Let’s talk about our relationships with men!
At the risk of sounding like a man hating lesbian..... (I'm neither a lesbian nor a man hater, honestly!) So. Many. of my female friendships have been damaged by men! Ok, technically it isn’t his fault, it is how the woman in the scenario handles herself after she begins a relationship with him. (Assuming she is hetero. Same applies if she isn't but it didn't fit my funny man hater bit! Lol) Is there such a thing as a woman hating lesbian I wonder?! Lol
When women are single, they need their friends. Their friends support them, entertain them, love and guide them. Their women friends are the ones they turn to if a relationship fails, and usually the first ones they turn from if it succeeds.
Ok, ok. I get it. She is IN LOVE! Or maybe she’s just in LUST, but even so, that is an exciting feeling her platonic partners just can’t spark in her. Fair enough. Most of us have experienced this overwhelming magnetic pull to our lover (regardless of gender) and have probably given in to the temptation to skip plans with our friends, or just decline or avoid making them in favour of spending time being all loved up with that special someone. It is probably some primitive instinct and as such will be hard to fight.
If you are friends with a single woman, or if you are both single, it’s probably a good idea to discuss your values about family and relationships. It may give you an indicator of what level of friendship you can expect from her if and when she (or you) meets a romantic partner in the future. While this conversation should point at where she expects her values to lie, always remember that it may well depend on the person she meets and his situation too. (My polite way of saying she may meet a loser! haha)
A woman may tell you before she meets someone that she would never ditch her friends when she gets into a relationship and she doesn’t understand women who do, however she may then go on to meet a possessive partner who makes it difficult for her to enjoy her friends. She may meet someone who doesn’t realise you aren’t HIS (or HER) friend and always expects to be invited along. She may meet an individual with an extensive family life that keeps her so busy that she simply has less time to offer. Or she may simply like them so much more than she ever thought possible and suffer a borderline addiction to them. Either way this new romance is going to consume her and A LOT of her time.
It is for this reason I also suggest you look closely at how much of her time you currently occupy. If your contact with each other is quite frequent, it stands to reason she is going to have to reduce that time to make room for someone else. Or if you typically have movie night on typical date nights, such as over the weekends, that's reasonably unlikely to continue. The closer you are, the likelier it is that you spend more time together; which makes the blow that much harder when you are the first person who hits the proverbial chopping block as soon as a romance comes along for her.
Another thing to be mindful of is her past behaviour. A woman may even directly tell you “In the past I ditched my friends in favour of my partner and I will never make that mistake again.” Maybe she wont, but I’d be cautious as it tells you something about her values in relationships. Even if she doesn’t directly tell you, if you ask about her previous friends and what happened to them, if her answers are vague such as “we just kinda drifted apart after I met (insert name of ex-partner here)…” That also tells you that she was happy to let the friendship fade out of her life once she was in a relationship. For a divorced woman who is no longer in contact with her (ex?)bridesmaid, it is an even bigger red flag! I say that as someone who is not divorced from her husband, but is “divorced” I suppose you could say, to a bridesmaid! Red Flag! Haha
Was our split directly related to my husband? No. Not directly. That said; romance did indeed drive a wedge between us after she got married herself. My friend’s husband was a tradie, so he came home in the afternoons about 2pm. My friend HAD to be home to greet him. I doubt this was his demand, but more so, I guess, that she wanted to be home to greet him! (shock horror?! lol) He worked Saturday mornings too, til around 1pm. My own husband works shift work, 12 hours at a time, and every second weekend.
My friend and I had both welcomed a firstborn into the world, and equally struggled with the adjustment this makes to your life, your time and your identity, not to mention your friendships. Due to the year age difference in our kids, early on at least, catch up’s during the day became a logistical nightmare, as each child was a “home napper” and because they didn’t nap at the same times, we were not available to be in the same place at the same time. Our weekly catch up’s soon became fortnightly and then monthly. (Depending on how often one of us was prepared to sacrifice nap time. For new mums this is a BIG deal! Seriously! Lol) Eventually she disclosed that she was feeling isolated and in an effort to be there for her more, I offered to come and visit her (a 45 minute drive away) when her husband was at work on a Saturday morning, on a fortnightly basis when my husband was home to watch our son. She agreed to this and it went well for a while…. Until her husband stopped working Saturdays, or started finishing earlier and earlier….
