Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Making Friends

I don't consider myself to be a terribly outgoing person, but in high school and college, I had more friends than I knew what to do with. I see these people on Facebook or at random reunions, and while I can't remember what on earth we had in common, I recall we used to be great friends. There was one girl in high school who I considered a good friend, and I'm fairly sure the entire basis of our friendship was that we both watched Melrose Place.

In medical school, it was a little harder, but I still had a group of close friends. In residency, even though I had friends that I used to talk to a lot while at work (I am very chatty, as you may have guessed), I hardly ever socialized outside of work. Between my residency hours and having a baby, I just couldn't find the time or the motivation.

And now I'm just frustrated. I meet plenty of people, but either the friendships don't work out (more likely) or if they do, the person moves away within a year. (I recently discovered the closest friend I've made around here is moving.)

Apparently, I'm not alone. I was chatting with a good friend of mine from med school, who is literally the most sweet, wonderful, and outgoing girl I've ever met, and she told me that she can't make friends. And this article in the NYT confirms what I already knew was true: it's hard to make friends when you get older, especially when you have kids.

One problem I've been finding is that the women I've met who actually have time to have playdates and socialize are all stay at home moms. And it's harder to mentally connect with those women when I'm working full time as a physician. Our problems are so different--it's hard to relate.

Much like the writer of the article, my kids recently had a playdate with the child of a woman I really connected with. We chatted non-stop through the whole playdate. Back in school, this woman might have become a great friend. But I know from experience that we'll be lucky to have playdates every other month. I met a few other women at work that I have really fun conversations with, but I know friendship isn't in the cards if I can't get them to stop calling me Doctor.

Much like that movie, I Love You, Man, I'm trying to approach friend-making the way I'd approach dating:

1) Meet lots of women

2) Don't expect much

3) Don't appear too desperate

4) Take classes or join clubs to meet more people

I also liked what the article said about compartmentalizing friends. I need to realize that my work friends are just going to be friends at work. My book club friends will just be friends at book club. And so forth.

Oddly enough, despite what I consider to be a lack of friends, my social calendar is totally booked with family visits, birthday parties, playdates, etc. Yet another part of the problem.

12 comments:

  1. Amen Fizzy. You're not the only one. It's hard to connect on the same level with people as before in college or even med school. People have less time, and then they move away. :-P

    I keep waiting for playgroup so that I can meet other moms that way. I just hope the whole being a Dr thing won't get in the way of making friends. I don't usually bring up what I do just in case unless people ask first.

    How has your experience been with that? I remember the Anesthesioboist talked about it being an issue in a post a few years back.

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    1. I am not sure how much being a doctor is worse than simply having a full time job. I joined a playgroup but almost all the moms were either SAHMs or worked from home, which made it much harder to find times to get together. But I do try to conceal the fact that I'm a doctor as long as I can.

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    2. When meeting people, I, too, try to conceal the fact that my husband is a doctor. Too many pre-conceived notions!
      As far as friends, my husband only has one who he sees a few times a year. Too many years of moving around. Now, he's just too busy to go out and socialize. It's kind of sad.
      However, I do think women are better at creating friendships then men are in general.

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    3. i try really hard not to bring it up. I've been in my book club for several years & count some of the women as true friends but I don't think they really know what I do, b/c I emphasize the research part (I "work in a lab"), because I DO think the "doctor" thing weirds people out and then they think I'm "rich". ugh. Unless its someone also in medicine, I try to avoid talking about work.

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  2. i just moved to 'Random Big City' and although we are a two physician family - no kids, i refrain from EVER talking about what i do (urgent care) unless the issue is forced ie someone stabs themselves at a dinner party. in fact people get weirded out if i say i am a DR as well. SO, I just play the Dr.'s wife role. ...and gouge my eyes out in the bathroom...side tangent: why is it that there are no groups for Dr's husbands? oh that right - it's not a sign of anything to aspire to and want to create a club for.....argh! But being a Dr's wife...THERE, now that's just peachy, make sweet, have babies, support your hardworking man who saves lives....don't complain because your problems are alot less important then his! (*please note the flood of sarcasm*) *headdesk*

    We've been in the new city for over a month and i havent left our apartment except to get groceries. I DO know a handful of people here, but everyone is 'too busy' to spontaneously get together (unless they are stay at home moms - and since i lack kids and a reason to 'stay-at-home' (other than my papers still being processed) -i'm not about to force a visit on these moms whom i dont have a ton in common with them, nor try and pencil myself in for a coffee date 1 week from now.
    i should take a page out of your rulebook and start taking classes and meeting new people. but i worry about being that 'token doctor friend' that people keep around so they can call you up at 11pm and talk about weird rashes and discharges.

