For all the magical moments and incredible experiences motherhood bestows, it does not come without it’s fair share of tribulations. The “negative” parts of becoming a mother, however, aren’t limited to stretch marks, incontinence, and crazy hormones. One such undesirable side-effect of motherhood could be being abandoned by your friends. As if being a new mother is not hard enough, what with all the sleep deprivation and sore nipples, you may now find that you have been… ghosted.
“Ghosting”: the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.
“Mum-ghosting”: the mysterious phenomenon whereby one gets pregnant or has a baby, and some of their friends – *poof* – disappear into thin air.
If you seem to have found yourself with a few less friends since you became a mum, you are not alone. 10 ghosted mothers tell us about that time that their so-called friends strangely disappeared on them after they had their kids – plus one mum-ghoster who is honest about why they decided to ghost their friend.
“I didn’t know it was a thing, I thought it was just me. A friend and ex-colleague was supposed to come to my maternity leaving do. We spoke the day before. She didn’t turn up, and has never given sign of life again.
1. “My friend and lunch buddy went AWOL”
It’s been almost 10 years now. It’s so weird because we used to have lunch together quite often and I just don’t know why she ghosted me.
Another friend of mine did the same; she visited once during my maternity leave and then stopped answering my messages. To be fair she had taken up boxing to a competition standard and was training like a maniac so she was pretty busy, and the other one is a workaholic, but 10 years and no sign of life? Very odd.”
- Delta J
“I used to be quite close to my sister growing up but as soon as my first baby came along, things changed. She was clearly and audibly aggravated with the baby’s crying whenever I went over my mother’s house, and she would do a runner.
2. “The baby’s crying aggravated my sister”
We’re over it now, but for those first months she was very cold and standoffish. We had some sister rivalry with her as kids and I think she was a little jealous and perhaps I was over sensitive.”
- Tina A
“A friend of mine moved with her husband to a house on my road – literally 100m from my house. She came over one afternoon and I told her that I was pregnant. She congratulated me and seemed pleased and even said she’ll pop by and help me out with the baby because she ‘just adores kids.
3. “Sorry, I can’t be stuck indoors with a preggo”
We arranged pizza night at their place that following weekend but she cancelled last minute because she said she was tired (they later tagged themselves on Facebook at a bar downtown). I reached out another 2-3 times to arrange to meet but there never seemed to be an appropriate time and eventually we stopped communicating.
Months later, I was taking a stroll in the neighbourhood with the baby and I bumped into her. She congratulated me but was clearly awkward, and then launched into an unprovoked explanation. ‘Look, it’s not that we didn’t want to see you but we work so hard and in our spare time we want to go out and have a good time; we couldn’t be stuck in a house with a preggo.’”
- Krista G
“I had one friend who was happy for me when I was pregnant but then wasn’t very understanding when the baby came. If I didn't see or reply to her messages straight away, being busy with the baby and all, she would get so angry or give me the silent treatment for ages.
4. “My friend would get mad if I didn’t reply to her texts immediately”
There were two ticks which means you read my message and just didn't answer!’ I mean, I never went more than a day without replying but it was physically impossible to reply to her messages all day with a crying newborn in the house, and I tried to explain this to her but she wasn’t getting it. It made me feel like I was in a very twisted relationship. Then she disappeared.”
- Skylar C
“I have literally seen a friend ghost multiple friends who moved into the motherhood stage with my own eyes – and then she would blame them for disappearing. It’s wild.
5. “My friend is a serial mum-ghoster”
I guess everyone sees life from their own perspective but sometimes I wish I could step in and say, ‘look at your friend who is struggling and could use your support for once!’ I’ve even seen them reach out publicly on social media but to no avail… It’s a real shame. I’m now pregnant with my first and pretty much expecting the same from this friend, but we shall see how it pans out.”
- Laura M
“I’m lucky that my friends have stuck around, or at least when things started to change, they would approach me about it and we’d hash it out.
6. “My friend thought I wouldn’t be interested in her life anymore”
Things do change with some friends because you can’t follow up as much as you used to, but I don’t think you lose your close friends, unless one of you suddenly becomes a jerk! You go through a phase, especially in the beginning, where you don’t make sense to each other anymore because you’re in completely different places in life, but if the relationship is strong and has foundations, you should be able to find your way around it.
Both parties can adjust to the new circumstances, others sooner, others a bit later, but it can happen. With one of my friends, she started to make herself scarce as she thought that I wouldn’t be interested in her single-girl life anymore but I remember desperately needing to hear about her shenanigans because it was a glimpse of my old life away from changing nappies and dealing with my new reality!”
- Tracy B
“All the hot guys (apart from my husband) were the first to go! I had a lot of male friends that have disappeared without explanation. Looking back, it seems that maybe they were just hanging about waiting for a chance to make a move, but once I had a baby and it was clear that I was off the market for good, they literally vanished.
