My only disclaimer is that this is not an angry rant. This is something I’ve thought out for a loooong time, and I just want to talk about it for a minute, so bear with me.
I am a single woman looking at 30 and over the last ten years my relationships have changed, really quickly. I have had the joy of being a bridesmaid ten times, a personal attendant once and have planned or made the decorations for or decorated for 5 different weddings. My friends are getting married and starting families and I love the role that I get to play in supporting them through those massive life changes. Most of my married friends have children and most of those children I have babysat for on different occasions.
I LOVE this. It’s not a burden to me, not a sad thing that constantly reminds me of my singleness in this world and I don’t say that to downplay the pain and the longing that some young women feel in my shoes. I am just trying to say that I’m happy and seeing my friends marrying good people who love and care for them, makes me happy. Getting to continue to be a part of their lives makes me happy. Seeing the ongoing Facebook announcements of those couples becoming pregnant or adopting children makes me happy. Being a part of their childrens lives and being loved by their children makes me happy.
I am a very committed person (really no matter the situation) especially in my friendships. I highly value intentionality and clear communication. I work really hard to say hard things and good things because I believe there is almost no deeper pain than the regret you feel at a graveside over things that were not said. If I call you “friend” then you had better believe I have got your back. I will stand with you, I will fight with you and for you, and I will love you to the best of my ability come what may. And seeing the people that I love falling in love generally makes me really, really happy.
And here it comes…..
The difficulty for me lies NOT in seeing others falling in love and then feeling bad about myself or jealous of their lives and the fact that I’m still single – AGAIN, I am not mocking people who really truly feel that pain. I am clarifying; that is not how I process when my friends are in relationships – the difficulty for me lies in the situation where someone who I call friend enters into a relationship, and OUT of relationship with everyone else. When chemistry starts flying and that special someone starts thinking that you are REALLY special, it is so natural to want to spend all of your time with them. It is natural to have the dynamics of your friendships shift and to have that person rapidly move their place of importance towards the top of your list. I have experienced this in ways where I still felt valued and still felt like I was a friend and I have experienced this in other, really difficult ways.
My friends relationships become a source of pain to me when their special someone becomes their only someone. When despite years or depth of friendship, I find myself excluded (though most likely NOT intentionally) from their lives because of that relationship. I have attended weddings of people who I once considered my closest friends, and watched the ceremony feeling like the people at the alter were mere acquaintances, because once their dating relationship began they no longer gave any time to our friendship. That is very sad thing, and the pain of that hinders me from truly feeling the joy of their union. I have experienced this in friendships, where the (for the example) girl spent all of her time with the guy and then months later when the relationship doesn’t work out, has an expectation that our friendship will pick back up as though it were unaffected by the months of no time and no communication between us, despite my trying. Sometimes, I have experienced that multiple times with the same person. It’s painful and it’s frustrating.There have been times when I will bump into these friends, and in person they seem to interact with me as though we still have the level of intimacy or friendship that we once had. This is also frustrating and very confusing, when I have continued to try and reach out in friendship with them only to have them not respond or never have time.
Listen my friends: don’t do that. When you find someone special, know that the people who care about you want to be happy for you and want to continue to be in relationship with you throughout your relationship. It is a JOY to me, to be able to call my friend’s boyfriends/girlfriends/fiancés/spouses “friend”. To be included in those relationships and to have the opportunity to get to know the person who is special to you will mean a LOT to the people in your lives. YES, the dynamics of your friendships will change as you fall in love with someone, they HAVE to, it is normal and healthy. But don’t peace out on your friends because you’re dating, falling in love or married. Your friends and YES, even your single friends DO want to maintain a level of friendship in your life and yes, that does require some intentionality. But know that when you make that special someone your only someone, it can be hurtful to the people who care about you, and can be unhealthy and potentially a dangerous thing for you. When you get married it is natural that you will want to develop friendship with other married couples, and your relationships with your single friends will change. But seeing married friends giving all of their time to married couples and feeling that there is never time for their friendship with single friends, well it just feels crummy.
Dating, engaged or married; out of love, don’t peace out.