The Friendship Fallacy

Chums
Every so often I find myself watching some movie or other about women in their 30s and their amazing, special girlfriends, and I find myself wondering why it is that I don’t have a gaggle of smart, sassy friends to eat cupcakes with, or gossip with at cocktail parties. Why is it I haven’t found a group of friends to act as my surrogate modern family?

Well, I don’t wonder exactly that. I wonder something more along the lines of, “Why am I such a friendless loser? What’s wrong with me?” (Don’t answer that. It’s a rhetorical question). 

I know I’m not the only one. I regularly read blog posts from other parents wondering why they don’t have more friends.

But the thing is, I don’t think I have time for more friends. In fact, I have a theory that once you’re a parent you can’t actually have more than three close friends. I tend to think that in between family, work, school, domestic admin and 5 hours sleep a night, lots of friends are a luxury most of us don’t have time for.

Think about it – do you really, truly have enough time for your friends?

I don’t. Honestly, if I was my friend, I’d have dumped me years ago. I frequently cancel arrangements because of work or childcare issues, as a single Mum it’s incredibly hard for me to get out in the evenings, and it takes me FOREVER to return phone messages – if I get around to picking up the phone.

So I have lots of friends with a small ‘f’ – the friends locally I meet for coffee and cake, the school Mums, the blogging friends I meet for occasional giggly lunches, the amazing friends from my NCT group in Brighton – but I only have two very close friends. They’re the people who know me best of all, who can tell me when I’m being an idiot, the ones I can’t imagine not being a part of my life.  

It turns out, though, that this is completely normal. There was an article in yesterday’s Guardian saying that a decade or so ago, the typical adult had three close friends. Now, in the age of Facebook and virtual relationships, that’s down to two.  

So it’s official. I’m completely normal. How about you? 

 

About 

Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She's also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world's coolest ten year old.

24 Comments

  1. Vegemitevix
    10th November 2011 / 11:00 am

    Absolutely normal too! Funny I have an ongoing argument with my OH who wants me to get out and befriend anyone, particularly a group of younger childless couples. I have tried to explain that with so little time to invest in friendships (including relationships with friends Down Under via the internet)I need to be kind of picky. He doesn’t get it. But I completely understand your pov. Vx

  2. Heather
    10th November 2011 / 11:18 am

    So THATS why you’ve been ignoring me. You’re just way too busy for your new BFF. Fine, be that way. I don’t need you anyway *flounces off*

  3. Vegemitevix
    10th November 2011 / 11:52 am

    Oh Heather chook, come ere have a hug! x

  4. 10th November 2011 / 11:54 am

    Not normal, below normal. I have no friends that I could call and chat or could get to come round at a moments notice. sob. sob. But you know what? I don’t care.

  5. 10th November 2011 / 12:10 pm

    I have my BFF that I’ve known since we were 17. There were times (pre interwebz) when we would go years without talking (I moved out of my hometown many moons ago and she stayed) but we’d pick up just where we left off. Now with FB/email/blog I feel much more connected and I know I could call on her day or night. I have a friend I met through a baby group that I still keep in touch with, I make an effort to see every few month and again we chat on FB. I have a couple of “new” school mum friends. Still in it’s incubation stage but that I hope will develop into something long term. I have 1 bloggy friend that is in transition but that I hope will continue to grow into a long term friendship. I don’t really need a lot of friends so I’m OK as it is. It takes a lot of work to maintain friendships so I’m pretty choosy and I work hard at it.

