and so it goes

I’m going to be a bridesmaid next year, you guys. First time ever. Always a bride, never a bridesmaid, was my problem. Until now.

I feel so proud and excited. I’m going to be in a wedding party! That’s a rite of passage, right? It’s special. You get to sit or stand in certain places and perform certain rituals. Just like having a baby. Speaking of which, another friend is having a baby. The first baby and the first wedding in my personal circle of close friends. 2012 is the year, you guys. The year of weddings and babies. The year my people all finally grow up, apparently. The year shit gets real.

You know what hasn’t grown up? Me. Some part of me, deep inside, is still twelve years old. Because some part of me, deep inside, is angry that my friend getting married has been stolen away by her fiance.

What? I know. I KNOW. Look. I get it. She hasn’t really been “stolen.” She clearly agreed to go along with the whole thing from day one. She’s pleased as a bowl of bourbon-soaked cherries that she’s found her person of choice. And I’m happy as as a cup of vodka-steeped cranberries that she met someone so nice, so kind, so thoughtful, so caring, and so responsible. I know her past. I know her previous nine-year relationship with someone who was all kinds of wrong for her. This fiance of hers is the lucky lotto ticket of relationships. I’m truly thrilled for them.

AND STILL. Ever since they moved in together, it’s like they fell off the ends of the earth. I realize this is the stereotype for coupled-ups. I understand that they are supposed to rush home every night to cuddle on the couch, gazing deeply into each others’ eyes. I get that. And then part of me wants to duck into the washroom to have a quick dry-heave over the toilet bowl. Really? You only want to see each other? How disgusting is that? You see each other all the time. SERIOUSLY. You LIVE together. Every night it’s the same face. Aren’t you tired of it yet? There’s a whole other world with whole other people, right outside your door!

I guess I’m a little warped. I was never the sentimental type to begin with. When the beau and I met, I gave him the don’t argue on forming any kind of official relationship for months [SIDEBAR: and then I wondered why he seemed so distant and impersonal! Ahahahaha!]. Even after we finally gave ourselves the “dating” stamp of approval, all of our social activities revolved around our friends. The beau and I rarely had a night alone. And so it stayed until our friends dropped off slowly, one by one, either by coupling up or moving away. And now we hang out alone only because no one else seems to be available to be our pals anymore.

Again, this is expected for people our age. Many of us have relationships, some of us already have kids. We’re all supposed to be incredibly busy living our own individual lives. But I still deeply miss having a person I can call on any given night and say, What’s up. Wanna hang?

Why do we lose that? Why can’t we seem to get that back?

And so I know my anger is about me. I don’t want to be left behind. I don’t like knowing that I’ve been dropped to the very bottom of her priority list. It would be easier to handle if I felt like she made a real effort every once in a while to meet up with me, but 70% of the times we talk about hanging out don’t end up panning out on her end, for one reason or another. We were supposed to meet for lunch or drinks this afternoon, but then she was busy, and she never got back to me. And we couldn’t meet tonight, of course, because she and her person were having dinner and a movie, oh god kill me now. As if you don’t have dinner and watch movies all the other nights of the week.

Selfish? Hell yeah. I am being a selfish, arrogant brat. I am rolling on the floor, kicking and screaming that SHE WAS MY FRIEND FIRST GIVE HER BACK WAHHHH. I don’t want to do that to our relationship. I especially don’t want to affect anything between us in the months leading up to her wedding, in which I AM A BRIDESMAID, LEST I’VE FORGOTTEN. I’ve already talked to her a little about how her incommunicativeness affects me, and I don’t really feel like I should bring it up again. But I don’t know why the anger still comes.

I need to accept that this is just how she is, and that this is just how things are now.

Have any of you “lost” a friend to a relationship? Conversely, did you ever have to deal with a friend who grew jealous of your relationship? What did you do? Throw them off a cliff? Defriend them on Facebook? Grit you teeth and bear it? What?

19 Responses to “and so it goes”

  1. In my experience, this happens an awful lot.

    It’s not that she cares about you any less. (Please understand that ‘she’ stands for all friends who do this and ‘you’ stands for you, me and every other friend going through this.) It’s just that, in most cases, when people settle down with other people friends come lower down on their list of priorities. You know, they have lives and partners and jobs and hobbies and wedding planning and and and and….

    It really sucks but this is how it goes. Something about people when they get into the real thing changes how they see others. There are the good ones who don’t completely disappear but there is definitely an attitude that when you settle down with someone, particularly when marriage enters into it, that it changes. And in some ways it has to. But it’s usually accepted that when two people say ‘let’s be together for always’ the friends take a back seat.

    Perhaps I notice this more as a (somewhat perpetually) single person. Particularly because if they do hang out with friends they look for other couples to hang out with. (This might also explain why I like dinner sets/cup sets with odd numbers, say 5 instead of 6.)

