Author Topic: Staying Happy as Friendships Change  (Read 7162 times)

HiramBerdan

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 10
Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« on: April 11, 2019, 09:53:36 AM »
A pretty key ingredient for my happiness is the freedom to spend time outdoors doing physical activities with male friends: going on long bike rides, camping, exploring, etcetera.

That worked well from childhood, through college and grad school, until about age 30-32 when it started to fall apart as the friends I'd spent so much time with started having children and doing kid stuff.  No more hikes, no more camping, no more biking.

I've mostly engineered my life for maximum freedom (DINKs with significant work autonomy and flexibility), but it's only been over the past few years that I've realized that I want to have that freedom within a community.

I'm stuck on trying to figure out how to maintain some community of like-minded guys as my values mostly remain the same and theirs have rapidly changed.

The two most obvious solutions I see are: (a) learn to incorporate their kids into the activities you want to do, or (b) find new, childless friends who are interested in outdoor activities.

Neither is exactly simple.  For (a), their kids are little, and I don't especially like little kids or little kid activities.  It's not like they can be incorporated into the activities we've traditionally done together.  And I have a limited appetite for seeing friends who are in "dad mode" and about 10% present.  This could be viable in a decade or so.  Option (b) is perhaps the most realistic, but also not simple or guaranteed.

In sum, I liked the social world of my late 20s more than the social world of my mid 30s, and I'm not exactly sure what to do about it.

Has anyone here found themselves in a similar spot?

therethere

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 818
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2019, 10:04:59 AM »
This is where I've been lingering for the past year or so as my friends have gone off and started to have kids. I too have aimed for ultimate flexibility in my life (DINKS, travel, no pets, renters). Nothing against my friends, but I have zero interest in socializing with them with their kids. I'm extremely happy for them that they are following what they've wanted in life. But it's hard not to feel I got left behind. Things I'm interested in are not kid-friendly and like you said they can't really be engaged when they are fawning over their child. Children are not remotely interesting or cute to me. So I just seem like the jerk. Even hanging out with parents on their night out is not quite fun since their priorities and perspectives have changed dramatically.

Branching out to create new friends seems to be the way to go. As an introvert that's extremely intimidating and I haven't succeeded. I feel like I need to treat it more like dating. Instead I'm trying to focus on a new project or experience and hoping that other like-minded people will gradually show up in my life.

« Last Edit: April 11, 2019, 10:47:21 AM by therethere »

MonkeyJenga

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8900
  • Location: the woods
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2019, 10:10:01 AM »
Have you tried for either a or b? What about joining meetup groups centered around your outdoor hobbies, so you don't need your own core group of friends to invite first?

Zikoris

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3817
  • Age: 34
  • Location: Vancouver, BC
  • Vancouverstachian
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2019, 10:19:03 AM »
We've gradually drifted to doing most of our outdoor activities just as a couple, due to the hassle of organizing group things, and also just due to pacing - it's tough to find people who can match the pace we like for hiking, and it is SUCH a drag hiking with slowpokes and having to go at a snails pace, take a gazillion breaks, and take twice as long as normal. So we generally find it works out better if we just hike as a couple, and do other things with friends.

If you really wanted to do it with a group, some sort of local hiking club might be a better way to go - or even start one yourself!

LifeHappens

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8729
  • Location: SnowBirdLand
  • Downshifting from 5th to 3rd Gear
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2019, 10:23:50 AM »
Welcome to adulthood!! Those of us who chose to not have children find that most of our friends disappear once they start having kids. Parents of dependent kids generally don't have much time for leisure, especially when the kids are quite young.

Take heart that you might get *some* of your friends back when their children grow older and more independent. In the meantime, focus on meeting other people who share your interests. You may well end up doing outdoorsy stuff with people who are older than you with empty nests. I personally joined a running group that meets at several different taverns/breweries each week and sometimes join in a group hike or the odd park cleanup.

Mike in NH

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 63
  • Age: 40
  • Location: NH...Obviously
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2019, 10:30:11 AM »
So at this point in my life (38, similar freedom/financial situation) I've basically already been through this once already and now the cycle is starting in on me again. When my good group of friends from college started to go through this shift in our late 20s/early 30s I started spending more time with my younger cousin who is like a little brother to me and his crew. They were probably about 5-7 years younger then me, still up for whatever. I also found another group of great friends in that same age group through playing sports. Now most of them are married and the babies are starting to come. 

My advice is actually similar to what people say about dating as you mentioned, go do those things you want to do, and there you will find people doing those things that may lead to the relationships you seek. You really only need one great friend with a similar level of freedom/adventure and you are good to go. It doesn't have to be as awkward as I Love You Man. I played pickup basketball for a while, there seemed to be a decent group of kids who were often there, they asked me to grab a beer one night...the rest is history I inherited a group of really good friends and they got themselves some senior leadership. Quick sidebar: in terms of mustachianism, this worked out amazing as well because there was always someone who needed a place renting out the spare room in my townhouse (for seriously like 10 years).

Don't give up on your old friends either. If there is anything you can do to build some structure and routine into it (say an early Sunday bike ride every week, you really only need 1 person to show up to get that social connection and make it worthwhile). I get my boys involved in the things I do, just give them plenty of notice and put it on the calendar. The dads still need a break from time to time and weekend backpacking adventures fill that need perfectly. And some people, well they will disappear, but that's on them, not you. Plenty of people can still live their life and have kids in the picture (just usually not in that initial zombie without any sleep part).

 

mm1970

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8286
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2019, 10:43:23 AM »
Can you try to plan regular things?

So I have a bunch of male coworkers who used to hike, backpack, go camping, etc.  Quite frequently.

Alas, 4 of the 6 are dads now, and one moved away.

Do you want to know something?  They still go.  Just not as often.  It's a lot harder to plan a 4 day weekend backpacking trip with an infant at home.  But they've managed it.

Even if you set up a regularly scheduled Saturday morning hike, that might work too.  It's worth it to maintain the relationship because they'll be back.  In about four years, or when their youngest is 4.

The other option - new friends, might help fill the gap too.  When I've had times that I couldn't get together with my regulars, I joined other running groups, etc.  It's not exactly the same, but scratches the itch.


I feel you.  I get quite a bit of my social interaction during exercise.  I'm a female engineer with literally no friends at work anymore.  Not that I don't like them or anything - they are fine acquaintances to chat with, but not my FRIENDS.  (The few I've had have left.)  I set up a regular Sunday  morning workout with my bestie (we did honestly have a 3-4 year stretch where we never saw each other because we had small children.  But we've been back for a couple of years!)

Lately I've been feeling a bit bereft.  It's not enough.  I still have social interactions with people - but the Sunday thing - she's a SAHM and I feel like she REALLY is feeling isolated.  The last few weeks have been very one-sided, and I haven't been able to get a word in edgewise.  I need to work on this.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2019, 10:45:33 AM by mm1970 »

HiramBerdan

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 10
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2019, 10:57:47 AM »
Wow, that was a large response, quickly.  Seems that I'm not alone.

There are a variety of responses above suggesting accommodation/patience/waiting it out.  I'm not going to lie, when I'm my worst self, that's a solution that rubs me the wrong way.  It seems to imply that it's reasonable and fair to expect a friendship to be very lopsided over the medium to long term, that the accommodation goes in one direction most of the time and that's okay because... kids.  That doesn't sound like a friendship to me, it sounds like a charity.  Of course good friendships ebb and flow in what you put in versus what you draw out, but I don't think they can be seriously imbalanced over the long term.  At its extreme, I think it devalues the person being asked to be the perpetually accommodating one.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2019, 02:31:26 PM by HiramBerdan »

LifeHappens

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8729
  • Location: SnowBirdLand
  • Downshifting from 5th to 3rd Gear
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2019, 11:03:59 AM »
OP, I get why you feel that way. I really do. But it's the reality. You can, of course, choose to not continue those friendships, but if you want to keep those people in your life you have to be the one to do most of the heavy lifting for a long time. There are a few extraordinary people who are really good at balancing having a young family and an adult social life, but most people are going to be directing their energy toward their kids. As the childfree friend, it's going to be on you to keep the social life going.

debittogether

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 424
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2019, 11:24:13 AM »
You mention you are DINKs, are most of your friends couple friends? 

