Author Topic: Staying Happy as Friendships Change  (Read 7137 times)

BicycleB

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Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #50 on: April 12, 2019, 12:34:03 PM »

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.

As one non-parent to another, I respectfully disagree about the immature part.

1. You're right that no particular individual needs to become a parent in order for the species to continue. I for one am not suggesting that you for one become a parent. Your choice not to is perfectly wonderful and there's nothing wrong with it. However, someone has to be a parent, otherwise the species will not continue. If there are no parents, eventually the living will die and the species will disappear, correct?

2. I have observed in others that being a parent does cause a person to mature in various ways. These usually include a shift towards a more giving perspective, and the development of some ability to recognize another person's viewpoint. I think in part that the experience of caring for initially helpless children causes these forms of growth in most parents. Your statements about your friends do not include a giving perspective, but instead a static me-vs-them-they-should-give-as-much-as-me perspective. Similarly, the emotions you express seem to be based on seeing your viewpoint but not theirs. In these 2 technical respects, which are meanings of the term mature, I submit that your expressed views are in fact not mature.

3. The term mature also implies that one's view changed from one state to another, in a process normally described as maturing, in which one learns from experience to take the "more mature" viewpoints. Your specific complaint, which is very accurate, is that your friends changed and you did not. Technically, they matured. By immature, I don't mean to denigrate you, only to express that you did not change.

4. My own experience in life included caring for ailing parents (my dad got Alzheimer's, I became his guardian). I observed in myself that the initially difficult (boring, exasperating) experience of repeatedly assisting him perform or adjust to small daily tasks, while I took responsibility for many major matters, brought a surprising bonding between us that was not present before. I grew to love him more by caring for him. I notice a similarity between that and what parents seem to experience. My new viewpoint is different; it has matured. In that the newer viewpoint brings with it abilities that the old one lacked, arguably the new viewpoint is better. In that sense, I do view your current position as immature. However, I also think that you can mature if you choose, and could sustain enduring friendships by doing so instead of "losing" friends.

As always, you get to make your own choices. Best of luck. It is surely disappointing to make so many plans that do not bear fruit.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2019, 12:55:00 PM by BicycleB »

BicycleB

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Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #51 on: April 12, 2019, 12:42:07 PM »
Can we not turn this into a kids v no kids controversy? ...

There's not really a need for comments like "people who took on a bigger challenge"

With all due respect, parenting is a big challenge. By taking it on, OP's friends have added a logistical difficulty to their lives that is bigger than what OP has described in his own life.

I don't mean "bigger" in a value judgement sense, and am not arguing that he should be a parent. I'm not one either. I'm not trying to create a kids vs no kids controversy. Please bear in mind that kids vs no kids is a perspective that OP expressed himself in the first place.

My "bigger" phrasing was intended to establish the basis for OP to have some understanding of his friends' situation, which if he did choose to take account of, could give him a feeling of less abandonment from his friends.

If I created a different impression, you both have my apology.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2019, 12:50:00 PM by BicycleB »

2microsNH

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Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #52 on: April 12, 2019, 02:02:35 PM »
HiramBerdam, I totally agree with you: having kids is a privileged position in our culture and sometimes parents use the privilege to their benefit. I get it -- parenting is hard, time-consuming, etc. -- but who says it's a more virtuous or even more demanding life-style choice than not having kids?

I totally understand the OP's frustration with the privilege that parents sometimes use to their advantage. I'm 50 and childfree-by-choice with a good academic job. My colleagues with children regularly schedule meetings to which they consistently show up late (if at all), and one of them even refuses to teach on weekends because he needs to be home for his kids; this means that his colleagues teach on weekends -- a sh!tty inequity. What if I said I wouldn't teach on weekends because I need to go hiking? Nope, not a legit excuse.

« Last Edit: April 12, 2019, 02:10:39 PM by 2microsNH »

Here4theGB

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Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #53 on: April 12, 2019, 02:02:53 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?
In this particular instance, yes I was referring to money.  We've had a lot of monetary success and make orders of magnitudes more than any of our friends and family (I'll freely admit that a disproportional amount is because of my spouse), but they have no idea to the extent of it, we're largely pretty stealth.  I didn't mean to imply that anyone was envious of it because while people know my spouses job title and jump to some conclusions, they simply don't know what they don't know to be envious of. 

