friendship

Till Kids Do Us Part: A BabyCenter.com interview on pregnancy, motherhood and friendship

motherandbaby.jpg

Every passage of a woman’s life poses unique challenges to her friendships—but pregnancy and motherhood are among the most risky. Pregnant women are notoriously self-centered and moody, traits that can be off-putting even to people who love them.

Also, motherhood is such a huge time-sucker that it greatly reduces (and sometimes eliminates) opportunities to spend relaxed time with friends (or to shave your legs, tweeze your eyebrows, or bathe). Finally, another reason why motherhood can wreck a close friendship: Mothers fall hopelessly in love with their newborns, leaving little emotional space for other people in their lives.

Yet, the value of friendships during every phase of life, especially during pregnancy and motherhood, can’t be measured. Solid friendships provide new moms and moms-to-be with confidence, advice, support and pleasure.

This is why I was delighted to speak with Kristina Sauerwein, who blogs on BabyCenter.com. The name of her Momformation Blog, Balancing Acts, aptly characterizes the life of any new mother who recognizes that she has never juggled quite as many balls as she does now.

The first part of the recently posted interview is called You Were Close Friends and Then You Had Kids.

The second part of the BabyCenter.com interview is entitled, Should You Break Up with Your Friend?



If you are interested in this subject, you may want to glance at a couple of previous related posts on my blog: New Kid on the Block: Mastering the Motherhood-Friendship Mix and Motherhood is a Friendship Killer.

Are you a new mom or mom-to-be with questions or dilemmas about a friendship? Write to me at irene@fracturedfriendships.com and I'll try to answer all of them. 

 

 

A writer asks: How could my colleague and friend undermine me?

Virginia Woolf.jpg

QUESTION:

Dear Irene,

I’m an award-winning author with a friendship dilemma. A long time friend has definitely hurt my feelings. She told one of my clients whose memoir I’m writing that she’d Googled my agent and that he was basically a “nobody,” casting doubts upon my agent’s ability to broker a deal on his book and the likeliness of film rights.

It sowed seeds of doubt with my client and caused me a lot of unnecessary time trying to defend my agent who is actually one of the most powerful in the business. In fact, he doesn’t have a website and intentionally keeps a low profile because he’s exclusive and takes on new authors by referral only.

She also told my client that I’m “just a ghost writer,” which is not an accurate account of my abilities and I felt it was said in a disparaging manner and insinuated that she doubted I could pull off a project of this scope. My dilemma is whether or not to send her the note setting the record straight, along with a list of my agent’s top-tier clients.

I am hurt and astonished by her behavior. Should I confront her, or do as my husband counsels and simply have the revenge of a bestseller and boatloads of money from film rights. What are your thoughts? I’m feeling blue, fatigued and having a hard time jumping back into my assignments after this disappointment.

I haven’t responded to her latest email which is all chatty and thanking me for recommending a good book doctor for her manuscript. I don’t have it in me today.

Signed,
Kaila

ANSWER:

Dear Kaila,

I can well understand your feelings of hurt and disappointment. It’s sad when a friend has to tear you down to build herself up. Your “friend” has undermined you with your client, either because she is competitive and envious of your success or because she is clueless and has bad judgment. In either case, you have a friendship problem.

I think that this one will be hard, if not impossible, to remedy. If her envy is the problem, that is something SHE can work on but there isn’t much you can do yourself to make her less envious of you. If she has bad judgment and loose lips, can you trust her enough to involve her or even let her know about your business dealings in the future?

It’s absolutely necessary for you to educate your client about your confidence in your agent---and you’ve learned an important lesson about your friend. You have the choice of cutting her off from you completely or trying to redefine the relationship by setting clear boundaries about what you can comfortably tell her and what you can’t. Perhaps, you need to stay clear of any discussions about your work. But squelching communication about such an important element of your life may doom the friendship. The ball is in your court. Whether your friendship survives this betrayal will be determined by the strength of your ties to one another and how meaningful this friendship is to you overall.

Best of luck with your book!

Sincerely,
Irene

 

Do you have a friendship dilemma that you would like advice about? Use the contact tab above to send your question to me. I try to respond to as many queries as possible; you need not use your real name. If it is bothering you, you can bet that someone else is having similar problems.

 

 

 

Friendship and Money: She's fired, you're not

Emma.JPG

Any major life change--including an unexpected job loss or other threat to economic security--can increase the risk of a once-close friendship falling apart. As such, the global recession is challenging untold numbers of female friendships. In the first of a two-part series, I interviewed journalist Emma Johnson, who covers money and finance topics for MSN.com and other national publications, to find out her thoughts on this topic:

 

In the current economic climate, where job loss is rife, how can getting a pink slip or being furloughed challenge friendships?