My partner and I have totally separate friend circles.  I hang out with my friends, he hangs out with his.  We only have one couple we are really "couple friends" with, who currently do not have kids but are hoping to have one soon (we are also expecting in late 2019).  Some of my friends have kids, some do not.  I almost never hang out with their kids, if they do, because when we spend time together the kid is with the other partner.  So that's one benefit of having separate friend circles.

Personally I don't like to have friend time w/tkids involved either.  I don't see myself bringing my kid along with me when hanging out with a friend, I would expect that our child will stay home with my partner during those times, and vice versa.

Also, with regards to lopsided friendships--that happens in life regardless of parental status, over time.  Serious illness of self or immediate family member (parent, sibling, spouse), depression, workplace issues, that's just how it goes.  I had a childfree friend who became very ill a few years ago and she was hospitalized for nearly a month, multiple surgeries, with a long recovery.  We grew apart during that time a bit, but I made sure to check in and send her a care package, and when she was well again things changed again.

Imma

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2506
  • Location: Europe
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2019, 11:57:08 AM »
I know what it's like. We are childless for medical reasons and I don't mind hanging out with people's kids. Still it's different than before they had kids. We don't meet as often and the activities are kid-focused. I love bonding with their kids and seeing them grow up as I'm never going to be a parent or aunt.

In my case the things I enjoy doing (sewing/knitting for example) seem to attract people who have families. I still attend craft groups and enjoy it but no one ever talks about anything but babies and kids. My s/o enjoys going to festivals for a whole weekend and he has loads of childless friends, but I just don't enjoy doing that. He's also not into having couple friends, which I totally understand but is also a bit of a shame. I meet new people and want to hang out with them but when you're late 20s, early 30s it seems many people only want other couple friends.

Dave1442397

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1196
  • Location: NJ
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2019, 12:29:25 PM »
I cycle, and joined a few local clubs. There are rides aimed at every level from barely moving to racing, and I've met a lot of people this way.

I ride with the faster groups, and that's comprised of guys from their twenties thru sixties. It gets me out of the house and is relatively cheap. I have over 20,000 miles on my current bike, and all I need to buy is chains, tires, and tubes, which might set me back $150 a year.

I used to belong to a couple of local ski clubs, but that was getting expensive, and only works in winter.


Here4theGB

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 90
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2019, 01:29:08 PM »
Lurked a long time, registered because this thread struck a chord.

Early 40's DINK here.  I've remained in touch with all of my friends, but I rarely ever see but 1 or 2 a couple of times a year.  I'm getting to an age where most of my friends' kids are no longer small, most are pre-teen and teenagers now.  That magical time is now over for most of them and the reality of kids has set in.  Paying for college, dating, pregnancy, drugs, violence, criminal activity, underage drinking, etc... are the realities of my friends lives that they are woefully consumed by now.  Hanging out with me isn't even a blip on their radar.

In addition to the fact that we're pretty much the only people our age we know w/o kids, my wife and I are wildly more successful than any of our long time friends.  They have no idea to the extent of it, but they can connect a few of the dots.  The not having kids part is what has allowed for the success, but all they see are child free weekends and lots of childless vacations, etc...It's definitely driven a bit of a wedge between us.

I have no advice, I've not yet found a way to make it better.  I went back for another degree a few years ago and made some much younger friends, which was nice for a while.  But after graduating, most have moved on to different cities for their new careers.  It can be painfully isolating at times, but I'm still not going to knock up the wife.  We just tend to travel a lot.  Three day weekends we'll just hop a plane to NOLA or Vegas or something to escape all the kid filled backyard cookout invites.  I love my friends and love most of their kids too, but I'm not interested in hanging out with that combination, like at all.  That tends to offend people and they cannot understand that if they didn't have kids, they wouldn't be hanging out with 12 year olds either. 

The one thing I really wish we did differently was skip the house in the burbs.  We relocate about the country quite a bit for work.  Sometimes in places where we lived your only choice is a SFH in the burbs.  Where we live now though, has a great downtown scene and we should've bought a place in a high-rise, but didn't because of my big dog who is used to access to the yard via a dog door.  This is the big mistake we made and I feel our lives would be much better had we lived downtown.  To the point that I'm willing to flush the transaction costs down the drain to sell and buy a new place if we end up staying here which doesn't look to be the case.

chemistk

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 701
  • Location: Mid-Atlantic
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2019, 01:34:37 PM »
I may have to don a firesuit for this comment, but...

...As someone who is a dad who feels intensely lonely at times as I look at all the opportunities I have to pass by because I can't fit them around my kids, it means a heck of a lot more than you probably realize to those guys to keep them in the loop. Even if you know that they're going to reject their offer straight up because they can't make it that weekend/week/night for any myriad of reasons.

Becoming a dad is fantastic, but I also have a high level of respect for those who have made a conscious choice not to have kids. It's not for everyone. But kids are temporary in a way. If you really value these friends, you'll stick out the dry spell of meaningful interaction while the kids are young and believe you me - when your friends have resurfaced from the early years of child rearing, they'll likely be very hungry to pick up your relationship where it left off.

Nothing feels worse as a parent watching your relationships with others wither because you've been passed over for those who can participate in your chosen activities more immediately.

Of course, this goes without saying that your friends should also try their darndest to keep up their end. Even if it means shuffling a dozen things around to do it. Ignore the above if after a number of requests to ditch the kids, they keep blowing you off.

dignam

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 363
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #14 on: April 11, 2019, 02:11:50 PM »
Just chiming in to say I'm right there with you, OP.  Early 30s, vast majority of my HS/college friends are married with young kids.  We are DINKs though, which has its own benefits. 

I'd say out of the close group of 6-8 of my guy friends through college, I keep in regular contact with about three of them.  Of those three, two are married with multiple kids.  I can tell they do really try to make time to hang out, but it is tough. 

I have gained some acquaintances through participating in local rec sports leagues.  Yes, some are parents but I'd say it's more 50/50.

NonprofitER

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 189
  • Location: Texas
  • Reaching FIRE w/ High Purpose (Low Pay) Nonprofit
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #15 on: April 11, 2019, 02:19:18 PM »
Wow, that was a large response, quickly.  Seems that I'm not alone.

There are a variety of forms above suggesting some form of accommodation/patience/waiting it out.  I'm not going to lie, when I'm my worst self, that's a solution that rubs me the wrong way.  It seems to imply that it's reasonable and fair to expect a friendship to be very lopsided over the medium to long term, that the accommodation goes in one direction most of the time and that's okay because... kids.  That doesn't sound like a friendship to me, it sounds like a charity.  Of course good friendships ebb and flow in what you put in versus what you draw out, but I don't think they can be seriously imbalanced over the long term.  At its extreme, I think it devalues the person being asked to be the perpetually accommodating one.

[Disclaimer: I'm a married parent of one child who is upper elementary aged]
I totally get what you're saying, but just to offer the flip perspective: keep in mind that many of your friends with kids may also be down in the dumps about the change in social availability and friendship. They see their untied down friends - the lack of constraints on time/resources, etc. - and wrestle very actively with FOMO.  While it might seem like everyone with kids is sort of in it 'together' and you (as DINKS) are floating out there, missing friendship and feeling left out, the parents *also* feel left out, and in many cases, totally isolated from their friends and their previous freedoms (at least in the early years).  That's not meant to be a "who has it worse" comparison. Its just to say that people on both sides of the transitional life-stage-coin feel the effects and miss the simplicity of friendship.

Most parents (esp of young kids) we know are very sober about their lack of free time and lack of spontaneous availability. They too also loathe the ~5ish years it seems to take in order to have children old enough to have a pleasant, uninterrupted conversation in social settings. I would say many (most?) parents are also not "into" kid-oriented activities, so much as they are desperate to congregate in a setting where they don't feel like they have to hover over their children for safety/social necessity/fear of embarrassment. It really does get better eventually. Now my child is nearing old enough to stay home alone, be totally self-sufficient, or even babysit my friend's much-younger children and our social world has opened back up to *nearly* what it was pre-kids. 