What I was implying is that they can get envious of our freedom to travel and such, of which they will openly admit.  At my age, most of my friends and myself have moved around and put down roots in various parts of the country.  There is always lots of talk of group trips and stuff like that, but ultimately if we want to see anybody, we will be the ones to get on a plane to go visit their family and we'll all have a good time.  A lot of times the common theme of these visits is them venting to us how they can never go anywhere.  It just gets a little exhausting is all.  Nothing like going out of your way to get on a plane to visit a friend and have them dominate the conversation with travel tales that were never realized and hearing how lucky we are.  Yes, I'm aware it's difficult to travel when you have a young family, frankly I'm surprised they seem so surprised by it. 

I don't think anyone is envious of our lifestyle.  If anyone knows us at all, they know that my spouse and myself are usually separated by an ocean 80-90% of the time and that all we do is work.  We relocate to a new part of the country every couple of years where we have no friends and no family and have to start again.  My friends know all this, I doubt any of them want any part of it.

englishteacheralex

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Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #54 on: April 12, 2019, 02:26:30 PM »
I read the whole thread. I have a four year old and a two year old. I was single for a long time and didn't get married until I was 33, so I experienced the problem of being left behind in some ways when my friends all got married and then all started having kids.

I have a lot of opinions about the comments I've read here so far, but some of those opinions would be unhelpful.

The most salient thing I'd like to share is this: American culture tends to glorify the lifestyle that is possible when one is in one's twenties as the only lifestyle that is truly desirable. Most of our marketing certainly reflects this.

The reality is that the characteristics of being in one's twenties are but one phase of life. There are actually many, many others. Mental health in this department is found in rolling with the reality of how life shifts and changes.

In your thirties, the reality of your life cohort is that most of them are going to be dealing with young children.

Forties: older children, starting to think about saving for college/retirement, family vacations, maybe some free time to pursue hobbies but not much.

Fifties: paying for college/aggressively saving for retirement, possibly more time to pursue hobbies, but now health may be declining...

Sixties: Maybe retirement? Maybe some time? Maybe the freedom and discretionary income to spend time and money like they did in their twenties? But now health may be declining even more...

And the rest of your cohort's time left on earth, those damn friends are going to inconvenience your plans by dying off, the bastards.

Maybe watch some vampire movies (they live forever, perpetually at the age at which they become vampires)? Happy people with successful social lives usually thrive by diversifying their social investments to include folks from as many cohorts as possible. The happiest older people I know have continued to invest in friendships with people from all age groups.

As for me, when my little friend cohort started having babies, I started making a lot of crockpot meals to bring over for dinner so that we could play Settlers of Cataan when the kids were in bed. Also did a little babysitting to be a good friend. Also made friends with some older, empty nest couples and hung out with them a lot.

Now, as a mom of young children, I make a point of befriending young singles and having them over for dinner and to hang out after my kids are in bed. I'm still friends with my empty nesters (one of the couples actually wound up adopting their grand-daughter, so they're now in the same boat as me!).

If you want a thriving social life, you're going to have to diversify. This is true for everyone, not just the childfree by choice. There's more to life than being in one's twenties.

mm1970

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Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #55 on: April 12, 2019, 06:01:16 PM »
HiramBerdam, I totally agree with you: having kids is a privileged position in our culture and sometimes parents use the privilege to their benefit. I get it -- parenting is hard, time-consuming, etc. -- but who says it's a more virtuous or even more demanding life-style choice than not having kids?

I totally understand the OP's frustration with the privilege that parents sometimes use to their advantage. I'm 50 and childfree-by-choice with a good academic job. My colleagues with children regularly schedule meetings to which they consistently show up late (if at all), and one of them even refuses to teach on weekends because he needs to be home for his kids; this means that his colleagues teach on weekends -- a sh!tty inequity. What if I said I wouldn't teach on weekends because I need to go hiking? Nope, not a legit excuse.
Privileged?  Depends on the situation, but that's utter bullshit.

