By Esther Mann

 

Dear Esther,

Around six months ago, my family moved into the Five Towns. This was something we had looked forward to for a long time. Despite not having any family here, and only one really good friend, we felt it would offer us a much improved quality of life — which it has.

My one good friend, Leah, has really surprised me, though. Yes, she’s been great about showing me the ropes, where to shop, which cleaners and shoemaker to use, etc., but there is one area where she has let me down so totally, I’m shocked and don’t know what to do about it.

Though Leah invites our family over for a Shabbos meal every so often, which is great, she never has us over with her other friends. Frankly, I was counting on meeting her friends, hoping they could be a solid springboard from which I could get myself established socially. We’re not that young and it’s not easy to make new friends at this stage of life, and my husband and I envisioned our move here to include a fulfilling social life.

I know that Leah entertains a lot and will also go out on a Saturday night with other couples. Sometimes it comes up in conversation and I’m always surprised that she is so insensitive as to not realize that I must be thinking why I’m not being included. I don’t think there is anything weird or off about me or my husband that might make her feel embarrassed to introduce us as their friends. On the contrary, we are outgoing, and probably as typical as most people.

So I’m not sure that this is a clearly conscious decision to keep us at arm’s distance from her friends. What would motivate such a thing? Though I don’t have tons of friends from my previous life, before moving out here, I always loved introducing my friends to one another and widening the circle. It gives me great joy when my friends become friends with one another.

Any insight as to what might be going on with Leah? Also, is there anything I could or should say to remedy this frustrating situation?

Lonely

Dear Lonely,

Kindness and generosity can be shown in many ways. Some features of these traits are obvious, while other times, acts of kindness and generosity are a bit more subtle in nature but meaningful and telling nevertheless. You like to share your friends and I’m guessing other aspects of your life as well. Your graciousness is honest and complete.

I have noticed that some people seem to hoard their friends. For someone like you, it’s probably hard to understand. Certainly, taking on new friendships shouldn’t in any way diminish old friendships. There is no limit to love and, if anything, the more one engages in it, the more it seems to grow and accommodate every potential recipient. That is one of the many beautiful aspects of connecting with others. It feeds on itself in a wonderful way. But not everyone understands this, perhaps because some people are insecure by nature and are easily threatened by others.

So my first question for you to ponder is whether or not Leah is a particularly confident individual or if she seems a bit insecure. Do you have certain personality traits that might overshadow her own? Is she as outgoing as you? As clever? Would you consider yourself a raconteur? What about your husband’s personality? Could he possibly seem like a threat in some way? Not that any of this should matter in the least, but when someone is not totally secure, everything can feel threatening.

Mind you, sometimes a rose is just a rose. Maybe Leah is just not focused on your social needs, or maybe she doesn’t even think you are looking to make new friends and that you’re satisfied with your status quo. Not every negative thing we experience is diabolical in nature. Some things just are.

Therefore, I encourage you to have an honest conversation with Leah, expressing your desire to widen your circle of friends and put down social roots in this neighborhood. Ask her point-blank if she would help you out in this way by exposing you to her good friends in order for you to see if there are some good fits there for you. If Leah is healthy and honest, she’ll quickly recognize her oversight and get right on top of the matter. If Leah has some insecurities about you “stealing her friends,” I’m afraid you’re on your own. But give it a shot. It can’t hurt.

Esther

Esther Mann, LCSW, is a psychotherapist in Hewlett. Esther works with individuals and couples. Together with Jennifer Mann, she also runs the “Navidaters.” She can be reached at mindbiz44@aol.com or 516-314-2295.

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