That said - you're absolutely entitled to not having to one-side/heavy-lift a friendship for a decade! I'm a firm believer that parents:
1) shouldn't assume kids are welcome to any social gathering unless expressively stated by the host,
2) should carve out time for their own identity/friendships/ hobbies,
3) and model that the world doesn't revolve around them exclusively.
But, I'm also aware that many parents are raising kids without help (grandparents, strong social networks), and the demands of parents are higher than they were when I was growing up (e.g. the expectation of constant supervision and enrichment).

I think the other suggestions of finding people in a similar life stage (or pre/post the hard young kids life stage) is ideal. But if there are any friends you have that are worth keeping, just know that time with you and without their drooling infants or irrational toddlers is probably a lifeline. Hopefully those friends bring enough to the relationship to sustain it.

HiramBerdan

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 10
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #16 on: April 11, 2019, 03:05:50 PM »
Where we live now though, has a great downtown scene and we should've bought a place in a high-rise

We own a SFH in the metro core, less than two miles from downtown, in what most people seem to regard as a nice neighborhood.

The weird thing about it is that our neighborhood isn't exactly dynamic.  When we moved in, a neighbor said ours was the first house on the block that had changed hands in at least 15 years.  Our neighbors bought when the neighborhood was much cheaper, and they aren't going anywhere.

Even though we're in the city, 35ish year old people aren't a thing, at least in our part of town.  Either you're a student renting (we're near several colleges/universities), or you're 50+.  Most of the city high schools are regarded as horrible (they're horribly segregated), so there's just an ongoing flight of everyone who has kids and can qualify for a mortgage to the suburbs. 

Part of my frustration with these friends right now is that they've all been part of that flight to the suburbs, moving a 30-60 minute drive away, depending on traffic.  As my wife and I have worked hard to cure our clown car habits, it's irritating to have people simultaneously ask you to be accommodating of their new lives, create additional frictional costs for that accommodation to occur, and to pit friendship against automobile independence.

[Flame suit on, and the next paragraph isn't for parents] I think what I'm really looking for from them is an acknowledgment that their lifestyle choices (kids + moving to distant, low density, highly segregated areas) have had negative consequences for our friendships (i.e. we never see each other) and for society (i.e. increased segregation, increased fossil fuel consumption, accelerated climate change).  I'm tired of being expected to treat kids as a social good when I mostly see them as a private good for parents whose cost is significantly passed to society.

Maenad

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 640
  • Location: Minneapolis 'burbs
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #17 on: April 11, 2019, 03:15:44 PM »
DH and I are in our mid-40s now, also DINKs, and yeah, the "kids divide" is a tough phase change to go through, on both sides. We get together with a group of friends weekly, centered around an activity, and have become the "adult time" friends for the most part. We've enjoyed being that outlet for our parent friends, letting them have some time where they don't need to be quite so responsible. :-)

I won't lie, at the beginning, I had some of the same resentment about why I should be the one to try to keep the friendship alive, but I also knew I really valued their friendships and didn't want to lose them, so I backed off to a level where I could invite them without feeling resentful. So, instead of a monthly thing, I'd back off to a couple times a year. Enough so that they knew I was still there, but not so much that it felt terribly unbalanced. And as the kids grew up, our friends' time became more available. Not back to where it was, but better.

After a few years, we were able to start up our regularly scheduled "game night" with some old friends, some new friends, some parents, some CF. Now we're at a point where these friendships are the best I have - we see each other regularly, we help each other out with difficulties in life, cheer on each other's successes, etc.

I echo the suggestion to join clubs centered around your activities, and give your parent friends some space, while making sure they know you're still there. It will never be what it was, but you can make the new normal into another kind of "good".

BicycleB

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2531
  • Location: Live Music Capital of the World
  • Older than the internet, but not wiser... yet
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #18 on: April 11, 2019, 03:32:17 PM »

Part of my frustration with these friends right now is that they've all been part of that flight to the suburbs, moving a 30-60 minute drive away, depending on traffic.  As my wife and I have worked hard to cure our clown car habits, it's irritating to have people simultaneously ask you to be accommodating of their new lives, create additional frictional costs for that accommodation to occur, and to pit friendship against automobile independence.

[Flame suit on, and the next paragraph isn't for parents] I think what I'm really looking for from them is an acknowledgment that their lifestyle choices (kids + moving to distant, low density, highly segregated areas) have had negative consequences for our friendships (i.e. we never see each other) and for society (i.e. increased segregation, increased fossil fuel consumption, accelerated climate change).  I'm tired of being expected to treat kids as a social good when I mostly see them as a private good for parents whose cost is significantly passed to society.

I think a different perspective would help a lot. I hope these don't offend you. I believe all of the ones below and suspect that each of them would lead to feeling better if you adopted them. Your choice though, obviously!

1. Children are not a private good. They are future resource for society. That makes them a public good. Raising them is the current generation's investment in the future.
2. When we're old, these kids and their peers are the people whose work will pour dividends into our bank accounts (I'm childless also).
3. It's a wonderful thing that some people like raising children so that we don't have to.
4. Children are fun in small doses once you get used to them.
5. Knowing that parents are busy means that you, like me, can be a wonderful resource to them just by keeping in touch and flexibly trying several times in a row to meet before we actually succeed.
6. Our society puts undue stress on parents, which is why they have trouble planning/keeping appointments. Staying in touch as in 5 is one way singles can help their friends-who-became-parents overcome this problem.
7. You're right, wasteful sprawl causes some of the parents' stress. Anyone who combats the stress helps society prepare to overcome sprawl.
8. The day will come when parents and kids will camp with you. Some families would join you now if you organized it. Others will join later if you persist. Kids LOVE camping.
9. You'll like kids more as you get used to them. Put in some effort, you'll see personal rewards. Parents will appreciate it too.

I live in the city too, but have a backyard. My tenant/roommate claimed he would only bring his son over "once in a while, he lives with his mom." Brought over son and son's buddy quite a lot after softening me up with free spaghetti and meatballs. We all became friends - football in the backyard, chess with razzing chatter, etc. Now it's 20 years later. Roommate who had become one of my best friends died later of cancer and I treasure those games. Son grew up to be a healthy professional and is a friend to this day.

My suggestion is stay in touch with your old friends, organize the camping, add the meetups and the new friends too.

PS. Yes, I definitely hear how your screen name rhymes with Tyler Durden. I love that! Here's hoping that in the end, you build many relationships rather than blowing anything up.  :)
« Last Edit: April 11, 2019, 03:33:55 PM by BicycleB »

MonkeyJenga

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8900
  • Location: the woods
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #19 on: April 11, 2019, 05:20:21 PM »
Not entirely relevant, but I'm curious - you specify that your old friends are male, and you want your new friends to be male. Are you opposed to female friends?

Either way, you haven't responded to the "make new friends" suggestions. You seem stuck on being angry at your old friends' choices. I don't have kids, and a lot of my friends are having them. I try to keep the friendships going, but it doesn't always happen. If I tried to make them apologise for having kids, though, I would have no chance of keeping any of them!

You can hope that they see the light and move back into town, and take off every other weekend to go camping, but it's not gonna happen. So what are you going to do with the options you have left?

Adam Zapple

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 474
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #20 on: April 11, 2019, 05:43:43 PM »
I am the guy who started a family and left a good friend or two behind.  I would suggest finding a new group of friends.  For better or worse, having kids changes people.  I find it hard to relate to my single friends now since we no longer share many similar experiences.  Such is life. 

I have one good friend from childhood who remains single and we have a good time when we get together, which is not as often as I would like.  He enjoys being around my kids and accepts our friendship for what it is.  There is absolutely no way I would remain friends with someone resentful of my family or kids or someone who gets pissy about how much time we spend together.

Try starting a Meetup group that meets at a designated time weekly or monthly.  You can make new friends and invite your old friends.  Maybe they show up sometimes, maybe they don't.  Don't be resentful because those friendships may come back around again.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2019, 05:48:01 PM by Adam Zapple »

HiramBerdan

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 10
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #21 on: April 11, 2019, 06:35:26 PM »
You seem stuck on being angry at your old friends' choices.

