Father Concerned About His Daughter In College Who Hasn't Made A Friend Since Middle School Solicits Advice
We all want our children to succeed and it hurts to see them struggle. Especially through difficult and transitionary periods in life. We want the best for our kids.
u/_sad_dad_ is one such struggling parent. He told us about his daughter and asked for some advice:
Me [60 M] with my daughter [19 F], she hasn't had a single friend since middle school and I am starting to get worried
Hi, I hope this is the right subreddit to post in. I browse reddit occasionally, but this is my first time posting.
I'll get right to the point: my daughter "Mia" has not made a single friend since middle school, and she is now entering her sophomore year of college. Before you ask, no it is not by choice. but I'll talk about that later.
"Mia" was very popular in middle school, she went out with friends every other day and attended a lot of parties. Ultimately, it got out of hand. Mia was drinking a lot, and while I drank a little underage, she was out of control. She never did hard drugs, but some of her friends did. When one of them OD'd, it was a wake up call for Mia and she got her act together. Unfortunately, this meant cutting out all of her former friends, and she entered high school alone.
Now I don't know what went on in high school, if she was bullied or just ignored, but she came home almost every day because she had to eat lunch and do projects by herself. This broke my heart. Mia is a very sweet girl, but she can come off as shy and perhaps a little odd at times. She claims she put herself out there a lot, but still, no friends to speak of. No birthday parties, no after school hangouts, no facebook friends.
I was convinced that when she entered college things would change, but when we talk, she still cries and says she is alone, and that her coworkers exclude her whenever they go out after work.
I am worried for my daughter. She is very intelligent, pretty, and kind, but obviously something is going wrong here? She has a therapist already but what she needs is a friend and I don't know what I can do as her father. I am her only family, and I'm getting old now. What happens when I'm gone?
tl;dr: My daughter has no friends (I'm not sure why), it is upsetting her but I don't know what I can do to help.
Here were some of the answers and replies he got.
Damn. That's heartbreaking. The best thing I think you can do for her is to keep encouraging her therapy and joining social activities or even online communities and putting herself out there. And just keep loving her and being a listening ear. She doesn't have to be the belle of the ball, even one friend can be the One who changes everything, and that could happen at any time.
If Mia was popular during her party years, perhaps she didn't learn how to make/keep friends without the social lubricant of alcohol. As someone else suggested, joining clubs is great for meeting new people. I also wanted to add that it might help her if she could practice her social skills and connecting with other people in a low pressure situation. Volunteering at a retirement center can be great for this. You meet interesting people who are usually eager to have someone to talk to.
This is not meant to make your daughter out to be unusual. I have always had some friends, but I am socially awkward and at 19 had a lot of people shun me because I don't drink. A lot of socializing went on at parties where drugs and alcohol were present. It is very likely that Mia doesn't do those things because of what happened to her friends. If she is uncomfortable/unwilling to be part of those groups, then she is going to be excluded from going out with co-workers.
I don't drink or do drugs. So I went through HS not going to parties because of how things were. It will get better as people age, but 19 to 21 tend to be the "party ages" for a lot of teens. What I did was find friends who agreed with my lifestyle choices. If she is in college, then she should look for clubs that allow her to meet with people who share her interests (christian groups are sometimes good for this.) She just needs to look for people who share her interests, not expect everyone else to just like her. Which sucks.
I'm not sure what country you're in, but I would suggest looking into mentoring services (like Big Brothers Big Sisters). I worked for a similar organisation here in Australia and we had quite a lot of young people your daughters age who had been in similar situations and needed a friend. It's a really great way for her to be matched up with somebody who has a similar personality/interests to her and, at least when I did it, isn't unusual for people her age to do (especially when they've gone through what she went through as a young person).
