Ask Team Practical: Finding Time for Friends


by Liz Moorhead, Ask Team Practical
Ask Team Practical: Finding Time for Friends | A Practical Wedding
My wedding is coming up in a couple of months and I’m the first of my friends/cousins/extended family to get married. One of my friends lives with her boyfriend, but she lives in another state, so I don’t see her much. None of my other friends or family members are in serious committed relationships, nor do they cohabitate with a significant other. I find myself worrying about how my life is going to change once I’m married, especially regarding my relationships with friends and the amount of time I spend with them.
I have a feeling that not only will my day-to-day life change drastically (I currently do not live with my fiancé), but the amount of time, money, and energy I spend on going out and seeing friends after work, on weekends, etc. will also change. My fiancé is not one of those guys who expects me to be home to make dinner every night, doting on him or spending all my free time working on/cleaning our new apartment. We are respectful of each other’s outside interests and friendships, and I know that will continue into our marriage. At the same time, we are trying to save money for a home, pay off debt, and get settled into a new routine together—financially, spiritually, emotionally. I know that I want to devote myself, first and foremost, to the new challenges, responsibilities, and rewards that marriage will present to me. To do this, I feel that my time spent with friends will need to be more limited than it is now—going out with friends can be expensive, and at the current rate, time-consuming.

In the process of planning my wedding, I’ve had two friends express to me that they’re worried about my priorities. (I am not letting the wedding run my life—I have a job and a recently finished Master’s degree.) I’ve expressed that time, money, and energy have been limited lately because I am making a few different major life transitions at the same time, and I’m spread thin right now. But they don’t seem to understand, and it’s heartbreaking.

I realize that growing a spine and defending my new lifestyle when friends don’t “get it” is the first step, but how can I do this in a tactful way? How have married women learned to manage their relationships with friends post-marriage? What if my friends don’t understand my new set of goals and priorities?

Thank you!

Scared Librarian Intimidated by Marriage

 

Dear SLIM,

Hello, marriage trailblazer! I know how you feel! I, too, was the first of friends to marry, and it’s a weird place to be. An important thing to remember is that, married or not, as we get older we ALL experience a shift in priorities—away from friends and toward work, dating, career, family. The fact that I don’t have time and money to go clubbing every night has less to do with being married and more to do with being a grown-up. (Paying rent and waking up at six in the morning sort of get in the way of that whole thing.) But that growing-up business doesn’t always represent a change in priorities. Sometimes, like I said, it’s just a shift. My life might not completely revolve around hanging out with friends and listening to Boyz II Men the way it once did, but friends are still a priority (and so are Boyz II Men, let’s be honest).

I’m gonna make an assumption and say that your partner is already a big piece of your life, even though you’re not yet married. In fact, I bet he takes up a good chunk of your time, money and energy already. That might not change as drastically as you think after the wedding. Who knows. Some folks find they have more time and money for friends, hobbies, and other pursuits once they’re married for the simple fact that now, someone else is pitching in with the chores and the checks. Everything won’t be on your plate alone. Those big adult responsibilities are split. Plus, there’s a happy settledness to being married. I still set aside special time for my husband, but I don’t need to do so as much because I live with him now. I get to see him during dinner and when I fall asleep. Seeing him is the default, now, not another thing in the long checklist of obligations to schedule.

What I’m trying to get to in my own rambly, roundabout way is that having a community of friendships around is invaluable. Hunkering down into your blissful newlywed bubble may be tempting. You may feel a little introverted at first as you focus on one another and laying that emotional, spiritual foundation you mentioned. But, keep in mind that eventually you’ll need to come up for air. You’ll need your community. They’ll need you. And maintaining those friendships is worth the investment of a bit of time and money. For several reasons! I mean, you care about these people, right? Plus, it’s a good policy to have some close friends during a time of big life changes and transitions. You’re getting married! You’re facing the possibility of some serious highs and extreme lows pretty soon as you adjust to this marriage stuff. For flat out selfish reasons alone, you’ll want to make time for these people for your own emotional health and stability.

Also, so much of your life becomes entwined with your husband through marriage—your living arrangements, your families, your long-term goals, possibly your finances—having some friends and hobbies of your own is really important to maintaining a sane sense of independent self. Unless you want to become one of those couples in the matching jogging suits and fanny packs? (Hint: no one wants to become those couples in the matching jogging suits and fanny packs.)

And less selfishly, more altruistically, being married may provide the stable foundation to allow you to give back to your community. Because my husband and I are a team, we can work together to offer money, a meal, a place to stay when a friend needs help. We combine not just our finances, but also our complementary abilities to be able to help friends in a wider variety of ways. And luckily, because my husband and I have so much in common, he’s naturally inclined to like the same people I like. Of course, that’s not always true for everyone. But even if your husband doesn’t love all your friends the way you do, the hope is that he’ll respect their value in your life (whether or not he chooses to sit out of the midnight Boyz II Men karaoke hour at the bar).

So, that’s all well and good in theory, but what does it have to do with you? I’m not just talking about the imagined future of yourself as a married lady. Your friends have voiced concern that you’re neglecting them now. Now’s the time to do some soul-searching. Are they being overly sensitive during a time that’s just been flat busy for you? Or are they clued in to something you’re missing? Hear them out and give it some thought. We all have seasons of harried chaos that don’t allow for us to do much more than breathe, but be sure that those are short-lived. Finishing that Master’s thesis may mean a week of nothing but fast food and dirty laundry, but after that week, you get back to eating healthy and showering regularly (I hope). Be sure to pick back up on caring for your friends the way you do in caring for your body and your house. We all can survive short spurts of neglecting the things that keep us healthy, but it’s never good if it’s prolonged.

If after some introspection, you think your friends are off base, explain that to them that right now your resources are tapped and your life is strained. Explain, essentially, that it’s not them, it’s you. Then, ask them to help you consider ways that you can make them feel cared for within the current restrictions on your schedule and budget.

After this chaos of Master’s theses and wedding planning, consider setting weekly time budgets. Maybe “diet” is a better word, even though I typically shudder when I hear it. Sit down every Sunday night and look at your week ahead. Map out your schedule with consideration to all the components necessary to keep you healthy and well-balanced. A little bit of husband time here (not spent folding laundry or balancing the checkbook), some friend time here, and even some “me” time over here. If money is truly strained, consider having a potluck for friends. Maybe have them over for coffee. Hell, walk around Target together. The important thing isn’t what you’re doing—it’s that you maintain those significant relationships with care, for their benefit, but also for your own.

*****

Team Practical, have you found that a serious relationship has allowed you more time or less for friends? How do you let friends know that your partner is a major priority while still finding time for other important relationships?

Photo by APW sponsor Moodeous Photography.

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com.  If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted.  Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off!

Liz Moorhead

Liz is an illustrator and writer who paints custom stationery and types up impassioned opinions about weddings, etiquette, feminism and motherhood (usually while shaking a fist and mumbling expletives around mouthfuls of cheese fries). Her spare time is spent sipping bourbon with her husband and playing Don’t Throw That in the Toilet with her son.

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  • Anon

    I’m going to share my perspective as a friend who has mostly married mates here: Liz is right when she says it doesn’t really matter how you hang out with your friends, even if money is tight. When things got crazy with theses and weddings, sometimes it was really nice to run errands with them for a day and just *be*.