Parents get passed over for promotion.  They get paid less,  moved into "mommy tracks" and "daddy tracks".

They get to deal with school schedules, work schedules, daycare schedules in a society that doesn't give a shit.  School calendars that start at 8:30 and end at 2:30.  Oh except for early release Thursdays when they get out at 1:30, and conference week when they get out at 12:30.  Nevermind the random holidays, lack of after school care, miscellaneous in service days.  OH and don't forget sick kids! You know what, many - if not most - businesses don't give a shit. 

Schools want to pretend like you don't have a job, and companies want to pretend you don't have a family.

People have lives.  I don't really care what lives - but lives.  If you are having chemo, you should get time off.  I ran out of the office at 4:00 every day for years, because: kids.  But you know what happened when the shit hit the fan on the weekend?  I was the ONLY person in here.  The young single guys?  Off on another backpacking trip.  Give and take is what it is, and everyone deserves it.

You want to know why companies and other places allow parents to set limits? Parents are stuck. They are less likely to leave for another job.  They are willing to work for less for more flexibility.  They probably, in many cases, have paid their dues.  And...kids grow up.  Eventually the guy will be able to teach on weekends.  Cat's in the Cradle and all that.  You only have one chance to try and not fuck up your kids.  Your employer?  For the most part, doesn't really give a shit about you.  You are just a number.

me1

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Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #56 on: April 12, 2019, 09:51:14 PM »
I have actually had friends who got new hobbies they were super obsessive about and had less free time. I mean yeah it sucked to not have as much time with them, but I tried not to take it personally. They found something they were really passionate about and it made them happy. I was happy for them. I certainly wouldnít have gone on an Internet forum to bitch about it. And yes I still would have thought it was immature to read someone complain about that, just like I think it is in this case.
It basically indicates that you think the world spins around you and you are shocked when you find out it doesnít. Itís an important grown up lesson to learn.

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.

Actually this is one point I kinda agree with you on. I think the societal pressure to procreate is immense. And when you do not confirm you are treated as an outcast. I think thatís complete BS and you should be allowed to do what you want despite what other people think. And it sucks to feel that.
And I can even see how one can get to the point of being resentful of that.
But to turn that resentment on your friends is childish and pointless. They didnít create the system. They just had kids cause they wanted to. It doesnít mean they support treating people with no kids badly. It doesnít mean THEY are treating you badly.

My advice is still, if you canít be friends with them without resentment than donít be their friend. But you seem to have other serious issues about success and jelaousy and what not. So I am not sure if all would be solved between you even if there were no kids in the picture.

HiramBerdan

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Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #57 on: April 12, 2019, 10:59:01 PM »
Outside thought.  It's curious, but perhaps also entirely predictable, how this thread has taken on the format of every thread about financial advice.  Someone comes in with an issue, and very quickly the "experts" assemble to share their experience.  Let's put aside for the moment whether the experts have any expertise.

I wonder if there are really two types of people on financial forums, those who occasionally come for advice, and those who are here to give advice, often on a very regular basis.  The roles are mostly exclusive.  The advice givers are here to get whatever they get from giving advice, and they're going to do it regardless of whether anyone's asking for it.

This was never a thread asking for advice.  It was transparently a request for commiseration.

Yet, lots of people want to give advice.  Why give advice when someone isn't asking for it?  Some sort of weird savior complex?  The armchair psychologist impulse?  The need to rally around ones own choices and rebut any implied criticism?  A defense against self examination? 

I could care less what the parents and child-sympathetic think.  I'm just frustrated and want someone to chime in saying they've had a similar experience.

Why in the world would people jump in to condemn, and what does it say about someone who is so motivated?  You're motivated to condemn an anonymous stranger on the internet?

I get why people come to a place like this looking for either affirmation or advice.  I have no clue why people are motivated to turn a thread like this one into a platform for dispensing their wisdom or condemnation.

Malcat

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Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #58 on: April 13, 2019, 05:11:01 AM »
Am I the only woman here super offended by the implication that we don't also form "battle forged" friendships?
Like, just because all of your "war time" friends are dudes, doesn't mean that it's a particularly male phenomenon.