    I don’t know why this happens. Some of it is probably healthy and some of it is because people, frankly, are pretty lazy about keeping up with mates and I think it is getting worse with technology and social networking (I swear this is possibly the only time I shall invoke this argument).

    I hope she comes out of it a bit. As to standing up at their wedding, yes it sucks a bit that she isn’t quite as good at hanging out. But try and see you standing next to her on the day as being representative of you being one of the people who got her there. All that talk at weddings about the meeting of two individuals – you’re one of the main ones who made her who she is. What comes next and how your friendship changes is as much up to her as it is up to you.

    And don’t stop calling or writing. Even if it makes you feel pathetic.

    • Ahhhh. I really REALLY needed to hear all this. Thank you.

      • No worries. After reading Emma’s post below I realised the one thing I didn’t say was that there are degrees – some of them vanish completely and they are the ones you really mourn. And some of them vanish just a little.

        I will also add that chances are there are other friends feeling abandoned too and that can be a way of bonding with some people you maybe haven’t had a chance to know.

        OK, I will shut up now.

  2. YES. Yeeees.

    We remained social throughout our coupledom, from dating to marriage, but everyone else….was abducted, or something. And it wasn’t just the other couples or the recently coupled…the SINGLES disappeared as well.

    This, I do not like.

  3. After re-reading my own comment…maybe it’s US. Maybe we smell, or something. Or maybe everyone we meet gets abducted by aliens. So, watch out and all.

  4. What’s up? Want to hang?

    Okay, okay, so that’s sort of meaningless considering you’re in California and I’m up in Idaho. But seriously, I’m not even going to lie. Having a fiance who is clueless about social mores is awesome. He’s all about just dropping in on the awkward people who won’t necessarily make plans and just being like, “What’s up? Want to hang?” ON THEIR DOORSTEP.

    The good news is that you’re her BRIDESMAID. Which means that you have the #1 fucking awesome excuse to go out to lunch, hang out in evenings over booze, etc. and be together.

    P.S. I know I’ve totally been guilty of the being sucked into a relationship and ignoring people but what I know is that its UNACCEPTABLE. And moreover, unsustainable.

  5. Yeah, you have a point with the unsustainability. You’d think it would get better over time. And she’s not the kind to cling and let her sense of self get ENTIRELY wrapped up in someone else. So there’s hope there.

    I also think I could take a hint from your fiance, too. I’m the kind to make tentative contact, and then sort of give up if it’s not enthusiastically returned. I could do more to “force” myself on other people and MAKE THEM LIKE ME.

  6. I’ve struggled with the opposite problem as you – I get uncomfortable and frustrated with our single friends. There’s not too many of them left these days, but when Craig and I hang out with someone single, I feel GUILTY. Can you believe that shit? What is wrong with me? I sit there feeling like a smug, paired-up jerk rubbing my married-dom in someone else’s face. When they get engaged I’m relieved because we’re on the same playing field again. This is terribly embarassing to admit.

    BUT. The baby part of the equation? I am right there with you, girl. Last night my sister-in-law told me that she and Craig’s bro are going to try for a baby next summer, and she was all excited and happy, and I almost burst into tears right then and there. My face was trembling from the effort of smiling (and probably the 6 Avery White Rascal’s that i had drunk over dinner). My first thought when she told me was about ME. And how this was going to affect ME. Good god, I am a disaster. I’m going to continue this confession in an email so I don’t scare away all your readers 🙁

    • Yes! I feel all sorts of weird with some of my closest single friends. One is having a particularly hard time finding a good guy to spend even a small amount of quality time with and I feel like an ass when I’m with her and she complains.

    • Ditto to this at times. MISERABLE.

    • I feel like this sometimes too. Same with money. If a friend has less than me and is struggling, sometimes I feel like I have to bury the fact that I’m excited about something I just bought. If a friend is single, I feel like it’s kind of evil to go on and on and on about the love I’ve found (gag, choke). And I for one would LOVE if people just showed up to hang out – it would be like finally living in the cool-kid dorm.

  7. I think I’m guilty of this, but it’s much less because I’m paired off and more so because I’m so damn tired all of the time. Choosing dinner out with a friend when I could be at home being a zombie instead is hard sometimes.

    That said, I love lunch dates. It’s how I’ve stayed connected to my friends. Do you think it would help if you talked to your friend? Pin her down to committing to some sort of together time that works for both of you?

  8. I just lost a really good friend to this. We were hang out all the time kind of friends, in groups or on our own, always had something to laugh about or we could just enjoy being around each other and, you know, not being alone.

