Wedding Woes

Stop being friends with them?

Dear Prudence,

I made two good friends after moving to a new town several years ago. We are retirement-age women, intelligent, educated, with much in common. I’ve always thought one of those commonalities was that we’d each experienced extremely difficult times. Lately, though, I’ve become aware of a theme in the comments of one friend: If I talk about feeling overwhelmed and/or depressed, she gets a bit exasperated and says something to the effect that I “don’t know what HARD is” because I never had kids. This friend has struggled with two difficult children (one is on the spectrum), and the other friend has lost a child. I know that their lives have often been hard and painful. But mine has been, too. I’ve lost decades to serious illnesses. The latest (severe, treatment resistant depression that ultimately required electro-convulsive treatments) resulted in me losing my livelihood, my (long and happy) marriage, my friends—everything important to me. But now I’m feeling like I’m not allowed to talk about any of this because without kids I’ve “had it easy,” according to this friend. Her comments feel like another version of “what do you have to be depressed about?!” that I heard constantly during my years of illness, and that made my blood boil. Am I out of line to feel resentful when she says these things?

— On Easy Street

Re: Stop being friends with them?

  • Your choice is to evaluate the friendship.  If you want to remain friends then give it a shot to tell the friend how her comments make you feel and how a hardship can exist if it doesn't involve kids. 

    If that comment falls on deaf ears it may be time to let it go.

    Side note: I commented in this way on a friend's FB who posted a commentary stating "I was  out of school for years due to war as a kid.  I missed that schooling and I'm a grown adult and am fine.  Your kids will be fine."  I responded that I felt that comments like it miss the mark a bit. It's very hard to convince a preadolescent child about what will and won't be fine when in the thick of it they're having a panic attack about their current situation.   It isn't war, but it is THEIR issue and their struggles need to be treated with empathy vs. a feeling that there could be something worse out there. 

  • It is incredibly offensive to suggest that someone hasn't known hardship because they never had kids. Yes, having children can be challenging, and losing a child is an unspeakable tragedy. But just because they've had those struggles doesn't mean they get to dismiss yours just because they are different and don't involve being a parent. I have chosen not to have children myself, but that doesn't mean my life is easy or that it will be easy in the future. 

    If you're comfortable doing so and want to try to stay friends, talk to these women about how they are making you feel. If they are apologetic and receptive, give them another chance. If not, I think it's more than okay to let them go and move on.

    If you are upset enough at this point that you don't want to continue these friendships, that's okay too. Feel free to distance yourself from them, and if they ever reach out wanting to know why they're not hearing from you, feel free to tell them why.
  • levioosalevioosa Southern California member
    Seventh Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Time to find new friends. 

  • Ah!  The "one-upper on tragedy" type of person.  I would find this person unpleasant to be around also because it's demeaning behavior.  Friendships also need to be give and take.

    If she wants to salvage the friendship, She should would have one, calm sit-down conversation and explain how hurtful it is when the friend brushes aside her divorce, job/independence loss, and severe medical condition like it's nothing.

    But I don't think the LW should bother.  This is a toxic friend because I think there is something deeper and more troubling going on with this person.  The friend sounds like one of those people who side-eye people that choose (or can't) to not have children.  And is also person who doesn't give much stock to mental illness and feels like people with depression just need to "cheer up".  I mean, she literally says, "what do you have to be depressed about", which I assume is in reference to the LW talking about their severe depression.  
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Call her out, and then depending on how she responds you can decide whether to continue the friendship. 

    She's being very cruel and rather selfish. 
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