When a Good Friend, Isn’t


Making new friends as a mom can be an awkward experience. It feels a little like being in high school again, fraught with uncertainty and hesitation, which can certainly bring insecurities to the surface — does she like me? Am I being too eager? Yet, when you do make one or two good mom friends, it can make a world of difference.

In a military community, losing friendships to a permanent change of station (PCS) becomes a constant refrain. Distance makes it challenging to keep the close-knit relationships we may have had while assigned to the same base or living in the same town. Often, the friends who still physically live within our sphere receive most of our friendship efforts.

While it can still hurt to lose a friendship, after a few moves, the PCS ebb and flow becomes a natural rhythm that we adopt. Fortunately, social media has helped many friends stay connected, even if they aren’t as close as they once were. Nevertheless, when PCS time comes, saying goodbye can be painful.

But what about when a friendship ends before you’re actually separated by a PCS? 

When calls or texts go unanswered, when a friend isn’t there for you, and when offers to hang out or make plans aren’t reciprocated, it can be hurtful. No one wants to feel like her friendship is one-sided. Sometimes it can take awhile to see that a friend isn’t contributing to the relationship. 

From the first time I saw *Julie, I hoped that we would be friends. Her upbeat attitude, excitement about being with her kids, and general enthusiasm for life and adventure drew me to her. I could tell she was a fun person and a fun mom. Being new to the area, I wanted to spend time with someone who would want to explore together. After attending the same playgroup for a few weeks, we exchanged contact information and when we ended up renting houses close together, I took it as a good sign.

In my newly assumed role as stay at home mom, I was searching for friends in the same position. I had it all planned out – our kids would play together, we would visit parks and playgrounds, and in between, Julie and I would be able to chat. And for awhile, that’s exactly how it went. My son and I went over to her house to play, or Julie and her family came to ours. Picnics, outings to playgrounds, and calls or texts for “hey, do you have any …” or “I’m on my way to the store, do you need anything?” were common. 

We talked about our families, parenting styles, traveling, personal goals …. and occasionally gossiped a bit. The conversation seemed to flow easily. 

But gradually, the phone calls started to come less frequently and the time between returned texts and Facebook messages began to space out. 

When the replies did come, they seemed impersonal and vague. And rather than making plans together, suddenly she seemed too busy to get together. Ideas we had shared for family outings or trips together never materialized. But later I would discover that they had taken place with someone else.

At first, I was understanding, even though I was hurt. Life is busy, and we both had children and families. But after awhile I realized that Julie wasn’t bad at communicating, she just didn’t want to hang out with me. 

Although I knew it wasn’t anything I had done, I still felt hurt. Again, like high school, insecurities come bubbling up, and I started to wonder if there was something I could have done differently.

After analyzing it endlessly and worrying about it with my husband, I realized I had to just let it go. Just because I wanted to make the friendship more than a superficial relationship, didn’t mean it was going to be one that went the distance. And that’s OK.

I now realize that I can appreciate the friendship for what it was and still is, without sacrificing my self-confidence. 

While it can be disappointing to realize you are more invested in a particular friendship than the other person, don’t let it stop you from trying to form new friendships. Invest in yourself, and find a friend who will put in as much effort as you do to making the connection strong and healthy. 

*Name changed to protect privacy 

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Sarah Loicano
A mom of three humans and three dogs, Sarah’s life is (more than) a bit of a circus. The dogs are barking at the mailman, the newborn is crying, the toddler is running around without pants and the preschooler is bossing everyone around. Meanwhile her husband can't find his keys. But there's coffee, laughter, photography, dancing with her husband in the kitchen, fresh baked cookies, family adventures, and every so often, a chance to serve her country when Sarah works as an Air Force Public Affairs Reservist.