    Then my friend starts dating this person (whom I cannot stand, but not important) and wants to hang out with them. Said person gets jealous and upset when my friend wants to hang out with me, my friend doesn’t have the balls to stand up to new person, and I realise that suddenly I am the only one asking to hang out, calling to see if they’re ok, etc. Totally onesided. I confronted them about it, and they got upset, and basically said they didn’t know what to do about it. The pattern continued. I got upset. I got angry. Did all our friendship and history mean nothing to them?

    Then I realised that I was the only one getting emotional, and that made me feel stupid. So I made a decision, and it was really hard, that I just wasn’t going to be bothered. I wasn’t going to exert my energy on someone who didn’t reciprocate. I switched off, with the idea that if they wanted to approach me and mend the rift, I would be open to it, but apart from that, I was going to distance myself to save myself.

    It has been a few months now and at first I was really sad. REALLY sad. But now, after this long and not a word from my friend, I find that I’m somewhat over it.

    I guess my story isn’t really related to yours at all – since, you know, you’re going to be a bridesmaid! Clearly your friend still loves you! I guess I just wanted to share my experience of friends distancing themselves, and to say, I feel your pain.

  9. Dude, it’s not you, it’s her. I was single for a bunch of years and one of my friends in particular was my emotional support. We met for beers after work. She was my fake girlfriend (as in the person you take to things you would otherwise take your partner to). So then I shacked up. And when I was in the stage of being unable to be away from my new young man for a single moment, the three of us went out for dinner together. She and the Young Man hit it off quite well. We were all happy. But then she gets a girlfriend and then suddenly I never see her. I like the new girl, but I’ve only seen her three times or so. And my friend used to be my GO TO person for all sorts of things since we were fourteen years old. So finally I had the sit down talk. “Hi, I’m glad you have this girlfriend but I NEVER SEE YOU AND THAT’S NOT OK.” It was hard as shit to do. But now I see her more often and the Girl comes by too. I fucking hate the whole notion that significant others are always more important than friends. There are times that you have to put your partner first, a lot of times, but you should’t do it to the total detriment of your friends. They were there first. And you should respect them. So call your friend on her shit if you think you can. Rant over, thanks for listening :).

  10. I have been noodling what to write in response to this post for a week. I’m terrible at maintaining friendships. It’s not because I don’t value the friendships (I do, so very much), or because I value my partner more (although, let’s be honest. I love him so much that I want to be with him everyday forever and ever, and I’m even willing to let him peek into my bank account, which is a Big Deal). It’s really because I suck at reaching out. Friends don’t call me, and that leaves me feeling like I am one of those peripheral friends — you know, the ones you like-ish, but aren’t too keen to get close to — and so after an attempt or two to reach out that doesn’t get reciprocated, I stop trying because I feel like a nuisance. As a result, I am always afraid to reach out to friends once I’ve let things go fallow for a bit. I am, quite simply, terrified of letting friends know I need them. T-e-r-r-i-f-i-e-d.

    Now if that friend called me, I would be absolutely giddy to hear from them, and if that friend told me that they were worried that I was pulling back from them, I would be profuse with apologies and explain the whole thing. I got busy, then you didn’t call, then I worried that you didn’t want to talk to me because I hadn’t called…

    So, I say, call her. Tell her you miss her. But, then again, I’m shy, which comes across as aloof or hoity toity, when really I’m just shy.

  11. I miss friendships. I’m the married-with-child one among my single friends, and yet I can never wrangle any of them. People are so BUSY. I don’t know if it’s relationships or marriages or children that actually steals friends away… it seems like it’s just AGE. We get responsible and busy and don’t have naturally occurring times to hangout. I don’t like it.

    • I ABSOLUTELY understand why there are times when friends come second (or maybe seventh). It’s when that is ALWAYS the case that it becomes sad/annoying.

  12. We had/have a situation where when we got married, people ASSUMED that we wanted all this newlywed time, so they stopped inviting us to stuff, which hurt. They also stopped taking us up on our invitations, thinking that maybe we didn’t really mean them, because we were newlyweds. And then THEY got all butthurt and said that WE had changed. It’s now grown into this crazy mess that we’re trying desperately to sort out–we’re the first to get married and stay in the friend group, and NO ONE knows how to handle it, they all assume we’re gone.

    I’ve had friends actually drop away, but I’ve learned that isn’t the norm. And so I wait and see what they’re going to do, and if they’ll come back from it–because sometimes they come back from it.

    One funny thing: we get damned if we have “date nights” which we do, because with our schedules we live together, but often only see each other in our sleep; but we also get majorly dinged if we do shit without the other, or if one of us goes home before the other. Shit for being part of a couple, shit for not being a “good enough” part of a couple. Couple-dom is hard.

    I’ve learned to make more effort, be slightly more intentional, both in time with my husband and time with my friends. I schedule stuff with friends and family months in advance sometimes, because I want them to know they’re important to me. I also try to leave openings in there for myself, and for spur-of-the-moment special times.

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