It's usually quite a supported friendship and if your daughter has any concerns or issues on the way (cold feet, not sure how to relate, anxiety) you'll have a worker who is experienced with this stuff that will check in with her and help with that kind of thing. She should fit into the age bracket (she would here in Aus). I would highly recommend it! Lots of people her age do it and if she has a preference for the age of her new mate then she can indicate that kind of thing :)
Using my own experience, my advice would be that perhaps she could join a website/forum dedicated to something she's interested in and make some friends there?
I only say this because I'm 22 and I don't have many "real life" friends. Let's see.. One friend from high school and a few from my old workplace. I started uni at the start of this year and haven't made a single friend there yet, so I can definitely understand how she feels.
Having said that, I joined a gaming forum 5-6 years ago, and although the website has now dissipated, I made a number of strong friendships through it - I even met my now boyfriend there (friends for three years then started dating, going on two years now!) and I've made friends on online games and tumblr groups as well. She might not be into that kind of thing but I thought I'd share! I wish her well ☺️
I have a really hard time making friends. I have a handful, now, that are good, close friends...buuut they all live on the other side of the country. I was moving for grad school, though, and everybody told me I was so lucky, I'd be surrounded by all of these like-minded people and I'd make tons of friends.
I ended up using Bumble BFF to try and at least get chatting with a few girls in the area, and I ended up making two friends. One of them I see sporadically because she's really busy (but I'm seeing her today!). The other one knits once a week with a handful of different girls, and now I'm one of them. So I know that once a week, I get to see a group of girls, and I'm working on befriending more than just the original girl. It's hard, though. I have a hard time building up the individual relationships and making them actual friends instead of just my knitting group, but so far it's going okay.
Is your daughter artsy or craftsy at all? I find those communities of women are usually really awesome/welcoming/inviting and tend to be super friendly and encouraging with new people. It takes a while of just going to the craft days or whatever before you actually start to form the individual relationships, but it comes with time. Does your daughter have realistic expectations about how relationships are formed? I don't really drink, either, and it's hard to pace a relationship when you're only meeting up sober vs. when you're all drunk and giggling and spilling stories and doing "exciting" things.
Will she let you talk to her therapist?
Is she painfully shy?
Unfortunately a lot of kids her age WAIT for someone else to do the work of starting a friendship-so it just never happens.
Does she do anything besides go to classes-yoga/volunteering/anything? would she be willing to ask one or a few other group members to go for coffee after? She is going to need to start doing this if she wants friends.
Is she in any study groups-ask her group to go out for pizza after an exam. If she is not in a group had her start one-she can ask the people who sit next to her or on a fb page if the class has a fb page.
SO may kids wait for someone else to take th initiative-their reasoning is 'if they were interested THEY would ask me' so they are afraid of rejection if they reach out.
Result-a bunch of lonely kids all wishing someone else would see if they want to get coffee
Is she at all into science fiction/fantasy? If so, encourage her to join the college's science fiction club (assuming there is one). It's a home for misfits and socially awkward people (I say that as both a nerd and former sci-fi club member myself). In my experience nerds are very accepting and, if she's willing to just keep showing up, she will make friends.
If not sci-fi, then check out other clubs. At larger colleges/universities, it's very difficult to make friends. College clubs, which force interaction, can be a huge help.
I did not have very many friends in school. In fact I had one and in retrospect we were friends because we had nobody else to be friends with. We would read in the library next to each other and that made us best friends. My mother worried endlessly why I was friendless and she kept trying to push me into having more friends. This was if anything counter producing as I just felt like everyone knew I had no friends and therefore I got more awkward and shy and weird and people were probably like "thanks but no thanks".
For me the big change came in university where I suddenly had many more like minded people around me and I did make a lot of friends then. You say your daughter is in college and still struggling... does she have many hobbies? My hobbies certainly helped me and I picked up a bunch of new ones... is there anything that interests her but she has never tried?
I joined a roller derby team at some point and I have a lot of friends through there... does she like skating? Most cities have them and they are a great resource for people who are maybe a little different. It is very community based and fun, people of all walks of life find themselves there, often having been on the outskirts a bit and trying to find somewhere to fit in. I really highly recommend it. Most Fresh Meat programs take absolute beginners!