I've had plenty an aggro-intense moment with friends after tackling a gargantuan challenge, especially physical challenges that involved some primal roaring to celebrate. It may seem like a "male" thing, but we women can nut-up with the best of them.

Anyhoo, OP, suck it up princess.

If you want more "battle forged" friendships now that all of your old "soldier buddies" are settled and domesticated, then how about going out and slaying more dragons?

What are you doing to generate more of those bonds?
Hiking??? Is that it???

GO DO SOMETHING FOR FUCKS SAKE.
Go take on a huge challenge, join a rugby team, do some intense volunteer work, just do something. Find a new dragon to slay and you will forge new intense bonds.

A few years ago I joined the executive of an elite non-profit. We have tackled some enormous and crazy projects together. We just pulled off something epic. My exec team feel like my family right now. The bond is pretty hardcore.
I know it will fade when we all move on, but for the next several years, these people are my tribe and we will metaphorically bleed for each other.

If you aren't finding those bonds in life, then it's on YOU, not on your previous "warrior" friends. They've stopped fighting, it's just not their thing anymore. Get over it.

So, you can either do something to generate the kinds of bonds that you are craving, or you can continue to whine about it on the internet.

Your choice.

Mike in NH

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Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #59 on: April 13, 2019, 05:16:37 AM »

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?

Since you don't want advice, I'm going to commiserate with you: I remember a time where I didn't clearly articulate what I was/wasn't looking for and got a bunch of responses I didn't really want either.


debittogether

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Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #60 on: April 13, 2019, 06:09:00 AM »
Well you did say,

"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."

Which sure sounds like you wanted some advice or feedback.

fuzzy math

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Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #61 on: April 13, 2019, 06:39:16 AM »
It's better to condemn a stranger on the internet than one's IRL friends to a bunch of strangers on the Internet.

You still sound irrationally angry, bro.

OtherJen

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Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #62 on: April 13, 2019, 06:51:17 AM »
Am I the only woman here super offended by the implication that we don't also form "battle forged" friendships?
Like, just because all of your "war time" friends are dudes, doesn't mean that it's a particularly male phenomenon.

I've had plenty an aggro-intense moment with friends after tackling a gargantuan challenge, especially physical challenges that involved some primal roaring to celebrate. It may seem like a "male" thing, but we women can nut-up with the best of them.

Anyhoo, OP, suck it up princess.

If you want more "battle forged" friendships now that all of your old "soldier buddies" are settled and domesticated, then how about going out and slaying more dragons?

What are you doing to generate more of those bonds?
Hiking??? Is that it???

GO DO SOMETHING FOR FUCKS SAKE.
Go take on a huge challenge, join a rugby team, do some intense volunteer work, just do something. Find a new dragon to slay and you will forge new intense bonds.

A few years ago I joined the executive of an elite non-profit. We have tackled some enormous and crazy projects together. We just pulled off something epic. My exec team feel like my family right now. The bond is pretty hardcore.
I know it will fade when we all move on, but for the next several years, these people are my tribe and we will metaphorically bleed for each other.

If you aren't finding those bonds in life, then it's on YOU, not on your previous "warrior" friends. They've stopped fighting, it's just not their thing anymore. Get over it.

So, you can either do something to generate the kinds of bonds that you are craving, or you can continue to whine about it on the internet.

Your choice.

I wouldnít call myself super offended, but yes, that insinuation did seem to suggest a rather narrow, blinkered opinion of women and their relationships.

Yes, my relationship with my best female friend/honorary sister (we propped each other up through undergrad and young adulthood) changed when she had kids. I was a little sad about that, yes, but our friendship also changed when I was the first to marry, when she moved out of state for work, and when I went back to school for my PhD. Life happens. People grow and change, and itís immature to expect otherwise or take it personally.

I made wonderful female friends when we were all working on our doctorates. Iíve more recently made wonderful female friends through shared artistic and political volunteer work. Some of them are in their 60s through 80s, so itís very possible that they wonít be around much longer. I could whine about it, or I could appreciate the time I have with them and keep putting myself out there.

undercover

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Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #63 on: April 13, 2019, 08:58:36 AM »
Why come on a burner account to a financial forum asking about friendships and expect anything in particular? Many people have agreed with you to an extent (myself included) so I don't know what exactly you're looking for.