Yes, at this point I am.  I don't want to make new friends.  I want my old friends back.  I am in mourning.

Maybe someday when I've quit mourning I'll want to make new friends.

MonkeyJenga

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8900
  • Location: the woods
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #22 on: April 11, 2019, 06:38:37 PM »
Then good luck getting through this time. It sucks when a core group of friends disbands for any reason, even if temporary.

ObviouslyNotAGolfer

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 292
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #23 on: April 11, 2019, 06:55:07 PM »
All of my close friends I had in college, grad school, postdoc, and in later years throughout my 30s and early 40s have gotten married and/or spawned, and predictably, drifted away. My wife and I are happily child-free and I have a position in academia where I enjoy fabulous freedom and time off (three weeks in France coming up in a couple months). As such, I tried to keep in touch with some of these folks, but after two unanswered e-mails, I give up. I will not beg or harass anyone into being a friend. 

You know what? FUCK THEM!

Friends drift away--that's what friends do. Fuck them, make new ones. Fecebook is also a prime culprit. One of my best friends from college drifted away, but is on Fecebook. I am not on that time-wasting POS, but my wife is. She will post photos from some of our fabulous trips, meals out and the like, and this guy will sometimes "like" them. Fuck that shit--there is more to a friendship than liking photos on Fecebook.

I told my wife that of her 150+ "friends" on Fecebook, probably 148 of them would sell her down the river for a buck.

I sound pissed about this because I am. At least I have one good friend left--a guy about my age in the U.K. He and I talk on the phone occassionally, and he made the trek from London to meet me in Manchester several years ago when I was on a business trip.

It is partially my fault as well as I'm set in my ways, keep co-workers at arm's distance (I don't get chummy with the locals at work--a lesson I learned through hard experience), and I have a very good marriage (for which I am very grateful!). I love time alone, in nature, with music (playing and listening), travel, and such. People are overrated--and their kids are even more overrated than that!! (My advice, forget trying to have a good time around their brats. It will drive you nuts. When you made friends with these people, you did not expect their kids as part of the bargain.)

I recommend books by Sara Maitland (one of which is A Book of Silence) for finding happiness in solitude.

Friends will fail you. Sorry, that's life.



« Last Edit: April 11, 2019, 07:01:11 PM by ObviouslyNotAGolfer »

Sailor Sam

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4512
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Steel Beach
  • Semper...something
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #24 on: April 11, 2019, 07:04:54 PM »
I'm also a DINK in my later 30s, and many of my friends are very busy producing and raising kids. You're right OP, it can be lonely.

Luckily, I have the benefit of working at a job where age ranges from 18 - 50, and socialization outside work is standard. My recommendation is to make friends of differing ages. It's pretty gratifying to see the younger ones complete become young adults, and it's excellent to lean on the wisdom of adults older than you. And friendships without any sort of elder/younger mentorship can range across a healthy 10-15 year age gap.

The advice to join clubs based around your activities is good, but don't limit yourself to a small age grouping. Community comes at all ages.

undercover

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 987
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #25 on: April 11, 2019, 07:31:00 PM »
It's tough.

As someone just said, people will inevitably let you down in some way. It's not their fault. It's not your fault. It's just life. The feeling sucks though.

Everyone is just too fucking rushed nowadays thinking they HAVE to settle down or HAVE to have a certain job or HAVE to have a certain partner. It's just sort of disgusting in some ways. I'm sitting on the sideline watching.

I outgrew my old friends. I just kept progressing but they either kept their petty mentalities or didn't progress professionally or personally. I don't think I'm better than anyone by a long shot or anything, but I haven't found many down to earth people adventurous people with good souls.

I'm almost 30, single, and live in a row full of families and retirees. It's a nice place but it's also miserable because I don't relate to anyone here and don't need to work right now even though it would probably benefit me tremendously socially. But there are dating apps and Meetup so meh.

I like being alone for the most part and to be honest I probably push some people away because I end up finding something about them that just annoys the hell out of me. Whether it's impulsivity, toxicity, or pretentiousness, I just can't find many people I click with.

Noodle

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1279
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #26 on: April 11, 2019, 07:38:45 PM »
I've been reading Cal Newport's "Digital Minimalism," and one of the suggested ideas was recreational "office hours"--that you have a designated time/place where you're present (or available by phone) and encourage people to meet or contact you there. It's similar to a story I read awhile back about a family that started weekly "Spaghetti Nights" where they were home and making a simple pasta dinner one particular night of the week, and invited people to drop by--old friends, neighbors, co-workers, new people that seemed friendly, whatever. Sometimes it was just them, sometimes a couple guests, sometimes a whole houseful.

I thought it was an interesting idea...obviously it would have to be something or someplace you enjoyed anyway, since you'd be on your own sometimes.

Villanelle

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3626
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #27 on: April 11, 2019, 08:02:47 PM »
I'm a 40-something child-free woman.

All but one of my close and medium-close friends either have kids or are currently pregnant.

Yes, it changed things, and not always in ways that I'd consider positive.  We can't spend as much time together, everything has to be much more scheduled, there are little humans running around and interrupting our conversations.

But I have to say that severing the relationships because of these changes never once occurred to me.  I love these women.  In a way, I suppose I consider this phase to be like a friend experiencing a divorce or other major crisis, except it's actually something they are happy about and so I can be happy for them.  But yes, it makes the friendship feel a bit one-sided, from my perspective, for a while.  Ill happily endure that though, because these are people I deeply cherish.  Is not being able to camp with you really a reason to walk away from these friendships?  If so, it seems like they weren't terribly powerful or deep friendships anyway.

So I smile as a friend shows up to lunch with a baby strapped to her chest, or if we go to a museum and have to leave early when someone melts down.  And I also know that this too shall pass.  The friends who had their kids earlier are now entering the phase where their kids are self-sufficient and able to left alone for a while.  So while some friends--those with toddlers!--are entering the phase of life least conducive to nurturing the friendship, some are coming out of the most daunting part.  And I'm certainly glad I didn't walk away because they couldn't have enough boozy weekends and girls' trips and camping adventures. 

I adjusted.  We make plans further in advance, we select activities sometimes based on child-friendliness, we see each other less often.  But we still see each other.  Some time with them is better than none, which is what I'd have if I walked away.

Maybe you've outgrown your friends.  Maybe the friendships were more about convenience than those deep bonds, and now that the convenience is gone, there isn't much left.  That's fine.  But I think friendships can absolutely endure these young-child phases.  Yes, you sacrifice some.  But IME, if the friendships are rich enough, it's more than worth it to see your friends do this thing that brings them so much joy.  And it is a temporary thing that slowly phases out as the kids age. 

HiramBerdan

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 10
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #28 on: April 11, 2019, 09:41:54 PM »
Is not being able to camp with you really a reason to walk away from these friendships?  If so, it seems like they weren't terribly powerful or deep friendships anyway.

I disagree, and I think the reasons why are tied up in what I'd describe is the distinct "maleness" of these friendships.  I don't mean to be sexist, but I haven't ever had this sort of friendship with a female, and I don't perceive it to be a common form of friendship among women, although I recognize I could be misjudging from the outside.

The friendships I'm mourning here are probably based on the ancient format of going to war together that taps into something deep within men: define a goal, gather a group of guys to accomplish it, and come hell or high water, you get it done together.  Our common goal was never soldiering, but rather a series of academic and professional goals from college through PhDs/JDs/MDs/post-docs/residencies, as well as a moderately high level athletic competition together along the way.  To a man, we're achievers. 

I also, I admit, think we owe a deep mutual debt to one another for our achievements.  None of us would be where we are today if it were not for the guys around us who pushed us.  That's why I don't move on from these relationships lightly: I owe them a lot.  But they also owe me in similar measure.

These aren't relationships based primarily on conversation, they're about doing, accomplishing, overcoming.  To me, that's the "deepest" form of friendship I know.  It's also extremely exclusive, with little room for anyone who isn't ready to pull their weight. 