    Don’t be afraid to ask your friends to do nothing with you. If they’re really missing you and they’re good people they will jump to hang out. Even if it’s on the queue at the DMV/foreign equivalent.

    And then when you do have some extra change in your pocket you can go and drink and be merry. Because you’ll still be friends and have things to look forward to. As Liz says, it’s about investing in community.

    • http://www.laughterinthelou.com Emma

      YES to doing nothing! Invite people over to have tea. Ask someone to walk in the park with you or go grocery shopping together. I think people naturally gravitate toward eating or drinking or entertainment as a reason to hang out, and those reasons are often expensive and not always even good opportunities for quality time. Sometimes I ask my friends to talk to me while I clean my house, then I’ll do the same for them. (This is how my sister and I traded off throughout childhood.)

      • http://landlockedlove.blogspot.com Kelly

        Inviting people over to talk to me while I cleaned was basically the way I lived my entire twenties. It was amazing. (And I sort of miss it!)

        • Susie

          Can I second the “invite people over for tea” please? I’m coming at this from a similar situation of being a married person whose friends are starting to have babies. I understand that my friend can’t come out to the pub easily as she has 2 small children, but she’ll invite us non-parents over on a Saturday afternoon and put the kettle on, so while the kids are having a nap we have a wee catch-up for an hour or two. It doesn’t need to be a huge night out to be a good evening with friends!

          • Marina

            Yes! I haven’t been to a friend’s house since I had a baby in December, but they have been super nice about coming over to mine all the time. We play board games, and, um, bridge. Which is actually a really fun game, even if it makes me feel old, and actually has a designated person each hand who has nothing to do but hold the baby.

      • http://eclpse.livejournal.com Kimberly

        One weekend afternoon, I invited a friend over. We wanted to see each other, but we were both so pooped from freakin’ life . . . we ended up spending most of the day napping on couches to the tune of the Lifetime Movie Network. It was SO NICE.

    • meg

      Oh yeah! When (APW Editor) Kate was getting married I drove her to Target and Michael’s (which was outside the city and a trip) for wedding errands. It was TOTALLY fun, and awesome to hang out doing something random, and know that I was helping her out. Some of my best times with friends are helping them unpack, or painting a room with them, or shopping for things they need, or just lying on the floor of the living room. Those are the friends that are GOOD friends, you know? The ones you love enough to just pal around with, no fancy bars required.

      • Anon

        (The Anon from above)

        There is a beautiful intimacy that goes with such familiarity. Maybe being single I appreciate this more, but it’s true of friendships too.

        PLUS you don’t have to bellow at each other over bad muzak in a club/pub/whatevs. That has to be good, no?

        • http://eclpse.livejournal.com Kimberly

          That’s when himself and I knew we were in “the next age bracket” so to speak — when we preferred to actually talk to other people in public places as opposed to shouting in their ears and hoping they heard half of what we were saying.

    • Liz

      Second to co-errand running! Nothing makes the wait in any line whiz by than chatting with a pal. I’ve grocery shopped with friends, gone to the pharmacy and drug store for others and my boyfriend shoe-shopped with his buddy last week!

      If you’re good-natured about it and thank folks most people are happy to spend time with you (and go out for a $5 treat afterward-fro yo!)!

  • SusieQ

    My experience included what you are saying, Liz, but also differed in some ways. After moving in with my husband-to-be, and then even more after getting married to him, my priorities DID change. Some people had been close friends because we cared deeply about each other and/or we shared important things in common. I made time for these people, and they made time for me, although the times and places and ways we hung out changed slightly (more because I moved to a nearby town than anything else), and we probably spent a little less time together than before. There were minor growing pains, but these friendships are intact.

    However, some people were more situational friends/acquaintances. I liked them and had a nice time with them. We would spend time together because we worked together, or we lived near each other, or we saw each other at the gym, or we had other friends in common, but there was less of a deep connection. Moving and getting married (and *wanting* to spend a lot of time with my husband) made the situations when I would easily see these people less common, and so our friendships/acquaintanceships have cooled down. For me this was natural and comfortable, and remarkably easy despite my anxiety about disappointing people.

    It seems like an unpopular thing to admit that I have (and have always had) situational friendships that come and go as life circumstances change, and that I’m ok with that. Even I think it makes me sound cold. But the truth is I have limited social energy and have changed life circumstances a lot – so the idea of maintaining every pleasant relationship I’ve ever had is exhausting. SLIM, if you have situational friendships and you want to let them slide, I understand and support you. It’s ok.

    • Sarah

      Yes to having situational friendships! I didn’t want to get on Facebook forever because I saw it as life support for friendships that I’d rather let die (mostly the situational ones). My situational friends are an important part of my life, but that doesn’t mean we’re forever friends.

      Also want to point out that I often don’t realize how situational some friends are until after I’ve stopped the situation (usually by moving). Sometimes it’s easy, a few of my dancing friends are Friends, but most of them I won’t keep in touch with after either I move or they move. (Except via Facebook. I caved in and joined.) My grad school classmates, harder to know. We’ve bonded differently.

      I agree with SusieQ that it’s an unpopular thing to vocalize, but life is easier when I recognize the situation.

      • Kim

        My dad often talks about “friends of the road” (situational friends) and “friends of the heart”. I have always liked this distinction, especially because both kinds are important and valuable.

        • SusieQ

          That’s beautiful!

        • Kat

          My dad has always maintained that people come into your life for: “a season, a reason, or a lifetime.” Which often helps put friendships and relationships into perspective when they change/disappear.

    • meg

      Oh, I think EVERYONE has situational friendships, and you always lose people with any big life change. Sometimes it’s people you weren’t that close to, sometimes it’s people you LOVED but who are jerks about the change, and “just not that into it.” It’s painful and sometimes necessary, but it happens. That’s different, I think, from allowing ourselves to totally turn inward, or not spend time with others we love who don’t happen to be in long term partnerships.

      It’s interesting, because for all the staff discussed this post, we didn’t think to bring this up! I hate the idea that couple have to hang out with couples, or once you’re married you lose your single friends and get couple friends. A TON of our best people are single, and I’m always flattered when they say we’re not a couple that’s weird to hang out with as a single friend (this is possibly partially because David and I were platonic friends for so long that we can easily go back to that vibe for an evening). But seriously, DON’T DITCH YOUR AWESOME SINGLE FRIENDS, just because they are single and you are not.

      • Caroline

        Definitly! Most of our closest friends aren’t couples. He has some friends who are couples, but mostly we hang out with them in mixed (singles and couples ) groups. One of my best friends is recently single, and even when she wasn’t we usually hung out, her and I, or her, my partner and I. He is making a friend out here who is married, but I suspect the friendship will look mostly like the two of them hanging out, or all 4 of us plus other friends (mixed, again) playing boardgames.

      • Cali

        Ha, I love this! One of my best girlfriends hangs out with me and my fiance just the three of us all the time, and it’s not weird at all. It helps that she was friends with both of us separately before we got together (she was basically our matchmaker), so she has an established friendship with both of us outside of the other person. She could hang out with either of us one-on-one and have a great time.