  6. 10th November 2011 / 1:13 pm

    I’m useless at keeping up with friends. I managed when the girls were little enough that I could use them as an excuse to sit in cafes. But frequently I’ll be working all through school hours, then a bit (or a lot) more in the evenings, I’m fitting in housework (what little I do), writing, blogging and reading into the gaps. Rosemary has a ridiculous activity schedule and Eleanor’s now getting one of her own. I struggle to find time to keep up with my mum and sister – though thankfully they have now both joined Twitter and Facebook, so I don’t have to 😉 – seeing friends is practically impossible. That said, we went round to my oldest friend’s for a Saturday lunch at half-term, I had coffee with another (old) friend last week, we have a party to go to this Saturday and I’m having coffee with another (old) friend next week. I could get used to this – sadly, the bank balance probably couldn’t, as I’m only managing to fit this in because we have very little work on.
    I get mopey now and then seeing some of the friend groups at the school gate, but then I realise that some of these are just each other’s closest friends and I have others. I’ve got closer to them myself as the years have gone by, but still none of them would I phone in an emergency (except a ‘can you pick Rosemary up’ emergency).

  7. 10th November 2011 / 1:38 pm

    I have 436 friends and 227 followers. The people I actually share my life on a regular basis with has reduced drasticly since I had DD as I am no longer so available. In the end it is the old friends who weather the times and will still be there in the end.

  8. 10th November 2011 / 1:45 pm

    Great point – you do have to invest time, and it’s not something most of us have a lot of.

  9. 10th November 2011 / 1:45 pm

    *looks sad*

  10. 10th November 2011 / 1:46 pm

    You can always call me to chat, you know that. I might not answer, but you can always call…

  11. 10th November 2011 / 1:46 pm

    Am I your bloggy friend? Am I? Am I? *hops up and down a bit*

  12. 10th November 2011 / 1:47 pm

    I sometimes look at the school Mums who dash off to the gym or riding after dropping the kids off and think, “So that’s what it must be like not to have a job…”

  13. 10th November 2011 / 1:47 pm

    Yes, but new friends become old friends. I try not to shut the door to new people, I’m just aware in friendship terms, these days I’m not that good a prospect…

  14. 10th November 2011 / 2:07 pm

    I have decided today, having done a lot of not much, that I would like to work 3- or 4-hour days. And spend the rest of the non-kid time drinking coffee, going for long walks and reading. I am now going to go and investigate what I could do to make enough money to make this possible. I have a feeling it might require years of legal training or something.

  15. 10th November 2011 / 2:20 pm

    Friends take time and effort/energy. Two things lacking in post-kids life. I do think friends (big or little f) are important and need making time for – if you can make time for “me-time” why not “friend-time”? I look at instances in the generation or two above me, where their kids have ‘flown the nest’ and those that let friendships slide and now have time but no friends to enjoy it with. Having said that, our kids won’t be able to afford to fly the nest and will be stuck with us forever so that’s not necessarily a problem…

  16. Nikkii
    10th November 2011 / 2:41 pm

    I’m still very good friends with a group of girls I met on my first day at school. Co-incidentally four of us had a kid when we were 38… so the three boys are pretty friendly too. What I don’t have, and often envy, are the casual wide circles that people develop when they are older… workmates, mum-mates, coffee-mates, shopping-mates….. babysitting groups….. playgroups nights out… these pass me by. I used to wonder if it was because I had a few years on the other Mums in the village but no, we’re all pretty much of the same generation. I dunno. Obviously I tell myself it cos I don’t like them and have no desire to spend time with people when all we have in common is that we incubated a child in the same year…… obviously. I have a whole post on school gate politicking but I’m scared to post it ever since a Mum told me at footie practice that she and her hubby loved my rants…. eek!

  17. 10th November 2011 / 8:14 pm

    my husband is always calling me a friendless loser. Its alright for him, he’s had the same friends for decades, because he’s never moved. It’s so different when your a mum, working blah blah, you just haven’t got the time to invest in friends.
    It’s so simple for blokes, walk into a pub, and start a conversation, if only it were that easy.
    And blokes tend to be able to have superficial friendships moreso that women, they don’t get caught up in their lives like we do with our female friendships.