7. “All the hot guys were the first to go!”
I’ve been unfollowed, unfriended, and blocked – all because I started a family.”
- Eleni S
“Post-baby, my relationship with a good friend has been reduced to Instagram likes, rare comments, and the odd bumping into each other at other friends’ weddings, christenings, etc., with the promises of meeting up soon.
8. “I think my friend is ghosting me because of her own fertility woes”
It’s not clear to me, however, whether this relationship would have dwindled with or without the baby. I recently found out from someone else that this friend is having fertility problems so maybe that’s why she dropped off the grid.
I’ve heard of other people ghosting their friends with kids because of their own fertility woes; being around kids was just too much for them emotionally. I’ve been toying with the idea of approaching her about it but if the issue is in relation to her infertility then I don’t want to scratch her wounds, so it looks like I’m just going to have to let it go for now.”
- Joanna D
“As soon as I couldn't drink anymore I was basically abandoned by all of my friends. Well, I thought of them as friends, anyway. They would come over and see me and eat and have a good time, but as soon as I had to start turning down nights out, they lost all interest.
9. “They have no use for a sober, fatigued person in their circle”
One even came with me to my son’s birth, saw him two or three times after that, and then just fell out of touch. I think the novelty of a newborn wears off quickly with a lot of so-called friends. They tapered off because I was no longer considered fun. I couldn't keep up with their choice of recreational activities so I was ghosted. I was continually reaching out, but it soon became apparent that I just didn't fit into their circle anymore.”
- Jodie Y
“When I announced I was pregnant, my small group of close friends were excited and made all these promises of 'auntie' duties etc. Since my son was born almost two years ago, I can honestly say that not once in all that time, other than the initial baby visit, have any of them asked to come and see me and my son.
10. “It kills me that they just don't care”
Not even a text to see how I am – it's always me texting them... I just can't understand what I've done wrong.
One of my oldest and closest friends I'm lucky to see at my birthday and her birthday and even then, she looks pained to have to talk to me. I'm not an obsessive mother; I'm proud of my son of course and excited to talk about him… No one ever asks about him so he doesn't come up in conversation when we do meet which kills me that they just don't care; he is part of me after all.
In all honestly, I've had a turbulent time of it, from a traumatic birth that kept me in hospital for a week with blood transfusions, to struggling with personal anxieties about being a mum and marriage difficulties leading to counselling, I've had no one but my husband to turn to.”
- Littleladybird14, MumsNet user
“She is still my friend and I will always love and support her, but it’s just not that much fun anymore. I don’t want to have kids. I find them cute in small doses, but the longer I’m with them the more irritating they become. I want to have a beer, go out to dinner, go to concerts, see a movie, etc., without worrying about nap time, poopy diapers and crying.
11. “I ghosted my friend because it’s just not that much fun anymore”
It’s boring and dull to childless people – especially childless people that don’t care for children. It’s not that we don’t still care and value your friendship. It’s that we have different tastes and priorities now. You choose your life path and we choose ours. Try to plan an adults-only night or weekend, but I wouldn’t expect your childless friends to be thrilled with the tag-along.”
- Anonymous, Quora user
Why do people ghost?
While most instances of “mum-ghosting” happens without explanation (the whole definition of “ghosting” implies that there is no explanation), here are a few possible reasons why a friend (or ex-friend) could have ghosted you since you became a parent:
- They don’t like children. We only like our own kids anyway so we totally get it.
- They don’t think it’s fun to be stuck in a house all day. The mistake here is that they somehow think that we do.
- They can’t relate to your problems. Ah, what we wouldn’t give to have leak-free breasts and our libido back.
- They might be grossed out. About which part? The discussion about post-birth haemorrhoids or getting baby puke in our mouth? Understandable.
- They feel the massive chasm that has grown between you by way of differing interests. But why can’t we talk about the great new club in town AND the great new nipple balm?
- They think that all you care about is the baby. Now that’s just not true. Well, maybe it’s a little bit true. OK, it’s mainly completely true, but there’s still a smidgeon of room left to care about other things too!
- They don’t understand why you are still in your pyjamas in the afternoon. Why, what time is it?
- They don’t understand why you need an early night. Sorry, fell asleep on the toilet while reading this post.
- They don’t want to see your boobs. Having to feed the baby every 1.5-2 hours during those first few months means that this might be unavoidable during our coffee date.
- They think that you’ve changed. Of course we’ve changed, but the basic and important foundations of our friendship – love, respect, honesty, support – that’s all still the same.
- You are always tired and/or unavailable. This is also true but we still want to see our friends and are open to scheduling a date that works for everyone.
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