Someone in Chicago is having trouble holding on to a friend

Change doesn’t mean a friendship has to end. It can be an opportunity for the relationship to form a stronger bond.

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Someone in Chicago is having trouble holding on to a friend after having a baby.

Someone in Chicago is having trouble holding on to a friend after having a baby.

Angela Cheng/Suntimes

An advice column where Chicago can ask questions on how to navigate life transitions, relationships, family, finance and more.

Dear Ismael,

I am a new mom, and lately a friend of mine has stopped reaching out due to my busy schedule. She made several invitations that I had to decline because of prior commitments, so she has not reached out in months. I feel like a bad friend, but also I wish she understood that I am not as available as I used to be. What should I do?

— New mom in Lake View

Dear New Mom,

There needs to be a middle ground of understanding and empathy between you two.

First, you need to understand that, after someone hears “no” to an invitation more than once, it can be taken as you not being interested in spending time with that person. Your friend also needs to understand that your lifestyle has changed and that you can’t schedule to hang out in two days as easily as you could before the baby.

Ultimately, the decision to keep this friendship is up to you.

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Like you said, you are not as available as you used to be. That means maybe changing your friend circle to people who are more low-maintenance. I don’t mean strictly hanging out with moms but finding people who don’t need you to be around to feel valued as a friend. If you do want this person in your life, what you can do the next time you can’t make it to a dinner or birthday — after clearing the air about what you’re going through and why you’ve been distant — is say: “I can’t this weekend, but want to have lunch two weeks from now?”

Show them you are invested because your latest signs show that you aren’t.

You aren’t who you were a year ago. That can be scary. Not just for you but for people in your life who are scared your feelings toward them will change, too.

Change doesn’t mean a friendship has to end. It can be an opportunity for the relationship to form a stronger bond. Don’t friendships become stronger when they have a history and maturity of overcoming obstacles?

While we’re on the topic of adult friendships ...

Last year, I remember my mom being shocked that I — a grown man — was going on a cross-country road trip and possibly sleeping in the same room (or, worse, the same bed) as one of my best friends from college who was a grown woman engaged to be married in a few months.

She and I were roommates in college, and then we were roommates again after graduation when we both got reporting jobs at a small newspaper. So there might have been times when she saw me casually in my underwear, or maybe I saw her in a bra.

I’ve never been attracted to women, so I didn’t care. And she didn’t care or feel threatened about sexual advances, either. It was a good joke to laugh at on the road, but my conservative mom’s concern about how ladies should act did make me think: Could this trip in our 30s lead us down a road of family drama? What would my friend’s fiancé think?

We didn’t end up sharing a bed or a room. But, even then, my mom worried that me traveling alone with an engaged woman would cause problems with her would-be husband.

We tend to gravitate toward the “who cares what people think” mentality. But what happens when your actions could affect someone else’s life and relationships? Write in: When should boundaries build up amongst close friends?

Write to Someone in Chicago at someoneinchicago@suntimes.com or fill out this form.

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