I had trouble making friends in college because I didn't know how to talk to strangers/random classmates. Then I joined the gaming club and I had an instant friend group of people that I could easily talk to because we had similar interests. I have a lot of friends now, but hey, I still am not friends with any of my coworkers because they tend to have very different interests from me. Encourage her to join a club and find people who may have things in common with her. I'm happy to speak with her directly if she could use a friend, I'm only 23 so my college experience was pretty recent.
Love is crazy. I've finally come to that conclusion. And marriage, you take your life in your hands and just throw caution to the wind in hopes of survival with that step.
When love falls apart, things can get real messy, real fast. And I've always been stunned by people's behavior when love subsides.
More often than not, it's like they become different people. Sometimes people are beset by tragedy and grief and sometimes people smile wide and move on. It's a coin toss.
But my favorite post divorce personality has to be the sudden super villain. Oh honey watch out for them!
Redditor u/hyperyog wanted to hear all the tea from the divorcees out there by asking:
Divorced Redditors, what is the craziest thing you or your former spouse did after divorce?
I once had a friend who burned her ex's house down when he wasn't home. He had started seeing someone almost immediately, so she thought, lemme set their sparks. Yeah, she wasn't well. Whatever happened to just a quick goodbye?
Swipeddean winters crying GIF by MayhemGiphy
"She removed the retaining clips for my windshield wipers, but put the wipers back on the arms. First storm after I got my car back from her, driver side wiper flew off the car on Interstate 40. Good times."
"He wrote suicide notes and put them in my kids backpacks for them/me to find. Then he turned off his phone and went to a coworkers house to play crib and have drinks.. all the while knowing I would be freaking out searching for him thinking he was in danger or worse. Thankfully my kids didn't see the notes and didn't know what was going on. This was just one of the many, many crazy things he did. Two years out and he just recently stopped showing up at my work and driving by my house at night."
A Sad End
"Died of a drug overdose. To be fair, her drug addiction was the reason for the divorce, so maybe that isn't too crazy."
"That's so incredibly difficult to have gone through. I unfortunately know the depths of this kind of pain, and while I'm sure the circumstances surrounding it are different, the loss that still happened is a tragedy. My condolences."
"Stalked me for 5 years. Would make fake social media profiles to try to follow me (which I would block endlessly) and would try to find where I worked so she could talk to me. This lady cheated on me with 7 different men 2 months after we were married. I kicked her a** to the curb and made her sign the court papers."
"When we had our day in court she cried in the judges office while I just wanted to get this crap done. After, my dad was with me and he threw 50 dollars at her and told her to "change your freaking last name." Good guy Pops. I haven't seen or heard from her in about 5 years, thank goodness."
Take it All!skin care spinning GIF by Primal Life OrganicsGiphy
"I had an ex-boyfriend go through my apartment and take back every gift he had given me that he could find. Then he went in my bedside table and took the condoms. And the vibrator he had given me."
See now, when I'm out... I'm out! I don't want to see you, hear from you or know you. I wish you well in life, but please live it far from me. Anyone agree? Clearly not the people here. Let's continue...
For the Boybicycling father and son GIF by NETFLIXGiphy
"All I wanted was custody of my son, I gave her everything else except one of our cars. She fought me through 5 hearings, I won. She never came to see him again."
"My ex cheated on me the week my mom died in the hospital. She spent a year and a half trying to get in touch with me. She would call my old work and make fake accounts trying to message me on FB. It was insane. She later sends a certified letter explaining she was sorry that she did what she did and that she aborted our child."
"Wanted me to meet her somewhere so she could apologize face to face. She already married some other guy that she had children with and was still trying to get in touch with me. I never understood her."
