She finds it dif­fi­cult to make friends


My sis­ter has been friend­less for most of her life and we are now in our 60s. She was bul­lied at school and never so­cialised with any­one through­out her teenage years and work­ing life. She has been on an­tide­pres­sants for years. When she di­vorced 20 years ago, friends took her ex-hus­band’s side. She goes to var­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties, but was out­raged when some of the peo­ple who also go to them went out to­gether at Christ­mas and did not in­vite her. Her only so­cial life is with my hus­band, son, daugh­ter and grand­chil­dren who all live nearby. I have tried to ex­plain that be­cause these peo­ple are not her best friends, it doesn’t mean that they are her en­e­mies. How­ever, she says that she is a fig­ure of loathing and dis­misses coun­selling as a waste of time. Trag­i­cally, the prob­lem started at school when your sis­ter was bul­lied. The re­sult­ing be­lief that peo­ple don’t like her has stayed with her all her life. I ex­pect that deep down she hates her­self and this makes it hard for her to be­lieve that other peo­ple could like or love her. Be­cause she feels like this, she pushes peo­ple away even if they try to be her friend – so they give up. It is hard to say with­out know­ing more about her, but it is pos­si­ble that she is on the autis­tic spec­trum. It might be why she finds mak­ing friends dif­fi­cult and it is worth in­ves­ti­gat­ing. Tell her gently that a lot of peo­ple think that coun­selling is a waste of time un­til they try it, but that it would mean a lot to you if she went. You can also sug­gest the Univer­sity of the Third Age (thirdageire­ so that she can pur­sue in­ter­est­ing cour­ses and meet new peo­ple.

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