Having relocated to the Bay Area from Eastern Europe 8 years ago, my wife and I have found it very difficult to find and make lasting friendships with people in this area who share our values and preferences. We are not religious but also NOT interested in US liberal politics. Instead our passion runs toward the traditional European high culture-- music, art, literature, science-- and conversations on these topics rather than about prices of real estate, prices of technology company stocks, prices of things generally.
We're wondering where and how to find married people with children who share our values-- high educational standards for the kids are core for us-- and are interested in the world beyond California real estate, tech company politics, Bush-the-Great-Satan, US culture wars and Sharks vs Jets foodfights etc. Any thoughts on where (outside of churches and church groups) we can find families like us, esp European-American traditionalists, would be welcome. t
I suggest you and your wife put an ad in the personals on Craigslist looking for couples who don't care much about anything other than self gratification. Perhaps your conversations should center around gourmet cooking or the latest fashion, maybe the symphony or which play to see? There are people out there who are truly self-centered and with the right ad and a little luck, you just might find them.
In the meantime, I'd think seriously about your attitude towards others. Otherwise, it may be a very long lonely winter for both of you. Anon
By giving a long list of things you're not interested in, and then emphasizing your ''high educational standards for the kids'' and focus on ''European-American traditionalists'' you frankly come across as a bit of a snob, unwilling to get to know the locals. Perhaps others are picking up on this vibe.
Try focusing more on what you ARE interested in than looking down at others for their interests, and you might have an easier time.
Now as for the practicalities of finding people with similar interests to yours, I can give you an example from my family. My in-laws love classical music, and they do things like attend lectures and workshops on the topic, as well as play in a small ensemble, attend retreats and performances, etc. Indulging their passion has also provided them with a social network. You could probably find some music appreciation groups or courses - or join an amateur ensemble if you are interested in playing instruments as well.
There are tons of bookgroups in the Bay Area - you could check with the public library, or look on Meetup or Craigslist. You could even start one yourself by advertising in those same places.
I have similar advice for finding people interested in art or science too. I just tried searching Meetup.com for ''science'' groups, and while there was some junk there, there were also the following groups: Bay Area Physics and Astronomy Society, Science Writing Meetup, Picnicking Plus Visiting Science and Nature Places, and more. Good luck!
As an aside, it took me about 2-years before I truly felt at home in the Netherlands (I've moved a handful of times as an adult and find two years is about normal for me to feel like I truly belong in a place...) Give it time and try to understand why we talk about what we do...you WILL find someone whose eyes don't glaze over when discussing the political situation in Austria. Good luck. Jan
Hi- I am 32, married with a 4-year old. And somehow I have managed to stop having friends. Sure, some friendships atrophied during the I-have-kids and I-am-single phase, but I am at a loss and could use some girl-support.
I started a mom's group that has also puttered out. Joined a neighborhood group where I have been a member of for 4 years and have yet to meet anyone. They are all Martha Stewart-types who wear make-up for the morning drop-off and do not work outside the home. All of their events are during the week when I am at work. I am more suburban-hippy. Sorta ''Old Adventures of New Christine'' type while toting my canvas bags to the store. :) But no make-up. ;) I thought it would be important to get to know these people since they are the ones who rule the school, so to speak, where my son will be attending next year. But zilch has come of it. Not a phone call. Nada. And yes, I have volunteered where I could. I even threw some parties, inviting them, other people I sorta knew, etc. Not one person came.
All of my coworkers have grandkids and think I am some quaint object that reminds them of their kids -- so that is no good for friend support. I hate that job actually. But that is another post altogether....
What do friendless people do? I can't go try new sports or evening things as my husband works a different schedule than I, so I have to be the one-mom show in the evening.
I am not mean. Honestly. I am goofy beyond comprehension, make a mean plate of brownies and am a great shopping buddy. I almost considered a craigslist posting...Wanted: Friend. How pathethic is that? 'Cause it reeks pathetic to me.
In college? Friendless. I lived off campus to save money so I never met any dorm folks. And in high school, I was well-liked, but that was 15 years ago and who knows where those friend are.