    • MDBethann

      There’s NOTHING wrong or cold about having situational friendships – I’m always a little sad when people pass out of my life, but often it is because the thing that brought us together – college, grad school, work, etc – is no longer the glue that it once was. And that’s okay.

      One of my favorite sayings is that there are “reason, season, and lifetime friends.” I have a small group of core friends who are my lifetime friends and while we usually keep on top of one another’s busy lives via Facebook, it can be awhile between face-to-face catch up sessions or phone conversations. The only reason we’ve seen each other a lot over the last few months was because of my wedding. Yet whenever we do see each other or talk, it is as if little time has past. That’s how I know they are my forever friends.

      But then I also have great friends through work and church that I see occasionally. The work friends I definitely do more things with, like the theater or the movies and will probably have them in my life for a long time. But my church friends, well, as much as I love them, I moved to a different town and church, and even though we always went out once a month for dinner, we’ve gradually lost touch and I don’t see them much anymore. I miss them, but our lives went in different directions and that is okay.

  • rys

    Like Anon, I’ll speak as a 30-something whose friends are mostly married — some whose nuptials predated out friendship and some whose relationships blossomed during our friendship — and many of whom now have kids. Now, I was never the clubbing sort before, so that was never the foundation of our friendship. Perhaps that is a different beast.

    But anyways, my best friend, who is married, has a couple of rules she insists on that help her maintain her friendships: 1) When out in a group, she never sits with her husband. As she puts it, “I see him every day, when I’m out with other people, I want to talk to them.” 2) The dinner table is (almost) always open to family and friends. As she told me, back when we lived in the same place, “I’m making dinner anyways, it might just be soup, but there’s always room for you.” We probably had dinner together once or twice a week when we lived a few blocks apart. I’ll note also that I’m good friends with her husband and there were times when she sent us off on bike rides or to the movies b/c she had no interest in a long bike ride or the particular movie, and would rather not get sucked into to doing either w/her husband so it was rather advantageous to tell us to go and she did whatever she wanted to do. I think the key here is maintaining a sense of independence, knowing that you don’t need to be joined to your partner at the hip, and intentionally inviting other people into your lives. Even now, when we live on opposite sides of the country, she works hard to call when she can, amidst work, 2 kids, husband, and whatnot, even if it’s just a 10 minutes “I’m thinking of you, want to know what’s going on, but I have to run to do X.” In this sense, it’s often the little gestures than the nights out that matter most.

    With my other close married friends, the details are a little different and vary with the relationship — I travel with my best guy friend while his fiancee travels with her best friends, a friend who lives near my parents always plans one night for just us when I’m in town, etc — but it all comes down to intentional thoughtfulness and making friendships a priority.

    I think these apply to friendships outside the closest circle as well. It is about investing in a community. Taking the 10 minutes to talk to someone when you see them, meeting someone for coffee because they’re in town, cheering them on at their marathon, etc. None of these require an intense time commitment, but they all require maintaining communication.

    • meg

      “1) When out in a group, she never sits with her husband. As she puts it, “I see him every day, when I’m out with other people, I want to talk to them.” 2) The dinner table is (almost) always open to family and friends. As she told me, back when we lived in the same place, “I’m making dinner anyways, it might just be soup, but there’s always room for you.””

      I LOVE THIS. Re: 1, do you know that’s actually proper etiquette? At dinner parties, married couples should never be seated together (they see each other all the time, split them up so everyone can enjoy them). And 2 is totally how I was raised. “There is always room for one more at dinner.” Having a house that’s open to friends and community is such a lovely feeling (and so good for kids, if/once they are in the picture).

      • http://www.bridesanstulle.com Sharon

        Some of the times I feel *most* married are when my husband and I are out with friends and find ourselves on opposite sides of the room, each doing our own thing. I love that there’s an etiquette precedent for this. :)

        • meg

          Miss Manners says couples should be separated, so they can tell the same stories totally differently, without fighting over who’s right. HAAAAAA. I love that woman.

          • http://eclpse.livejournal.com Kimberly

            That reasoning is brilliant. And a zillion percent true.

      • Anon

        (Same anon, again!)

        Can we all just agree that place settings with odd numbers are massively cool because they make it very clear that not everyone has to be coupled up?

        Just smash the extra setting, seriously. It’s probably good luck. Or something.

        • ElisabethJoanne

          In the strictest, most formal etiquette, multiples of 4 at dinner parties are tricky. I don’t have the geometry in my head right now, but somehow, two men or two women end up sitting next to each other, a big no-no in 1950s etiquette. [I say 1950s 'cause that's the time frame of my etiquette book that discusses this.]

      • rys

        I had no idea it was proper etiquette, but I’m glad to know it is. Now we can all tout her personal policy as proper etiquette to boot!

  • Ros

    Ok, apologies for the rant (and possible derail) – this is an issue that’s been looming in my life for the past year, and I’m about ready to pop.

    I think there’s a lot to be said for the APW answer: you evaluate your priorities, make time for friends, and change the ways you interact with them (given time and finances and every other variable that comes up).

    Just to throw it out there, though: in my recent experience, sometimes life changes do mean losing friends and changing priorities radically, and I think that’s ok too! 4 years ago, for example, I was single, going out every night with different friends, getting my “alone time” at 3am and going to work anyway (and not sleeping much…), etc… you can fit a whole lot in your life with that kind of schedule, and it’s incredibly rewarding and fun when you can!

    That said, I’ve also hit my late 20s, and my priorities have shifted radically. I can’t survive on 4 hours of sleep/night every night without feeling like crap anymore. My mother has serious heart issues, and my grandmother has alzheimer’s, and my extended family is incredibly difficult, so taking care of my family has become a priority. My career is progressing incredibly quickly (as in, I’ve doubled my salary in 4 years, and I have an English Lit degree with minors in history and women’s studies – this takes WORK, and a lot of it), and I’m usually at the office 50-60 hours/week. I have a partner I love, and we try to reserve at least 2-3 evenings/week to spend together. Deep down, I’m an introvert, and I NEED some alone time (not tons, but some). We’re moving (insert more stress). We’re planning a wedding, on top of that. I assume you’re getting the picture…

    What it comes down to, for me, is that there are friends I’ve completely lost. There’s one particular friend with who I had a screaming fight about this exact issue, and we no longer really speak… Because, look, I value friendships. I do. But I don’t value them above family/partner/career/health/sanity, and, right now, I’ve got the time/energy to take care of the first 3 things on that list, and make an attempt at the other two, and the friends I speak with most are the ones I have skype dates with on a regular basis, because I just don’t have TIME to spend 2-3 evenings with friends every week.

    I think what I’m trying to say is… I grew up. My priorities changed and adapted themselves to the importance of each event (alzheimer’s grandmother needing care trumps coffee date. Corporate audit that my career hangs on trumps going to a show. Etc.) and, while I make time for friends when possible (see: skype dates with my best friends on a semi-regular basis, dinner out with a few friends every few weeks, which is about all the time I’ve got to spare). The time available to spend with friends changed (it’s not just the money – time is also a killer). And friends who are unwilling to accept that… well, I’m honestly really sorry, but that makes it difficult to stay friends.

    And, in the end, I think I’m ok with that.