"Not wanting advice" is bullshit. You really just want a bunch of people to reply to you and tell you how much they agree with what you're saying? You already have yourself to do that.

Go to a therapist dude.

MonkeyJenga

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Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #64 on: April 13, 2019, 09:03:08 AM »
You laid out an issue you're having, two potential solutions, and then the barriers each presented. Why did you think you wouldn't get advice?

Like undercover, I'm confused why you came to this forum specifically if you just wanted sympathy about friends having kids, and nothing about how to get new friends without spending much money.

I wouldnít call myself super offended, but yes, that insinuation did seem to suggest a rather narrow, blinkered opinion of women and their relationships.

Yeap.

BicycleB

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Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #65 on: April 13, 2019, 03:01:33 PM »
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?

I just re-read the original post. @HiramBerdan, I'm sorry you're not getting the commiseration you long for. But the words in the original post don't say much about asking for sympathy. They discuss numerous facts, then say you're "not exactly sure what to do about it." Those are words that suggest an action or solution type of focus.

To an internet reader, "Has anyone found themselves in a similar spot?" is ambiguous - it could be a bonding request, or a request for information that implies a desire for relevant advice. Until now, I've defaulted to the assumption that the action-oriented words implied a search for solutions.

The thread title "Staying Happy As Friendships Change" also implies a search for happy solutions instead of feeling sad and seeking sympathy for it. It's a search that isn't likely to succeed as long as you keep the same mindset, hence some of the advice is intended to address your apparent desire to be happier. That's a desire that's right in the title of the thread.

Perhaps I and others have been out of line by interpreting your writing in this way. In that case though, "Seeking Sympathy When My Friends Intermittently Abandon Me" would be a less confusing title.

calimom

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Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #66 on: April 13, 2019, 09:38:29 PM »
Excellent response, @Bicycle_B .

Many here engage in solution-based thinking. The original post laid out an issue, posters responded with good, creative ideas that were mostly shot down. The OP dug in with wanting everything in his life to remain exactly the same. Kind of like how a toddler (like the OP abhors) might react if a beloved friend or toy were taken away.

Fine to vent/pout, but it might be helpful to frame it in such a way, for future burner identity posts.

Bloop Bloop

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Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #67 on: April 14, 2019, 03:32:17 AM »
I understand parenting is a challenge, and when I'm older I also want to be a parent, but I agree that parents in our society get a shitload of privileges that no other 'special interest group' (besides maybe the disabled - but that's a very different situation) get.

They get special parking spots. Tax subsidies/welfare payments. Free this. Discounted that. And half the parents I see don't even bring up their kids properly.

At the end of the day becoming a parent is a voluntary undertaking. So many people see it as an entitlement and then expect the government and society to bear the costs of their shitty/ill-equipped children.

So, even though I plan to have kids myself, I can totally understand the frustration of childfree people.

Malcat

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Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #68 on: April 14, 2019, 05:14:32 AM »
Excellent response, @Bicycle_B .

Many here engage in solution-based thinking. The original post laid out an issue, posters responded with good, creative ideas that were mostly shot down. The OP dug in with wanting everything in his life to remain exactly the same. Kind of like how a toddler (like the OP abhors) might react if a beloved friend or toy were taken away.

Fine to vent/pout, but it might be helpful to frame it in such a way, for future burner identity posts.

This forum is known for face punches.
Even if someone says they're "just venting" they're going to get feedback.

Maybe just don't vent in a forum like this if looking for pity.

Adam Zapple

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Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #69 on: April 14, 2019, 06:29:03 AM »
I'm actually impressed by the level of reason in the responses.  Any other forum would probably yield a bunch of vicious responses from parents telling you how hard parenting is and bashing you for daring to question their life choices.  Sorry but you can't demand that people conform to your preconceived idea of how they are supposed to act.  This goes for your friends and for internet strangers. 

I am with you in that I really miss my childhood and young adulthood friendships.  Everything is structured now with a predetermined start and endpoint.  I guarantee your friends with kids miss that too, they are just stuck in a point of life where taking time to enjoy their friends means stepping away from other responsibilities and likely dumping those responsibilities on someone else.



ender

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Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #70 on: April 14, 2019, 07:11:49 PM »
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.