Am I doomed to be a friendless loser? Freak and Geek.
Find what you like to do, volunteer or visit, hang out at the park and talk to the person next to you, do something with your kids (and then without). You'll be fine. It just takes noticing that you want more.
My vote is politics. When I first moved to Berkeley, I found my lifelong friends in Loni Hancock's first campaign for Berkeley City Council. --politico
You need to recognize that people can pick up on your judgments of them. I think you will be a lot more likely to make friends if you meet people with a clean slate and don't assume you know something about them based on their outward appearance or what job they have. People will surprise you. It is easy to make friends if you are genuinely interested in them as people. Try to learn as much as you can about a person. I find that people have the most unexpected lives and interesting stories. You just have to give them a chance. Be open and interested in them and they will respond. In some ways it sounds like you maybe are not really interested in having friends. Or you have put up a lot of boundaries around yourself. If you are fixated on being friends only with people exactly like you, you aren't going to have much luck. You'll always find something different. Plus, its boring to be friends with people exactly like you. I work in an office all day...I love to be friends with people who have different experiences and who can share those with me. And I tell them my funny work stories. So open you own mind a little and see what happens. good luck
I am a stay-at-home-mom who makes plenty of after hours time for folks who work -- and, I'll find a babysitter so that I can meet a friend who wants to leave her desk for a lunch date. I don't harshly judge them for abandoning their children to be raised by someone else so that they can selfishly pursue their own interests and they don't harshly judge me as some Stepford wife/Martha Stewart caricature whose singular ambition is to get elected president of the PTA and get my daughter on the cheer squad. Neither stereotype could be further from the truth.
So, my advice for making friends? Be kind, not condescending. -I like nice people
As for asking for friends on the internet....why not? People look for spouses that way, so why not friends? There were 2 times in my parenting life when I was lonely enough to ask BPN for friends. I met a lot of nice people who feel just like you do, and I now have 2 good friends who were also feeling disconnected from other Moms. Not everyone clicks, but you'll find friends if you keep trying. Some of us have a harder time (for many different reasons), so we have to find unique ways to find kindred souls! If you'd like, we can meet for coffee some time. If we don't click, at least we'll have a decent conversation! okeefeladies
I guess this a plug for public school in a way because you get a larger range of people for all of you to choose your friends from! But really, I think those early years can be very lonely and when your single friends without children start to bail out it's a hard transition. It will get better. not lonely anymore
There is quite a difference between the way you describe yourself (lots of affectionate references to how you see yourself) and the dismissive way you describe others. Does the fact that ''all'' your coworkers have grandkids make them unworthy of being your friends? And why does it matter that other moms ''wear makeup at dropoff'' and don't (apparently) work?
Perhaps you are being too quick to judge others and dismiss them as potential friends? Anon
We moved to Berkeley almost 8 years ago and it's been really hard for me to make any new friends. We met a lot of people who seemed very nice at my son school/soccer/swim classes. And I made so many efforts.....
Normally it would go like this: we invite them over, for dinner or party or play date and after that we never hear from them. If I call again to invite for another dinner or play date, they would be happy to come but never making any kids of efforts to reciprocate or initiate any kind of contact. We had several families that were in our house 3-4 times for dinners but never invited us back!
I was making a lot of efforts for the first couple of years since we don't have any family living here and my son is a single child who is always asking for a play dates but now I stopped. I don't really care any more. I decided not to waste my time and energy on that.
We have 2 families that we see all the time and our kids play really well together, but they are all European. I think people are more gregarious in Europe. We lived in Midwest, Europe, Mexico and Russia and never had this issue before. I personally think it's only in Bay area people are so busy, self absorbed and rather spent time with a psychoanalyst than a friend.
Anyway, I have very sociable and fun 5 year old son, we love to have people over. Here is my e-mail, let's get together. l.
So, to find them takes time. As adults and parents we are more reluctant, we don't have the time, the flexibility. We're shy, wary of rejection, wary of extremes. Too quick to make excuses (too tired, house too messy/small to invite people over). But there are still ways to find people.
