Aug 2, 2022
As women without children, you are not alone if you question your relevance in your existing friendships, especially when there’s lots of mom and kid talk in your social gatherings. So many of my students wrestle with the feelings of alienation, lacking or detachment when thinking that you don’t have anything in common or you can’t relate to a friend or a group of friends that used to be your crew, your people, your ride or dies.
I get it. Having feelings of alienation, detachment or feelings of lack aren’t ones that often go out seeking, so when we notice we have them more often while navigating a childless future, it doesn’t sit well.
We have a few options and you have the ability to decide if any of these feel good for you.
Show up and sit there thinking, when are they going to stop talking about how great Joey is in t-ball and how well Susie is doing with her potty training. I’m just going to keep smiling and say, “That’s so nice. That’s awesome.”
Tell your friends that you are having a tough time, but you love them and really want to see them, but you’d be so appreciative if there’s no conversation about kids at today’s outing.
Decide that you are going to pull back and sit this girls night out.
These are just some ideas that have come from coaching I’ve worked on with my students.
And maybe you listening to these options and questioning if your difference in circumstances has you thinking that things just won’t be like they used to, and that is OK, too!
Think of how many things have changed in your life… careers, hairstyles, home decor, personal interests, the list goes on of things you have outgrown in your life as your life has taken shape.
Friendships are no different, yet we judge ourselves and expect ourselves to consistently show up to conversations and events that don't offer us personal growth.
What I find most students struggle with is showing up for themselves first because there is security and familiarity with a group of humans that somehow seems more impartnat to be part of than how you are feeling and the story you are believing about you and your worth because you fit in anymore.
So let’s talk about how you know when you’ve outgrown a friendship.
Frankly, I think we just know. It’s just weather we what to take action because of it.
Are you excited about the time together because it will be enjoyable or are you getting together because you are worried you will be judged if you don’t show up?
Oftentimes your friendships change because you're changing as a woman. You are not the same person anymore. If you are more recently navigating your journey out of IVF there’s so much that is different and things may just be tender and raw right now. That is to be expected. Maybe you just need to hit the pause button on things right now and you are settling into this chapter of your life.
I did that with my friend groups. I was disconnected for a long while. I remeber judging myself for not wanting to see their babies or buying a baby gift because it was too painful for me. So on top of having sadness that they were able to enjoy this dream that I knew would never be mine, I judged myself for being a selfish awful friend. If you are doing the same, know that it is not a requirement. You can put your needs first.
I love my girls. We all have different journeys and we have loved ourselves through them:
Mom of identical IVF twins
Foster mom and me
But if you have found yourself, outing after outing feeling like you have less and less in common with old friends, that doesn’t need to freak you out that you’re moving in a different direction. Maybe, over time, the chemistry and the connection and the bond that you had is no longer there.
Here are a few steps to take, some things to think about before you’ve noticed that you've outgrown a friendship. And I also want to note that when you’ve outgrown a friendship. I just coached a student on this last week. It doesn’t need to be dramatic. Nothing dramatic needs to happen. No sit down conversation telling that that I’ve outgrown you and now we’re no longer friends.
It can just be a gentle changing of the relationship. It can change forms. It doesn’t have to necessarily end in an abrupt way. NO need for finger pointing or a post-it break up (referance to Sex and the City) unless you feel there is a need because your value are no longer in alignment.
When you enter the part of your journey when the grief of childlessness presents less and less, you will make space for your growth and start to create a future you absolutely love and feel excited about…which btw is the transformational work I do with the students in my practice. When you start to focus on your growth and plot the future you can’t wait to explore, your values will change and it is so exciting, especially after feeling like your life was on hold for so long as you tried desperately to become a mom. SO when you grow, what you value and what we’re focused on changes.
When our life changes, sometimes our values change, and there are certain things that we value that we don’t value anymore.
It’s ok to ask yourself questions that will get you to understand, what is it I value in a person? Just because you don’t find value in a friendship anymore, that doesn’t mean you and making a statement that the person is no longer valuable, it just means that your circle of friendship may have come to a completion and each of you have wonderful interests, experiences and journeys that are growing in amazing ways, just in different forms.
If you are are at a crossroads, here are a few questions top consider:
Why am I friends with this person?
If I met this person today, would I choose to develop a friendship with them?
And if the answer is no, it doesn’t mean that you break up with them. You let the relationship take on a different form. You can still be friendly and you can carry so much love that person, but it just shows up in a very different way.
Maybe there are friendships where you have been sharing something that is unhealthy and you partaking in buffering like behaviors together. Maybe you have a friendship based on things that holds one another back.
Maybe you drink a lot together, smoke together, talk shit and bitch and complain or pizza or cupcake loving buddy. If you take activities like that out, what do you have in common and how is your time together nourishing? And if you come up blank, a clean break from that type of relationship can be important. Maybe it’s hitting the pause button on the friendship or maybe it is forever.
I went though that, where I slowed down alot with my social drinking when I started my weight loss journey after failing IVF. So maybe you say, hey…I’d really love to hang but instead of slamming wine, would you be up for a workout class or a walk instead. You just may be the catalyst for them to form new habits too. If they don’t, remember why you are choosing to do other things with your time. You have goals that you want to meet because you are ready to take your future back and create a life you truly love.
So, use your own judgment. Trust yourself. Be honest with yourself and be honest with the other person when it’s necessary and when you think it will be helpful. I do not think it’s always necessary or helpful to tell someone, “I don’t want to be friends with you anymore.” It’s just not necessary. In many cases you can let the relationship just kind of change forms.