    • SusieQ

      Wow, go you Ros! That sounds like a TON of stuff to be doing right now, and it sounds like you are kicking butt at it (both the good stuff, like career and wedding, and the hard stuff, like Alzheimers)! Good luck with everything!

      • Ros

        Hah – I try! Mostly, I feel like I’m barely keeping my head above water while continuously pulling off miracles on very little sleep, so, y’know… It may depend entirely on perspective. ;)

        That’s part of what I was trying to say, though… if you’re just not making time for friends, that’s one thing, but there’s also a point in your life when there just isn’t enough time to go around, and, in the end, I think that’s when people re-prioritize and decide that friends are a lower priority than they were in the past. Usually, partner/job/children/etc take a huge amount of time, so I can see where the whole “people get married/have kids and never see anyone anymore!” complaint comes from, but… y’know, there’s a REASON for that…

        I think what I’m getting at is that I think it’s ok if friends AREN’T a huge priority, and that you have to evaluate your own life and figure out how much time/energy/money there is to go around, and allocate more to friends if you feel that’s valuable, but… in the end, time/energy/money doesn’t come out of thin air, so trying to produce it when you’re running on empty is kind of self-defeating, in the long run.

        Someone stop me if I’m making no sense!

        • jct348

          Ros, thanks for this comment. In the past year, I’ve had a similar laundry list of changes/shifts/incredibly stressful occurrences, and not all of them bad. Some of them quite good in fact! However, the way my life looks on a day to day basis is radically different from where it was last year. And let me tell you – all of my friends with the exception of one have been flexible and understanding and wonderful through this process. Only one couldn’t hang with my life changes – and would regularly get upset that I couldn’t make it out to Boystown to get wasted until 4am on weekends anymore. She recently sent me a break up letter via email accusing me of not putting in enough effort. I’ll take my portion of the blame… but at the end of the day she’s the only one who wasn’t okay with where my life is going. And now, I am okay with her not being around anymore. Because the people who are are wonderful and supportive and flexible.

          I guess the point of my rant is that yes, life changes, and it’s okay to shift priorities toward family and career. And it’s also okay for not every friendship to make the jump from single to married life, so to speak… the most important ones will. Or will at least understand when your best effort is, as commented above, tea and cookies at home :)

          • http://www.seattleflute.com Katie

            Thank you, Ros! I’d like to second the fact that your friends will be understanding and flexible as you go through transitions and craziness; I’ve been on the other side of things, and while it was sad that things were changing and I didn’t get to see my friend as much, it didn’t mean our friendship was over. And then when things calmed down, we upped the amount of contact we got with each other and the friendship evolved and went on.

            I’d also like to add that for some people (especially certain introverts), interactions with friends can be just as tiring as any other event in your life. Yes, they’re your friends and yes, you love them, but when you are tapped out and in need of some time alone to recharge, it’s ok to take it.

        • Kat

          You make total sense! This is exactly where I’m at with life: but lets add my sister’s wedding, fledgling photography business, full-time other job, new live in bf almost fiance, we’re kinda planning our own wedding …where is the time!? I got a VERY angry ranty email from a “friend” and it basically made it clear that she didn’t think I was holding my end up of the “friend bargain.” Okay then, cut, done, over with. thanks for removing one more “I feel guilty about this,” “this is a time/emotion suck” line item from my list.

    • Umpteenth Sarah

      I think, if I’m understanding you right, Ros, there’s a lot of common ground here. For you, your priorities are your career and family responsibilities. For other people, their priorities may change too but in different directions. I’m sort of like you — between work, commuting, sleep, husband-time, cleaning, talking on the phone to relatives, and finishing my grad degree, I don’t have a ton of time for friends. But, I still feel the loss of the connections I used to have with non-husband-friends, and make it an active priority to fit in some time when I can, whether that time be in the form of lunch on a work day or brunch on the weekend. I imagine, perhaps, that the “solution” for people who are feeling the squeeze is to be more conscious about their time and priorities, and plan accordingly… to me, the moment I “grew up” was when I developed a calendar and actually reference it, which coincided with the time in my life when I first started being able to say “no,” without regrets.

      • Ros

        Oh, man, I feel the calendar comment! :) It’s the only thing that allows me to function, I swear…

        I get what you mean about feeling the loss, though. I try to stay close to people who I deeply value (cross-continental skype calls for the win!), and try to get together with the friends I love who are in town with me, but I do feel the loss of the people I can’t make time for. I think I find it a bit easier because, in a way, it was a conscious decision – I kept trying and trying and not sleeping and eventually broke and was like “no, I can’t do this, I just really really can’t”, and so I’ve been figuring out what I CAN make time for, and while I miss what I used to have… It is what it is? I’m sorry, I don’t know how to wrap that up – there’s no easy solution or conclusion.

    • Liz

      I’m hopeful for you, Ros, because what you just described to me sounds like a season of strain. The moving and planning a wedding are huge time sucks that will eventually (thank God) be over.

      It’s situations just like yours that make me hope you have friendships for your own sanity, not for the obligation of a weekly coffeedate. You’re going through a lot, girl! Make sure you have an outlet.

      • rys

        Right. Friendships are about give-and-take. There are times when you are in a position to give more, and times when you need to take more. Sustaining friendships is for fun and so that when you need some help, you have people to help — people to vent to, people who can run an errand for you, people who can help keep you sane. At another time, when less strained, you give more — you’re the one to listen, to run errands, to support someone else.

        I’m pretty uncompromising on the need to maintain friendships — not every single person you might have ever met, but a robust cadre of friends, the inner circle and some of the outlying ones as well — precisely because life is better with friends. We all need help, we all can help.

        We have multiple friends because they play different roles in our lives and we play different roles in their lives. Roles shift with changes in life, location, circumstance. But it’s really good to know that the friend you never talk to on the phone but always see when you’re both in X place, and the friend whom you talk to regularly because s/he makes you laugh, and the friend who will drop everything to be at your side when life goes to shit, and the friend who will send you a little gift just because, and the friend who will make 500 brownies for your mother’s 50th birthday, and the friend you call when your grandmother dies, and the friend who thinks nothing of picking you up from the airport, etc are all there. We need those people and we need to be those people for others.

      • Ros

        I’m dealing, really I am! I do have to admit: my fiance is absolutely amazing, and provides great support. My little sister has also turned into one of my very best friends, and we have dinner at least once/week (aka: I get uber-stressed and work late and she makes me dinner and brings it over, and talks sci-fi with me, which makes her the very best sister EVER.)

        One friend I used to spend a lot of time with have actually rolled their eyes and said “oh,whatever” about the family stuff (this was when my uncle got lawyers into it and sued my mother, so… stress x 5), so I freely admit that that probably has a huge amount to do with re-prioritizing things!

        • SusieQ

          Aw man, I’m sorry about that eye-rolling friend. That’s awful.

          • KEA1

            that is awful. Though, I suppose, that makes it easier to bump that friend (I now use that term loosely) WAY down the priority list… =P

        • Moz

          Hey Ros – I’m sorry for your situation and honestly? Your good friends should still be there. Yes friendships need work, but hopefully the best ones can survive a fallow period for completely understandable reasons.

          • http://diaryofagolddigger.blogspot.com/ The gold digger

            Yes, this is when your friends should be showing up with casseroles.