My experience has been that the best friendships are about coming from a common background to engage in a particular challenge.  It's not about having dinner together, or talking, or anything done under artificial lights.  It's about doing hard stuff together.  That sort of friendship is, in my experience, a deep one as well as pretty darn non-adaptive to the lives they've now chosen. 
« Last Edit: April 11, 2019, 09:54:01 PM by HiramBerdan »

Gray Matter

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3640
  • Location: Midwest
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #29 on: April 12, 2019, 06:07:35 AM »
Is not being able to camp with you really a reason to walk away from these friendships?  If so, it seems like they weren't terribly powerful or deep friendships anyway.

I disagree, and I think the reasons why are tied up in what I'd describe is the distinct "maleness" of these friendships.  I don't mean to be sexist, but I haven't ever had this sort of friendship with a female, and I don't perceive it to be a common form of friendship among women, although I recognize I could be misjudging from the outside.

The friendships I'm mourning here are probably based on the ancient format of going to war together that taps into something deep within men: define a goal, gather a group of guys to accomplish it, and come hell or high water, you get it done together...My experience has been that the best friendships are about coming from a common background to engage in a particular challenge.  It's not about having dinner together, or talking, or anything done under artificial lights.  It's about doing hard stuff together.  That sort of friendship is, in my experience, a deep one as well as pretty darn non-adaptive to the lives they've now chosen. 

This is interesting.  I do think friendships can be highly "gendered" in that we socialize men to invest in, expect from, and experience relationships differently than we do women (and there may be some underlying biological differences that impact this as well).  I personally do not believe that there is anything that says things have to be this way, though, and I think by having a narrow definition of friendship (which is not to say it's not a meaningful one...just that opportunities for such friendships are in short supply right now), you are missing out.  There is a whole wide wonderful world of different types of meaningful friendships that a person can have--why limit yourself?  Of course, mourn the loss of those, but try to expand your definition of friendship at the same time and see what happens.

I can see a similar thing with DH, who mourns and laments the changes in his friendship, who believes that no-one will ever "get" him the way his best childhood friend did, or his army buddies did, and on the rare occasions when they still get together, I ask how they're doing, and the answer is generally "Dunno, we didn't talk about it" (and I think he's being forthcoming).  And I think to myself, do you even know each other?  You went through something alongside each other and that created a bond and that's important, it matters, but it's just one type of friendship.  I have those kinds of friendships, too, the boarding school friends, the grad school friends, the building-a-business-together friends.  And yes, those friendships are significant, but once the circumstances change, the friendships change, because they were built around those shared experiences more than anything else.  Again, I am not minimizing the importance of those kinds of friendships, but they are only one type of friendship.

I had three kids in five-year-period, and yeah, it changed things (availability), but if my friends resented it, they kept it to themselves.  The majority of my friends were childfree, and most of them remained that way, and our friendships endured.  I can't think of a single friendship I lost, and if there was one, it was non-regrettable attrition.  I think because our friendships are built around the person, not the activity, how we spent our time together was secondary.  I cannot imagine ditching a friend because we can no longer do the same kinds of things together that we once did.  We would just adapt.  Like, when my friend got cancer, and couldn't go on long walks (which is what we usually did together), we changed what we did together.  Or when another friend developed an issue with her eyes and couldn't tolerate bright lights, natural or otherwise, or another friend moved out-of-state for a job.  We changed when and where and how we spend time together.  Just like they adapted to my limitations for a few years when my kids were little.

ETA:  I hope I don't sound unsympathetic.  It sucks to have everything change through no fault of your own.  You didn't ask for this.
 AND, I think you are getting in your own way by holding onto (what I view as) a rather narrow view of friendship.  So...as other have mentioned above, I recommend diversifying, like you would your investments.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2019, 06:14:52 AM by Gray Matter »

Mike in NH

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 63
  • Age: 40
  • Location: NH...Obviously
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #30 on: April 12, 2019, 06:13:08 AM »
Any chance the next goal/achievement was to successfully start families and you are actually the one that failed to measure up to the norms of your social circle? You don't seem to want to hear anything but your friends are selfish assholes. But based on your comments, you admittedly sound pretty selfish yourself.

I don't mean that as a personal attack. I've been through it. I set crazy goals for hiking accomplishments with my friends. When they bail, it pisses me off because they said they wanted to do something and now they aren't following through. I take my commitments seriously. But their goals changed. So we've had a couple 'do you still really want to do this because I'm doing it with or without you' conversations. I have adapted by inviting them to take part in my goals and challenges. If they want to be there that's great, if they don't I'll do it by myself. There's strength to be found in self reliance too if that is what you are after. 

Maybe just take a real hard look in the mirror, even ask your SO, if this is a potential blind spot for you? We all have them sometimes, often created by the emotions around the things we are most passionate about.


dignam

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 363
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #31 on: April 12, 2019, 06:50:55 AM »
I suppose Mike in NH makes a fair point.  Maybe the next "goal" your group of friends has is marriage/kids, and you just happen to be the odd man out.  In society as a whole, that is still considered pretty standard for late 20s/early 30s.  Although, that trend is definitely shifting as Millennials are postponing or foregoing altogether marriage/kids far more frequently than previous generations.

I can tell you I lost several friends when I broke off an engagement to an emotionally abusive woman that I did not want to be the mother of my potential children.  ALL of these people were married younger than average (mid 20s or early 20s) and popping out babies.  I had known many of them for 10+ years.  I'm certain though that they only heard one "side" of the story from the ex, but I'm not going to go out of my way to defend my honor to people unwilling to get both sides of the story.  I'm sure they think I'm a selfish asshole for breaking off the engagement, but not a single one of that group asked me for specifics of that breakup.  I let those friendships die without much of a second thought.  To this day I still consider breaking that engagement the best decision of my life...but I digress.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2019, 06:54:13 AM by dignam »

Here4theGB

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 90
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #32 on: April 12, 2019, 07:57:36 AM »
Where we live now though, has a great downtown scene and we should've bought a place in a high-rise
[Flame suit on, and the next paragraph isn't for parents] I think what I'm really looking for from them is an acknowledgment that their lifestyle choices (kids + moving to distant, low density, highly segregated areas) have had negative consequences for our friendships (i.e. we never see each other) and for society (i.e. increased segregation, increased fossil fuel consumption, accelerated climate change).  I'm tired of being expected to treat kids as a social good when I mostly see them as a private good for parents whose cost is significantly passed to society.
You definitely need to get a handle on this way of thinking or you're not likely to have many friendships in your future.  If I understand you correctly, you basically want your friends to apologize to you for starting a family and moving to the burbs?  That's not going to happen, nor should it. 

When I first read this thread, I thought I could relate, but reading your follow up posts, I certainly cannot.  You sound like a spoiled brat.

me1

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 115
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #33 on: April 12, 2019, 08:15:57 AM »
I know this might sound harsh, but you come off sounding incredibly immature. You are basically upset that your friends chose to have kids rather than go hiking with you. You feel they picked the kid over you. Well, yes, yes they did!
And your happiness seems to depend on these other people agreeing to go do activities with you. Why canít you go by yourself? Itís never wise to hang your happiness on what other people choose to do. Especially not to expect to be a priority in someoneís life. Thatís always a recipe for disaster.
Nowhere do you state that you care about them as people or what they are going through? You just want warm bodies next to you as you walk through the woods. I think finding a hiking meet up might be the best solution. Because you can then choose how much do you want to engage with these strangers as people, and if itís not very much thatís ok.
It could also be that in addition to not having time to do these activities, your friends can feel your resentment and donít have the energy to put up with that.
So to answer your question, how do you stay happy? You do a lot of soul searching into what makes you happy and why?  And if after that you decide that relationships with people with kids donít do it for you, cut them loose. If you decide you are cool with their life choices even if you chose something else, then hang out with them, but lose the resentment.
Life goes through so many phases. This might be the first one you noticed, but there will be a lot more ahead. And it will be bumpy and not all the same people will stay in your life. And that ok

HiramBerdan

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 10
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #34 on: April 12, 2019, 08:23:08 AM »
If I understand you correctly, you basically want your friends to apologize to you for starting a family and moving to the burbs?  That's not going to happen, nor should it. 

