The time struggle between our significant others and friends.
Not long ago I read a post by a woman in her early twenties, who wrote about her reasons for not wanting to be in a relationship. She said she was single because she didn’t want to be “one of those people” who stopped hanging out with their friends, just to be with their lover. It made me laugh, because I could remember a time, in my twenties, when I would’ve written a similar manifesto. Back when guys my age still bought those gross “Bro’s before hoes” t-shirts.
In my twenties I always had time for my friends, mostly because my jobs were less demanding, I had few responsibilities, and all my friends were in a similar stage in life. Our priorities were to work, pay bills and have fun! So I can definitely relate to the 20-something’s cry of: “my friends come first”. Back then I didn’t even know what a grown up relationship looked like, because I didn’t have one. Most of my friends were dating, and I was dating all the wrong men, so I had plenty of time to grab drinks or go dancing with my girls and complain about my love life.
Even our conversations were different in our twenties. We talked about other things too, but dating was the most intriguing subject to my group of friends. It also didn’t help that we lived in DC, where the dating market is tough, and the competition fierce. I think we spent more time discussing our boy problems over mimosa’s on U street, than the 2008 Presidential election.
As we’ve grown older, our priorities have changed, and so have our roles. Our roles as friends, partners, colleagues, significant others, have all evolved. With some of our friends, our roles have become more challenging, and with others more casual and slow tempo. As we’ve matured, my male and female friends have gotten married or involved in serious relationships, and I’ve had to adapt myself to a slower pace role in their lives. In a way it’s a relief, someone else can plan their birthdays and buy the cool gifts, I’m happy to decrease my involvement and just show up when I’m invited. I would never want to overshadow another woman trying to make her man happy. And I’m grateful that my guy friend’s wives and girlfriends have always made me feel welcome.
The unfortunate side of growing up, besides struggling to stay up past midnight, is that I don’t see some of my friends as often, sometimes years go by, but I’m happy knowing they are growing too, and I support their relationships because it’s normal to move forward. It’s normal that I’m no longer the most important person in their life. And what a relief, because frankly, I’m too busy to keep up the same level of interaction with everyone. After all, there are only 24-hours in the day, how many people can you fit into that after you’ve slept, worked out, showered, worked, saw your family, devoted time to your passion, volunteered, cooked and taken care of the dog? Besides, with good reason, only a few of these activities can be productively shared with a friend. So you do what you can, when you can… right?
“But what if that’s not enough?” I asked myself the other day. I was stressed out and worried that I was turning into “one of those people,” forgetting my friends because of my new relationship. I called my friend to see if she wanted to do something for her birthday and she said: “well thanks for the thought, but I’m so busy right now painting and remodeling my place, that I didn’t really plan anything.” And there you have it: role change. In this case it wasn’t that she didn’t have time for me because she wanted to see her boyfriend instead. But if my friend wants to spend her birthday painting and working on her house, then I’m happy for her! I’m happy that she has a bought her own place and is making it a home. Her role has changed, and I support it!
I think part of being a good friend is learning to respect this change and knowing when to willingly yield to your friend’s significant other. You can’t expect that your amigos will always have the same amount of time available to see you, because there are still only 24 hours in a day, and now there’s someone who is the number one priority in their life. Is this annoying sometimes? Sure. But when my pals are not available to get a drink, I don’t worry, because there’s always something else I can be doing. The beauty of true friendship lies in the fact that though you might lose touch or see each other less often, you know in your heart, they will always be there for you when you need them, and you will always be there when they need you.
Our conversations, much like our roles, have evolved too. I now relish the time I spend with my friends because we have such riveting conversations about life, religion, art, politics, real estate, and yes… dating. But I must admit that selfishly, I’m usually the one to bring it up for research purposes ;-). And we don’t talk less about dating because we’re not dating, in fact, some of us have dated more in the past year than in the previous fourteen, but that’s neither here nor there.
The point is that while our roles might change, we must not forget our friends. We don’t see each other as often, but knowing that we have each other’s back is crucial. As we evolve and get more serious in our relationships our roles will continue to slow down some friendships, and I think it’s important, because this is when we get to find out who our true friends are. The people who continue to support you as you grow, keep you grounded, and answer your calls when you need them, are the people who will outlast the decades with you. Yes, even if it takes them almost a year to meet your first child…guilty :-(. In my experience, it won’t matter if you move across the world, and only see your friend every couple years, so long as trust and genuine caring exists between you, the roles will slow, but the friendship should endure. Just remember that friendship is a two-way street, you give then you get, no matter where, no matter when.
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