    • http://themoderngal.com The Modern Gal

      This really resonates for me. I just got out of a job that had me working nights and weekends often, so I was almost always unavailable to be with friends when they were free. The job was really draining, so I had to prioritize taking care of myself and then reaching out to my family and closest friends when I could. It was what I had to do to survive.

      Now that I’m out of the job and am far more available, it’s tough. I still have friends, but they rarely think to include me anymore because they’re used to me not being available. I’m not exactly the world’s greatest social planner either, so it’s been a bumpy transition.

    • http://thenextdot.org/ Dot Maker

      I feel like one of the quintessential challenges of your twenties is figuring out this friend thing: who they are, how you make time for them. (Heck, maybe it’s even a quintessential life challenge for all time, I’m just speaking as my 26 year old self who has heard about this issue more from her fellow twentysomething friends than her older ones). Anyway, I hadn’t thought to frame the challenge in terms of getting or being married, but rather as one of growing up, like Ros is saying. Lately, I made a Life Choice (basically to not make change that would have been bad for me just because it was a change), and the aftermath has made me take stock of friendships in a big way. The way some friends responded to me and my processing made me think: Yes! This! I want more of this. The way others responded was a total turn-off. Their reaction made me replay some other past interactions in a way that made me realize…yeah, no, I do not want more of that in my life. Mostly, this is around positivity (or the lack thereof) and support and seeing you for you type stuff. Basically, in life I’m trying to put more time in friendships that are healthier, and stop investing as much in those friendships that just aren’t so healthy. It ain’t easy, but I think it’s a must of living each day better than the last, and not just the leap from single to married.

  • http://www.madeinmorningside.blogspot.com Ashleigh

    This is something I am very aware of, amoung my closest friends I moved in with my now fiancee when they were all still single. It takes effort on my part not to become “one of those couples” who drops her friends when she moves in with her partner. But both my fiancee and I really love being social and seeing our friends both together and apart, so it was easier for us. I think what we struggled with was a sense from our friends that now we are living together we will be less interested in hanging out, which for us was completely untrue. Yes work, life, having a steady partner makes clubbing less interesting to me but I still enjoy a glass (or 3) of wine and a good gossip.

    From my friends that have dropped of the face of the earth when a significant other arrives I understand it happens and expect maybe to see a bit less of them, but appreciate a text/email/ call to let me know I haven’t been forgotten. It’s those friendships that have lasted and we usually become closer when things quieten down again.

    Coming at it from the other angle it is tough being the friend who is dropped because life got too hectic, if you can’t make it to whatever you have been invited to that’s fine but why not suggest another time when you are less busy or say “i’m snowed under right now but how bout a phone catch up instead”. Good friendships are so important.

    • meg

      “I think what we struggled with was a sense from our friends that now we are living together we will be less interested in hanging out, which for us was completely untrue.”

      I think this is such an important myth to break, whether that’s reaching out to friends, or not NOT inviting them places. I know this happens with kids too. I’ve heard women say that they had a baby, and people just stopped inviting them places, figuring they wouldn’t be into it anymore. And, you know, they were! They maybe couldn’t go all the time, but they still were the same people they’d always been. We live in a culture that renforces the idea that you go through a rite of passage, and become “Too grown up” for what you loved before, and I think that can be DAMAGING and ISOLATING.

      • Hannah

        I actually have a friend that is the opposite of that… she told me that she self-selects herself OUT of things because she had a baby and she assumes people won’t want to hang out with the kid. The truth is that I’m really not a kid person at all, but she’s still my friend. I still want her in my life. I’m just not always sure how to make that happen.

        • meg

          Honestly? You gotta start loving her kid! You don’t have to be a kid person to love your friends kids. They are just very tiny people, who are just getting started. And if you love your friend, you can probably grow to love the tiny person she made. That’s how you do it. Just… start doing it.

          • One More Sara

            As a mom, nothing warms my heart more than to see my friends loving on my kid.

        • Liz

          I’m assuming that having the other parent or a sitter watch the kiddo is out of the question. But maybe that’s not the case. Regardless, have you tried planning kid-okay activities?That doesn’t mean Chuck E Cheese or playgroup or anything. Just things where kiddo won’t get into trouble. For example, meeting up for a park picnic instead of going to happy hour. Let the kid do its thing while you guys catch up. And make it clear that it’s okay if the little one comes along when you first set the date. They really don’t take all that much attention (depending on their age).

          • meg

            Or go to happy hour! If the bar serves food, they’ll let in the baby. Happy hours with babies are the EFFING BEST.

          • Liz

            Haha, we know I’M not above this route…

      • ElisabethJoanne

        I agree, but we all have also had friends who do disappear when babies (or boyfriends) come into the picture, no matter how hard we try to accommodate nursing/napping/cuddling schedules.

  • Natalie

    Thank you to everyone for their thoughtful advice, and thank you APW for running my question!

  • tamara

    oh man! DO NOT neglect your friendships just because your’e getting married. you MUST make seeing and talking to your friends almost as important as fostering your marriage. as Liz mentions, seeing your husband is a daily thing; when you wake up, when you get home; for dinner; for pillow talk at night. taking a night or two every single week to see a good girlfriend still means the majority of your free time is WITH your hubby. fostering the friendships that were the main pillars of support & love in your life BEFORE you got married is vital; think about it. they were your go-to people before your husband; god forbid if something should happen to your hubsand, you will want & need these people there then. out of appreciation for all they have been to you before (and could be in the future), they deserve your love and respect, time & energy. moreover, lots of studies have shown that keeping hobbies and social occassions SEPARATE from your husband is going to help your marriage succeed. it will keep you engaged and interesting, and give you guys something to talk about when you’re together. and obviously not all socialization has to be apart: set up dinner parties, lake days, movie outings, library trips, craft & board game nights, whatever, with ALL of your f riends and your partner, so you get the best of both worlds. good luck! :)

  • http://lisswantsbabies.blogspot.com LaurenLoo

    I don’t know if this applies to SLIM or not, but I’m going to share it just in case:

    In our group, I was the second to get married. But the girl who was the first- she got married right out of high school and seemed to assume, at the time, that all her friends that were going off to college and dating for fun would not understand at all what her life was like. And based on that assumption, she didn’t bother trying to share her life changes with us. Because we were at different places in our lives, my friend thought that no one would understand what was going on with her, and so she avoided talking to people who really cared about her. She turned down invitations that didn’t include her husband (for girls night out, etc.) because she thought it was us rejecting him. She and her husband always seemed to have an excuse for not coming out when they were invited somewhere, because she had the idea in her head that we didn’t like him, or that we wouldn’t want to hang out with an ‘old married couple’- even for midafternoon birthday parties planned weeks in advance, they always had a ‘prior commitment’, though I never actually heard what it was. Basically, my friend pushed all her friends away because she assumed that we wouldn’t understand the shift in her priorities. Whenever anyone called her on it, she would get irrationally angry at us and stop speaking to that person at all for months at a time. And as a result, we stopped trying. We all still care about her and would welcome her back to our friendship with open arms, and I can tell sometimes that she really needs a friend. But that initial assumption that no one would understand that her priorities were changing, and the fact that she consistently didn’t make any time at all for maintaining her friendships means that she has no idea that we still care about her.

