I have a problem with a friend, and just can't take it anymore. I am 32 years old, and am stuck living at my mother's house, which is far from ideal. Since I have arthritis, and I can't get away, I need a means of coping. My mom has a neighbor, whom I'll refer to as Summer (she is 59 years old). I started spending a lot of time with Summer at the start of this year. Although she does kind of seem like having my best friend from high school around again (we'll call her Stephanie), I really don't have any desire to contact Stephanie again, as she is a mother of 3, and I probably never cross her mind anyway. Really, I don't have fun with people my age, so it makes no sense to me to try to open doors in that respect. At first, Summer and I would simply talk as friends, and to show that I value our friendship, I gave her a birthday card, with a Starbuck's gift card, and I wrote a note, inviting her to come to my cousin's restaurant. Resulting from a tragedy that Summer had to go through, we never made our plans. I have been really respectful of boundaries. On the third Thursday of each month, us "housewives" in our neighborhood (Summer is self employed) get together for lunch. I am always the youngest one there, which is good, at least in my eyes. Here is what happened there: I sat down next to Summer (I think it seemed a little bit like she had a shadow), and the lady on her other side asked her to make plans, and she just agreed right in front of me. I am very hurt by this, but can't tell her, even though I want to, because nobody forgives for anything these days. What is a good approach to convey this to her? She may dismiss it, but I can't spend everyday of my life having crying spells, and wishing my life were something different. No relationship ever works out for me, which is why I'm single, and Summer is my only friend. It would be different if I could live in the state I want to be in, but since I can't, I tend to expect perfection around here. We do have a neighbor, who has been saying horrible things about me for a long time, and she is basically the devil in disguise... she comes across as the sweetest lady to the Average Jane. She may have said something about me to somebody who knows Summer well, whom Summer just would not doubt. I know I'll never be a really, really important part of Summer's life, however, she means a lot to me right now, and I wish she would try spending a half an hour with me, even if it just means going to the local yogurt bar. I know I can't force her, however, I think I need to at least find out what the problem is, because I cry all day long everyday, and struggle to cover up my misery. It makes it hard to go on, knowing that I'm going to wake up everyday to an unwanted living situation.
Thank you for your letter and for reaching out.
It seems like you are lonely and need a wider circle of friends. That would solve all your problems. You can find friends if you get involved in something. You might consider taking a class or volunteering in your community.
One of the golden rules of friendship is to give your friends space and let the relationships evolve naturally. You cannot force friendship to develop. Getting jealous, manipulative, or suspicious of your friends is self-defeating because it will drive them away.
Remember that it is none of our business what other people think of us. We simply need to cast a wider net. Just like in photography. Good photographers take a lot of pictures, then choose the best ones. Not everyone is going to be a great friend.
You might benefit from reading my book, The End of Apathy.
Please write back if you want to discuss further.