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Friendshipping

July 16, 2010

I’ve never kept a “best friend” for more than a few years. Granted, there are people in my life I know I could turn to in times of need, but they live hundreds of miles away and even the internet can’t keep us in regular contact these days.

I’ve never truly been a part of a group of friends. I’m not on anyone’s “Must Invite” list. I’m no one’s future Maid of Honor. And I haven’t really spoken to half of my bridesmaids since the wedding. I’ve never felt fully included in any group.

I’m the outsider friend. The second tier. The independent spirit. “She can take care of herself, she doesn’t need us.”

I’m the married friend. I have a lawfully wedded best friend for the rest of my life. I don’t have many girlfriends.

Girlfriends are hard for me to keep. They require a lot of pruning. I tend to prune until I cut too much off and there’s hardly a friendship left to salvage. There are times when I just want space… but I feel obligated to give them my time. And that’s when I begin to feel smothered.

I tend to retreat into myself, or find solace in the simplicity of newlywed-dom. The truth is, I prefer being alone. And when I’m not alone, I think hanging out with my husband is my favorite thing ever. I spend my time reading (alone), running errands (alone), writing (alone), taking myself out to lunch (alone), cooking dinner with the husband, watching favorite shows with the husband, going on dates with the husband, and sleeping in late with the husband. That’s when things tend to get awkward with my girlfriends.

Time passes. And then you facebook message her: “Let me know when you’re free so we can get ice cream!” but no response. And then she emails: “We’re throwing a party for the big game tomorrow!” but there’s a work conflict. And then she texts: “Hi stranger. Thinking of you still…” And then my heart breaks.

I reminisce over our short history and blame myself for yet another falling out with a friend. But… what is a girl to do? How do we keep friendships healthy when it can seem so one-sided or when things just fizzle out? How do we maintain friends when the noise of life is deafening, when everything else moves so quickly that you quickly forget you had a friend in the first place?

Some days I’m convinced I’m a terrible friend. Other days I tell myself I’m just single-minded and driven right now.  Some nights I lay awake in bed mourning my irresponsible friendshipping. But most days I let myself realize that maybe my priorities have changed. My marriage, my education, and my wellness are high on my list right now. That’s a lot to maintain at once.

I would one day like to be a part of a group… a close-knit, close-proximity group of dynamic women who challenge me, understand me, make me laugh, make me think, and most of all, give me a pass when I retreat.

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29 Comments leave one →
  1. July 16, 2010 7:40 am

    I think we all long for that group, but it’s very hard to come by.
    My bridesmaids are that group to me, but they’re scattered all over the country with lives of their own and they aren’t really friends amongst themselves (though they all get along splendidly).
    It’s hard right now, at least in my opinion.
    My mother’s group of friends is almost completely made up of work people and mothers she met from her kids school functions over the years.
    When your in this stage of your life (out of college, settling into a job/changing careers/getting married/moving/ect) I think it’s just REALLY difficult to put “establish meaningful, withstanding friendships” at the top of the list.

    However, our mothers didn’t have blogs, or scads of internet friends, so at least there’s that. 🙂

  2. July 16, 2010 8:30 am

    i am the same way. i’ve always wanted the sex and the city group of girlfriends, but that’s just not me. it’s hard. only recently (in the last year or so…) have I even gotten really close to anyone. it’s taken a lot of work because for someone like me, picking up the phone to call, text or set up plans isn’t second nature. i’m perfectly happy hanging around my house with my dog and my husband. which, i guess is weird to some people? but it’s just that i’m perfectly comfortable home, alone, reading or just hanging around.

  3. July 16, 2010 8:36 am

    Wow. This is eerily similar to my life. Haven’t really felt like part of a group since high school. It often makes me sad, but I just don’t put in the work to cultivate and maintain “best friends.” I am a homebody through and through–content to spend my free time with my husband and pup. So those last minute texts “want to meet for drinks?” “want to come over for girls’ night?” “want to see this concert?” are usually met with trepidation on my part. I keep telling myself that “one day” I’ll belong to a group again. We’ll see.

  4. July 16, 2010 8:42 am

    I’ve writtenseveral times about this on my blog, and I actually worked myself into a tizzy when I got engaged because I was all “Who the HELL is going to be my MOH?!” Even now, the girl I picked – who I love – is someone I’ve only known 1.5 years. Hardly a lifetime best friend. But she’s great, and she’s excited, so I know it’s a good pick. All 4 of my bridesmaids live in different states, and only 2 of them know each other (they’re from my high school group).