    As a friend, this is a really hurtful position to be in. I’m not sure where SLIM stands in all this- I’m sure she isn’t as far off base as my friend was, but maybe she’s not considering that her friends really do just want to be there for her in a time that is probably a little stressful and also very joyful for her. It doesn’t take much- just a phone call while you’re driving every once in a while, a conversation on Facebook- to let your friends know that you care, and to let them have a chance to care back.

    On the other hand, maybe she’s doing just fine and her friends are being too demanding, in which case she can simply politely turn them down when she has to, and explain to them that she’s doing her best and that she’ll have more time later- which she definitely will. I have way more time to hang out with people now that I’m married and not in school, both with my husband and without. And since she’ll be moving in with her husband, she’ll be able to save money by inviting people over to her home rather than having to go out.

    • Lturtle

      I could be out of line here, and I apologize if I am, but the situation you describe with your friend raises some red flags in my mind. Is it possible that she is in an abusive situation? Often women who are in relationships with abusive men will cut ties with previous friends, especially turning down invites that don’t include the guy, and be irritable or defensive when they do interact with previous friends. Again, that may have nothing to do with your friend or her situation, but I thought it worth mentioning.
      And I want to say that I am not judging anyone or their behavior with this statement. I am speaking as a survivor of abuse who knows how easy it can be to hide.

      • http://lisswantsbabies.blogspot.com LaurenLoo

        Actually, she has thyroid issues and hormonal stuff going on, and has always been a bit quick to judge what others think of her before they get a chance to say anything. So I put down most of her actions to that, because she’s been in the process of figuring out her medical issues since about two years before she got married, and she would do the same kind of thing then, to a lesser degree. While I wouldn’t say I know -for sure- that there’s no kind of abuse going on, I do know that she is still very close with her mother and some older women in her church who she felt would understand her more since she is now an “old married lady”, so I don’t have any concerns about that.

  • Kathleen

    I’ve been in this boat…a very close friend, who lived with me, told me she felt abandoned when I got into a serious relationship with the woman who is now my fiancee.
    I’d already been spending time with her, lots of time, every week — we lived together! — but now my girlfriend was around a lot too. So I made sure to schedule things for just the two of us, thinking that would help.
    It turned out she just hated my girlfriend, so she moved out. Which really, really sucked, but not as much as when she told me I had to choose between her and my girlfriend. I did a lot of soul-searching during that time, and this is what I learned:

    1. Maintaining friendships means spending QUALITY time with them, not just time. If you’re in the same room, doing your separate things, it’s not really quality time. But if you already have lots of quality time and the friend still complains, maybe the issue has nothing to do with your friendship.

    2. True friends celebrate your successes and drown your sorrows. If your friends are more casual friends — the sort you’d meet up with at a bar, but wouldn’t count on in moments of great celebration or sorrow — then perhaps you’ve been spending less time with them because right now you need your true friends.

    3. True friends will not sabotage you. Seriously. This is important. If you say to a friend, “My god, I’d love to spend more time with you but I am so overwhelmed with the wedding!” and they say, “Well, I guess you don’t think we’re important,” then there is SOMETHING WRONG, and it’s not with you. True friends say, “Oh good, we miss you and we were worried something was wrong. Want company while you write invitations? We’ll bring the wine.”

    4. But you have to be willing to open up. Don’t expect your friends to know. TELL them they are important to you, that you’re scared of losing them, that you aren’t sure how to manage this whole marriage and friends thing, that you’re overwhelmed and don’t have a lot of time but that you’d love to spend time with them. They can’t read your mind!

    • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.ca/ Sheryl

      Exactly to point three. Sooooo much.

    • Ros

      Ok, I went on a huge semi-rant above, so… WORD to point 3.

      And people who pulled a point 3 are the people I no longer make time to see, because time is finite, and people who come over with wine/coffee/chats are PRIZED.

    • Cleo

      I’m currently dealing with issues in a friendship where I fall on both sides of your story, Kathleen. And your points have really given me a lot to think about in a sticky situation, so firstly — thank you!

      I’m the girl who resents that her roommate’s boyfriend was hanging around all the time, and I plain don’t like him and think he’s toxic to her for various reasons, but nothing abusive — he’s very sweet to her, dotes on her, and adores her, but he encourages selfishness and pushes her to be the worst version of herself for the sake of being “cool.” She’s happy, though, so I stuck it out and put up with him and pretended to like him because WE WERE GOING TO REMAIN FRIENDS.

      When he started getting handsy with me (and it wasn’t in a sexual way, it was in a similar way to how babies will grab a boob or a dog will sniff a crotch because it’s there) and wouldn’t stop even after I told him no til I was blue in the face, I told my friend that because of that I refused to hang out with her when he was around.

      She got mad, accused me of thinking he was trying to have sex with me, and told me that my boyfriend was terrible in ways x, y, and z.

      I moved out and we’re slowly repairing the friendship, but she invites her boyfriend over during our girls’ nights and makes passive aggressive comments about how I’m not up to go to karaoke on a Friday night on a moment’s notice (I work 50-60 hour weeks with a 90 minute commute each way). I’ve been wondering for a while whether it’s worth keeping this friendship because outside these issues, she’s great, but your post has given me a lot of food for thought. Maybe not in the direction I’d like to hear…

      • Sarah

        *Hug* for you, Cleo. Good luck sorting though this mess.

  • Denzi

    If Liz is right and you’re just slammed, go with her advice. It’s good advice!

    I wanted to highlight something she mentioned if that’s not the case, about *gasp* budgeting time. My married friends all have varying amounts of time they want to spend apart from their partner. There’s one couple (bless their hearts) who feel like it’s a tragedy of epic proportions to spend a night apart, and on the other end of the spectrum, there are couples who are used to one partner traveling for work all the time, and so have a hefty dose of apart-time built in to the schedule. T. and I fall somewhere in the middle–we like our OWN TIME, dammit!

    I think in order to make time for non-partner friends as a married couple, you have to figure out a: how important friends are in your joint priorities and b: where you fall on the continuum of time apart. Then commit to being the person-reaching-out to your friends, because they’re busy too, and everybody likes to be invited to things–and figure out how often you want to do this and DO IT.

    For T. and me, it works to deliberately schedule 2 nights a week as “not spent together” evenings, and one night a week as a “do something together with friends” evening. For my “bless their heart” friends, all their friend time includes each other, but man is their house full of houseguests every weekend.

    Think of it as a pie graph of “alone time with partner,” “time with partner and friends,” and “alone time with friends.” Figure out your ideal proportions, compare to your current proportions, and work towards the ideal.

    • http://www.bridesanstulle.com Sharon

      This is great advice! I think it also helps to think through which friends are very happy to hang out in a group or with you as a couple and which need more one-on-one time. This doesn’t mean always do one or the other, but trying to keep a bit of a mental ledger of “Oh, the last three times I saw so-and-so, it was the three of us together. Maybe I should try to schedule something with just the two of us in case there are things she wants to talk about without my partner being around.” For the friends-of-the-married-couple, this thoughtfulness might take the reverse shape. “Oh, hmm, I’ve been asking for a lot of one-on-one time with so-and-so recently. I should include her husband next time so that she doesn’t start secretly expecting that I hate him…”

  • http://www.bridesanstulle.com Sharon

    My experience was really similar to Liz’s, in that marriage actually opened up *more* time/inclination for my friendships. Something about knowing that at the end of the day I get to come home to my husband has made me so much more able and willing to spend time with people who aren’t him. (And, like lots of people have mentioned above, it doesn’t have to be expensive and usually isn’t. Your friends don’t want you to break the bank to see them. They just want you to see them.)

