Raising a Blended Family

On friends and life stages

on April 27, 2011

So I know this is my second post today, but I don’t think the first one really counts. 🙂 I was totally going to post a sneak peek of another wedding project I’ve been doing, but my phone (with the picture of said project) died. So here we are instead, talking about something that’s been bothering me for awhile.

Let’s play a game.  It’s called, Spot What’s Wrong In This Conversation.  The rules are, I tell you about a conversation I had with a (formerly?) very close friend of mine on the way home from work a few weeks ago, and you tell me what’s missing from the conversation:

Me:  So, you know, how’s life going?

Friend: (Lots of chatter about med school and anecdotal stories and such)

Me: Oh that’s cool…

Friend: So what’s up in your life?

Me: Well you know… (insert chatter about lab and my program and my Ph.D. coursework)

Friend: Oh that’s cool…

(Insert awkward silence)

(Conversation comes to awkward close).

So who can spot it? What’s missing from that conversation?  I’ll give you a hint, it starts with an S…

Substance. Anything meaningful.  Whatsoever.  I ask her about her life, she gives me lots of stories and surface level talk about med school. She asks me about my life, I tell her about my lab work, even going into the nitty gritty of exactly what experiments I did and how I did them (she’s a science geek too).  This girl used to be (as in, as recently as last year) one of my closest friends in the whole world, and yet somehow, for the past 6 months or so, we’ve gotten to a place where I can’t tell her anything about my life (outside of school). Nothing. And maybe she feels the same, because I certainly don’t know too much about her life either.  We used to talk several times a week, every week, for an hour at least each time.  Now? Once every three weeks, max.

And I know you’re saying things change, people change, drift happens, friendships cycle… I get that. I’m fine with that.  I am the queen of letting the drift happen, and then reconnecting years later. So if that’s all it was, I wouldn’t be writing this post.

However.  My friend has this reputation.  She is very… driven. Very driven.  I admire it and if I was halfway as motivated as she is I think I would be done with seven different Ph.D.’s by now.  One of her flaws, however, is that she has an inability   tends to judge doesn’t understand how anything could come before, or alongside of, a career, in terms of the what’s-most-important-in-life scale.  ANYTHING.  So she’s watched as I fell in love with Shortcake (and T1).  Watched as we decided to get married.  Not coming to the wedding because of school (this was the excuse I was given, not looking into it too far), and not being a bridesmaid (although I did ask).  Yelled at me several times and told me I’m off track. Asked me several times if I really am sure I love Shortcake (hello, insulting much?).

And we’ve fought and patched things up and fought and patched things up and fought and patched things up several times now.  I stopped calling her as often because I didn’t like being guilt tripped or lectured for the way I was choosing to live my life… especially from someone who is supposed to support me.  Me not calling her led to many more fights and accusations from her that I was dropping the ball in our friendship, I didn’t care about her, etc.  She’s also been mad that I haven’t come to see her as often as I did before Shortcake and I really got serious… she lives 6 hours away, and will occasionally invite me up for the weekend.  Inevitably though, I have T1 to watch that weekend or we just don’t have it in the budget for the $200 in gas it costs to make it up there… and this always leads to more fights. I’ve even found myself apologizing to her, for what I’m not sure.

Anyways, the list goes on and on, but what it all adds up to is that this friendship is headed down the drain fast.  I feel like anytime I mention Shortcake or T1 she gets judgemental- hence the reason our conversations, when we have them, usually revolve around school. work.  Phd.  Concepts she can understand, and of which she approves.

I hate that it’s like this, but I have to wonder if this is just an inevitable part of life? As I move out of one life stage (college) and into another (family + kids + job track) and she stays in the previous stage, is it inevitable that we become more distant? Does this happen with all friendships- those friendships you hold closer also tend to be those who are on the same “life stage” as you?  I have 2 other close friends that I speak with on a regular basis- one who is at the same stage I am, met the guy of her dreams (who also happens to have a kid), settling down, making plans for the future, etc.  The other friend has not been in a relationship in years (not that this matters) but she is also very job-oriented: done with school, moving up in the ranks, stable, happy.  I have no problem connecting to these two, and I have to wonder if it’s because I’m in similar life stages as they are, whereas the friend I am having trouble with is still a “college kid” (an imprecise term for what I’m trying to convey, but hopefully you understand).

