My daughter is nine-months-old. She’s my first kid and so far I love being a dad. It’s really great. I didn’t know I could love another person like this and that kind of blows my mind. But the thing is that over the last couple months I’ve been getting pretty lonely. Like, I haven’t seen my best buddy in forever and I don’t know what to do.
I expected that the first month or so was going to be all about the kid and my friend did visit once. Other than that, we’ve mostly been just exchanging texts where he asks me if I can go out, I say “no,” followed by me asking if he wants to come over. That’s when he informs me he has plans.
I mean, I get it. He’s in his early 30s and is single. I’m married with a kid. Does that just mean we’re never going to hang out again? Also, am I just doomed to be lonely forever?
Lonely in Minneapolis
I’m going to start to answer your question with a story of my own. When I had my first kid I was living in Portland, Oregon. Like you, my wife and I were the only ones among our peers to get married and the first ones to have a kid. Our friends were young. They liked rock shows and dive bars and while some did like our baby, they did not like it as much as having fun without a baby. So, we became isolated and decided to move to a small town in Colorado. There we had our second baby, and while we did have family near, parent friends were hard to come by. So, we moved to a close-knit community in Ohio where we’ve found our people. Most of our close friends are parents. Every get-together is lousy with kids. We’re no longer lonely or isolated.
Am I telling you that you will need to move 3/4 of the way across the country in order to not feel lonely? No. The lesson here is that isolation and parenting are often linked. If you want that reality to change, you’ll have to do some work, and there is no guarantee that you will ever be as close as you were with your buddy before you became a father.
Having a kid is kind of like the adult version of graduating from high school. We have to expect that our new circumstances will create distance.
You are experiencing a natural phenomenon. None of us enter new stages of our lives in lock-step with our friends. Because of that, relationships with people we care about can change dramatically over the course of a lifetime.
Think back to your senior year of high school. Graduation was a huge deal. Some people were going to go to college. Some people were going to take a gap year or work in family businesses. Only the best of buddies ever went to the same school together. At that particular inflection point in our lives, we kind of expected that there would be distance with people that we’d grown very close too. But we moved on. We made new friends and thought fondly of the old ones. Having a kid is kind of like the adult version of graduating from high school. We have to expect that our new circumstances will create distance.
There are caveats of course. You can absolutely try to rope your friend back into your life. It will require that you change his status from best bud to family member, and it will require his acceptance of this new role.
There are families across the country that are proud to have a plutonic uncle in their midst — an excellent male friend who takes on the role of an uncle and acts as an involved part-time guardian in a child’s life. These uncles in name only (UNOs?) are around a lot and willing to help out where they can. This allows them to maintain a close friendship while also being invested in their friend’s family.
All you can do is ask and do your best to schedule some time. And frankly, it might not be his thing.
You can make this pitch to your buddy. It’s not as awkward as you might think. It’s a simple discussion over beers. All you have to do is say, “Hey, man. I miss you. I think it’d be really cool if my daughter grew up knowing you. Why don’t you come by more often and hang out with us.” If he seems reluctant you might even be able to sweeten the pot by telling him chicks dig a dude who is comfortable holding and changing a baby. (That’s a gross overgeneralization and maybe a bit sexist, but, whatever.)
All you can do is ask and do your best to schedule some time. And frankly, it might not be his thing. That’s okay too. It’ll be sad, but you can always keep in touch on Facebook.
If that’s how things go down, you’ll have to change your focus to finding dad friends. Nearly every city has a dad group. Find it. Go there. Or strike up a conversation with another dad at the playground. The point is that it will take work.
You’ve graduated into fatherhood. And now you’re the new kid in a fraternity of really great guys. You just have to find your people. If you’re interested there are a couple of houses for sale in my neighborhood here in Ohio. Hit me up.