How To Maintain a Friendship in the Face of Infertility
The subject of fertility is an inherently difficult topic for many people to talk about. If you are experiencing a fertility issue, it can feel like there’s never the right time to tell people who you feel comfortable sharing the information with, or that you will be bringing everyone’s moods down, or that people will worry about sharing their positive family building news with you once they are in the know.
If you are a friend of a fertility patient, you may also struggle with finding the right time to check in. After all, what if your friend is in a good mood and you’re asking brings up sad feelings? These are all valid concerns, for both parties, and it can certainly feel difficult to navigate infertility and friendship.
Chelsea Fertility NYC has helped build families across the city and beyond, so we know in having connected with our patients year after year, what it is they really hope for when talking to trusted loved ones about their fertility journey. We wanted to offer some ways to help maintain a friendship, from both sides, when there is an infertility diagnosis in place.
As the friend of an infertility patient
When you learn that a friend of yours is facing a fertility issue, it can feel tricky as to how to be supportive, but not invasive; sensitive, but not pitying; interested, but not pushy; helpful, but not in a way that makes life more challenging for your friend. A lot of the time, we want to let those facing a difficult journey lead the way, but sometimes this means that we are so passive we don’t provide much support at all. Here are some approaches to consider.
Don’t let too much time pass without checking in, but regulate how often you ask how things are going
There’s a fine balance between being attentive and paying too much attention. But if you worry too much about bringing up a sensitive topic, time can quickly pass before you realize that it’s been months without you having shown an interest or care (even if you very much have such feelings).
Let your friend guide things
It’s very easy to tell when someone does not want to discuss something further or get into detail, as long as you’re paying attention. If your friend is clearly interested in walking you through what their current treatment plan is, then it’s important to be a good listener.
Don’t offer advice or stories unless you’ve been in the same position or are asked for them
We tend to default to sharing our own experiences in order to relate to those we talk to, but within a fertility conversation, unless you actually have an experience of your own, it can feel insensitive to put your own experiences forward.
As the fertility patient
Consider who you want to share your personal family-building story with
It is always up to you and your partner, if applicable, to decide who gets to know about your fertility diagnosis and treatment plan.
Have resources you can direct people to
Sometimes fertility patients are among the first of their family and friends to either face such a diagnosis or be honest/open about their diagnosis. This means that you inadvertently serve as the educator, which while helpful, can be a tiring role. It can make life a bit easier to have trusted, reputable resources to direct friends to so they can do a bit of research on their own without always needing to rely on you for information outside of the basics.