    My problem is that I moved across the country to a big metro area. So I said good-bye to all my childhood friends and essentially had to start over. A lot of my friends here live in other neighborhoods, work long jobs, or already have a best friend locally. So while I have “friends” I don’t have a tight-knit circle of people who all know each other. But I do know fab ladies who are fun to hang out with, even if it’s only once a month. For me, I’m trying to learn to appreciate the time that I do spend with them, and not worry about quantity, but quality.

    I talked to my friend that I met here (through my blog funny enough), and she said “No one has a group. Some people have a group – those who stay in touch w/ their high school friends and don’t move – but most people don’t have a group.” And I was like “Oh. OK.” I think Sex and the City created yet another unachievable dream for women in their twenties.

  5. July 16, 2010 8:42 am

    sigh. thanks for posting this. i can relate, especially since being married. i’m definitely the “outsider” with my college friends and it keeps me conflicted. on the one hand i’m perfectly okay with it and wouldn’t change it…but at the same time it hurts. girls friendships are just a mystery, in my opinion!

  6. July 16, 2010 9:03 am

    Allison mentioned that those who stay in touch with this HS friends and don’t move – yeah, that’s me.

    When Mike and I bought a house, we bought it in the same neighborhood I grew up in. And one of the huge deciding factors was that we wanted to be close to friends and family. Our town will always be a hub, a home base, for our friends.

    However, I know completely and fully, that if I DID move away, I would be writing this exact same post. I would be much more solitary than I am now.

    Girlfriends, they are hard. They are high maintenance. And as someone who likes their solitude, it’s been rough adjusting to girlfriends, being married, owning a home and whatever else life throws. But luckily, they understand me better and better as we get older, and they don’t fight when I retreat, because they know it has nothing to do with them, and that I’ll come around.

    Maybe your lady friends can understand that too?

  7. July 16, 2010 9:12 am

    I’m kind of the same way. It kind of helped when I played basketball in high school and joined a sorority in college. But since I’ve left, I find myself alone again. Most times I’m okay with it. But then there are those days when I feel incredibly lonely.

    Sometimes, though, I think you just have to put yourself out there a little bit more to find the ones who fit you and your life a lot better.

  8. July 16, 2010 9:15 am

    Oh, Renee.

    I could have written exactly this post. EXACTLY. I’m often torn because I’m *such* a homebody/like to do things alone, and I pretty much do stuff with Mike the rest of the time (exciting stuff like watch Arrested Development, play Scrabble, and go out to dinner). We’ve made a few couple friends, but we’re even not great at keeping things going with them.

    It’s hard. It’s hard to feel sane and have time alone AND cultivate friendships. (And try to blog, which I am currently sucking at.) I complain that it’s hard to meet friends now, that it’s hard to take an acquaintance to the next level – but the truth is? I have friends around here, I just haven’t figured out how to make time for them.

    Which is really, really crappy.

  9. July 16, 2010 10:02 am

    I’ve never had the friendship experience like you see on Friends or How I Met Your Mother. That one group of friends with whom you do everything and form intense relationships with. I don’t know–maybe media has romanticized friendships just as they’ve done with romantic comedies.

    Friendships are definitely difficult to maintain, and having moved so much over the past few years and HATING to talk on the phone, many of my friendships have definitely suffered. I have a core group of people that I think will always be in my life, but I still find myself alone a lot.

    But I think that’s my personality. I’m easily irritated by people, I don’t suffer fools, and I cherish my alone time. Most nights, I’d rather be at home with a book and a cup of tea than out at a bar with 20 of my “closest friends”!

  10. July 16, 2010 10:10 am

    I really struggle with the same thing- I’m also a big homebody, and between work and my side projects I’m really worn out a lot of the time. It makes me really happy- but it’s hard to find someone who is in the same place in life as you who at all ‘gets’ it.

    I think that one of the best things I’ve started is doing monday lunches with one of my best friends. We’re bad about keeping in touch during the week, but almost every Monday we have a quick bite together. It’s really held us together. And I text message all of my girls with a “YOU’RE WONDERFUL!” message at least once a week. Even if you can’t hang out, you can still let people know you’re thinking about them and that they’re important to you.

    But it’s hard stuff, and I’m right there with you.

  11. July 16, 2010 12:15 pm

    Everyone has said so far how they can totally relate, but honestly I can’t relate! I have a big extended network of friends, and the same two best friends since we were kids I never go for more than a couple days without talking to the two of them and can probably tell you what they are doing most of the time. I think you need to find the kind of friends where it doesn’t feel like work, keeping in touch with them. And of course I have my sisters!

    I’m living two hours from home and my friends right now and here I have a couple of sister in laws and one or two friends that I’m close to but it really doesn’t feel the same! I will be moving back in the next few months and I’ve always known that and go home quite a bit so I don’t feel the urge to cultivate a big friendship group here.