"After years of telling me she wanted a child, that she wanted to be a mom, that her life's dream was to be a stay at home mom, she got pregnant with the first guy she slept with while we were getting divorced and put the kid up for adoption even before it was born. This was a long-standing thing with her, she always wanted something (car, house, dog, cat, marriage, etc) and the second she got it she immediately hated it."
"Called me and pretended he had been hit by a car while we were talking. He even tried to voice the crowd that had gathered around his "body." God-awful acting, but pretty funny listening to him try to mimic a woman's voice. Points for trying to be inclusive, I guess."
"I think he was trying to get me to re-live my trauma of being on the phone with a friend who actually HAD been hit by a car while we were talking. Too bad he didn't realize that hearing the real thing is worlds different than hearing a dumba** try to act it out."
"I was sending 600 dollars a month to support my daughter because she's the only thing I give a sh!t about. My ex texts me and tells me I need to be sending 1200 a month because she's broke and can't pay her bills and I should feel guilty about it. She left me for another guy while I was on deployment I told her to go screw herself--call my lawyer."
Pop OffTom Hanks Drinking GIF by The Good FilmsGiphy
"Took the sodas from the fridge as he walked out the door. Dumfounded."
See, I blame Alanis Morissette and her "Jagged Little Pill" album. All I'm going to say is... the secret song. I think she gave people ideas. (I love that song) Y'all, seek therapy if you can't shake people. When it's done, let it be done.
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Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay is highly regarded for his delicious plates, his ability to run a solid restaurant, and, let's face it, his stage presence.
He's also a foul-mouthed Brit who is all too willing to dismantle people's self-esteems and compare them to livestock animals.
Alas, as watching all reality television goes, we love to see the crashing and burning.
But what if the shoe was on the other foot? What if you were the one being torn into by the sailor of all chefs, Mr. Gordon Ramsay.
Wondering what horrible dishes were lurking in unknown kitchens all over the place, Redditor FalloutSl*t413 asked:
"What's something you made that was 100% delicious but Gordon Ramsay would slap you for anyway?"
Some people talked about those purely functional meals that are just perfect for piling on enough protein and calories to get through the day.
"My mom used to make us 'Volcanoes.' Mashed potatoes topped with ground beef with some ketchup. I still tear it up to this day."
Quick and Easy
"I make weeknight 'enchiladas.' "
"You stick frozen taquitos in a casserole dish and cover them with canned or frozen chili and cheese. Bake them until everything's hot, serve with a dollop of sour cream. They sound disgusting but they taste amazing, and they take like, five minutes to prep."
"I know it looks like, smells like, and probably tastes like cat food but potted meat sandwiches. Look, when you're poor as hell and you can make 3 sandwiches with one little can that cost like 20 cents, it's pretty good."
"While I'm at it, Treet and bologna are pretty great. I have the taste palette of a raccoon and I like it that way."
"When I was younger I would make this thing where it was a patty melded of:"
- "a can of tuna"
- "two eggs
"And I would eat that almost daily, pan-fried, for lunch. Just slap me now and lets get it over with."
Others shared the recipes they make to feel fancy despite being totally trashy.
A Nuanced Process
"I call them 'chicken puffs.' Some par-cooked chicken (white or dark meat, either works) with sauteed serrano peppers and onions and garlic."
"All wrapped in crescent roll dough in little balls (a bit smaller than a baseball), put in a casserole tray filled juuuuust above the top of the little dough balls with cream of roasted chicken soup. Baked to completion/safety."
"Overly indulgent and delicious."
A Famous Side
"I consistently make a box of pastaroni angel hair and herbs as a side with meals I prepare for people. EVERYONE always asks for the recipe LOL please don't tell my secret"
Just a Couple Additions
" 'Fancy Ramen' Ramen made normal. Don't mix seasoning. Drain water. Add Mayo. Then mix in seasoning. And Volia. A lot of people question it. Until they try it."
Others outlined the things they eat that combine some ingredients it may seem disgusting to mix together.