Nah, that's not what I'm saying, although I could see you reading it that way.

Backstory: All of these guys still talk about doing stuff together, have excruciatingly long text and email conversations planning it, and then bail about 50% of the time.  The combination of over-the-top planning efforts, bailing, and then just zero acknowledgment that they're behaving badly (because kids are the self-justifying catch all excuse) is the point when I start to feel wronged.

If you want to move away and do your own thing, that's okay.  We all live our own lives. 

My aggravation stems from the combination of expectations that I accommodate them 100%, engage in excessively precise planning, ultimately to have them just flake.  Many of us would say that's just flakey behavior, but it seems that they think this is part of what you get to do as a parent and nobody should hold it against you.

Bobberth

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 318
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #35 on: April 12, 2019, 09:56:29 AM »
I have 3 kids so I'm on the opposite side of your situation. But I'm also in a similar situation of trying to find people to do outdoor activities with. My biggest is kayaking on rivers. Since there are limited launching/landing sites, the shortest paddling distance takes about 5 hours from the time we meet to when I am back home. That's a good chunk of a day. Most other paddlers on websites/Meetup post, "Let's meet at 10/11am..." That mostly won't work for me and the family's schedule as that takes the heart of a day so morning things are out as well as afternoon things. I have found one other Dad that is in the same situation so when we're needing some river time, the phone call usually goes: "I've got a family lunch/game/recital at noon. If we meet at the boat ramp at 530am, we can paddle and I can get home and showered in time. Are you in?" And being in the same situation, we both know this is the only chance we have to paddle so we get up early to make it happen. It's easier to justify to our spouses as they are on their own with the kids for a little while since they are still sleeping for a portion of while we are gone. We have also done the opposite of meeting at 8pm and getting home at 1am.

If you really like to do activities with some of them, maybe offer such a time shift. Middle of the day stuff might not work for their new schedule or their partner. Sell it as, "Let's go on a sunrise hike! If we meet at 5am, we can watch the sun come up and you will be back home by the time junior wakes up and is eating breakfast." "Let's go on an evening bike ride to avoid the heat of the day and it will only be an hour before the little one is in bed anyway." This won't help with multiday backpacking, but it may be what you need to do if you still want to participate in activities with these people.

All it takes is that one person that has a similar schedule/flexibility as you. 90% of all my kayaking has been with one person because we are flexible with each other's schedule. I've tried to include others and others have wanted to come with us but the timing just doesn't work out like it does with this other Dad. So keep looking for that one person. Whether it is part of the old group or if it is somebody new off of Meetup or a Facebook group, that is all you need.

And it's ok to not like kids. While I enjoy kayaking with this other Dad, I will never go camping with his kids again as they are annoying as fuck. But other friends' kids are fine and I have zero problems camping with them. So that's who I extend camping invites to. I'm not sure the age of your friends' kids, but if you still want to do things with the parent(s), maybe you need to be more selective on invites instead of large group texts? That and accept car camping trips instead of backpacking weekends for a few years.

undercover

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 987
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #36 on: April 12, 2019, 10:19:29 AM »
[Flame suit on, and the next paragraph isn't for parents] I think what I'm really looking for from them is an acknowledgment that their lifestyle choices (kids + moving to distant, low density, highly segregated areas) have had negative consequences for our friendships (i.e. we never see each other) and for society (i.e. increased segregation, increased fossil fuel consumption, accelerated climate change).  I'm tired of being expected to treat kids as a social good when I mostly see them as a private good for parents whose cost is significantly passed to society.

The first part is obvious...they don't need to state this to you. The second part is just toxic as fuck. They can live however they want as long as it's legal.

If I understand you correctly, you basically want your friends to apologize to you for starting a family and moving to the burbs?  That's not going to happen, nor should it. 

Nah, that's not what I'm saying, although I could see you reading it that way.

Backstory: All of these guys still talk about doing stuff together, have excruciatingly long text and email conversations planning it, and then bail about 50% of the time.  The combination of over-the-top planning efforts, bailing, and then just zero acknowledgment that they're behaving badly (because kids are the self-justifying catch all excuse) is the point when I start to feel wronged.

If you want to move away and do your own thing, that's okay.  We all live our own lives. 

My aggravation stems from the combination of expectations that I accommodate them 100%, engage in excessively precise planning, ultimately to have them just flake.  Many of us would say that's just flakey behavior, but it seems that they think this is part of what you get to do as a parent and nobody should hold it against you.

Regardless, you're being super judgy about their lifestyle choices. It's as if you resent them. It's not the right way to view them.

Yeah it's definitely frustrating when people talk, make plans, and ultimately do not follow through, but if you keep holding it against them because they won't admit that they're just pieces of shit that make poor life choices and don't want to live the exact same "ready to go at any moment" as you then you're just going to be miserable and end up pushing them away for good.

Put yourself in their shoes and realize that they don't want to disappoint you - life is just getting in their way. This cynicism isn't going to get you anywhere.

You aren't some perfect 100% punctual person who would go out of their way for just anyone either, so you have to realize that as well.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2019, 11:02:33 AM by undercover »

Dicey

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 13879
  • Age: 62
  • Location: NorCal
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #37 on: April 12, 2019, 10:25:28 AM »
Sorry, not enough time to read all the comments. Just want to point out that if you maintain the lines of communication with your child-rearing friends, you get them back when their kids graduate from high school. Once their lives are no longer ruled by the tyranny of the school calendar, they will have time to do stuff again. If they're true friends, you'll take up right where you left off.

In the meantime, my tried and true method for making new friends is through volunteering. It works.

mm1970

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8286
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #38 on: April 12, 2019, 10:32:21 AM »
Wow, that was a large response, quickly.  Seems that I'm not alone.

There are a variety of responses above suggesting accommodation/patience/waiting it out. I'm not going to lie, when I'm my worst self, that's a solution that rubs me the wrong way.  It seems to imply that it's reasonable and fair to expect a friendship to be very lopsided over the medium to long term, that the accommodation goes in one direction most of the time and that's okay because... kids.  That doesn't sound like a friendship to me, it sounds like a charity.  Of course good friendships ebb and flow in what you put in versus what you draw out, but I don't think they can be seriously imbalanced over the long term.  At its extreme, I think it devalues the person being asked to be the perpetually accommodating one.

Don't let the door hit you on the ass on your way out.

If you can't understand, aren't willing to put some thought into figuring out how much time goes into children (thus, "free time" is greatly reduced, if not eliminated for a period of time) - then you just need to find new friends.

"Damn, I can't believe Joshua keeps missing our poker night because of regular chemo!"

Priorities change - accept it or move on.

mm1970

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8286
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #39 on: April 12, 2019, 10:38:30 AM »
Quote
Most parents (esp of young kids) we know are very sober about their lack of free time and lack of spontaneous availability. They too also loathe the ~5ish years it seems to take in order to have children old enough to have a pleasant, uninterrupted conversation in social settings. I would say many (most?) parents are also not "into" kid-oriented activities, so much as they are desperate to congregate in a setting where they don't feel like they have to hover over their children for safety/social necessity/fear of embarrassment. It really does get better eventually. Now my child is nearing old enough to stay home alone, be totally self-sufficient, or even babysit my friend's much-younger children and our social world has opened back up to *nearly* what it was pre-kids.

*Just now* I've hit the spot where I'm not necessarily on a tether.  My older son is 13.  I was able to actually...go to the gym this week, while the kids were still asleep and husband is traveling.

It's...weird.  And good.  And surprising.  It will take some adjusting, after 13 years of being tethered.  Imagine 13 years of "oh shit, we are out of gas and milk and I have to work all day today - I guess I have to drag both kids to the gas station and the grocery store during rush hour after I pick them up at their 2 different schools, then spend the next 20 minutes saying no we aren't buying snacks."

mm1970

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8286
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #40 on: April 12, 2019, 10:42:43 AM »
I'm also a DINK in my later 30s, and many of my friends are very busy producing and raising kids. You're right OP, it can be lonely.

