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A little heartbreak

I recently had a brutally honest conversation with a single girlfriend of mine I hadn’t seen in years. We ran into each other on the street in my ‘hood, and the light conversation turned from pleasant small talk to a really deep discussion very quickly. It always hurt my feelings how she allowed our relationship to fade away even though I had tried to stay in touch. I pointed out that I felt she pulled away from me after Jim and I got married. In my mind, she wasn’t that crazy about my choice of husband and this made me a little defensive and less likely to get together with her.

Although to be absolutely fair to her, when I was single, I had friends whose new husbands made me NUTS. My recently-married girlfriends always brought their spouses with them on our social engagements. Because there was no PC way I could think of to tell them that their significant other made me want to throw myself into traffic, I saw them less often.

My friend assured me she didn’t have bad feelings about Jim. Instead, she felt that after I got married, I wouldn’t be able to maintain the same relationship with her. She was hurt that I thought of Jim as my best friend and was worried I’d share her secrets with him. (Which incidentally I would never-ever-ever have done). And then the corker: it was her experience that her married friends always changed and made it impossible for her to feel entirely comfortable with us. She thought I’d never relate to how lonely she felt, even though I had been single just months earlier.

I left the conversation feeling some closure on one hand, and really conflicted on the other. I’ve been thinking about this non-stop since our talk: can married women and single women maintain the same friendship before/after a wedding takes place? As a married woman, I’d say of course! But if I project myself back into my single body…the answer isn’t as clear. And boy, let’s not get started on what happens when kids start popping into the scenario!

I’m looking forward to your input. Please vote in the applicable poll below and then share your thoughts in comments! Rock on.

-Robyn Okrant

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Your comments

  1. Kate says:

    Every time one of my friends got married, it did change the relationship. I was bothered by each and every one when I was younger and more insecure, but now I’ve gotten better with it.

    It used to feel like I was being abandoned, and like there was something wrong with me that I wasn’t getting married. My friends no longer could understand what it was like to be single, and I had no clue what it meant to be married. I felt very much on the outside looking in where I used to feel like my friends and I were on the same side.

    I’ve let go of a lot of feeling like it said something about me and realized that my feelings weren’t stemming from my friends getting married, my feelings were coming from other places like my insecurities about myself which lessened the tension I was feeling.

    The fact is, when we’re all single, there are so many shared experiences and we’re all on an even playing field. When someone gets married, their focus and priorities change, along with the direction of their life. It’s expected that the friendship will need to change because of this shift, it’s impossible for it not to, if it didn’t then your marriage may be in serious trouble.

    However, I don’t think that the marriage actually changes the person, just some of the circumstances change. Marriage hasn’t made any of my friends less caring, less sensitive, a better or worse friend, or different in any way from who they truly are.

    The ones who spring their husband on me when I’m expecting a girls only night, or the ones who blow me off for thier spouse, or blab my secrets would have done all of those things whether they were married or not.

  2. KW says:

    As a single woman, I would say that it is really difficult to maintain the same kind of friendship with married friends, although I don’t think that the married girls are as aware of this or maybe they are just less bothered. Things almost always change in female friendships (and likely male too) when someone gets into a long-term relationship or gets married.

    If someone has proven themselves a good friend in the past and you drift apart or the person does something to offend you, or you have a disagreement, or whatever else, true friendship means forgiving for mistakes or hurt and recognizing the bigger picture of their proven value as a friend. It’s great you got to reconnect with this old friend and hopefully you can both get past the rough patch you had now that you have talked honestly.

  3. BookFestival says:

    It’s easier to remain friends if there are no children involved.

    • living savvy says:

      I have maintained friendships with friends who did not have children, I always checked made sure when we were getting together if it was a child free outing or one where we integrated my children. When my children were very young I relished the opportuity to spend time with my child free friends without my children and once again have conversations that were not child / mothering centred.

  4. living savvy says:

    I have wonderful groups of friends – now most of us are married although a couple are newly single again.
    We tend to catch up and spend time together without our husbands- which reflects the friendships we have. They were not couple friendships they were friendships that have blossomed between us women friendships.

  5. karla says:

    I have to echo Kate’s comments above as I was more bothered by these changes when I was younger and more insecure. And that there was something wrong with me as I was single and no one wanted me – WAAH!

    I now know that a relationship with a friend who is getting married is likely to change. But, I no longer assume that it will change like others have changed. Some changes were very challenging.

    If we’re all growing and changing that means that my friendships have to adapt over time as well. I am not as close with some now as before they were married. With some friends, I am closer with them now. There’s no blanket approach, each situation is unique – depending on the person, the dynamic between the spouse, etc.

    To me, it becomes important to determine if this is someone that I still want to be friends with even though their life is changing. Do I still value them and care for them? Does their relationship allow room for friendships? (Some do not). Can we work through this period? Are there ways to have girls-only events? (I agree that it was so very annoying when the spouses would be there without any discussion).

