It seems like every woman can relate to this. We’ve all had the shared experience of friend dynamics altering a bit when one (or both) of you enter into relationships. When we think rationally about the balance of friendships and romantic relationships in our lives, doesn’t seem like it should be that hard, does it? Then why does the inclusion of a partner have the ability to derail a person’s friendships? Even ones she’s had for years?
I myself have been in a relationship for the better part of four and a half years. Yes, this includes a brief three-month break-up period. But for the most part, I’ve been a taken lady for quite some time. During the majority of this time, many of my closest friends have been single. Yet, as soon as graduation was over I quickly found myself in a new position. Both of my roommates and closest friends were suddenly in relationships as well.
As we all continued to date our significant others, dynamics began to shift. My boyfriend and I had long ago developed a system for giving one another enough space, something we found to be very important to the success of our relationship. But this was a process that took time and learning, something that my friends’ relationships hadn’t quite dived into yet. Over the short course of a couple of months, I began having to schedule my time with them far ahead of time. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not unreasonable as you get older. But it is a little odd that I was no longer seeing the people I lived with without a man attached to them…even in my own house.
We began to only spend quality time with one another when it was a double, or triple, date. Whenever I would make plans with either of them, she would immediately invite her boyfriend with the assumption that he was always included. And I started noticing that the conversations we were having on our own ended up being centered on either one of the men or one of the relationships. In essence, we were failing the Bechdel test of our own lives. It’s not something I would have noticed, either, if I hadn’t been in their same position only a couple of months prior.
But I didn’t say anything. As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned to be more careful of sharing my opinions, especially when they’re not asked for and it pertains to someone else’s love life. For one, there’s the risk of pushing your friend away should you seem too opinionated or judgmental over something that’s very intimate and important to her. But I also have the core belief that people have to learn their own lessons in order to truly make a change and grow from them. When I was codependent on my college boyfriend, I didn’t feel codependent. I never would have called myself that. And if a friend had pointed out the signs to me, it would have been very easy to argue and disprove them. And to be honest? I probably would have let it negatively affect the friendship.
So as one of my best-friends continued to move way too fast with her in young relationship, I still didn’t say anything. Until that is, her relationship crashed and burned.
I watched her cry, I watched her over analyze herself, him, and the relationship, and I watched as she finally came to the lesson that she needed to learn. She’d moved too fast, and she’d made someone else her world before fully knowing who that person was – the good and the bad. Both of which, suffocated her and her relationship. She’s told me that she wished I would have said something. And in turn, she has tried to warn others who she sees making the same mistakes. But after countless times of warning, pleading and quite frankly, fighting…now she just watches too.
I couldn’t tell you whether or not it is better to say something, or to simply wait for a person to learn their own lesson. All I can say, is this happens all too often. And while I might not be the type to immediately make a fuss (although, perhaps now I’ll start) I can leave words of caution: If your friends are telling you they don’t get to see you anymore, then you’re friendships are actually in deeper trouble than any of you realize.
But the flip side? You can only beg someone so many times to be a friend to you. Eventually…it’s time to refocus your energy on people who already know that you’re important.