One of the things I find most annoying is how often families just use kids as excuses to not socialize. We have a 7 month old. We can do a lot of life if we want. We can go on hikes. Travel.  It is a lot harder but it's doable.

And anyways, I think a good percentage of this problem lies upon people who don't have kids than parents. Having kids means everyone in your life just stops talking to you and asking you to do life things. I suspect most of your friends who "left you" feel equally abandoned by you.

In America, we worship at the altar of (perceived) busyness. The cause of this thread is just one more symptom of the worship of that god.

Villanelle

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Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #71 on: April 14, 2019, 10:13:31 PM »
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.

One of the things I find most annoying is how often families just use kids as excuses to not socialize. We have a 7 month old. We can do a lot of life if we want. We can go on hikes. Travel.  It is a lot harder but it's doable.

And anyways, I think a good percentage of this problem lies upon people who don't have kids than parents. Having kids means everyone in your life just stops talking to you and asking you to do life things. I suspect most of your friends who "left you" feel equally abandoned by you.

In America, we worship at the altar of (perceived) busyness. The cause of this thread is just one more symptom of the worship of that god.

This is interesting, and maybe explains why, as a child-free person, I haven't seen this to the extent that others seem to.  I try very hard to meet my friends where they are, emotionally, practically, and even literally.  Right now, that's generally not girls' trips to Vegas.  It's meeting in a casual cafe for coffee or a park where we sit and chat while the kids play on the playground.  It's not what it used to be, but it's still good and because I value these relationships, it's worth it.  And I think maybe they see that, and in return they do make an effort to push for the girls' trip in Vegas to happen. 

Likewise, even though they know I'm not a kid person, I show in interest in their kids (just like I do when my cat friend talks about her cat, or when my Christian friend talks about church).  And I think that means that I get included when a child-free person might otherwise not.  I see lots of people with kids assume that because I don't have kids, I wouldn't want to attend X.  Or they put out, "Hey, any moms who want to get together..." which excludes the non-moms.  My friends invite me and leave it up to me whether I want to be in a super kid-intense environment.  Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don't.  But I think perhaps it is in response to my efforts.  I make the effort to plan at least some child-friendly gatherings, and they make the effort to get away without kids once in a while.  And they know I'm still interested in them, and even in the little people they are raising, so I get included in stuff that might otherwise naturally just not include non-parents.  It's a balance, but we are all working on it because it is important to all of us.  I suppose I probably do a bit more bending than they do simply because my life is a bit easier to flex. But I think they appreciate that and over time had stepped up their efforts to nurture the relationships.

I also think that ages 2-8 are the hardest.  The kids are no longer young enough that they can be strapped into a carrier and worn wherever we want to go, but they are still to young to be able to hang out at a friends' house for a few hours while mom and dad go off to play.  In the grand scheme of my most important friendships, those 6 years are pretty minimal.

J Boogie

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Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #72 on: April 15, 2019, 09:12:37 AM »
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.

They ARE more deserving of deference and support than other priorities.

And this is for one simple reason.

Because bailing on any of those other priorities - your career or your hobbies - means very little to those you leave behind. They'll hire another X. They'll find another person to do Y with.

Whereas bailing on a family means everything. Good parents aren't replaceable.

Bailing on a family is usually a death by a thousand cuts situation, and one of those deeper cuts can be caused by sticking to one's weekend plans with friends when spouse has had a long hard week, is starting to get sick, and has no family in town to help them watch the toddlers this weekend.



mbl

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Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #73 on: April 15, 2019, 11:04:27 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.
Sometimes friendships exist and do well at a stage of life.
When the next stage of life occurs and your lives are vastly different, perhaps you acknowledge that the friendships fade off a bit.
Probably best to pursue those with similar lifestyles.   There's nothing wrong with friendships that served a purpose at one point and then due to life changes, don't anymore.  It's all good.

