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Foul-Weather Friend

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Guest blogger Dani Klein Modisett: Does one mom's success mean another mom's failure? It sure seems that way. 


When I was a kid I used to sing in nightclubs. Really. One of my favorite songs to sing was "Maybe This Time" from Cabaret. At 15, I would convincingly belt out the lyrics, "Everybody loves a winner, so nobody loved me..." And like the song says, I always assumed that success would bring lots of friends, however false.  So you can imagine my surprise when recently, having gotten some acknowledgment in my career, I noticed several mom friends jumping ship on me.

I ran into a woman at the market I've known since before we had kids, named Angelina.

"Hey, I called you last week and you never called back, are you mad at me?" I asked. I have a passive- aggressive sister and mother, so I always assume women are mad at me.

"No.  It's left that message and I didn't want to talk to you.  All I am is a mom and you getting all this success makes me feel like being a mom isn't good enough."

"Really?" I said, surprised by this reaction, but glad she was honest. I took her lead.

"Must be tough being that jealous, it kind of limits your friendships."

Like this one, I thought. SEE YA!

Have I've stumbled upon a new breed of friend? "The Foul-Weather Friend?"

I'm sure if I called any of these women crying about my husband cheating on me, or whining about feeling enslaved by a joint checking account, or distraught over my son's refusal to eat anything green, they would "totally be there for me."  But apparently finding a modicum of success outside the home is  too threatening for some. No wonder there's such mudslinging between working moms and stay-at-home moms. Getting too close to the group you're not in makes you feel bad about yourself.  Clearly, I'm going to have to cut things off with Angelina; it's really been bringing me down lately.

Dani Klein Modisett is the mom of two boys, and the creator/producer of Afterbirth...Stories You Won't Read in Parents Magazine.

next: Olympic Makeovers
5 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jennifer August 27, 2008, 12:55 PM

I’ve had this experience, and it’s devastating. You end up feeling betrayed, and wondering if you’ll ever have a close friendship again.

In school, my best friend was always there for me, through all the misery and gloom. She would have relationships and I would always be happy for her, even if I didn’t like one or two of them, because she was happy.

Finally when I met the man who was to become my husband (of 20 years now) and told my friends, they were all so bored, disdainful, even aggresive, especially my “best friend”. I was never the sort to say “I met someone new and I’m in love”, so it wasn’t a case of crying wolf. It was the first time I ever felt truly and completely happy in my life, and nobody I cared about cared for my well-being. Were these the people I called my friends? It shakes your belief system to its very core, and for me it took many years to get over.

Even now it still hurts a bit when I think of it ~ can you tell? It’s not fair that I had to lose everyone I considered a friend, all at once, especially my very best friend for so many years, and it’s not fair that your own friends can’t be bothered to be happy for you in your success, and share in your joy of making money doing what you enjoy.

Some people don’t know how to converse without moaning, and Angelina probably felt she had nothing to say around you if you wouldn’t join her in her dissatisfaction. One could almost feel sorry for her. Almost.

I wish you the best of luck, and better friends.

Yanina August 27, 2008, 7:09 PM

Jennifer, you NAILED it…and I wish you luck in finding better friends.

As for me, I’ve all but given up…it just seems that misery REALLY DOES love company.

My husband and I basically hang out with other happy couples because so many “friends” showed their true colors when we had joyous moments.

He said something that’s so true of this type of behavior…he said “when you try to share your joy with people, most of them are so selfish, they don’t even hear what you’re saying—-they look at themselves first and say ‘why don’t I have…’”

He’s right. So sad how some people are.

Kate August 27, 2008, 9:57 PM

Please don’t give up on these friends because they suffer from jealousy. Their jealousy is an issue that they have to deal with, and it has nothing to do with you. It might seem like it because their negative feelings are a result of your success, but it’s really a personal issue for them.

I have been the jealous friend, and let me tell you, it sucks! You want everything in the world to be happy for your friend, and you are! But there’s a little green monster eating you up inside. I applaud Angelina for being honest with you, and it’s too bad that you feel like you can’t still be friends. She obviously has issues to deal with, and she could use a friend right now.

When I confessed my jealousy to my best friend, she was supportive of me, and she tried to help me through it. Of course, it was my issue to deal with, and we got past it. Sometimes I do still struggle with being jealous of my friends, but I don’t let that have a negative impact on our friendships because I know that my feelings are not the fault of my friends.

Some women do have competitive relationships with one another, and that sucks. I hope that you are able to make one or two connections in your life that are true, real, and unconditional. Yeah, it sucks if your friends can’t express initial excitement with you over good things that happen to you, but give them time to react to their feelings, and they will probably come around.

Angie The Average August 28, 2008, 8:10 AM

You have every right to be happy and proud of your accomplishments.
Women are not very nice to each other.
I am genuinely happy for my friends,especially if they have worked really hard at something. We all feel jealousy at some time, but the way you deal with it makes a big difference. I have on many occasions said things like ” I wish I had your ambition or talent”. That lets the other person know you admire them and feel a twinge of jealousy at the same time.
I have written other posts about how women like other women to feel less about themselves, whether it be parenting,work etc..I don’t know if it’s a conscience thought process or not and I have been guilty of it a time or two myself.

Ten Tees January 8, 2011, 4:12 PM

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