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  3. Fizzy check out this book: "MWF Seeking BFF". Its about friend-dating. Of course the author is younger, has a flexible job, and no children, so its easier for her (funnily, in the book & on her blog, she mentions that it must be 'so easy for moms to make friends'...SO NOT TRUE!!!)

    I'm not sure how old your kids are, mine are itty bitty, but I've learned from a friend with older kids that building your social network around your children's friends can be...not the best idea. Her tween daughter had a falling out with her best friend & it caused a huge rift in the moms. Weird cautionary tale.

    Working full time makes it hard to meet other mothers. Also, it is impossible for me to talk to anyone when my kids are around, they need eyes/ears on them constantly at this age as they are trying to actively kill themselves or each other every minute of the day. So I haven't found the "meet-up at the park" to be very helpful in friend-making.

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  4. I personally don't find that because two people's lives are different professionally and problems are different, they aren't able to relate. I am a mom that works from home and I find many topics interesting, including medical issues, and tend to find 'different' people or issues intriguing/challenging. I'd love to find intelligent females to befriend. But it's hard working at home with a baby - I have to physically get out and make the effort to meet people. I also approach making friends the same way as I approached dating - watch & wait for someone who you feel an instant connection with. Unfortunately, there isn't time to watch & wait anymore. And when I do feel a connection, it's usually in a situation with constraints - like at my doctor's office. Even though to me she is just an interesting person whom I'd like to get to know, and happens to be a doctor, it feels as though something would be breached if befriended. So it's frustrating on all sides.

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  5. So True! The circles of friends thing really happens. When Stubble was little there were the other parents who were involved with Children's Theater, Band, Soccer - but there wasn't any cross over. And we quickly discovered that just because Stubble liked someone, we may not have anything in common with their parents (the kids were bonding over StarCraft - we had HUGE political differences)
    Now that Stubble is grown we have our work friends (we socialize with The Bearded One's but not with mine), I have my church choir friends (Bearded One will socialize with them) and my Women's Chorus friends (and none of us socialize together - we just sing)
    It really is such a change from what I had expected.
    And the degree? Never mention it unless it comes up specifically - I work in a Lab.

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  6. TV and movies glorify female friendships, like there is a connection of two souls that would never happen with your spouse. This kind of friendship is unrealistic. Also, I think it was David Sedaris who said that your life is like 4 burners on the stove: family (spouse and kids), work, health/fitness, friends. You can only do well managing two of the four at any one time. This blog, by definition, is about people who manage family and work. Most of us barely have time to exercise (health), let alone invest time cultivating close friendships.

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  7. Friends come back into your life once your kids are older. Perfect timing too, as the empty nest begins to look like a really fun place to be rather than something to be feared.

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  8. YES- this. So true. There are a lot of great women at my church whom I KNOW I would be close friends with if I were a stay-at-home mom. They aren't at all mean or exclusionary, but they get together during the day, and why wouldn't they? I'm necessarily excluded from these get-togethers and so their friendships are reinforced while mine remains rather superficial.

    I really wish we lived in a great community neighborhood with close proximity to other families- sometimes quantity of time really is needed, not just quality. There's a lot to be said for the mundane but day-to-day ("over the fence") interactions- they cement relationships and allow you to become more involved in the details of another's life. I think this is why the friends we made in college and residency are- or at least were- so close. We just spent a lot of time together- a lot of it doing nothing, which is something moms don't have the luxury of anymore.

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  9. I just got off the phone with one of my doctor mommy friends and were just complaining about this very issue. Whenever I meet other moms who I like, they are stay-at-home moms and we don't have much in common. My doctor mommy friends are super busy and it is hard to find time to get together, or we end up moving due to jobs and are scattered across the country. Finding grown-up friends is hard!
    http://mommycall.wordpress.com

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