Cassie

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Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #74 on: April 15, 2019, 11:17:45 AM »
Family needs to come first when you are married with kids.  For years I rarely saw my high school friends as I got married young and had 3 kids.  They married later and had kids. My friends were people at the same life stage as me.  Fast forward to my middle 50ís and I being the organizer contacted the 4 of them and we got together. Now in our 60ís we get together every year or two. We donít all live in the same state so fly to make this happen.  I can remove planning something fun with a friend and having to cancel because one of my kids got sick so wasnít going to saddle my mom who was older with a sick kid. Then there were 14 years I helped my mom care for my sick dad while the kids were little.  Your friends may wish they could spend more time with you but other commitments have to come first. And to the Australian person that talked about people with kids getting so many benefits this is not true in the states.

Watchmaker

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Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #75 on: April 15, 2019, 12:05:15 PM »
I sympathize with your position, but not your attitude.

You're claiming now that you didn't ask for advice, so ignore the rest of this post. What works for me (and has been suggested upthread) is to diversify your friendships among different age groups. I have friends that are 20, and friends that are 90+. And don't limit yourself to just male friendships--that will double the friend applicant pool.

GuitarStv

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Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #76 on: April 15, 2019, 12:10:34 PM »
I get it -- parenting is hard, time-consuming, etc. -- but who says it's a more virtuous or even more demanding life-style choice than not having kids?

Who says that it's more difficult raising infants/toddlers/children then having the unlimited free time that was available before you had kids?  Umm . . . anyone who has any experience with the matter at all?

Virtuous?  Hell no, there's nothing particularly virtuous about having a kid . . . but 100% absolutely guaranteed it's more demanding to raise children than not.

J Boogie

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Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #77 on: April 15, 2019, 12:13:29 PM »
Virtuous?  Hell no, there's nothing particularly virtuous about having a kid . . . but 100% absolutely guaranteed it's more demanding to raise children than not.

Other than the fact that it provides you with never ending opportunities to grow in virtue, specifically but not limited to the virtue of patience :)


OtherJen

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Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #78 on: April 15, 2019, 12:27:33 PM »
I get it -- parenting is hard, time-consuming, etc. -- but who says it's a more virtuous or even more demanding life-style choice than not having kids?

Who says that it's more difficult raising infants/toddlers/children then having the unlimited free time that was available before you had kids?  Umm . . . anyone who has any experience with the matter at all?

Virtuous?  Hell no, there's nothing particularly virtuous about having a kid . . . but 100% absolutely guaranteed it's more demanding to raise children than not.

Yeah, I don't have kids and have no intention of having them. It is absolutely more demanding to raise them than not. I adore my niece and nephew and my friends' kids, but I'm always grateful that I'm not the one primarily responsible for them. I am NOT suited for parenthood.

More virtuous? No. Having a kid is biology.

DirtDiva

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Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #79 on: April 15, 2019, 05:17:37 PM »
Iím sad for you that your old friends are choosing their families over you.  That must really hurt your feelings.


Just Joe

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Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #80 on: April 17, 2019, 08:19:34 AM »
What I was implying is that they can get envious of our freedom to travel and such, of which they will openly admit.  At my age, most of my friends and myself have moved around and put down roots in various parts of the country.  There is always lots of talk of group trips and stuff like that, but ultimately if we want to see anybody, we will be the ones to get on a plane to go visit their family and we'll all have a good time.  A lot of times the common theme of these visits is them venting to us how they can never go anywhere.  It just gets a little exhausting is all.  Nothing like going out of your way to get on a plane to visit a friend and have them dominate the conversation with travel tales that were never realized and hearing how lucky we are.  Yes, I'm aware it's difficult to travel when you have a young family, frankly I'm surprised they seem so surprised by it. 

Maybe your friends are quietly financially stressed. They can't afford to socialize and buy plane tickets for the whole family.

We never travel by air. Too expensive. We stay within a day's drive from home. DW is visiting friends across the country this summer b/c we don't want to spend what it takes to move the whole family across country. We'll do something closer to home with the kids - something within a day's drive such as along weekend camping trip to the mtns.

kenmoremmm

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Re: Staying Happy as Friendships Change
« Reply #81 on: April 17, 2019, 06:00:12 PM »
OP: i am curious what your epic hiking adventures are about? could you enlighten me? give an example of a typical trip you had with your friends, pre-kids? just trying to place some context here.