Luckily, I have the benefit of working at a job where age ranges from 18 - 50, and socialization outside work is standard. My recommendation is to make friends of differing ages. It's pretty gratifying to see the younger ones complete become young adults, and it's excellent to lean on the wisdom of adults older than you. And friendships without any sort of elder/younger mentorship can range across a healthy 10-15 year age gap.

The advice to join clubs based around your activities is good, but don't limit yourself to a small age grouping. Community comes at all ages.
+1

I'm pushing 50 and my friends range from late 20's to 70's.

debittogether

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 424
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #41 on: April 12, 2019, 10:48:10 AM »
Backstory: All of these guys still talk about doing stuff together, have excruciatingly long text and email conversations planning it, and then bail about 50% of the time.  The combination of over-the-top planning efforts, bailing, and then just zero acknowledgment that they're behaving badly (because kids are the self-justifying catch all excuse) is the point when I start to feel wronged.

If you want to move away and do your own thing, that's okay.  We all live our own lives. 

My aggravation stems from the combination of expectations that I accommodate them 100%, engage in excessively precise planning, ultimately to have them just flake.  Many of us would say that's just flakey behavior, but it seems that they think this is part of what you get to do as a parent and nobody should hold it against you.

That is frustrating to plan something and then cancel regardless of reason (kids or not).  Perhaps you are better off looking for meetup groups or other clubs where people are committed to the same hobbies you are, or volunteering as mentioned above.

I have met friends through lots of clubs and volunteering of all ages, literally I can say I have people I call friends from 20something to 60something.  I like having a wide age range of friends.  It gives you lots of varying perspective on life.

TBH it sounds like you'd rather just be angry at them and get validation for that anger, though.  But if you're really serious about finding new friends, look for opportunities to, they're out there.


wenchsenior

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2649
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #42 on: April 12, 2019, 10:59:48 AM »
Where we live now though, has a great downtown scene and we should've bought a place in a high-rise

We own a SFH in the metro core, less than two miles from downtown, in what most people seem to regard as a nice neighborhood.

The weird thing about it is that our neighborhood isn't exactly dynamic.  When we moved in, a neighbor said ours was the first house on the block that had changed hands in at least 15 years.  Our neighbors bought when the neighborhood was much cheaper, and they aren't going anywhere.

Even though we're in the city, 35ish year old people aren't a thing, at least in our part of town.  Either you're a student renting (we're near several colleges/universities), or you're 50+.  Most of the city high schools are regarded as horrible (they're horribly segregated), so there's just an ongoing flight of everyone who has kids and can qualify for a mortgage to the suburbs. 

Part of my frustration with these friends right now is that they've all been part of that flight to the suburbs, moving a 30-60 minute drive away, depending on traffic.  As my wife and I have worked hard to cure our clown car habits, it's irritating to have people simultaneously ask you to be accommodating of their new lives, create additional frictional costs for that accommodation to occur, and to pit friendship against automobile independence.

[Flame suit on, and the next paragraph isn't for parents] I think what I'm really looking for from them is an acknowledgment that their lifestyle choices (kids + moving to distant, low density, highly segregated areas) have had negative consequences for our friendships (i.e. we never see each other) and for society (i.e. increased segregation, increased fossil fuel consumption, accelerated climate change).  I'm tired of being expected to treat kids as a social good when I mostly see them as a private good for parents whose cost is significantly passed to society.

As DINKs who have zero interest in kids/hanging out with kids/hearing endless discussions of issues related to young kids (though there's always a few exceptions), I relate to your overall frustration. I mean, I didn't have much interest in kids even when I myself was a child! 

ETA: I also kind of relate to your nostalgia for a particular KIND of bond that you shared with your male friends. That isn't absolutely unique to men, though.  It's pretty common in our field (biology) where you can develop strong friendships based on working for long periods in challenging field conditions (outdoors, remote, limited supplies, extremes of temperature, frustrating barriers to study design and data collection) while striving toward a common goal. And of course, despite work often revolving around field stints, lots of us in this field spent our youths recreating doing similar types of outdoor activities as what you describe, as well.

Re: the particular types of activities and friendships, they inevitably change to some extent as people age, even if the DO NOT have kids.  Jobs change, people move, family obligations of aging parents intervene, people develop health limitations that prevent them from doing the same activities they used to.  So you need to prepare for that, in yourself, and in others.

We are fortunate in that about 3/4ers of our close friends/family from our youth ended up being childfree as well; but, most of them live multiple states away from us, so we only hang out every few years at the best of times.   To some degree, relationships with our friends with young kids are put on hold for about 10 years, and it makes sense that they would be (I wouldn't be as interested in hanging out with me if I were  a person who was very involved in/interested in raising young kids...I'd want to hang out mostly with friends who shared that interest). Often, once the kids hit HS age, the friendships can resume in some approximation of what they were before unless the kids are having particularly difficult teenage experiences.

Locally, we dealt with this situation by making friends with either other DINKS, younger people/couples who haven't had kids yet (usually grad students), or couples whose kids were already HS age or older. Admittedly, this is pretty easy b/c DH is in academia, so there's a stream of students and other childfree faculty coming through.  Also, we aren't highly social anyway, and prefer to do most things on our own. 

HOWEVER, I would point out that your last paragraph indicates active contempt for your friends' values and choices. Remember that ALL choices in life involve trade-offs, and there's often some regrets involved no matter what choice is made. Your friends probably realize that they chose to prioritize kids over your friendship. Maybe that makes you feel crappy, but it is a common human choice (though it's not one that I personally understand). But if you truly feel that kind of lack of respect for friends' choices, then you are heading down the road to having the relationship permanently disintegrate. You might consider: would YOU want to remain friends with someone who felt contemptuous of you and how you chose to live?
« Last Edit: April 12, 2019, 11:17:03 AM by wenchsenior »

BicycleB

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2531
  • Location: Live Music Capital of the World
  • Older than the internet, but not wiser... yet
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #43 on: April 12, 2019, 11:24:07 AM »
If I understand you correctly, you basically want your friends to apologize to you for starting a family and moving to the burbs?  That's not going to happen, nor should it. 

Nah, that's not what I'm saying, although I could see you reading it that way.

It may not be what you meant, but it's pretty much what you said. That's a pretty clear summary of words you posted.

All of these guys still talk about doing stuff together, have excruciatingly long text and email conversations planning it, and then bail about 50% of the time.  The combination of over-the-top planning efforts, bailing, and then just zero acknowledgment that they're behaving badly (because kids are the self-justifying catch all excuse) is the point when I start to feel wronged.

Your feelings are your own, but "wronged" is a moral concept, therefore others too have a right to speak on the topic. I would say you're the one in the wrong. You are expecting a level of commitment that is simply not reasonable from a parent, and maybe not possible. You should be glad they stick with you by trying.

These busy parents make DETAILED plans with you, not just ordinary ones? And then, 50% of the time, they actually show up? Dude, they are showing HUGE commitment to you (and each other) under the circumstances.

Your view of this isn't just immature in the sense of not recognizing your buddies' difficult situations, and therefore not recognizing their sincere efforts. It's morally wrong in that when your buddies tackled a larger challenge than you have chosen to face, you are blaming them for it.

In my opinion, you are lucky that your friends are sticking with YOU.

Which is a good thing. You guys may end up sticking together for decades. Good luck to all of ya'll.

PS. Have you thought about being the hero here? If they all want to hike (or whatever) together, and you're the only one who can show up every time, then you're the hub. You can be the one reason that each one knows SOMEBODY will do the thing, even if the other ones drop out. Over time, your own decision to persist might be the difference betweeen lifelong friendships or loneliness.

I had three lifelong friends who were competent. Two of them died, so I can attest that the friendship lasted until death. So, not just talking of my ass. Sooner or later persistence pays.

I mean, it's a personal decision. But trust me, it's lonelier to turn people away than to keep them. Friendships deepen over time. I didn't know this when I was 30something because I hadn't lived through it. The investment, so to speak, pays off unexpectedly over time. At 50something, I can attest to this.

Anyway, the opportunity is there if you want it.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2019, 11:32:16 AM by BicycleB »

HiramBerdan

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 10
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #44 on: April 12, 2019, 12:08:45 PM »
HOWEVER, I would point out that your last paragraph indicates active contempt for your friends' values and choices. Remember that ALL choices in life involve trade-offs, and there's often some regrets involved no matter what choice is made.

