Dear Prudence

Dear Prudence Uncensored: The Childless Friend

Every week, Danny Ortberg and Nicole Cliffe discuss a Prudie letter. This week: the childless friend.

Nicole: Oh, man, what a sad situation.

I don’t think anyone involved is a bad person! But I think that your life as the mom of two small kids may simply not be one that your friend grieving her infertility is able to be in right now in a mutually satisfactory way.

Danny: yeah, I definitely think this is the sort of friendship where unless you were both willing and able to invest a lot of time and energy into staying close, you would naturally drift apart

but I do wonder if it’s possible to acknowledge the reality that they can’t really stay close while parting on loving/friendly terms

Nicole: Which often happens when people have kids, without the added strain of infertility v unplanned pregnancies.

I think that the LW is still too sore to do that in a nonconfrontational way.

I think she’s taking this too personally to tackle it right now.

Danny: and I do get that.

I have a lot of sympathy for the friend in question, but I think it’s really understandable the LW is hurt she didn’t at least call or something

Nicole: People deal oddly with crises.

I think a lot of people don’t want to pester when there is an active situation happening

I definitely would not want to blow up my friend’s phone with a kid in the hospital

Danny: I don’t think calling once is pestering

Nicole: No, it’s not. But if the friend was still super super sad, prob calling and bursting into tears would be bad too? I definitely think being hurt is correct, no argument there.

Danny: yes

Nicole: You came out on top, is the thing. Two healthy kids. I would be hurt but also not need HER to soothe me about it.

Danny: Yeah, I think if the LW wanted to, because this was such a long-standing friendship, she could say something to the friend without having to have a sit-down dinner—just something to the effect of “I know we’ve been drifting apart for inevitable reasons, I was hurt not to hear more from you when we were in the hospital, an apology would mean a lot, I hope you can find peace”

yeah I hadn’t considered that part

not to diminish the LW’s very real pain during that week, but knowing that your kids are healthy and safe and thriving now, while your friend has been unable to have any, that’s tough to find ways to talk about

Nicole: And has no money AND no kids.

Danny: I mean ideally the friend could find ways to make her peace with the existence of other people’s children, but not everyone is quickly resilient about pain like this

Nicole: Maybe just wait a few months and take your own temperature again emotionally

you’re still in the new kid blur

Danny: yeah, let some of this settle

Nicole: maybe you’ll still need an apology, maybe not

Danny: and in the meantime it’s not like she’s asking to get together

so it’s fine to just keep your distance

Nicole: It also sounds like her friend was a good and supportive person through the first pregnancy

so she’s not a selfish person

Danny: right

Nicole: this is just … a lot

Danny: it’s been a couple of years and she has tried

Nicole: I really do hope they become some form of friends again

Danny: i do too

or at the very least that you can understand she’s not trying to hurt you

Nicole: yes

Danny: and good luck! I hope that someday you two can find a little peace, together if possible or separately at least

Nicole: YES