Women can be very competitive with each other. Traditionally women have competed for male attention and loyalty. The species depended upon it. The more women's sexual partners were loyal to them, the better off the women and their children would be since men were the breadwinners and women had few economic opportunities.

But the game is different today. We compete in other areas of our lives, including professionally. Even if we aren't in direct professional competition with our girlfriends, that rivalry can still be there. Of course it isn't always the case, but it often is, and worst of all, most of the time we don't realize it.

So if two friends are engaged in even a friendly contest about who's ahead in her career, a layoff can give the other woman the edge in this unspoken game. That can create resentment from the unemployed party--who is already distraught about her new economic situation.

 

How can women minimize the risk of losing their friendships if one friend is spiraling downward economically?


I'm a big fan of talking it out, though all the psychology experts don't agree with that. If the employed friend can say, "I'm so sorry you are going through this. What can I do to be supportive?" Then, give her friend some time to think about what she needs; that can go a long way. Likewise, the unemployed friend might need to talk to her friend and say, "I'm really worried about money right now. Would you mind if we find some less expensive ways to spend time together until I get back on my feet?"

There are other things to think about. Unemployment and financial worries are top factors in stress, sleep loss and depression, which can take a big toll on one's overall well-being, including their relationships. If everyone is aware of the realities of the situation, tough times can strengthen friendships. But the working friend needs to be willing to be supportive, and sometimes the friend in the tough situation needs to allow themselves to be vulnerable and cared for.

To be continued...

Emma Johnson is a New York journalist who writes about business, finance and money topics for publications including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur and Psychology Today. Her series on MSN  Money, "Jump Start Your Life," explores money topics for people in their 20s and 30s. 

*A version of this post appears on The Huffington Post

 

 

Just Do It: Putting a fractured friendship behind you

anxiety.jpg

QUESTION:

Hi,                                           

A few years ago, I was a roommate with a woman I will call Marta. She found me by looking at rentals in the paper. She was newly divorced and we became fast friends. I introduced her to my extensive group of friends.

She moved out after I got engaged. We were still friends until we shared a house again after my divorce. I will not go into detail but it did not work out. She seemed to berate me a lot and accused me of stealing. She also is extremely negative and was only in a good mood when she was tipsy. I felt scared and anxious around her so I stayed away which only made her angrier.  

I moved out last May. I sent her an email in September saying we both did things we are not proud of but I wanted to get together IN PERSON to talk about it and put it behind us. I still have not heard from her.

I introduced her to a lot of my friends and they became her friends. When I see her at gatherings, I say hello but that is it; she has made it clear she does not want to engage. How do you repair a friendship enough so that other friends are not uncomfortable when you are around each other?  I am reading a book called Forgiveness is a Choice and it seems to be helping.

Ciao,
Eliza

ANSWER:

Hi Eliza,


Let go of this relationship! It doesn’t sound worth saving. You are describing a “friend” who acted suspicious, angry and negative---and who made you feel quite uncomfortable. You don’t need to do a psychological autopsy of your relationship with Marta to put it behind you; just end it and take away the friendship lessons you’ve learned, both good and bad.

Since you share a circle of friends, it’s best to act cordially to Marta but keep your distance. Say hello---and smile if it feels natural---but don’t go any closer or deeper than that. No one else will be uncomfortable in your presence unless they sense that you are.

Guard against saying anything disparaging about Marta to your other friends; it will only reflect badly upon you and they are already in a position to make their own judgments about her. With the passage of time, I hope things will get easier for you.

Best,
Irene

 

Valentine's Day: Not Just for Lovers

vcard1910.jpg

The first handmade Valentine's Day cards in the 1800s weren't intended only for lovers. They also celebrated affection between friends and relatives.

 

Esther Howland, one of the pioneers of the greeting card industry in the US, was charmed by an ornate English Valentine she received from a friend. So she began a business of importing lace and floral decorations from England and turned them into lacy V-Day cards.

 

Howland advertised in the Worcester, Massachusetts newspaper, The Daily Spy, in 1850, and her business grew so quickly that she had to enlist friends in an assembly-line operation to meet the demand. Her sales are reported to have exceeded $100,000, a handy sum at the time for a female entrepreneur.

 

On February 14th, people in Finland celebrate Ystävänpäivä, which is translated as Friend's Day. In Mexico, it is called the Día del amor y la amistad, the day of love and friendship. Admittedly, the day has been over-commercialized in the US but it still remains a fitting day to express love and appreciation, in whatever way we choose, to the important people in our lives---which, of course, includes our friends.