Throw An Egg On There
"Fu** it lasagna, alternating layers of bread and shredded cheese (your choice which, I use cheddar) then crack an egg on top and put it in the microwave. Old depression meal, but it still holds up."
Hard to Wrap Your Head Around
"As a kid I would eat a banana with a cheese slice. Haven't tried it in years but it might hold up" -- Send_it_to_me
"Let's not" -- Sea-Entertainer-4974
"When I was younger I would make toast with peanut butter on it, then add pepperoni. Delicious then but I cringe thinking about trying it today"
The truly horrifying thing? There are so many more recipes out there that would leave Ramsay trembling.
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People love to talk about food. There are blogs, books, television shows, conversations in bars and farmers markets. In all likelihood, there is a recipe swap happening right this second in some deep corner of a suburb somewhere.
But sometimes talk is a lot of hot air. And the topic of food sure isn't immune to that criticism.
You can't get through a day without some telling you what "you gotta try."
The problem is, talking about food is often far more exciting than the food itself.
Redditor anicaodha asked:
"What food is overhyped?"
Many people were angry about garnishes. They hated the way restaurants try to entice people to eat certain menu items by slapping some kitschy ingredient on there.
A Very Expensive Burger
"Anything with gold flakes, absolutely pointless." -- Spend_Total
"ugh, i just remembered throwing up gold flakes from goldschlager, yuck!" -- spaceygracie12
"Aka how to add a crunch to your dish like a douche." -- CakeBot_TheReckoning
Catches the Eye Though
"Any rainbow food, rainbow grilled cheese, rainbow smoothie..."
"Just a cheap money grab."
No Breath On My Meal Please
"Dragon's breath/ nitro puffs or any dessert that contains liquid nitrogen to make it look cool." -- throwjango
"This stuff exists? God, I'm out of the loop." -- -The-Magic-8-Ball
"Truffle oil, usually doesn't contain a single truffle." -- BlckontheMoon
"The 1 thing I love about Truffle oil is I've never seen someone use it on a cooking competition show and not lose." -- igotmadshirts
Some people talked about the big trends that they just never could quite figure out.
That Almighty Nectar
"Remember when people were treating Nutella like it was the second coming of Christ?" -- Grapezard
"I had an Italian friend once invite me to his birthday party in high school. His mom made a Nutella pie and it was one of the greatest desserts I've never had the pleasure of trying again. It was so simple, like a soft flaky dough covered with Nutella."
"I don't want to come out of the blue and ask this kid for his mom's recipe 15 years later so I'll just suffer I suppose." -- JupiterTarts
"Red velvet is literally a red chocolate cake that has nowhere near enough chocolate and to much red food coloring. It literally was invented when done dudes chocolate turned kinda red when he added vinegar to the chocolate cake mix."
"Friends loved the color, but it was finicky to get the red color without changing flavor of cake, so he decided to use red food coloring."
"Fu**ing Avocado Toast.
"Avocado is a buck. Toast is few cents. Avocado Toast is $10+"
And some discussed the things that people insist are fancy and delectable, but are really just run of the mill entirely.
Meat is Meat?
"steak is good, and I'd even say a high quality steak can be very very good. But people act like it's better than busting a nut and that's just not true. It's just meat"
"Lobster. It's good, but poor value given it's almost always the most expensive protein available."
"Plus most places just drown it in butter, which again, fine, but if all you taste is butter, why spend that much?"
Depends on the House
" 'Housemade' ketchup. Give me the damn Heinz and get your banana aoili mess away from me." -- peanutbutterallytime
"I live in Pittsburgh and I have seen multiple restaurants try and fail to make housemade ketchup work. Every single time they go back to Heinz." -- HooBoy401
So if you find yourself tired of hearing people go on and on about something you don't go wild over, know that there are others fuming too.
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It's not easy to always do the right thing.
