Saturday 12 December 2009

A girl friend shaped hole in my life

I've blogged about this subject before - so apologies for repeating myself, but I just need to get this off my chest. I might just be one of those people, who will never be satisfied with what they've got, regardless of what they've got. I'll probably always be searching for that thing, that elusive thing that seems to be missing. What is that thing?

Is it more money? A house by the sea? A husband who's home more often? A warmer climate? A full and active social life? A hobby that occupies me? Good old fashioned contentment?

I don't know what the answer is, but I do know that what I am missing desperately in my life is girlfriend. A real one. Like that best friend you used to have when you were in primary school.

When Saturdays roll around, we have the normal merry-go-round of football and grocery shopping and chores. But every now and then I do have a day when I don't have to do those things and I could have time to myself to head off to the shops and browse, have a coffee and chat. The problem is, I don't have a friend to do that with.

Now I know that makes me sound like norman no mates.

I do have friends. I have friends who live far away. And I have friends who live across the road. I even have bloggy friends. But on weekends everyone seems to do couple-type things or are pre-booked for months hence. Or who, quite frankly, just don't seem to have the same need for friendship.

I have friends who I know would be up for an afternoon of girly shopping and chewing the fat, but it would all need to be arranged and organised months in advance. I want spontaneity. (Picky, picky I hear you say). But I want to have the type of friend who I can call up and say: 'Fancy running off to Costa Coffee before browsing for nothing in particular?' without having to pre-plan it all. I want to feel confident enough that they won't find that weird, and that in fact, that they'd call me and ask me to do that with them.

Or take last night for example. Friday night at home on my own - again. I could have (and probably should have) worked, but it was Friday for God sake. I would have loved to call up a friend and say: Fancy coming over for a glass of wine and a chat? But besides several old friends who live too far away for a casual Friday night glass of wine, I've got no-one nearby that I yet feel comfortable enough to ask. Or rather, ask again. Because I have asked. I've arranged get togethers. I've suggested things. But no-one ever seems to return the favour. And the friendship never seems to move forward.

I've been living in the UK for almost 6 years now and in our current village for 3.5 years. During that time I've run toddler groups, got on pre-school committees, gone to village events and have made an effort to be friendly with neighbours - all in a bid to get to know people and make friends. Yet STILL there is this wall of polite distance that seems impossible to cross. Perhaps it's because I'm South African. Perhaps we just do friendship differently.

With sisters you can do this type of thing without fear of rejection. You might call. They might be busy. But in no way will it feel like you're imposing on them. Unfortunately, my sisters live in New Zealand and Ireland, making an impromptu shopping trip or a quick glass of wine a little tricky.

Am I alone in feeling like this? Does everyone else have so many friends that they can barely find the time to breathe, much less go out for yet another coffee? And how do you get to that point in a friendship where you're comfortable enough to call, be turned down but know that they genuinely appreciated you offering and are very likely to return the favour soon?

I know from comments on my previous post on this subject that I'm not alone. But how can we change it?


Jo porter said...

I'm too far away to fill that role but we really should meet up. Nearly every time you post I'm there saying me too!

nappy valley girl said...

I think friends like you describe are very rare, especially when you reach our stage of life and you have other commitments/children. I probably had one friend like that in London, and I had known her for years, since we worked together in our twenties. Here, I have met some lovely people, but noone I could go for a coffee with at a moment's notice. I also think it's probably a symptom of working at home, as you and I both do - you don't have those easy workmate friendships to fall back on. I don't have any suggestions really but when I'm back in the UK, we'll go for a coffee (my husband's family have a place very near Newbury and we spend a lot of weekends there).

Lazy Housewife said...

Perhaps your confidant aura makes people think that you have tons of friends ready to play at The drop of a hat! It is tough because the friendships you form at school are 100% genuine and based on personality and shared interests, but friendships from work/ toddler groups/ clubs give you only 1 link and you would be very lucky to find someone who really gets you! I know I should have studied phsycology! Anyway count yourself lucky, when I get those few precious moments alone I am grateful to just sit in silence with a book (I'd even sit in the car!!) goodluck friend hunting x

Coding Mamma (Tasha) said...

I have friends who I can call for impromptu play dates these days. Most can't do childless coffee or drinks, though. I think you need a childless friend for that!

part mummy part me said...

I agree with Tasha, I think you need some childless, single friends!

I have friends locally as I have lived in the same area for twenty years. But, I still find impromptu meetings few and far between. Everyone's so busy and - like you - I often find that I'm the organiser or the hostess and rarely the invited guest.

That used to pee me off. A lot. Until I figured out that some people are 'doers' and some aren't, and that being the instigator of my own social life - the one who suggests things, calls friends up etc is no bad thing as long as I get a social life out of it.

Like you, I really want a best friend. I have close friends, all of whom have (other) best friends. I'd love to have that again, but for now I make do with my husband.

I hosted a Swap Party recently, and asked friends to bring some of their friends. I met some new people and had a great time - I thoroughly recommend it (I've just blogged about it if you want to know more.

Two of my best newest friends I've met through Salsa. I'm about to try Ceroc which is supposed to be as much fun but a lot easier. Maybe you could try something like that?

Grit said...

i think this is a typical problem. i have a few friends very widely flung which means i see them rarely, but within minutes we can talk again about intimate issues and carry on the conversation started 15 months ago. i'd recommend going to as many different places / events as possible. in my time i've done evening courses, social meets, joined clubs, groups, societies. i used to organise theatre outings; buy a block of 10 tickets then try and dispose of them with friends and friends of friends; a good way to meet new people.

i bring the kids up the same now. home ed is a very sociable world so that helps; there's always something going on, and if not, we can organise a group to go somewhere. try that?

katyboo1 said...

I don't think it's you. I think friendships are hard, particularly as you get older and have children and/or commitments. It's just finding the time more than anything. Good luck.xx

Home Office Mum said...

jo - yes we absolutely should meet up. As soon as my man pair arrives, i will have the freedom to roam

Nappy valley - i do think part of it is working from home - although that should make meeting the locals easier in some way. And yes please, let me know when you're over. You are living my US life!

Lazy housewife - I never think of myself having a confident aura! And you're right - the friends we make at toddler groups etc are almost coincidental friendships - but I think they can work if you're likeminded enough. It's finding that person

Tasha and Part Mummy - I probably do need some single childless friends - but I can't believe that married with children women out there aren't feeling the same as me. But I know how busy everyone is.

Part mummy - the swap party sounds like a fab idea - as does the dancing, not sure where they have anything like that near me

Grit - I honestly thought I was doing a lot of those things but perhaps more is needed.

Thanks Katy - It's the time thing. sigh

Helen said...

It really is tough, I know how you feel - I feel the same, I have friends but generally they are busy when I am available and I am busy when they are available. I find that the odd weekend at the club helps because it means that I don't have to do any housework and cooking (or planning meals) and I can just sit on the verandah and talk to anyone who happens to be there - watching kids or not! It amkes for a more relaxed time. However, I have no answers for the lonely Friday evenings when one yearns for some companionship - I think that you just have to be patient - your kids WILL grow up, your husband WILL eventually have more time and you WILL be able to spend evenings and spare time more pleasureably! I know, I have been where you are and am finding it a bit better now that they are in their teens.

Home Office Mum said...

THanks Helen. If your club is the Iate Clube then I'm envious :-)

Sam said...

I know exactly what you mean! I had a friend like that but she moved away:-(
Would you like to meet for a coffee sometime - I'm in Newbury.....( This is like dating...a bit scary, fear of rejection is high:-)