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The question

I'm in my mid-30s and all of my friends are married with babies. My Facebook feed is literally a montage of baby photos and honeymoon galleries. I say that I'm happy for them, but it's often hard to sit at a party and talk about diapers for five hours. And yes, a part of me is jealous. How can I curb that emotion? I don't want to find new friends. I love these ladies, but it's getting hard.

The answer

The mixed emotions that you are experiencing are natural, and I'm glad that you have been able to thoughtfully pay attention to - and label - what you are feeling. It's a fact of life that we will all experience a range of negative reactions in our lives (sometimes even toward people that we love and care about).

Having a feeling - even an intense or unpleasant one - is never wrong. Pay attention to the underlying message your emotional reaction is giving you, and be mindful of how you manifest your reaction (and the impact those behaviours and actions have on yourself or others).

Emotional reactions serve one or more of the following functions:

1. They motivate actions that are essential to our survival and /or quality of life.

2. They communicate important messages to others around us.

3. They serve a self-validating function (i.e., they tell us that something important in our life is not what we would like it to be).

Your feelings may be sending a signal that you need to do something different in your life.

If you are single, your hard reaction to the honeymoon photos, etc., may be giving the message that you want a partner/child in your life. I know dating is not easy, but perhaps dedicating more energy to this part of your life would be helpful.

If you are in a relationship, perhaps you need to re-evaluate whether the relationship is going in the direction you want (that is, toward marriage and starting a family).

Also, consider increasing your social network to include more relationships with other women who are single or do not have children. Don't abandon your existing friendships, but add new connections with others that you may relate better to at this stage of your life.

Your feelings may be a sign that you need to have an open conversation with some of your friends where the bulk of your interaction is around "baby talk." Friendships are built on the common ground of shared experiences, and it sounds like this is missing right now.

Communicate that you miss connecting with them about other experiences. Find times to connect one-on-one with your friends (minus the presence of babies or husbands). This may naturally facilitate more fulfilling interactions for you.

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The content provided in The Globe and Mail's Ask a Health Expert centre is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.