You mentioned your son's school - I wouldn't give up!! Unless the school itself is very small, surely there are other parents you have yet to meet. It may even be the parent of an older child, or even a teacher you click with. There will be many more opportunities in September.
But before then - what about weekend time? Any chance of getting a two hour block to pursue an interest, a hobby, volunteer somewhere where you can meet other like-minded people? Or hiring an evening sitter once a week, or every two weeks for the same purpose?
Or if that's cost prohibitive, can you find someone to trade sitting duties with?
Start your own after work playgroup - advertise for other working parents to join you at the park before sunset, or any other early evening child friendly activities you can do - some libraries have reading hours at 7:30 pm, and many parks do summer evening concerts.
Once you get out there, to places you like to go to on a regular basis, you should start seeing the same faces. All it takes is a ''Hi'' to start with. And friends do come in varieties other than ourselves - those nice grandmas at your office might be really good listeners, might have some great advice, might have been in your situation. Please don't give up. Take a deep breath, smile and say ''hi''. Same as You
You are not alone, not a bit. It just takes time to find your niche. Drop those people who didn't come to your event and be more specific--search out people you REALLY like. It's okay to be picky, and in fact you'll have a higher chance of finding friends you really, really like. There are other working women with four year olds out there--I know--I'm one!
I'm doing much better than I was. I changed jobs and now have made some really nice acquaintances through work (not really close enough to do much more than have lunch together from time to time, but it really helps!). I moved away from Stepford Wife and Stepford Children suburbia and now am in Richmond, of all places--and I love it!
My neighbor and I swap spiritual books and I have a favorite coffeehouse (Catahoula on San Pablo Avenue) where everyone is SO friendly. I'm planning to attend our neighborhood association one day, and am excited about all the different things they do. I made a couple of friends through my ''house of worship''--a Hindu fellowship in fact. (This is America--whatever spiritual belief you hold, there's a group out there that you'll enjoy hanging out with.) So I'm slowly building a network of like-minded people around me.
You sound really fun and totally entertaining and I'm sure it's just a matter of time. If you live anywhere between in between Berkeley-El Sobrante, I know I would love to be your friend! Why don't you post your e-mail address next time? Girlfriend
I am writing to see if somebody has any advice for me. I have been in the bay area for around three years. I am divorced and live with my preschooler. I have never, ever, ever had problems meeting people and making friends. My ex, in fact, was surprised because every time we moved, I would immediately find people to make friends with. We lived in several cities in the US, by the way. However, since I have my son and moved to this area (the Danville area) it seems impossible for me to find people I could have a long term friendship with. It's like here it's too different worlds: I have one single friend and one married friend. My married friend is open-minded and has no problem with the fact that I am divorced. My single friend is very nice but wants to meet only when I don't have my son.
So, I have met many singles that just stop calling if I'm not available immediately to go out with them (I have my son). When they did things during the day I have taken my son but still it's as if for them I were from another species bc. I have a child. And then, with the many married people I have met, they also stop calling after a while because they end up doing things with other couples, even when they take their kids.
When I was single, and no child, I had all kinds of friends: married, single, young, older. However, here in this area it's seems as if people didn't mingle with those of a different marital status. I have tried to meet other 'moms' in the area but then I am not the soccer mom type. Please, I don't mean to offend anyone.
I don't want to go to those groups of 'divorced people', 'single parents' and stuff like that. I want to meet people I am compatible with regardless of their marital/child status. I am very frustrated and TERRIBLY lonely. I set up playdates for my son but I feel bad that he never sees me socialize. I'm sure he feels his mom is not very happy. And believe me, I try. Lonely mom.
A book club has been great for me! 8 women get together once a month to discuss literature, eat a good dessert, and talk occasionally online about this and that. Sometimes we go to other events that we learn about from each other together or in smaller groups.
The point is, you need to get some support in a big city. Work on finding some small groups that you can contribute to and also feel a sense of belonging to. After a while, you will get to the point where you will appreciate solitude, if it is balanced with social activities.