    The thing that I thought of most when I read this post is that it has been sad to lose friends over the years. Yet, I have come to accept that this is a part of life.

    On another point, I do have to say that I find it frustrating that one of my friends who is married shares my secrets with her husband. I think it’s time that I address this!

  6. Pauline says:

    I think all relationships change with time and circumstance. So I’ve always expected that as my friends got married our relationships would change.

    My experiences echo some of the previously mentioned in that some of those friendships (although different) have remained strong, while others have fall apart. I’ve always suspected that the ones that didn’t last probably wouldn’t have lasted anyway, the circumstances creating the break just would have been different.

    I think my married and single friends bring out different parts of me and I love that. I find the only time when the married-single thing becomes an issue is when I’m in a predominantly married group, when the conversation slides into married life discussion and I have nothing to contribute.

    I love my friends’ kids. Not having any of my own, it’s fun to have these little people in my life and be a part of their’s. I do however agree that there are times when they have appeared at events unexpectedly and changed the dynamic. Or the appearing unexpectedly on your doorstep “to visit”, which would normally be fine, except my flat is not little people proofed. Should I need to “baby-proof” my place?

  7. Paula says:

    All my friends got married when we were in our twenties, and they kind of forgot about me, which bothered me. When I got married in my thirties, and had kids, I finally felt like I had “joined the group”. My individual qualities mattered less than the fact that I was married and a mother. Now that I’m divorced, a lot of my married friends have marginalized me, which if I were to confront them about, they would deny. I feel like a charity case when I’m invited to their homes.

    I’m now in a relationship after a long time being single, and my closest single friend has expressed to me that she feels I’ve forgotten her. I had actually forgotten how much work a relationship with a man takes, and I feel bad that I’ve taken some time away from her.

  8. STR says:

    Marriage? No big. Kids? They change things.

  9. cathleen carr says:

    All relationships need maintenance. I have allowed some friendships to fall into disrepair since getting married. I’ve always felt guilty about it. But, the first few years of marriage are a very delicate time. I think the couple is trying figure out how to be a married couple and what that means. Needless to say, it is very time consuming. Once the marriage is established and on firm ground, the friends that you neglected have moved on. Anyway you cut it, it’s tough…

  10. Krista says:

    I have a lot of guilt around this issue.

    I was single for 30 years, and have married for exactly three today. I was the 20 something that lost friends over marriage. Not really lost, but deeply changed. They had someone, they were missed at home…blah, blah…

    Then I got married at 30. Now, like some of the previous commenters, age plays into this. We both are more independent because of our age. However, I am super sensitive to the ways I do the crap that hurt me when I was single.

    I had two really awesome single friends when I got married – in this case, I think we left each other. I was/is so in love with my best friend that I wanted to spend time with him. One thinks that is what you are supposed to do – and the other knew that is what I wanted to do. But, 6 months later….something was missing from the friendship – and its my fault.

    I had been a 7th wheel in a group of close friends for about 3 years when I met my now husband and had almost decided to leave the intentional 3 couples and me friendship because it was just painful at times. I didn’t leave thanks to my couplehood. Maybe I should have?

    But as much I want to the single persona that happens to be married – I am not. I am still head over heels for my husband. I freaking think about him and what is important to him a lot. He colors who I am, and I think he would say all these things about me.

    That is why I love this blog – it struggles through these ideas of what feminism and marriage look like. I want to independent, free thinking, and Carrie Bradshaw – and in the business world I am – but I am also the cliche of wanting to make a home with my husband, who adores me and I adore him. Falling in love seriously messed me up. This logical minded woman who never let her heart makes decision, now weeps over a romantic movie – because that is “just like you make me feel” crap.

    Thanks, this is a long comment…but speaks to the very core of why I love being married but wishes I could still be single and pay attention to friends and relationships in ways I did then.

  11. Allison says:

    It seems that KW’s comment is true, proven by the results of the survey. 36% of us married folks don’t seem to know why the relationships changed. Does this mean that we are clueless to the outside world of marriage, or that there is no legitimate reason given, just a feeling?

    KW’s comment:

    “As a single woman, I would say that it is really difficult to maintain the same kind of friendship with married friends, although I don’t think that the married girls are as aware of this or maybe they are just less bothered”

  12. Bethany says:

    My two best friends are still single. And I’ve worked really hard to maintain the friendships I had with them. I make sure I call when it’s been a week or two. I try to visit when I can. But for at least one of them, the visits have trailed off because I moved six hours (further) away. Other friends, less close, less established contact have drifted away.

    And I’m worried about what will happen if I have kids and they are still single. Currently, I can take 36 hours and go visit my friend who lives 2 hours away. And I don’t know if that would be possible with a baby. I’ve experienced with my married friends who have kids that if we don’t continue to have shared experiences, their lives are just so kid-centered that it’s hard to have the fun conversations we did. (Also many of the moms I know went the stay-at-home route which changes a lot of aspects of their lives.)