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ASK HOLLY: My friend had kids and became boring. Is it okay to break up with her?

Welcome to Mamamia's new advice column, DON'T FREAK OUT, where Holly Wainwright solves your most personal and problematic dilemmas with her sage wisdom. If you have a drama you need solved, email us at — you can be anonymous of course because otherwise, awks.

Dear Holly, 

My friend and I have been close for around 12 years. During that time, we have been single together, and in long-term, committed relationships at the same time, too.

We bonded over the fact we used to work in the same field, and we both loved doing the same gym classes together, and we'd go away for weekends. 

She had her first baby just before COVID. I was happy for her, and being around many people with babies, I understood her priorities would change.

I would message weekly to check-in but I admit I didn't see the baby for a long time due to having colds (remember, it was COVID), being busy and also getting into a new relationship and enjoying life. 

Fast forward, she gets pregnant with her second and we come out of COVID in very different life stages. Our schedules rarely worked out, or there will be last-minute cancellations to see each other. Mostly I was fine with this, it's Mum Life and I felt that if or when I have kids, we will sync up again. However, I felt that she was not okay with this - she had a go at me for always being busy, or that me and my partner couldn't make 5 o'clock dinner or a Wednesday 11:15am cycle class (I work from home on Wednesdays but still, I'm working).


On the occasion we do catch up, she just talks about her kids. She missed my 30th birthday because one child was sick (common cold), which I understand can be hard but also, couldn't her partner mind them for an hour if she's upset about us not hanging out? I felt it was a bit of a cover. She came to my house-warming and pretty much sat by herself, didn't make an effort to talk to people and left early. We have been friends for over 12 yrs! I understand social situations can be uncomfortable and hard but I can't babysit her when hosting. Is it better that I don't invite her then?

I can go on for years of annoyances but basically, I don't feel like I get any value from the relationship. I feel like it's assumed my time and priorities aren't as important as I don't have kids and I "don't understand". I feel I understand as much as someone can who doesn't have kids. When I invite her to an occasion, she doesn't try to get to know my other friends or make an effort. 

When we catch up the conversation is just about her kids, and I feel we have nothing in common. I feel like she's always been on the selfish side but when I was young and had all the time and friends in the world, I could probaby bear it. Now as I'm old and busier, I need more valuable friends because I don't have time for just anyone. 

So, what do I do with this friendship? I feel like I'm the bad one if I end the friendship because I didn't stick by my new-mother friend...


Thank you, 

Child-free Bestie. 


Dear Child-free Bestie, 

Prepare yourself, you are about to break a woman's heart.

You are about to tell someone who is already spinning through an identity crisis that they are now boring company who's no fun at parties and basically, you're not that into her any more.

Of course that's not actually what you're about to tell her, but it's what she's going to hear. 

And you know what else? It's absolutely fine, you have to do it. 

And here's how I know. I had my children late (comparatively) and many, many of my friends did it before I did. Some of those relationships stayed strong, and some of them fell over and perished. The difference was well. On both sides.

Watch: The difference in life with and without gal pals. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

I cringe at some of my behaviour back then. I remember the time a very good friend called me from a service station midway between our houses to say she could no longer come over for dinner because her 18-month-old was having the most epic meltdown and it was just too hard. Her voice was breaking under the stress as she shouted into the phone over the sound of wails. 


And I was upset. For God's sake, I'd cooked a meal. I was always going over to her place, spending a fortune on cabs when I did, and I felt like I'd been supportive and interested in her child, who I liked well enough. 

If you'll cancel over a tantrum, I thought, you really must not give a sh*t about me any more

Then, I had kids. I understood that travelling across town with a child in meltdown is not just an inconvenience. Depending on the day you've had, and the day they've had, and whether they're exhausted, or getting sick, or just being a regular little arsehole, the emotional and physical toll it takes on you both is enormous. And then, the very idea of sitting in someone else's house trying to have a grown-up dinner while your toddler throws themselves around the place and your parenting is judged from all angles is just... unbearable. Life-alteringly stressful. That cancellation, I came to see, was mercy for all of us. 

Five o'clock dinners aren't cool, but they're the only dinners parents of little kids can have. Yes, of course, partners can parent so that birthday parties can be attended but sometimes, that negotiation is impossible. Sometimes a kid won't settle for anyone else. Sometimes partner also has a party and you're in the eternal stand-off about whose turn it is to have... a life. Some partners are sh*t. Some people have a built-in family member down the road for babysitting, many don't. 


The point of all this is, it's really, really complicated trying to mesh together the schedules of two people living completely different lives and it's only worth the effort if, when you get together, you both remember EXACTLY why you love each other so much that it was worth all the drama. 

If you laugh like drains and tease each other with love and entertain yourselves with stories about your dramatically opposite experiences. 

And, for this relationship, right now, it sounds like that is not where you are at. 

You feel like she isn't interested in your life any more. Like she judges your choices and priorities.

She feels like you didn't support her when she first became a mum, and that you think she's boring. 

Neither of these things might be true, but the feelings are real.

Put yourself in her shoes at your housewarming. She came to support her friend but felt out of place and uncomfortable. She felt you didn't look after her. You feel like she expected too much from you. 

You're at cross-purposes, and you're not making each other happy.


So, for now, this relationship needs a break.

As I say, it's going to be painful. Because it's likely your friend is already feeling shaky about who she is, now she's a mum as well as a friend and a colleague and a daughter and a partner. It's weird to change so much in such a short time. Sometimes you don't recognise your life or yourself, and she probably looks at her friendship with you as a talisman of who she used to be. So it's going to be rough for her to add that to the gains and losses sheet she's probably already running about parenthood.

Email her, if that's a thing you do. And go easy. Do NOT say any of the things about her talking about her kids too much, or being boring at parties. 

Tell her only that you can see this friendship isn't making either of you very happy right now, and that you think a pause might help both of you have a bit less angst in your lives. Tell her you wish her well and that maybe either one of you might check back in sometime. Tell her you'll keep admitting her gorgeous family on Instagram. Be prepared for an angry response. Try not to match it. 

Several of my closest friends - including my oldest and bestest - do not have kids. Our loves survived. And maybe this one will too. But there's no point torturing each other to get there.

Go well, Child-free Bestie!

Holly x

Feature Image: Getty

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