Women Who Dump Women Friends As Soon As They Get A Spouse or Boyfriend (Letter to Advice Columnist)
This is something that has always annoyed me, how single women friends will freeze out and ignore their other women friends as soon as they get a new boyfriend, or get married.
I’ve had a difficult time making friends since childhood (for several reasons, here are but a few): I’ve been very introverted my entire life, and up until a few years ago, I had Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), which is like shyness, but a hundred times worse and crippling. It interferes with forming relationships and with other areas of life.
Yet, I have managed to make a friend here or there in spite of it, usually with women.
When these women get a new boyfriend or a husband, they pretty much kick me to the curb. This has always bothered me.
I have one friend (via the internet, we’ve known each other for years) whose husband is in the military. I notice when he’s away on deployments, she writes me more often.
She tends to be more attentive to me when her husband is gone. When the husband blows back in town, I become second tier and don’t hear from her as much and/or not as promptly.
I understand when someone is in a romantic relationship it’s natural and normal to spend more time in that relationship than with one’s friends.
But the imbalance to this is astounding. Some people just barely keep their outside-the-marriage (or dating) relationships alive.
Sometimes it’s up to you, the single, unattached one, to keep the friendship going by reaching out, by being the one to initiate the phone calls and dinner dates. (And I really dislike this.)
(By the way, when I was engaged, I tried to still spend time with my single friends. I still went on movie and luncheon dates with them. I didn’t blow them off all because I was in a relationship with a guy. My ex was an idiot and a frustrating, self-absorbed douche canoe, and so there were times I preferred being with my lady friends, as opposed to being with him anyhow.)
And I hate that (being the one to keep the friendship alive, being the one to always initiate phone calls, movie dates, etc).
Not only am I an introvert – I’m not comfortable phoning people, and at that, to make social plans – but it’s not fair. I should not have to shoulder all, or most of, the friendship responsibilities. But you will usually end up in this position if you are single and friends with a married woman or a woman who is dating a guy.
By the way, this goes to show that another one of conservative Christianity’s tropes about marriage is not true: they maintain that being a married person makes a person more giving, mature, and loving than staying single.
And yet, it’s often the married persons who ignore everyone around them to focus primarily on their marital partner. This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as “greedy marriages.” I’ve blogged on that before (Link): here.
Anyway. I saw this letter today in the Hax advice column. In this situation, though, the female friend is already married or has a boyfriend when she is shoved aside on a vacation by her female friend for a man she meets on this trip.
On another point (before I get to the Hax letter below). I have read married women online say how lonely they are IN their marriage.
Their partner is either away on business all the time, or simply has lost interest in them.
They can sit in the same room as their husband and still feel all alone. I too experienced that in my relationship with my ex fiancee.
Then there are the (Link): articles about married men who develop dementia as young as their 40s, which in effect, leaves the wife all alone. The wives of these men end up being their nurses and caretakers, rather than friends and lovers, because the man is mentally incapable of being a friend any longer to the wife.
In light of the fact that your husband may not be a good friend to you, or may be incapable of it due to health reasons, it is wise for you (should you marry) to maintain your platonic friendships with men and women. You cannot or should not rely only on a spouse for attention and companionship.
Advice column (August 2015):
Dear Carolyn [Hax]:
- I recently traveled with a woman who has been one of my best friends for eight years. On the trip, we barely spoke because she hooked up with a guy on our tour the first day and spent the rest of the tour with him.
- This wouldn’t have bothered me so much if I hadn’t left my serious boyfriend behind because she has expressed for years how uncomfortable she is around couples. (It makes her wonder what she’s doing wrong and why she can’t find a serious boyfriend.) I also spent a lot of money for a “girls’ trip” with her.
- I’ve spoken to her about it three times since, and her reaction has just made me feel worse.
- She has said several times that she “didn’t even think about” how her actions could’ve made me feel. Her defense has been, “Well, you were getting along with the other people on the tour, so it’s not like you were alone with nobody to talk to.”
- I was already feeling hurt and ignored, but her not even thinking about my feelings when I had taken active steps to be considerate of hers makes me feel that she’s a bit selfish.
- Is there anything you can suggest to help mend the fence? I want our friendship to stay intact, but I can feel myself wanting distance from her.
- (signed) Conflicted on Friendship
- Hax replies:
- Bummer, I’m sorry.
- There are a few possible answers here — that her ditching you sans apology of course will affect your friendship; that her longtime romantic self-doubt gave her a forgivable blind spot; that if you value the eight years, you write off the one trip; I could go on.
- But the answer I keep coming back to starts with a question: Why talk since the trip vs. during? And why three times vs. resolving this in one pass?
- You: “When you spent the tour with Guy, I felt hurt and ignored.”
- She: “Well, you were getting along with the other people on the tour.”
- You: “That’s not the point. I spent big money for a ‘girl trip,’ your preference, and you ditched me! I’m still angry.”
- She: “Why didn’t you say something then?!”
You: “You’re right — I’m sorry I didn’t speak up sooner.”
She: “Thank you. I am not sorry about Guy. You know I’ve been lonely, I thought you’d understand.”
- You: “Maybe, if you had talked to me. We apparently both need to speak up next time. Please at least see why I’m angry.”
- She: “I do, and we do.”
- End scene.
- And thus my answer, that the main (aptly, unspoken) theme of your story is lousy communication. You apparently stayed mum on the trip and later weren’t clear about wanting her to acknowledge your feelings — and she, for her part, didn’t ever ask, “Hey, do you mind?” on the tour and since then has been only defensive.
- Any decision on the future of this friendship will be premature if you two first don’t figure out how to talk. Eight years is a long time without a real conflict of interest, but I suspect this is your first, and you were both caught unprepared.
- So communicate now, and keep it simple: I’m your friend, I’m still upset, I’d just like that acknowledged. Dukes down. Good luck.
(Link): Dear Abby: Teen Gets a Boyfriend, Snubs Her Old Pal
(Link): Evangelicals are Rethinking Freud, Friendship, and Sexuality by D J Brennan
(Link): A social psychologist reveals why so many marriages are falling apart and how to fix it (and a history of American marriage)
(Link): Married People Who Find Themselves Single Again – Spouses With Dementia / Married People Who Are Lonely
(Link): Do Married Couples Slight Their Family Members as Well as Their Friends? / “Greedy Marriages”
(Link): How the Sexual Revolution Ruined Friendship – Also: If Christians Truly Believed in Celibacy and Virginity, they would stop adhering to certain sexual and gender stereotypes that work against both
(Link): Hey Ed Stetzer: Opposite Gender Friendships Are Not Sinful – Ed Stetzer’s Advice: “Avoid Any Hint” – More Like: Re Enforce UnBiblical Stereotypes About Men, Women, Sex, and Singles