With love to my husband, son, and my dear friends who sustain me

In memory to my Dad who died on Valentine's Day, 2006

 

(This is an update of a similar post on this blog from February 2008).

 

Friendship by the Book: Second Chance by Jane Green

SecondChance.jpg

“There’s just something about getting together with people who have always known you,” remarks Olivia, one of the thirty-something characters in Second Chance by Jane Green (Viking, 2007).

With a storyline that is somewhat reminiscent of the 1983 move, The Big Chill, when a childhood friend (Tom) dies tragically, it sets the stage for four friends to come together at midlife and examine their lives and loves. This novel, by the prolific, New York Times best-selling chick-lit author Green, highlights the role that shared history plays in friendships.

Although their lives have followed very different paths, the four childhood friends reconnect instantaneously. The author describes how that feels for Holly Mac, another of the protagonists: “With friends that feel more like family, not because of …closeness to them now, but because of the strength of a shared history,” writes Green. “They know her mother, she knows theirs. She knows their brothers and sisters, who they were before they adopted the mantle of adulthood…”

The protagonists realize that friendships of our youth remind us not only of our past but also of the person we had always hoped to become. What I enjoyed most was the book’s treatment of weighty issues---like infertility, divorce, betrayal, loneliness, alcoholism, and maintaining one’s sense of self in a marriage---and their bearing on female friendships.



'Friendship by the Book' is an occasional series of posts on this blog about books that offer friendship lessons. To read other posts in the series, use the search function on the right side of the page.

 

She's Just Not That Into You: Six ways to know when a girlfriend's a frenemy

aniston.jpg

He's Just Not That Into You decodes the rules of heterosexual dating. But the relationship between girlfriends can be just as powerful, irritating, and unfathomable as any relationship with a guy. Here are my six ways for women to recognize when "she's just not that into you."

Read my latest post on HuffPo, SHE's Just Not That into You

 

 

Girlfriendology: Inspiring Female Friendships

Debba.jpeg
Girlfriendology is an online community for women that aims to celebrate, appreciate and inspire women with blogs, a weekly podcast and BlogTalkRadio Show (interviewing inspiring women), contests, reviews, shopping and more.

I was pleased to recently interview Debba Hauppert, the “girl” behind Girlfriendology. She has a background in corporate marketing, is an award-winning author, and has been a television spokesperson and contributed to dozens of magazines. “Girlfriends make us healthier, happier, less stressed, live longer and feel more beautiful so our goal is to help women prioritize and appreciate their friendships,” says Debba.

Why did you start Girlfriendology.com?

After a second girlfriend was diagnosed with cancer, I felt helpless and scared for them and for me. I decided to record my girlfriend love and appreciation in a blog. Wondering why I felt so strongly about friendship, I did research to justify my efforts and time. My search led me to a book that details the need for close social bonds between females (The Tending Instinct, by Shelley S. Taylor). It gave amazing examples of how the need for female friendship is part of our DNA – we actually NEED friends.

That book and the support of a great group of girlfriends energized me to grow Girlfriendology. Girlfriends make us healthier, happier, less stressed, live longer and even feel more beautiful so I somewhat look at Girlfriendology as a public service announcement or even a ‘magic pill’ to making us all live better lives – with our friends by our sides.

What are the most popular posts on your site?

Each month we hold a contest where we request women’s stories about their friendships. These are then recorded in a podcast that is just good girlfriend inspiration! We also share ideas on girlfriend celebrations (like alternative ideas for Super Bowl Sunday with your girlfriends), gift ideas for girlfriends, the podcasts and BlogTalkRadio show interviews with inspiring women (like you Irene!) and more.

What affect has the growth of social media had on female friendships?

I’ve spoken on women and social media to several groups, and work with companies to assist them in reaching women through social media. Research shows that women are social (who knew? Right?!)  and so we’re the future of social media. Some of us are Twitter-buddies (follow me at Girlfriendology) while others are Facebook friends and have reconnected with friends and family on Facebook and other social media sites. Social media can be an excellent way to make and stay in touch with friends. How else would we all be able to share photos of our kids, updates on our adventures and insights into our lives with so many of our friends? However, it can also be overwhelming and may even make them feel isolated because they need face-to-face connection with other women.