    Having said that, I do think that, fairly or unfairly, the onus tends to be on the person getting married to keep up with her single friends, at least initially. I definitely ran into a lot of “Oh, you’re getting married/are married, EVERYTHING IS GOING TO CHANGE! It’s the end of fun girl-times forever, WOE” and had to run around doing the “No! I value and care for our friendship! I still want to hang out with you!” thing for awhile. But luckily once you’ve firmly established your parameters with your friends, you tend to not have to do that as much anymore.

    I’ll say, too, that the reaction of single friends can also really determine the future course of the friendship. I know for me, the people in our lives who really welcomed our marriage were the ones who made it easiest on us to make the transition. For those stuck in the fun-times-ending-woe-forever mode, it was a lot harder and trying on the friendship. So I’d encourage any single ladies who feel like they’re being left behind to reach out to their engaged/married friends, who are probably themselves feeling a bit bewildered at being dropped by everyone. Your friends’ marriages aren’t the enemy, unless you make them so.

  • Newtie

    SLIM, I’m going through a very similar thing (first to get married, I feel like my friends “just don’t understand” sometimes), and I do think some of my friends actually ARE being unreasonable – it’s like instead of understanding that planning a wedding on top of my already busy gradschool/work life, they’re expecting even more of my time than usual, and making me feel really bad when I can’t give it to them. My mom reminded me that *they* might be feeling really insecure about what this change – me getting married – might mean, and that while it would be nice if they could recognize I’m a bit stressed out right now, first *I* might have to recognize that this is actually an acute time of need for *them.* She told me to make MORE time for my close friends, and tell them repeatedly how much they mean to me and how much they’ve always meant to me. Instead of trying to get them to understand that I’m stressed out and busy, I switched gears and put more effort into making sure they understand that they are STILL my nearest-and-dearest, even though I’m getting married. I’ve tried to stress that adding a husband doesn’t mean losing a best friend.

    For me, giving my friends MORE attention and reassurance has helped a lot. This happened a few months ago, and now, with just a few weeks to the wedding, suddenly they’re back to their usual supportive, helpful, understanding selves, and they’re not clamoring to spend extra time with me, and they’re being respectful of the fact that I am very busy right now. I think my mom was right – them telling me I wasn’t spending enough time with them hurt and annoyed me at first, but really they just needed some reassurances, both verbal and through my actions, that I wasn’t going to ditch them just because I’m getting married. Once they got those reassurances they backed off.

  • http://medeamaterial.com Jules

    My case is different than many, because after moving back and forth between different countries, many of the friendships I had cooled down a lot, and the ones remaining are not the “lets catch up and chat and gossip” type. I miss having friends in my daily life! I hang out with my husband’s dancing friends and some of his college buddies, but I’d love to have friends of my own: we’re moving again to a new country in two months and starting from scratch, so we’re trying to figure out how to balance things out and make time to MAKE friends. We both work from home, so just seeing each other all day long and then at the evenings, as much as I love him and my husband is my favorite person… I miss talking about the stuff I don’t have in common with him!

    I understand that sometimes it is almost enough to just hang out with my husband… but he can’t be my everything. So even if your friends are no longer going to be a priority, make sure you don’t analyze them as a group. Search out individual by individual: making time for “friends” is different than making time for a friend.

    • Liz

      Join some clubs! Take some classes! That’s how you meet people with common interests, plus *bonus* it’s a scheduled date to do so.

    • One More Sara

      moving to a new country is H.A.R.D. snaps to you for admitting how much you miss your daily friends and to be willing to make such crazy moves with your partner! I have a similar problem. I have a bunch of friends, but they are all “his” friends. I hope you aren’t having to deal with language barriers (which can be a royal pain in the neck), but if you are, look for language classes. That’s where you’ll likely meet other ex-pats who are also searching for friends. (In a yoga/cooking/fitness etc. class, most people there already have “enough” friends, so it can be a bit harder to make the leap from acquaintence to friend)

      • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

        And taking language classes is a great idea.

    • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

      Or people from your new country who recently moved to town and are looking for new friends? I happened to meet a friend of one of my husband’s friend’s this way, so that was helpful. Also, I made another friend about 6 months ago through a committee we both volunteer for. It takes time…hang in there!

      • http://medeamaterial.com Jules

        Thanks for the good advice. We are already looking for continuing our Cuban Salsa dancing lessons; we both enjoy dancing and we’ll probably meet people who also share that interest, so yay. I’m also interested in enrolling us in cooking classes. We know it won’t be a guarantee for friend-making, since as One More Sara mentioned, most people in interest-based classes already have their friends, but we’re hoping that because it is Washington DC, perhaps we’ll find other newcomers also taking classes and if not, we’ll still be doing things we like doing. I also liked the idea of volunteering. What a great way to meet people in the neighborhood.

        Luckily we won’t have much of a language barrier, which I am thankful for: things are hard enough without having to deal with not understanding people enough for making friends. At least we’ll be able to communicate.

  • Lturtle

    I agree with most of what Liz had to say, examine your priorities, find new ways to show you care, communicate/listen. I would ad that spending time with your partner and your friends doesn’t need to be either/or. My hubby and I are still in the process of merging families, and for us a large part of “family” is close friendships. I find that the friendships that are easiest to maintain (even with single friends) are the ones where I can include my partner, and it seems to be the same for him. We each have a couple really close friends and have made an effort to encourage them to befriend our partner.
    On the reverse, I have one friend that I almost never hear from anymore after years of being so close we talked nearly every day. She met and moved in with her partner in the last few years and has not done a good job of maintaining friendships outside of work and partner. She thinks of it as a temporary busy situation, she has said, like Liz’s mention of the “season of stress”. But it has lasted over 3 years, and is no longer temporary in my opinion. I still care for her dearly, and I try not to take it personally, but it does hurt.
    I don’t know if any of that is helpful, but it’s my experience with balancing the friend/partner situation.

    • Kat

      Call her up and ask her when she might have a few hours at home. Write down her schedule of free days and seriously, bring her coffee and cookies/muffins. Sometimes when I’m in a perpetual state of craziness having a friend that knows and understands that who can, without guilting me, send me a note that says “coffee? this week? next week?” forces me to step back and take a few hours to catch up.

      I have been through crazy seasons of stress that have lasted for years: cancer in my family, death of other family members, my own mental/physical health issues, starting my own fledgling business while still working another full-time job, beginning and ending several dating relationships, being part of several weddings… doing laundry and cleaning… sometimes before you know it weeks, months and years have gone by before you can even really process it all.

      The crazy part is that EVERY single person handles their seasons or years of stress in wildly different ways. Please, please, please, don’t be angry, spiteful or hate filled towards your friend, she could very well be coping the only way she knows how, and may be really guilt filled with the things she’s been unable to do. Please, please, please, have compassion and grace for her, that’s what crazy stressed out friends need.

