It’s a fact of life that human beings are social creatures…
We crave the reinforcement of those we like and admire and naturally want to be in the company of those we feel we have things in common with who also share our values.
But what happens when there’s one thing you don’t have in common with your friends that affects how much time you get to spend with them?
Once I entered my late twenties I began to notice that those around me were starting to follow traditional hetero-normative timelines and more and more of them began to couple up.
Although really happy for my dear friends that have found their person(s), regrettably this can also come with some drawbacks.
Friends who in the past you saw constantly begin having to spread their time, at first it may seem they split themselves equally between their friends and their new partners but gradually (although in some instances not that gradually at all) their attention is less balanced and the majority of their time is given to one person.
Equally, friends you used to be able to call out of the blue when you were at a loose end now already have plans with their significant others and are not able to just ‘show up’ for you.
Sometimes these friends are so ‘coupled up’ that you realise you rarely spend time with just them without their partner being along for the ride.
Now don’t get me wrong I do notably have a few friends, who are in (what I call) a grown up partnership, who I feel have not fallen into the couple bubble. Who I see and speak to on a regular basis and for whom I feel, although they are in a relationship, this has not affected the quality of our friendship at all.
But aside from those few friends unfortunately I do not have the same connection I once had with some of my friends and the realisation of this fact has made me a little sad. Ultimately for the friends who are not friends as they once were I may have to make a somewhat disagreeable decision.
I either need to A. Resign myself to the fact that sometimes I will have to be a third wheel. You may ask what is the problem with that? Although rationally there should be no issue, you’re just hanging out with people right? I’ve always had an aversion to being forced to spend my time with people that I have not personally chosen to spend time with. Perhaps you may think that it’s obstructive of me but that’s just how I feel.
I also value conversations with my friends, they are the people I share my innermost self with and ultimately if their partner is also present I do not feel as comfortable sharing my deepest darkest hopes and desires in front of them. Therefore if a friends partner is included in the conversation, it can be far more superficial, which is fine, but if it’s the case where you do not necessarily get to see a particular friend as often as you’d like it can feel like a waste of friendship time only indulging in shallow chit chat.
Then there’s option B. Take myself out of the third wheel equation. Unfortunately it may mean seeing certain friends less but then if you don’t feel you can tell them everything you want to when you see each other what sort of a friendship do you have anyway?
It may also mean you spend more time alone. Being a free independent ‘able to do what I please, when I please and how I please’ woman I have no issue doing things alone and in the past actually found it somewhat empowering to say I was doing x or going to y alone. Having said that, when the choice of whether I do certain things alone is taken away from me, I don’t know if I find it as empowering as I used to.
Of course there is another option – however savage it may seem. Option C could be to find new friends that have more free time. Although starting over and fostering new deep connections seems to become more difficult the older you get. Or perhaps a more palatable version is to make more friends while still keeping the OGs that now have less time for me.
Having myself accidentally ‘caught feelings’ this year I understand how consuming they can be so I’m not wholly unsympathetic to wanting to spend more time with one person. Nevertheless I do feel it’s important to ensure the people who are important to you, know and feel that, regardless of your current relationship status.
As with any relationship be it romantic, familial or friendly I guess the key is being open and ultimately compromising on how much you give to that relationship. If you have a friend or friends you are not getting as much from, then you have a choice to make as to how much you give back to them.
Until next time…
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