Which is why most people don't usually do the right thing. Doing the right thing involves a lot of thought, empathy for others, and a self-awareness of your place in the world. You're not making a choice just for yourself, you're more often than not doing it for someone else. This, in itself, presents a difficult hill for most people to climb so, usually, they feel it's easier to make the selfish choice.
Doesn't mean people always do. They can surprise you sometimes.
*The following article contains discussion of suicide/self-harm.
What's the hardest moral decision you've ever had to make?
Even when the choice amounts to something small, it can still matter to someone else.
How Dare You Make Me Morally Astute?!
"This is small potatoes compared to most of the people on this thread but many years ago I was travelling and had very little money. I went to a stall at a market, handed them a 10 dollar bill. Item cost 5 dollars but instead of handing me a five dollar note, the handed me a 50."
"I was walking away from the stall when noticed. My first thought was BONUS. But I had lately been hanging out with a bunch of people who were really into karma. So I stormed back to the stall, slammed the 50 down on the counter and told them off for making me make moral decisions. Lady behind the counter was like "ahhhhhh, thanks"
Didn't Believe The First Time, But Can't Deny Visual Evidence
"I told a co-worker his wife was cheating on him. It ruined our friendship for a good amount of time, until he caught her himself."
"To bad he couldn't just believe you."
Owning Up To The Mistake
"Fessing up to an error I made at work that cost the company 5k. I was a manager and misinterpreted a sales promotion. I almost lost my job, this is the one time that telling the truth actually saved me. It's true what they say that the cover up is usually worse than the crime. Lesson learned.."
Doing something morally correct when it comes to family can be tricky. On one hand, you don't want to ruffle the feathers of the people you're going to be related to for the rest of your life...which is how family works.
On the other hand, do the right thing.
Making The Best Call For Your Children
"Removing the mother of my two sons out of their lives completely as she was unfit and abusive while I was on deployment. They were 3-4 years old then and now they are 17 and 15 with their mother never attempting to come back into their lives which I would prefer at this point."
Because They're Going To Be Sad Later...
"My grandmother died, and I lied to my parents about it."
"My grandparents were 95 and my parents hadn't had a vacation in 30 years. So when she passed away with only 5 days remaining on their vacation, my family decided not to ruin it for them; instead, we'd plan the entire funeral and if my mother wanted to make adjustments when she returned, we'd arrange it for her; there was nothing they could do to get her back."
"Having to decide on the DNR (do not resuscitate) order for my father who had been victim to a massive stroke..."
"I know millions have done it before and millions will again but to me it was devastating....."
"As a health worker, you did the right thing by your father. I've come across families of patients who keep them alive for their own peace of mind while the patient themselves is tired and in alot of pain mentally and physically from the constant treatments and would rather rest from it all. Don't feel bad for your decision."
Never doubt your actions when it comes to protecting children.
"Calling CPS on a student's family after she begged me not to. CPS did an investigation and she was pissed at me for months until the vice principal had a talk with her and explained that I only did it because I care and didn't want her to get hurt."
"That VP is awesome. I sat in his office while he coached me through the call, since it was my first time calling CPS."
Standing Up For Your Friend, Even When No One Else Will
"I was in high school and my best friend was being bullied on the bus. She brought a knife to school and had previously mentioned a list of people. I cried a lot when I went to the principal to turn her in. I knew I was ruining her life but I wanted her to get help. I didn't want anyone to get hurt because we were all just kids. She was expelled and forced into therapy. We had been friends since we were 11."
"My mom listened on the phone line when I was trying to comfort my friend (while absolutely not admitting it was me) and my mom jumped on and told her I'm not allowed to be her friend anymore. I had told my mom I had turned her in and she had no empathy for this girl. Because I had been bullied and stood up for myself and never "did anything like that". My friend was getting cornered on the bus by 4 people whereas I was normally taunted in public and was lucky enough to always have an upperclassmen or school employee around to help me out. I felt guilty about turning her life upside down for many years but would do it again because she did get help."
If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/