  18. 10th November 2011 / 8:21 pm

    Quality, not quantity that’s what I say but then I consider myself lucky as I do have at least four friends which drop everything to help/ console/ be there and even change my childrens nappies. Thats a sign of true friendship.
    I tend to think the school mums, baby group people are sort of false friends but then I have such odd interests that its quite hard to have a conversation with me unless you are on the same wavelength which few people are.
    It is something that I often think about, you compare yourself to others and everybody else always has more friends, more money, well behaved children and a better lifestyle dont they?

  19. 10th November 2011 / 9:37 pm

    Keeping up with friends is time consuming. FB helps a lot, coz you don’t have to write emails, but can post snippets of your life and those interested can keep up.
    Having moved around all my childhood, I have no real friends left from before uni time. Those I have from uni (2 from undergrad, 1 from postgrad course) are scattered around the world unfortunately. I miss them greatly!
    What I thought were strong friendships, gathered at various points during work and leisure, have fizzled out since having the kids. It’s timing.
    I now have about 10 mums that are so called friends (we go out every couple of months, meet intermittently and go to each other’s birthday parties) and 3 mums that are Friends- ones I know I can call in the middle of the night if I need help. Yet even these ladies, I sometimes just don’t have the time to call or the energy to answer a call at the end of a long day.
    Friendships are hard to make and they do need to be worked on. I have forever searched for that illusive friend for life, but found that in today’s world that just does not exist. The closest to come to this is my husband.
    Two long standing friendships… I’d say that’s a pretty good number.

  20. 10th November 2011 / 10:29 pm

    I am hugely blessed with my friends. When I get together with my girlfriends we are that gaggle of thirty-something (eeek, forty-something) women like you see in the movies or on TV Shows. We’ve been friends since University, and we have been through a lot together. Sadly we live in all parts of the UK, and we only get together a few times a year. There’s 10 of us going to a hotel for a night away from the kids next weekend, and I’m really looking forward to it.
    Once a year a large group of us go on holiday together with our families (this year I think it was 27 adults and 12 kids!). I have some friends that I only see for that week in the year, yet when we meet up on the first day it’s like I only saw them last week.
    That said, I would love to have more local friends. Even a local Friend. People to meet up with, hang out with, go out for a coffee with. But making new friends takes a considerable investment of time, which is something I am particularly short of. I’m wondering if when the kids are at school I will have more opportunity to meet people and make friends, but I have quite different interests than most people, and find it hard to make small talk or find common ground.
    At the end of the day I am very fortunate in that my husband is, and has been pretty much since the day we met, my best friend. And we are surrounded by family locally, which does kind of compensate for the lack of local friends. I really mustn’t complain.
    I will say thank heavens for blogging though! I am really enjoying having the chance to meet other bloggers and hopefully to build up some good Bloggy friendships somewhere along the way too.

  21. 10th November 2011 / 10:32 pm

    Thank you for making me feel more normal!
    I have two very close friends, plus my husband of course. I always feel like everyone else must be living the Sex and the City/Friends-style dream, but perhaps not.
    As a busy mum of two under threes, working part time, freelancing part time and all that jazz, I think I just don’t have time to make any more friends right now. I think that one of the reasons I enjoy Facebook so much is that it’s like the instant coffee version of friendships. You catch up, you ‘like’ each other’s kids/cats/houses, you wish each other happy birthday, you get the nice feeling of having friends… but you don’t actually have to put much effort in!

  22. 11th November 2011 / 6:36 am

    My Mum always said you should be able to count your closest friends on one hand. Very wise indeed. I seem to have a million friends from my freelance life as a writer/filmmaker and many who deem me as a close friend and vice versa but really and truly when it’s crisis time/celebratory time the ones you need/want to call the first are the ones that mean the most.

  23. 12th November 2011 / 11:07 pm

    “the blogging friends I meet for occasional giggly lunches”
    we have never had lunch…..
    does that mean I am one of the two?

  24. 14th November 2011 / 1:54 pm

    As you say, it’s a time thing – I just don’t have much spare time and it does require an investment to build friendships – happier to read that 3 is normal and it’s not just me being useless. Now does a spouse count as one of the three?

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