    I do love hanging out with my husband of course, but nothing beats having friends that have known you since before you can remember.

  12. July 16, 2010 2:43 pm

    Oh Belle Renee… I know I don’t comment often, but I’m here a lot. I wrote a post almost identical to this last year feeling like I was the only woman who felt that way. The response I got was overwhelming… I had no idea so many other women felt the same way I did.

    I still don’t have a female best friend, but I’m working on it. I decided to start a little book club with the most random hodge podge of girls I knew nearby, and none of them knew anyone but me. It was a rocky start, but it’s now the night I look forward to the most all month. As it turns out, all of them were looking to find that “group” that we all missed out on. It’s been great.

    I know it sucks, and you are so completely fabulous that I know you’ll find people who can’t help but love you and want to be your best friend in an instant. 🙂

  13. July 16, 2010 4:06 pm

    i am SO GLAD to hear that someone else feels the exact same way i do. it feels so alone sometimes to not have a “group” of girl friends and i get so jealous of those girls who do have those kinds of friendships. i’m not someone’s future MOH and honestly, i don’t even know who i’d pick to be my MOH when i get married. i always say that one day i’ll have that close knit “sex and the city” group of friends but some days i have trouble believing it.

  14. July 16, 2010 4:37 pm

    Wow, I could have written this (except not as well, because you’re a better writer than me). I’m a homebody. My bestest best friend? My husband. I don’t like “partying”, I’m horrible at meeting new people and more often than not, I’d rather just veg on the couch (or read, or blog, or play with the kid).
    At the same time, I often wish for more girlfriends. I have a few across the country, but no one local. I’d kind of like one or two who were nearby so that when a girly movie comes out I could have someone to go see it with, or if I just needed to vent about my husband, I’d have an ear.
    I dunno, I’m not great at being a friend, but I wish I was.

  15. July 16, 2010 4:52 pm

    i think that, as referenced by comments, a lot of people feel that way. i have a very best friend and some other good ones but its always hard to make more. I find that there are some friendships where people just click and some do take work. I think that you’re still young enough to realize that when were 40 or 50, friends you make now will have become lifelong friends. When you’re in high school/college etc, most situations require getting along with people in the same groups and when you grow up things change. no worries, real friends always understand.

  16. July 16, 2010 7:07 pm

    I feel the same way- not really fitting into a group. Never on anyone’s Must Invite list. :-/ And agreed- it’s hard to even keep friends sometimes. It’s been my mission lately to keep in contact with everyone, but truth is- I feel like I’m doing all the work and how come they can’t message me sometime?

  17. July 17, 2010 12:15 am

    I’m the same. Most of my BFFs come and go with what’s going on in our lives. I’m never the maid of honor or even the bridesmaid. I’m not on the must invite lists either. My best friend of 7 years was his ex and most of my friends were all his and they were dudes. I basically had to start completely over when we broke up.

    Everyone else seems to have their friends and stuff going and sometimes I feel like I’m begging them to hang out with me. I hate to be the annoying friend. I’d like others to make the effort too. Most of the time, I don’t IM or text or ask to hang out with people because I feel bothersome. I definitely wish I had a close group of girlfriends.

    But for the record, you’re always on my must invite list. I love being able to spend time with you. You can always call and hang out with me, even if it is a trek for us to get together sometimes ❤

  18. July 17, 2010 7:55 pm

    It sort of sounds like in a way you don’t want these sort of friends or to put aside the time for them and there is absolutely nothing wrong with valuing your own time or time with your husband above time with friends. It sounds just from reading this one blog post that you’d use the “retreat card” more than you’d be actually on the board playing the game. Unfortunately I tend to think it’s one or the other – if you’d prefer to do things alone as opposed to with a friend, if you’d prefer to see your husband and go to everything with him than with a friend, etc, then you’re right and having a group of “best friends” probably won’t be on the table for you unless that was to change. My best friend wouldn’t be my best friend unless she liked putting aside some time for me and enjoyed going to the movies with me just as much as she would with her boyfriend. I say embrace fair weather friends, internet friends, and relatives, because these people will always give you that “retreat card”. Everyone has different values in their life and just because yours don’t match up to women with the “friends forever” ideals and the matching tattoos doesn’t mean you’re a bad friend – it just means you’re a DIFFERENT friend! 🙂

  19. July 19, 2010 9:58 am

    I could have written this post. I live in the same town that I lived in while in high school, but I have mostly drifted from my friends. I spend time with my husband, and when I’m not with him, I’m by myself or with my sister. It really looks boring from the outside. It’s just so hard to maintain friendships with working full time, going to school full time, being married full time … I have one close girlfriend, but she is also married with a 2-year-old daughter, and she has two part-time jobs, so it’s difficult when our schedules don’t match up. We’ve seen each other maybe five times since 2007 (when we graduated high school), and a few of those times have only been in passing.