I invite you to my east bay book club, if you'd like to try it. Just email me! Susanne
I have friends who are single with kids. I do try to spend time with them when they also have their kids, not just when they are free from them. Here's my impression of that. Sometimes it's a drag to deal with the kid, sometimes its not. Sometimes it feels like I can't have an adult conversation with the friend because the kid is around. Sometimes the kid gets demanding. Sometimes it's a drag to see the friend have to reprimand the kid because he/she is acting out.
Here's some good news though. It's not impossible to find good friends in the Bay Area. You just have to look beyond your initial comfort zone, stretch out and make friends with folks farther away, or of a different social status.
Go and join some activity groups, take some classes etc. And, you may really need to look beyond Danville, home of the soccer moms, and not too socially promising for single/divorced people.
Also, keep in mind that you may not make a ton of new good/close friends out here, but that you may make 1 or 2.
I've got 2 really good friends that do things with, everyone else is pretty much an acquaintance in my book. But that is ok, because I've learned that striking out on my own to do new things helps to open the possibility of meeting more new friends.
I don't have to have a giant collection of friends, just a few really good ones. And, when the good friends aren't available, I do things on my own.
Good luck. Single, independent and happy
I also invite people to my house for dinner a lot. My child is pretty easy then and I don't need a babysitter. I might cook a cassarole or stew the day before and spend the day paying attention to my girl and not letting her nap, then when 7:30 comes, she is asleep in her room, and I am socialising in the living room and since I don't have to drive, I can even have a glass of wine! Meeting friends for lunch on my work days has worked well, too.
I have also had sucess with doing on-line book clubs with my relatives and friends from back east. I get them a magazine subscription (Science News, the New Yorker-something with stories) or a book for a gift, then I get the same one and we discuss it. I tried to go to several churches (First Unitarian in Oakland had a lot of friendly people and a kid friendly service/activities), but since Sunday morning is when we actually see my husband, I stopped going.
I figure it's hard to be free for friends when my kid is little, so I started socializing in a way with her, too. We go to a museum and out to lunch sometimes. To the zoo, to kid movies or to a mall then out for pizza. We go on nature walks and collect leaves for collages. A lot of the stuff I would like to do socially (just not very grown up topics). My friend volunteers at a senior high rise with her 3-year-old. It's really social and easy for her. I think it's a good idea to try to contact people you normally wouldn't meet.
I think that when my daughter is older and has her own life, I will have mine again too. I do see other moms at the park, zoo, etc. but I haven't been quite brave enough to go up and start talking to them. That would probably work eventually. We need a mother's club for parents of older kids,don't we? I'll be interested in the other ideas people give you. tam
and of course women a generation or so younger, probably such as yourself, who had their children at a more ''sensible'' age, aren't interested in me either; they want someone more their own age. while i actually am more comfortable with folks younger than myself (my life style has never been consistent with my own demographics), i can understand how younger women feel about someone my age.
bottom line: like you i am hungry for adult companionship (especially female, especially one with a small child or children who can understand and live the same life style) and have none whatsoever.
if you think we might have something in common, please drop me a line. by the way, my daughter loves small kids and would enjoy (initially at least) playing with your son.
I'm coming to the realization that I have a lot of acquaintances and no really close friends. I'm plenty social. I want a best friend like the ones I read about or see in the movies. One I can call at all hours of the night or day and who will give me advice about everything and anything. I don't know how to make the leap, though. How do you approach someone you like? I tend to stick to shallow conversations naturally - it'll take some real effort to get more personal. Should I make offers, just share things about myself, or hope someone approaches me? Open your heart to me
I think getting close to people is about learning how to:
1) Open YOUR heart to people. You might ask yourself if perhaps there are some trust issues that hold you back from doing this? Opening up to people allows them to feel trusted by and important to you. They often feel special, that you would share of yourself with them. This contributes to a feeling of mutual closeness.
2) Give give give. ALL relationships require give and take. Make the first move. When you give of yourself (time-wise, energetically, emotionally, financially, whatever) people feel that you care about them and will want to be closer to you, AND they'll want to reciprocate.
