DEAR ABBY: The last two years have been especially tough. I went through a breakup after a four-year relationship, my dog developed cancer and I had to put her to sleep, and I caught COVID and have been dealing with long-haul symptoms ever since. My energy is low because of it, plus I've been depressed with all the events that have happened.
I have two best friends I've known since I was 16. I'm 34 now. I thought they would be there for me through anything. We were close until recently. They no longer invite me to get-togethers, and they hang out and exclude me. I try to stay in contact, but when I talk with them, it doesn't progress from small talk. The few times I have seen them, I stayed positive and didn't discuss my problems.
They have children, and I'm single and childless, which may have caused the divide between us. Being excluded hurts. When I mention it, they say, "You don't have kids. I didn't think you'd want to come." It feels like a slap in the face. I need my friends more than ever right now because I feel very alone through one of the toughest times of my life. How do I mend these friendships? Am I unreasonable for being upset? -- DISAPPOINTED FRIEND IN VIRGINIA
DEAR FRIEND: Discuss your feelings with your friends. They may not be trying to isolate you intentionally. You are in very different phases of your lives right now. They may sincerely believe that being invited to kid parties would bore you, as would their constant chatter about what their precious little ones are doing, saying, etc. (This may seem like blasphemy, but more than a few childless adults feel that way.)
If you explain that you need their emotional support after everything you have been through, they may step forward. Recognize that your friends with kids are a "package deal." If you bond with their kids, it might bring you all closer. However, if that doesn't happen, you will have to summon the energy to find new friends whose lives better align with yours.