Dear Annie: I have a wonderful husband, and I love my marriage, but when it comes to female relationships, I feel so left out and lonely.
I’m 37 and have decided not to have kids. I have identified with my therapist the struggles I’ve had from a non-nurturing mother and older sister, and I feel those relationships have set me up to fail with building relationships with other women.
I just don’t understand. I have friends whom I text multiple times each month on everything from light to serious issues. I try to make sure I’m supportive to what they’re going through and strive to be what I want in a friend. But it seems my relationships don’t go past that.
One friend I’ve had for 25 years told me she doesn’t want visits because she’s afraid her kids will catch COVID-19, but her social media is afire with pictures of them unmasked in everything from college basketball crowds to Little League.
Another friend I’ve known for 17 years had a birthday party, and I wasn’t invited. Granted, it was a surprise party, but why wouldn’t her husband (whom I’ve known even longer) make sure I was invited?
I had a cousin whom I was also close with (but have since drifted apart) explain that she only spends time with parents who have kids so that the kids can play together.
The list goes on. I recently went backpacking with a travel group, but nothing clicked. I’ve joined meetups for hobbies but feel so discouraged that it’s possible nothing will come from that either, so I haven’t attended.
The level of rejection I feel is heartbreaking. I feel like such a weird misfit, and I really don’t know what to do anymore. Any advice?
— Left Out and Lonely
Dear Left Out and Lonely: It is not unusual for old friends to drift apart when some have children and others do not.
I know it hurts that these women in your life are not being nice, but in the long run, you are better off not wasting your time with people who lie or don’t really think about you.
You are wise to recognize that the pain of having a cold mother and sister will be something you carry for a lifetime.
There are women out there who will want to be your friend. You just have to keep an open mind and heart. You have to remember to tell yourself that not all females are like your mom. The more you work in therapy through your mom issues, the more you will be able to find female relationships.
Congratulations on your beautiful marriage. It sounds like you both have a mutual appreciation for each other.
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— A native Californian, Annie Lane writes her Dear Annie advice columns from her home outside New York City, where she lives with her husband, two kids and two dogs. Her latest anthology, How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?, features favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation, and is available as a paperback and e-book. Email your Dear Annie questions to email@example.com. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.