3) RECEIVE! When people make offers to help you, support you or otherwise ''be there'' for you, learn how to graciously and appreciatively receive what they are offering! This can be one of the hardest things to do (I've really had to work on it!). It can be challenging to overcome feeling undeserving, or that we would be imposing on people to accept. People like to feel that they have something to offer, too, and that you trust and appreciate them. So, when you accept *their* overtures, you allow them to matter to you, and to get close to you.
Of course, you will run into people who have emotional wounding in and around intimacy/trust, and they may be reluctant to get close, even when you make these overtures. Don't worry about it or take it personally (something that has always been tough for me, but I've been learning), there are always other people who will be more responsive.
Finally, I've found that the friendships that have lasted the longest are the ones in which both people really ''made room'' for one another. In other words, we were understanding if one of us had to cancel a get-together, if one person became really busy for a while and fell out of touch, or was *occasionally* difficult, insensitive or, (in other words) HUMAN. With my closest friends, we can approach each other with hurt feelings and express our needs without being judgmental, accusatory or vindictive. We can allow for one another's humanness because we've come to trust each other and, therefore, not to take things too personally.
Of course, if some one is consistently inconsiderate or selfish in some way, I realize that they are not really being a friend to me and I simply move on, or otherwise shift my relationsip with them. I don't try to GET them to be different, if they are unresponsive to me when I express what I need to remain close.
I hope this helps. Best of luck to you! Opening Up More Every Day
First, my friends and I just don't have the time we used to, and intimacy takes time. We are all rushing to work, rushing our kids to schools and activities, rushing to make some organic, low glycemic index dinner, etc. I do have some free moments, and I would love to use those to create more intimacy with my friends, but my free moments are not necessarily theirs, etc.
Second, we're older, and in established relationships, which wasn't the case when we were younger and just dating. I feel there's a barrier to talking about our spouses/partners. I just sense that it's somehow become not done. Maybe because we all know each other, and are committed for the duration. It's more pointless to talk about something that you know isn't going to change. It's not that I am personally unwilling to listen to or talk about relationships.
I don't know how to overcome these obstacles. Still seeking friends
As for trying to turn an aquaintance into a deep friendship, well, ask that person to go out for a walk, or for a movie, or for a mom's night out if you both have kids. Lots of other women out there also feel the way you do, and it's nice to be asked. Even if the friendship does not deepen the way you hope it would, having buddies is a great thing.
And a caution: allow your growing frienships enough space as well as enough contact. It can be devestating to pin your hopes one a friendship only to see it unravel. And also do what you can to be your own friend. That will help you weather the ups and downs that all friendships go through. Me Too.
Hi all - I am looking for advice on making new friends. I seem to have a problem doing this. It isn't easy for me.
I grew up in a very undemonstrative household with no hugs and no outward displays of love at all. Over the years I have had various groups of friends (I have moved a lot too) that have since fallen by the wayside for different reasons (lifestyle changes, moving etc). When I was in college I had a group of friends I loved very much. Unfortunately when I split up with my very likeable and popular boyfriend, almost all of my ''friends'' didn't want anything to do with me as my boyfriend took it very hard and I didn't handle the break up very well due to my emotional immaturity. I felt very betrayed by these friends and still have dreams to this day about being friendless and unloved.
As it stands now I have 2 young children and am a SAHM. I have very few friends. Two close women friends locally is about it. I have tried making connections with other women and don't seen to have the skills to really bond with people well after the initial pleasantries. I have been told frequently over the years that I am unapproachable and intimidating. I have tried pretty hard to soften up and have succeeded to a certain extent I think. But I don't open up easily and I just don;t seem to know how to make friends.
Does anyone have any words of wisdom? Am I a candidate for therapy? Can anyone recommend any good books on the subject? I have been feeling that this is a dark secret over the years. Basically that I am not likeable enough to have friends. And I would really like to develop these skills.
Thanks a lot. anon
I kept making overtures to other moms at parks/playgrounds, in my daughter's baby gymnastics class, in playgroups, to neighbors who work part time and kept striking out over and over again. Either they lived too far away to make it easy to get together, they already had an established social network and didn't feel the need to expand it or we just had very litttle in common to sustain a friendship.
