Why Is It Hard to Make Mom Friends?

Some mothers seem to have it all figured out when it comes to how to meet moms – usually, they’re the moms who had pregnant friends, moms with the time and energy to make it to post-natal fitness classes, new moms groups at the hospital or birth center, and a.m. coffee. The rest of us – especially those of us with multiple kiddos, jobs, and other obligations that eat into our social schedules – have it a lot harder. Or do we? I’m not suggesting that it’s not hard to make mom friends. It is hard meet moms! Really hard sometimes. What I am saying is that maybe part of the problem is that it’s just a pain to make new friends as an adult of a certain age, whether you’re a mom or a dad or committedly childfree.

A recent NY Times article explored the issue (link) posits that no matter what your situation, it’s a lot harder to make friends when you’re over 30. Now, maybe you’re a chill 20-something mama and that’s awesome, but a lot of us out there – myself included – are on the other side of the big three-oh.

As people approach midlife, the days of youthful exploration, when life felt like one big blind date, are fading. Schedules compress, priorities change and people often become pickier in what they want in their friends.

No matter how many friends you make, a sense of fatalism can creep in: the period for making B.F.F.’s, the way you did in your teens or early 20s, is pretty much over. It’s time to resign yourself to situational friends: K.O.F.’s (kind of friends) — for now… As external conditions change, it becomes tougher to meet the three conditions that sociologists since the 1950s have considered crucial to making close friends: proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other, said Rebecca G. Adams, a professor of sociology and gerontology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. This is why so many people meet their lifelong friends in college, she added.

How many new friends have you made in adulthood? Think carefully… Facebook friends and Twitter followers don’t count! How many of those friends have been other moms – and how many of them would you still be friends with if you didn’t have the social glue that is children repeatedly bring you together? Personally, I’ve been lucky enough to make mom friends because my schedule in the newborn days allowed for it, but I haven’t actually made any new friends as an adult who aren’t moms. Proximity? There aren’t any people my age on my block so I’m not going to meet moms that way. Unplanned interactions? With a toddler and a job, yeah right. And the only setting we can manage for socialization these days is the family-friendly coffee shop and home.

The takeaway is that if you’re having trouble making mom friends and you’re wondering what’s wrong with you a la my earlier blog post, the answer is still probably nothing at all. Making friends, even mom friends, is just harder when you’re over 30 – or just living the responsible adult lifestyle on a budget that so many of us are rocking these days. How do I know? The New York Times said so!

Dealing With Rejection when Moms Meet

Meeting moms is a lot like dating. Too much, in fact. First you have to drum up the nerve to talk to that hip mama at the playground or playgroup, then you have to deal with the very real possibility of rejection. And boy, does it sting. I think that when a mom starts out trying to meet moms, her assumption is that meeting moms will be easy. After all, moms already have so much in common! So when the inevitable happens, and that interesting new mom makes it clear her schedule is too full for any more coffee dates, it hurts. Plus it brings up a lot of questions:

  • Why didn’t she like me?
  • Did I say something offensive?
  • Was it my kids?
  • Is she just a snob?
  • Should I try again?
  • What’s wrong with me that I can’t make new friends?

While I can’t even begin to guess why that mom didn’t think you were the bee’s knees or whether you put your foot in your mouth one too many times, I think I can answer your last question. Nothing. Nothing is wrong with you. Some moms just plain aren’t in the market for new friends. Some moms are actually kind of snobby. Some moms are too overwhelmed to handle a simple coffee date. Other moms who seem totally confident are actually a little afraid of meeting moms. No kidding. Rejection happens for a whole bunch of different reasons.

And honestly, is rejection really that terrible? Meeting moms is stressful, yes. Realizing that someone who seems interesting and fun to you doesn’t want to pursue a friendship can be disheartening. But at the end of the day, you’re still you and you’re still pretty great (if I do say so myself). Remember how I said that meeting moms is a lot like dating? Rejection is just a natural part of meeting new friends and doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you or your family. Not everyone is looking for a new friend, after all!

The best way to deal with mommy rejection is just to keep looking for the good friends you haven’t met yet. You’ll find each other eventually – I promise.