  20. July 19, 2010 3:59 pm

    Same as me… 😦 I have such a hard time with this because I have always wanted SO BADLY to have a best friend…or a group of super close one’s. 😦

  21. July 19, 2010 9:30 pm

    I think one of the keys to friendship is knowing AND understanding that the other friend has priorities that may change but that friendship is always needed even if schedules conflict. I know how you feel; sometimes I feel like I’m a bad friendshipper but it’s so hard to keep up with all the commitments.

    We may be miles apart and have conflicting schedules but I hope you know (and I hope you know I mean it) when I say my phone is always on, no matter the time. You rock, my dear.

    xoxo

  22. July 20, 2010 8:48 am

    Great post. It’s interesting to me, as someone who’s almost the compelte opposite. As someone who’s married, but to a traveling husband, if I didn’t have my tightknit group of girlfriends (we all used to be in NY, now we have a couple scattered), I wouldn’t survive marriage (ha). All six of us keep in touch every single day through a threaded e-mail we call the Daily. We’ve kept it up for almost 4 years now, and share everything there. I know how lucky I am, but sometimes posts like this remind me. Especially through all the comments, I never really saw it this way. And I wonder if I have friends who feel the same way? That would come out more often if I reached out more often?

    I hope you find your group of friends someday. I hope they cherish you as you deserve to be!

  23. July 20, 2010 11:50 am

    jessica maria, “the daily” sounds SO AWESOME! i think it’s safe to say that you’ve got what all of us appear to be longing for. cherish it. you’re one of the lucky ones 🙂

  24. July 20, 2010 8:30 pm

    Well, once again I’ve decided that you and I would make great friends. I could have written this post especially when it comes to the needing space part. I’ve never been able to find a group of girlfriends that understand that. I thought my (supposed) best friend since junior high was someone that would always be there and that we’d always be close no matter how far away from each other we lived. Then I received a little wake up call. She got married. And I wasn’t the maid-of-honor. Even though we had always said we would be each other’s maid-of-honor when we were younger. Needless to say, I was hurt. I was under the impression we were still that close but apparently I was being overlooked without even knowing it.

    So my even hopeless thoughts about friendships became even more hopeless after that. It doesn’t matter if it’s real life or internet, I’m just not a friendmaker. I went to BiSC and felt the most awkward I’ve ever been. And you know when you read tweets about bloggers sending each other cards and gifts and stuff? I have never once been involved in something like that.

    In the end, I’ve decided it’s find. I love my husband and my doggies and family is pretty good to me too. I can’t really keep up with the cliques anyway. 🙂

  25. July 20, 2010 8:33 pm

    Find=fine

    😛

  26. July 20, 2010 10:22 pm

    A lot of what you’re saying resonates with me – I too often don’t make enough time for friends, I have my own issues to deal with, I have my own life to live, and I’m sure a part of it has to do with how sometimes I was burned by other careless people in my life so as a way to not get too emotionally involved I just kind of lie on the surface, if I can make it some where I will, but I don’t necessarily go out of my way or my comfort zone to really make a true effort.

    Yet sometimes I feel like, why not? What’s the worse that can happen if I go out on a limb for someone? Earlier this year (after moving across the country and not knowing anyone) I decided to do just that. And I found a good friend. And I’m sure as time goes on I’ll make more, but it didn’t happen until I got outside my comfort zone and put myself in a social situation where I didn’t know a single person and one of those people became a good friend. It’s definitely hard in this day and age to make friends, but sometimes all it takes is a hello.

  27. July 27, 2010 12:55 am

    I can very much relate. I think maintaining friendships with girls are a lot of work. Right now I have a close girlfriend who I love and I really hope I can maintain it. But, with my history, it may not happen.
    I also find it gets harder and harder when you get older. Most of my friends have kids and I do not. I know they think I just do not get it, because I am not a mom, and I think they need to get over thinking that their child, that is justifiable and appropriately the center of their world, also needs to be the center of my world!
    Thanks for writing this; it helps to know I am not the only girl with this problem!

  28. August 5, 2010 4:25 pm

    I think this is beginning to sound redundant but I’m right there with you sister!

    I’m not married, though I practically am, and when I’m not spending time with J, I like to just spend time with me. I like doing things alone. I like my little world.

    Thankfully I have a couple… ok, one really… girlfriend that is absolutely amazing and fun to be around. She’s married and has a baby so we don’t see each other often but I know when we get together, it’s like we saw each other yesterday.

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