Eventually through patience and persistence I finally felt like I was making progress and now the phone rings off the hook. I found a group of people through a fiction writing group who I connected with, I made friends with another mom at the gym where I exercise, I reconnected with a few older friends who I hadn't seen in a long time, and I found another mom at the preschool where my daughter attends who wanted to get together for a weekly playdate.
I also tried very hard to be an interesting person who had something to offer new friends. I try to read a daily paper and one chapter from a novel when the kids are asleep in bed on most nights, I see movies occasionally with other moms, attend an annual conference for writers, we go to church services regularly, and I write my own fiction when my daughter is in preschool part-time.
But it seemed like for two long years I would make a dozen overtures only to be disappointed over and over again with how unresponsive/busy people are. It was so frustrating I started to really resent busy people and thought they were personally rejecting me which, of course, wasn't true. It's just that parents with young children are pretty overwhelmed. And some people are just as shy and uncomfortable getting to know new people as you are.
ase don't give up and do be very forthright about the fact that you are not a person who makes friends easily but you have a genuine desire for adult companionship. Stay positive, stay hopeful, this will work. --a friendly mom
Four years ago, before we had children, my husband and I had a small social life. We had friends, and although we would have liked to have more even then, it was fine, especially since we could go out together.
Now we have two children, and next to no social life at all. We can't go to events we used to attend (an 8:30 dinner is not possible, unless we get a babysitter, which we can only do occasionally.) Our friends without children don't want to socialize on our schedule (meaning we generally need to be home after 8:30 PM.) We don't have many friends who have had children. (I do have one good, loyal friend with a child, and some relatives in the area, so we are not always alone, but still.)
So I thought, especially after a recent move to a neighborhood with many families, I'll try to befriend some new people. I've invited over various families in our extended block area, and assorted others, like people from my husband's work, people who we were friendly with who had kids, etc., basically anyone I could think of. This project hasn't been much of a success. I have issued many invitations, both to parties and dinners, and even informal, ''drop by any time.'' I would estimate about 1 in 4 of my invitations is accepted, and I get maybe 1 for every 5 I give. I also tried a toddler music class, which my children loved, but didn't create any friendships.
An incident this weekend brought this to a head, when I was in a friendly conversation with two other neighbors. One asked the other one to dinner. Nothing was said to me. Obviously, I am going about this in the wrong way, but I'm not sure what I should do differently. Should I continue my invitations, or is it time to give up? Is there something else I should try? I wonder if there is something wrong with me, but obviously, this forum can't tell me that. The only other thing I can think of is to join some religious community. The problem is that I don't have a religious or spiritual bone in my body, and so I would feel like an imposter. I'd love to have some advice about this. Looking for friendly advice
Secondly, it sounds like you are really working hard at expanding your social life, so everything I suggest may be a repeat. But I think every parent goes through this, and it is a tough transition.
I've met parents through story hour at the library, talking at the toy store, parenting classes, gymnastics, etc. Almost anything that centers on children should be a good opportunity. But you could also try going it alone--either you or your husband enjoying activities solo and meeting people that way, in most communites you can pick which ones would have compatible people involved.
And, you could try not trying so hard. Maybe your neighborhood moves slowly in integrating newcomers. And you could use the parenting forum on Craig's List-you could be online afterhours and still making contacts (I haven't tried this, but I use Craig's List for everything else). I hope this helps, and good luck.
Also, despite being a not religious person myself, I tried the Unitarian Church in Oakland a few times, and really enjoyed it. My son went to a separate playgroup and really enjoyed it, and I was able to sit in a beautiful building for an hour and listen to music. It is worth a shot. Kean
But then I remember that being a parent takes a lot of time and energy, and that I am also not always able to return calls, even when I really mean to. I remember that while I used to be able to pull off a dinner party on little or no notice, with a child around I'm lucky if I can get the groceries out of the fridge without him pouring milk on the floor. If this is true for me, it must be true for other parents, too.