My friend refused to make herself available to me any time her husband was available to her. (Despite me sacrificing time with mine to be there for her every fortnight!) She would make a concession for a birthday or some other important event, but not just for some quality time. If she was going to be away from him, there needed to be an important reason behind it. This started to grate on me, and I addressed the issue with her. She basically told me, almost in these exact words; that I was jealous, and I clearly didn’t love my husband as much as she loved hers because I was prepared to leave him at home with my son to visit her when she wanted to spend every moment possible with her husband. (Also that I was in love with her, but that is another topic all together... and for the record I am (and so are my other non straight counterparts) sick of the accusation straight ladies! Just because I value you and enjoy your company enough to prioritise it on a regular basis; it means I love you! It does NOT mean I am in love with you! Ok? And even if I am, aside from it being really cruel to then throw it in my face, why does it only become a problem when you are romantically engaged elsewhere and I still want some of your time and attention? Think about it! It's unfair to use my identity against me (only) when it suits you. And it hurts! And it doesn't embarrass me nearly as much as your ego is embarrassing you! Anyway, I digress...)
I took this accusation of loving my husband "less" pretty hard, and the friendship didn’t survive. What I came to learn as more and more of my single friends paired up though, is that this is considered NORMAL and ACCEPTABLE behaviour. It is still not something I understand. My husband and I are TWO people, not one, and we each have a life and interests outside of the other. My husband knew when he met me that I was a social creature, and this is part of what I need to make me happy. I understand that he has a higher need for alone time and so our arrangement works for us. (I would still do it even if he didn't like it because I am my own person before I am his wife or anything else!) I certainly wouldn’t say I love my husband LESS because I spend time socialising without him, I would say I love him MORE because he gets it, and he knows how much time I do choose to give him too.
Alas, I am not in the majority. The experts advise (I may have offered the same advice myself actually) that you should seek friends in similar circumstances to yourself. There is some merit to it. If you are single, then singe friends will have the time and energy to give you a more fulfilling friendship than a married person, because they have the same free time and similar needs as you. The thing is, single women don’t stay that way forever… usually. It also means making friends with married women, the same as I am, is near impossible because nobody wants to go out for an evening if her husband is home, and if he isn’t, who will watch the kids? Yes, I have made friends with other partnered women who also don’t work or work from home or shift work etc… and yes I am a proud “lady who lunches” however it is still limiting. I can’t help but feel restricted in these friendships because I know it is largely based on convenience and the moment I am no longer convenient I can say my goodbyes. (Post on "convenient friendships" coming soon!)
I value the friends, who I know will be there for me occasionally, for no good reason other than a fun day or night out, even if her partner is home. The ones who want to get away from him (or her!) for a moment and have a platonic girls night out. The ones who even suggest it sometimes! I have accepted that most of the time a woman wants to spend her time building her life with her romantic partner, and I do try not to burden my friends by asking them for time they believe is rightfully their significant other's. Still, how nice would it be to feel your company was not a burden even if it isn’t as convenient as it used to be?
For the ladies in relationships; make a point to still spend time with your friends when your partner is home. Please? It doesn’t have to be often, but the gesture will not go unnoticed and it helps your friend (especially if she is single) feel important to you, and helps her be more understanding that you have less free time for her but will offer her some of it!
For the single ladies, or the married ones who share values similar to my own; recognise that your friend means no harm. She does not question this behaviour; her values tell her this is normal, and it IS what she wants. It makes her happy. HE (or SHE) makes your friend happy. Try to be supportive of the relationship (maybe even spend time with them both together?) and be grateful of any time your friend offers you even if it is when her partner is unavailable. After all - it must mean something that you are still the first person she thinks of when she has some free time? And remember it isn’t personal! It's not! It is about him, and her, and their combined situation and relationship values. Just because yours are different to hers, doesn’t make somebody wrong!
For everyone; Have friends you like, regardless of gender or relationship status, and make time for them regardless, yeah? This post is called Relationships versus Friendships, but how about we stop making it a competition? Each have their place and value. There must be room for both to co-exist peacefully? If not, make some room. It's really that simple. We all have to share! :)
Your Best Friend ForNever