Personally, I recommend a good mix of both. Often you can take online relationships offline by meeting your local Twitter friends or contacts from a LinkedIn group at social events or arrange meetings at conferences, etc. You can stay in touch with your local friends and family on Facebook and stay aware of their updates and more. The basics of friendship online or off are the same – to listen, care, assist and support and just be a friend to someone else. That doesn’t change so it’s still just a simple one-to-one connection.

What advice can you give to women who are balancing career, family, and friendship?

One of the goals of Girlfriendology is to inspire women to ‘be the kind of friend they’d love to have.’ We really do HAVE to make time for our friends and to prioritize them. We have to make the extra effort to remember their birthdays, listen - even when we want to talk, go out of our way to make their life better and to tell them how much their friendship means to us. I know that may be overwhelming when we have crazy busy schedules but just a few of the benefits of girlfriends are stress reduction and health so spending time with your girlfriends is very much worth the time and effort.

My girlfriends are very important in my own life. They really do inspire me every day and help me so much with Girlfriendology. Friends are always sharing ideas, contacts for the podcast/BlogTalkRadio show guests, etc. In addition to Girlfriendology, they help relieve me of the stress of being an overly-committed entrepreneur! I meet girlfriends Jill and Becky every week for a coffee date, I email with three college girlfriends every Friday, I connect with dozens of women on Twitter and I try to sneak in some time for walks or talks with other female friends.

What is the most important friendship lesson(s) you’ve learned from your readers?

I’ve learned how friendships make us stronger. Stories submitted to us (through our monthly contest and just through comments on Girlfriendology.com) share sad, overwhelming and amazing tales of women helping each other through huge challenges from cancer to the loss of a child, marriage, partner or job. If not for friends, often we wouldn’t have the strength to go on, but we do, and we find that inner strength often times from a friend who helps us bring it back to life. This alone is a reminder to build friendships. Someday we may really need them or they need us and, if we’re blessed with friends, we don’t have to face hard times alone. That makes a HUGE difference.

Check out Girlfriendology!
 

Girlfriends with pink slips

pink.jpg

The support of female friends can help a woman get over the traumatic emotional and financial losses associated with being fired or let go. What can friends do?

Read my latest post on The Huffington Post.

 

Lean on me: But enough is enough

image1.jpg

QUESTION

Dear Irene,

I have a friend who was always interesting to talk to because we had interests in common. I always wondered how she could manage so many activities in addition to her work.

Unfortunately, some time ago, she developed a serious illness for which she is now being treated. She has been attempting to regain her formerly busy lifestyle. While helping her at her home, I got to know her better and see how her personality may have even contributed to her becoming ill. She puts herself under needless stress. Hers was a dysfunctional lifestyle that emphasized overachieving and helping everyone -- even if they didn't ask for it.

Maybe I should have backed off because I sensed that I was being leaned on out of proportion to the situation. To those family or relatives who could help, she barely delegates anything, and excuses others who say they are too busy. However, the people she is leaning on are not related to her and are just as busy with obligations, if not more.  

I stopped contacting her about two weeks ago and feel guilty because I know that coping with her health problem is not a picnic. It is somewhat flattering to be leaned on. However, I am happy having this "vacation" as I feel trapped when I think about contacting her again. I rarely have given her advice and rarely have stated my opinions about what she has been doing in her life. I am afraid that if I go back to contacting her, I may finally tell her my opinions and then I'll be sorry. Thanks for any suggestions about how I can handle this situation.  

Signed,
Trapped

ANSWER

Dear Trapped,

Whenever a friend has a serious illness, it also takes a toll on her female friends. The people around her may feel a range of emotions including guilt, anger, sadness, and fear. You haven’t told me the nature of your friend’s illness but it sounds like your friend is a classic portrait of a “woman who does too much.” She liked to have friends lean on her and now expects the same from her friends. Not too unreasonable an expectation, I think, if she can have it her way.

You felt you desperately needed a vacation because your relationship with her had crossed the line and was toxic. You were complicit in allowing her to lean on you excessively, without letting her know when it was getting to be too much for you. Instead, you simply escaped.

If you want to have a more comfortable and mutually satisfying relationship with your friend, you need to be candid and set some realistic boundaries regarding where your helpfulness starts and stops, and what you are willing to do for her and what you are not. She may need and ask for more help now than before, so it can get a little tricky.

Whether, or how, her personality may have contributed to her illness is somewhat speculative and probably irrelevant because you aren’t going to change her. Realistically, you can only work on yourself by recognizing that relationships don’t have to be “all or none.” You don’t have to acquiesce to all her needs. If you decide to resume your relationship with your friend, you need to work at shaping it so that it is more reciprocal.


My best,

Irene

 

 
Syndicate content