So even when I feel afraid that I'll just get rejected again, I try again. If a one session class was not enough, I try a second, or one at another time when there will be different families there, or a different kind of class of play group. Sometimes it takes a while to find a friend. I try going to the same park at the same time each week and talk to ''the regulars,'' I suggest a picnic, or going for coffee afterrwards. Sometimes it doesn't work, but my mother once told me that there is a virture just in reaching out to others. Sooner or later, a friend will reach back.
Your story about your two neighbors sounded like it hurt a lot. I remember that it took a few years to develop frienships in my neighborhood, and that I often saw other neighbors who had been there longer socializing together. When I was already feeling lonely, that really hurt. But over time, I have developed different kinds of friendships with many neighbors. The time spent with them rises and falls, but I feel like our family is a part of the commmunity in a way I did not in when we were the new kids on the block.
On really bad days, you might talk to your husband, and suggest that the two of you find a babysitter and go out toegether. Splurge. Some focused attention like that goes a long way. You might also talk with your loyal freind who has a child, and tell her what you are feeling. Maybe she feels the same way at times. Perhaps the two of you could think of a way to start a mom's group or play group. Don't give up. Be kind to yourself. Carolyn
Just to philosophize a little about friendship: my kids are teens now and I have social circles based more on my own adult interests than on the kids'. Many of my closest friends I met when I went back to school after my kids started elementary school. Some of them have kids and some don't. I can see that friendships take time - maybe 4 or 5 years for an acquaintance to become a friend, and then a few more years for a close friend. And they take some work, the same as a marriage. You have to make an effort to call, get together, etc. I still keep in touch with the old playgroup moms and we occasionally run into each other. I get together regularly with the mom of my son's best friend from the co-op preschool. Also - don't give up on your pre-kids friendships. Some of them will have kids eventually and they will really need you! And the ones who don't are important too - I've stayed in touch with highschool friends from the east coast, and those friendships have become very valuable over the years. Anon
Now for the good news: when the kids are a bit older, they will start school, and their school will (hopefully) not only be a good fit for them academically and socially, but a good match for you socially as well. We are very involved in our kids school (Tehiyah), which we love, and we have found a wonderful sense of community there which I deeply value. There are days, still, when I come up for air and realize how much I miss my girlfriends of old, who are really no longer a daily part of my life, but other friendships arrive, and the older ones just require long intervals between visits. There are parts of parenthood that are indeed a lonely journey, but all things change, and if you have kids that make friends, or extend their social lives into other avenues (like soccer, dance, music, choir), there are lots of parents out there craving connection.
I would simply add: Continue all the wonderful things you've been doing to be available, indulge in the occaisonal babysitter, pursue your own interests (like an adult school cooking class if you love to cook, volunteering once a week for a favorite political cause, family camping with the Sierra Club, etc etc) and continue to explore all possible places where folks of similar values and life circumstances might hang out. Your efforts will be rewarded.
Best of luck during these sometimes lonely years.
A mom who remembers this all too well, Deborah
That being said, some churches can be more friendly than others, and church people, too, can sometimes get a little wrapped up in themselves (translation: clique-ish). You should check out several different places. If you decide you like one, then I'd encourage you to try to have some kind of consistent participation. That's the best way to build community.
God bless, Jim W.
Please feel free to email me. I hope this helps! Maria
Someone else wrote about it being difficult to start a social life in the East Bay. Something that I've noticed which might be telling as to how ''friendly'' Berkeley (where I live) is, is the obsession with privacy fences and vegetative ''screens''. If you're from here, this might not seem weird; but I grew up in Washington, D.C., and EVEYRONE had a 5 foot chain link fence, which meant that you could see what was going on in everyone's backyard whichever direction you looked in. We knew ALL the neighbors on our very large block (we're talking big city life here) plus neighbors on the surrounding blocks. There were not really close friendships among the adult neighbors, but people definitly took time to speak at length on the street with one another and there were a lot of close friendships among the children. New neighbors were welcomed right away into the neighborhood. I don't understand this need to be isolated from your neighbors; our next door neighbors are fanatical that way. It's definitely a sad thing to me.
