I was reviewing my single, non-mother friends in my head last night, and it wasn’t pretty. I’ve lost all of them, for the most part.
One to alcohol, another to mental health issues. One to flakiness, as she only reaches out every few months and her return phone calls are unpredictable.
One to incessant demands; I could never do enough for her. I finally ended that friendship when I was in the grips of a chronic illness and she told me she didn’t care about what I was going through because I had done the least of all her friends for her years earlier when she had cancer (this, after visiting her in the hospital and helping her at home).
One to “yintimidation” (defined in an earlier post). She dropped speaking about relationships with me once she found a boyfriend and then subsequently became obsessed with yoga and juice cleanses. She completely stopped engaging with my issues over the phone, although I continued to listen to and counsel her for hours, and during our last conversation, when I finally confronted her, she responded with heartless yoga-speak.
One to the inability to ever make time for me. Every phone conversation began with, “I only have five minutes.” Yet, she was angry when I failed to express concern for a family crisis she was going through. I had no idea, as I hadn’t heard from her in months, including over the holidays. When I brought this up, she ended the friendship.
The one I had the greatest intellectual connection with was the biggest loss. I helped her during a rough transition to a new city. I never minded and was interested in her journey. We talked for hours every week and took a couple of trips together. Then she got a boyfriend, and I heard from her much less. When I told her I had decided to move, she responded with “I can’t go through all that again” and cut off contact. Two years later, after I had made the stressful move alone without her, she popped back up as if nothing had happened. When I expressed wariness, she disappeared in a huff.
I read this comment on a Dear Cary article and nodded in recognition (although I know plenty of difficult married women to):
LW, this is, indeed, a hard question to decide. I am glad you have a friend and go for dog walks – these small pleasures are really something. Your description of the pros and cons of your situation are very realistic, and as you note, a return to your home country is no picnic either – especially as jobs are scarce and friends have moved on.
Concerning your social isolation, I can only point out something from my own situation. For about the last 10 years, I seem to be on my own with few friends. Like you, LW, I cherish those good close friendships, with long conversations, etc. But, in my life, as is inevitable, people moved interstate, founded families, people changed (one friend lost interest in me when she got a high prestige job and new set to hang out with), one friend developed severe bi polar illness, which runs in her family, and is now always slurred with medication … sad. And one way and another, my social contacts reduced. This is just a thing in life, and it is a bit daunting but – as one gets older, it is harder to make friends. I have been making a conscious effort to reach out and be open to others, in order to have more sharing and company in my life.
I wonder if in part, your sense of isolation is that move from being a young person to being in the mid section of life. It might be just as much an issue at home. And I don’t want to sound like a doom sayer, but past the age of 30, single women, in particular, find it difficult to create a good circle of friends. Married women prefer others with partners, and a significant number of other single women are often … well … difficult people. Single for a reason.