I'll cop to some of the contempt you describe, and I fully admit that's not great.

I think the root of the frustration is the broad social expectation that the commitments of parenthood are different, more valuable, and more deserving of deference and support than other choices.

It's not that I think parenthood is an inferior choice, I just think it's an equivalent choice to all other non-destructive, maybe beneficial, choices.

If I had started this thread about a group of friends who became Buddhists, or devoted themselves to classic cars, or became militantly vegan and moved to a farm, I really doubt I would have gotten so much criticism, especially the shots about immaturity and adulthood.  When we view the activities as equivalents (i.e. going on a hike versus building a classic car), the tone is entirely different than when you substitute parenting for building a classic car.  Putting parenthood on a pedestal I think devalues the choices of non parents.

Conventionally, people thought that childrearing was necessary in order to perpetuate the species, and perhaps the society and culture.  Given that MMM is ground zero for criticism of American consumer culture, it doesn't seem far fetched to say that the social good of raising kids is the perpetuation of the species without perpetuating the culture.  Can we really say that procreation is a social necessity, though, when there are thousands of kids on the US/Mex border right now being kept out because the US is "full," per the guy in the White House?  It strikes me as not plausible that there's a great need for native born American children when there are so many out there who want to get in.  I'm not saying that means that people shouldn't have kids, but it does seem to erode an argument that it's necessary for society to continue into the future. 

As a result, I just see raising kids as a choice like any other choice.  It's not necessary, but you can do it if it makes you happy.  I don't see a hierarchy, as long as you aren't causing harm.

I don't think it's immature or somehow non-adult to be frustrated that your own choices and decisions are relegated to a secondary status by the presumed elevation of other choices.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2019, 12:14:28 PM by HiramBerdan »

Villanelle

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3626
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #45 on: April 12, 2019, 12:20:53 PM »
Sure, your friendships may take different form than most female friendships, but the concept is the same.  You can't camp with your friends.  I can't spend an evening into early morning wearing jammies and watching movies and talking about feelings with mine.  The overall affect of parenting on the relationship is the same--it changes the opportunities and prevents us from doing most of the things we used to do, most of the time.  I hope you aren't saying that your male friendships are deeper than female friendships, just because they are different.  If you aren't I guess there's not much to say.  But if you are just saying they are different, I agree, but I don't see how that's meaningful to the larger point, which is that kids change those friendships and during the "worst" years, which I'd say are kids ages 2-~10, your relationships go a bit in to triage mode. You abandon camping/slumber parties/whatever and do what it takes to keep the friendship's heart beating at least.  Maybe that's just a hour bike ride/gab fest.  Maybe it's even attending a kid's soccer game so you can chat on the sidelines.  You touch base when you can, how you can, and sometimes it feels like it's for the sole purpose of just keeping a foot in the door for later.  And then one day the stars align and your girlfriends get 5 days to come visit you in Europe and have a girls trip, even though they have little kids at home.  Or your guy friends convince their wives that after several years, they really need a man camp, and this time it will only be three days instead of your usual 5, but they are in.  And slowly, things pick up again.  Kids start school.  They become old enough to stay at a friend's house for the weekend.  And parenting eases so that being alone with them for a few days isn't so daunting and each parent does that here and there for the other. 

And yes, I hear lots of stories about dance recitals and soccer games and whether Johnny's lack of crawling is a developmental delay and Timmy getting called to the principal.  And while those things are WELL outside my scope of actual interests, I listen and respond and offer thoughts because that's what is important to my friends right now, so it is important to me.  That's what friendship is--not just having people with whom to do the things you want to do.  IT's about honoring what's important to them, not just getting what is important to you. And you seem to be missing that part entirely.  You sound like a pretty awful friends, actually.  And no, that's not just a male friendship vs. female friendships thing. 

If they became Vegan, I'd hope you'd be willing to hear about why, and maybe choose some restaurants that serve vegan dishes, and perhaps even eat the occasional soy burger yourself.  If they became Buddhist, a good friend would let them talk about that, and would respect the ways that would create needs that might affect the friendship and adjust.  (Also, it's is worth pointing out that the examples you posted aren't temporary things, and this phase of unavailable-due-to-parenting very much is.) 

Or you can walk away.  But despite what you say, that strongly suggests that these weren't especially important friendships.  You sound a bit like someone whining because their friend's cancer treatments make him no fun because he can't do the cool guy stuff anymore.  Frankly, I wonder if your friends don't sense some of your resentment and lack of support for their choices, and that's not part of why you are so low on the priority list.  It's not worth burning good will with their spouse by asking her to solo-parent Timmy when he is sick this weekend, to spend time with a guy who doesn't support their choices and seemingly shows no little interest in this thing that is so important to them--their families. 



oldtoyota

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3171
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #46 on: April 12, 2019, 12:23:27 PM »

In addition to the fact that we're pretty much the only people our age we know w/o kids, my wife and I are wildly more successful than any of our long time friends.  They have no idea to the extent of it, but they can connect a few of the dots.  The not having kids part is what has allowed for the success, but all they see are child free weekends and lots of childless vacations, etc...It's definitely driven a bit of a wedge between us.


By "success," do you mean money? Because others may define success as "family."

This is an interesting post in that you are assuming your friends with kids envy your lifestyle. Am I interpreting that correctly?

therethere

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 818
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #47 on: April 12, 2019, 12:28:16 PM »
Can we not turn this into a kids v no kids controversy? OP is lonely and looking for ways to recreate community after their established friends/social life dramatically changed. It's okay (and normal) to have sad feelings when you're in a rough patch or undergoing a drastic change in your life.

There's not really a need for comments like "people who took on a bigger challenge" or "you're assuming parents are envious"...... Some people have kids. Some people don't. Some people can be childfree and have fun with kids. Some people are childfree because they can't stand kids and don't want them around. These are all choices no need to pit them groups against one another.


HiramBerdan

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 10
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #48 on: April 12, 2019, 12:31:44 PM »
OP is lonely and looking for ways to recreate community after their established friends/social life dramatically changed.

Don't give me too much credit.  I'm mostly just bitter and venting, not really looking for solutions.

Sometimes the interweb and a burner username is a good place to process your worst self in order to shove it back down deep and be a decent person in real life. 
« Last Edit: April 12, 2019, 12:46:39 PM by HiramBerdan »

oldtoyota

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3171
Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #49 on: April 12, 2019, 12:31:52 PM »
HOWEVER, I would point out that your last paragraph indicates active contempt for your friends' values and choices. Remember that ALL choices in life involve trade-offs, and there's often some regrets involved no matter what choice is made.

I'll cop to some of the contempt you describe, and I fully admit that's not great.

I think the root of the frustration is the broad social expectation that the commitments of parenthood are different, more valuable, and more deserving of deference and support than other choices.

It's not that I think parenthood is an inferior choice, I just think it's an equivalent choice to all other non-destructive, maybe beneficial, choices.

If I had started this thread about a group of friends who became Buddhists, or devoted themselves to classic cars, or became militantly vegan and moved to a farm, I really doubt I would have gotten so much criticism, especially the shots about immaturity and adulthood.  When we view the activities as equivalents (i.e. going on a hike versus building a classic car), the tone is entirely different than when you substitute parenting for building a classic car.  Putting parenthood on a pedestal I think devalues the choices of non parents.


If you're not into kids, that's fine. Yet I don't really get it bc kids are humans.

If you don't like kids, then you don't like humans who are young. If you don't like humans who are young (due to their age), then that sounds like ageism.

Look, I get it. I didn't want kids myself. I see that side.

But even when I didn't want or have them, I didn't compare them to building classic cars.

Kids are humans.

It sounds like you view them as a nuisance to your way of life.

Do you think the same about old people?

Because old people go to the bathroom in their pants and become picky eaters like the very young.

What will you do with your friends when they have to care for their parents, too?

What age of human is acceptable to you?

The kids may heal your heart attack.

You just don't know.

Kids are not veganism or classic car building.

They are humans.

Old people are also humans.

I invite you to give this some consideration.