It seems that our entire culture becomes more and more isolating, with all of our creature comforts allowing us to be fully independent from each other and entertainment being available at the push of a button; you don't even have to move! anon
I felt the exact same way you did for a long time. I was the first in my group to have a kid and to make things worse a lot of my friends moved out of state due to the economy. Just seeing two moms hanging out with their kids made me feel extremely jealous.
I was in a mom's group, and I was making friends with a few other moms, had plans occasionally with other families, but it was never enough. I joined groups, I extended invitations (and even recieved a few), but my life never really reflected the image I had in my head (close, nurishing friendships with other mothers,and social plans for the whole family on weekends). I hadn't felt jealousy/longing like that since I was in high school!
Finally, after talking extensively with my therapist, I figured out that what I was really craving was my mother and sister. I know it sounds weird, but thats how those types of issues manifest themselves. I had severe post-partum depression and anxiety when my daughter was born and my mother was not there for me even though she lives 1/2 hour away. I barely see her now and my daughter is two. My sister doesn't answer her phone (and refuses to have an answering machine). Once I realized this was my problem and got up the courage to confront my mother and sister about how I felt, the desperate feelings pretty much went away.
It was then that I realized that I did have mom friends, I did have a social life and all of a sudden we got more invitations from other families.
Not saying its what's up with you, but I think its worth thinking about. anon
I think part of the problem is that parents get overwhelmed with the time demands of parenting and simply don't feel they have any time to develop new friendships. So as much as some of the people you have crossed paths with might enjoy your company a lot, they are not allowing themselves to make time for that additional enjoyment because they are simply overwhelmed with the other things that seem to take their time (kids, work, paying bills, sleep!!).
I am sure it is true because I feel like I don't have time to spend with existing close friends, let alone develop new friendships. A really nice woman with a child my daughter's age recently asked me to do something social and I said no because I felt it would cut into my very limited time with my daughter. I tell you this because I want you to know you are not alone in this situation.
Another problem of course is that people are ''clique-y'' and it doesn't occur to them that their lives might be richer by associating with a range of different people.
In any event, hang in there and know that you do have a valuable friendship to offer and over the years I am sure you will gradually find that you have more and more friends whom you really enjoy and who are quality people in your life, regardless if you ever have a huge quantity!! Take care.
I'm a native to Berkeley/El Cerrito and now own the house I grew up in. Most of my neighbors have lived here fifty years and knew me as a child. In most cases, I have never been inside their houses. We do have high fences around our yards. BUT (and this is the important part) all of us are quite pleasant with each other. We never have turf disputes, nor problems with ''different'' lifestyles. This seems quite a comfortable way for us to live in close proximity, I think.
Social life? Ours is quite rich. One family goes to Tehiyah. (Group gatherings at the house are common.)Another family has friends over to their garage to create Ikebana arrangements every Saturday. Rock musicians down the road practice in their basement. My sister is active at Epworth (on Hopkins) and my family travels to dog shows frequently. Our local library provides listings of fun things to do.
For those who need to find a kindred soul in parenting, try Tekla Nee's column:
''Tekla Nee is a Palo Alto mother of three and author of ''The Everything Baby9s First Year Book'' and ''The Mommy Zone: Tales from the Trenches of Parenthood.'' Her column appears every Thursday in the Daily News. You can reach her with your comments and suggestions in care of the Palo Alto Daily News, 329 Alma St., Palo Alto, 94301, or by email at tekla (at) well.com. ''
She's funny, real...and very ''Bay Area.''
Dorothy Coakley, ''proud to be a public librarian''
My childless friends do not want to hear about potty training or weaning or toddler tantrums, but that's fine with me because it gives me an opportunity to talk about non-mom stuff -- politics, movies, mutual friends, work (I work part time). I live and breath mom/toddler issues and frankly I like to have a break from them once in a while! It does mean my childless friends have to meet me earlier because I have to leave earlier, and I'm probably not up for a boozy night because I have to get up at 7 a.m. but that's never been an issue.
Personally I've never found a moms group I've been comfortable with and although I love chatting to other moms in the playground, I don't find that shared motherhood means automatic sisterhood.
Just a different viewpoint ... ANONYMOUS anon
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