Hmmmm… anyone have any thoughts? Anyone run into similar friend situations? I’d love to see if this extends to other situations, or if it’s just me.


6 responses to “On friends and life stages

  1. isa says:

    Hmm…I was going to say that you should bite the bullet and talk about TTC things, but then I read about the judgey stuff and now I think it might be best to keep it superficial for a while longer and see if she catches up. Or go out and be honest about what’s happening in your personal life and if she’s a jerk call her on it and say that you’d rather not be friends. Depends on whether you still want to be friends or not, I guess.

  2. Kristen says:

    I can say, as someone who went through med school, that this could have been a conversation I had with my best friend during those 4 years – and residency was even crazier. That isn’t to say that the other things you wrote don’t apply, but my life wasn’t my own during that time.

    • lezbemoms says:

      Yeah, and I know she’s busy too… and if that was all it was, that we don’t have time to get into the nitty gritty of our lives during our phone convos, then I wouldn’t have written this post. I totally understand being a busy grad student or med student or what have you. However, it’s not a time issue I believe, but rather an issue of the ability (or lackthereof) of this friend to understand or even listen to my life without being judgemental about it. That’s what’s really been bothering me.

  3. Pomegranate says:

    similar. not the same, but similar. for my friend, it was art/politics. if i couldn’t get down with her anti-establishment art, apparently, i could not be her friend.

    and i’m sorry, but i still think her art was and is self-indlugent, masturbatory, and just plain bad. not that i ever told her that. but i stopped going to her shows and started trying to call her just to hang out. and she didn’t call me back, ever. so now we are facebook friends.

    • The original post made me think of a certain friend, but your comment makes me think of another one. After PB and I got married she pretty much stopped talking to both of us. As far as I could tell, it was because we were no longer sufficiently “queer” or “radical” or something. Because the only possible reason two people could want to commit to each other and raise a family together is because they want to act straight… *eye roll*

  4. Unfortunately, I have run into similar situations, one in particular. I can tell you all about it sometime if you’d like, but it’s kind of a long story. Suffice it to say that it was very similar.

    It’s hard when your life takes a different path than that of someone with whom you have been close. And at a guess, your friend probably feels like your shift in priorities (whether they’ve really shifted radically, or she’s just become aware of your differing feelings because of your relationship with Shortcake and T1) feels like a rejection to her. And rejection always sucks. She may also feel like you’ve ditched her for your new family, which is also a sucky feeling. (Not that I’m saying that you have, because it doesn’t sound like you’ve done that, but I suspect that’s how she’s viewing it.)

    That being said… part of being a good friend is recognizing that you and your friend are different people, and doing your best to be happy for them if they’re happy. There are people I’ve stayed friends with through differing life stages, and one of the big things we tend to have in common is accepting each other for who we are. (And one of the things I am is, unfortunately, kind of a crappy correspondent. It’s not that I don’t think of people, it’s just that I don’t often actually pick up the phone. I tend to have better relationships with the people who understand this about me…) Your choices and priorities in life don’t have to be the same as hers, and that’s fine. If it’s not fine with her, then… well, there’s a problem.

    Your choices (as far as I can see them, anyway) are basically to let things limp along and hope she comes around, which she may or may not do, or to call her out on it. That could end your friendship, or it could improve things (at least in the long run, since I wouldn’t expect her immediate reaction to be positive). I don’t know. (My friend and I ended up taking option C, whereby we both vented about each other to a mutual friend, and he listened and did his best to explain where the other person was coming from. I don’t know if you have a similar mutual friend, and even if you do, it’s kind of unfair to that person, but, it more or less worked for us. We aren’t as close as we were, but we aren’t communicating entirely in passive-aggressive sniping, either.) In any case, I think it depends on how much the situation is bothering you. If you’re averse to confrontation (as I am), and you’re willing to put up with things the way they are, then maybe let it slide for a while. If it’s bothering you to the point that you’d rather not have any kind of relationship with her than continue on as you are now, I’d call her out. Or at least keep talking about the things that are important to you, and if she’s non-supportive, let her know you don’t appreciate that.

    Sorry, that was long and rather ramble-y, but I hope it was at least a little useful. And I’m sorry that you’re dealing with this situation.

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