      • Lturtle

        Um, I am not angry or hateful. As I said, I still care for her dearly and strive not to take the situation personally. There is not much I can do in the way of reaching out, that I haven’t already done. She usually doesn’t answer the phone, and doesn’t return voicemails or emails.
        I have known her for 20 years, and I know quite well how she copes with stress. I was there when she was finishing medical school and working 60 hour weeks while studying for her board exams – I cooked her dinner and helped her study even though I was a single mom with an infant. It is only since she entered a committed romantic relationship that she neglects her friends to this degree (I am not he only one). And I don’t hate her for it. I am sad that I don’t get to see her, and I wish she would choose to handle the situation differently. That is all.
        Please don’t judge me based on a brief, vague comment. You don’t know me, but I am a good and forgiving friend.

        • Kat

          I’m sorry if my comment came off the wrong way, as you said I don’t know you and I could only read your brief, vague comment to try and understand your situation and possibly supply some encouragement. I’m also very sensitive to being the stressed, probably not awesome friend right now as I’ve recently received several emails of vitriolic hate detailing how awful of a person I am. We all can only do the best that we’re doing and ask for miles of patience and forgiveness in the end.

  • Jessica

    This is one of those super timely posts for me on APW. I recently celebrated my 1st wedding anniversary and in the month after broke down several times, about how much I miss my friends. The vast majority of my best girls live far away and I often used that as an excuse for not keeping in touch. The few times a year we hang out are amazing, but one cannot get by on a few awesome hang outs a year. Plus with Facebook, twitter, texting, it almost seems like people don’t call each other anymore. So I felt isolated from them. My friends close by are a much different story. One got married last year and we mutually stopped trying to hang out.. I have stopped talking to 2 other longtime local friends who really hurt my feelings last year. Which leaves me with my amazing awesome single girl who is always up for anything and my sister in law who is also now one of my best friends. To make a long story short I decided May was when I would reconnect with people. I decided to try and call one friend every night. For those who were close I’d try to put something on the calendar, anything really from watching tv to target trips. My out of town friends are responsive but my local friend just canceled on me so it’s hard not to get discouraged. I’m just hoping they haven’t given up on me and don’t think I’m only reaching out to them after a year of marriage because now I needed them when before I didn’t. Post wedding I was just really burnt out emotionally and I did cocoon myself in my marriage. I’m hoping nothing is damaged beyond repair. Fingers crossed. Thanks for letting me vent as always APW!

    • Cleo

      I love this idea and I’m going to steal it!

      Chin up…that first step is the hardest to take and I’m sure they were happy to hear from you. :) If nothing else, karma will pay you dividends.

  • http://greyandshiny.wordpress.com Nina

    Many of my closest friends married within a couple of years of each other, right after I did. At the time, I was the last person to ever believe that marriage would change my friendships because we are all strong independent women, but it has. Even the *weddings* changed my friendships because they drew lines in the sand that had never explicitly been drawn before.

    For years, many of my closest friends have lived far away from me. Across the country far. But oddly enough, that wasn’t when I started to feel that missing piece. Maintaining strong friendships never felt that challenging then – we chatted on the phone, emailed, and could count on visits at Christmas and usually in the summer time as well. So while distance is tough, it isn’t the main factor.

    With marriage and added challenges of career and kids for some, the distance becomes real again. Finding time to chat on the phone becomes harder and harder. Holidays have to be shared with the in laws so regular visits can no longer be counted on. Your immediate surroundings – the people you can actually SEE – simply start to demand more and more of your attention. I understand all this, but it’s still hard in reality.

    Eventually the same issues seeped into friendships with local friends as well to the point where they might as well be living far away.

    I think part of the problem is the cultural narrative. It pushes us to work SO HARD to be ambitious in our jobs (which is great for some but not necessary for many), and to be the perfect partner/parent/daughter/cook/runner/etc. There is very little value placed on being a friend at this point in our lives. It’s like the sprinkles on the cake, not even the icing. A luxury.

    Joining this community has opened my eyes to how much I need friendships, especially with other women, especially at this point in my life.

  • Cali

    Love this topic! Here’s my personal experience/take on it. I’m a hardcore introvert by nature. Not in that I hate social interaction or am a hermit… just that social activities drain me and I need time to recharge. I’ve had weeks where I’m doing things every single night (whether it’s an official night out with the fiance, a girls’ night, shopping with a friend, rehearsals, etc) and I feel like I’m going to lose my mind by the end of the week. I need most of my evenings to be “down time” in order to function.

    Funnily, I used to always think I was weird and didn’t have enough friends, and I would let myself get depressed about it (throughout my life, not just since I’ve been with my fiance), until one day I finally realized that I actually just function best when I have one really awesome friend (outside of my significant other) and a small group of “satellite” friends. It’s the way I’ve always been my entire life. I always have one really amazing local friend who I hang out with all the time, and then a couple other friends I see once in a while, and I’m good. It helps that my current really awesome local friend is a hardcore extrovert, so inadvertently neglecting her is almost impossible because she’s so on top of keeping in touch and scheduling stuff to do. Haha.

    So, yeah, if your natural tendency is just to be more introverted and only have one or two really close friends, there’s nothing wrong with that! But I also don’t think you should devote ALL your time to your new husband and have no friends. While I’m not a social butterfly, I do start to go a little stir crazy if I go too long without spending quality time with someone other than my fiance. It’s a balance. :-)

    • ElisabethJoanne

      “Friend” is a strangely culture-specific word. In law school, I had a German exchange student as a roommate for a semester. During exchange student orientation, the American peer advisers told all the exchange students to look around the room because, “These are your new best friends.” “No way” said my German roommate. For her, you don’t have a group of two dozen friends for a few months, you have one or two best friends from childhood. I’ve since read about how people in different countries consider different numbers of “friends” “normal.”

      The point: across the human race, there’s no “normal” or “healthy” number of friends. Form the community that works for you, and beware of unhelpful cultural narratives about female friendships, just like you stay aware of unhelpful cultural narratives about romance.

    • SusieQ

      I feel the same way about social occasions being draining, and about too many making me crazy. I also have to consciously limit my social occasions and social connections for my own sanity. I feel like this perspective is not often stated (or not stated as well as you stated it!), so I always enjoy the chance to connect with someone else who feels the same way.

    • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.ca/ Sheryl

      One of the biggest realizations for me about being an introvert is that sometimes it’s really hard for my friends to deal with how much downtime I need. I only have a little bit of social time to spread around, and the larger my group of friends (or, my friends plus Bunny’s friends that we socialize with) the less time and energy I have for each individual.

  • Amy March

    I’m preparing myself for the change from a friends point of view. My closest guy friend is living and working minutes from me, which is totally awesome. Yay Friday night dinners, Tuesday lynches, and TV Sunday’s. It’s been just honestly one of the happiest times in my life. But he’s engaged, and moving to be with his fiancee in a few months. And it’s definitely the right move, and I’m happy for him, but things will change. And change us really hard for me! I’m trying to mentally prepare, but I will for sure feel his absence, and our friendship will never be the same. Being asked to plan his bachelor party is kinda huge for me. a) awesome, B) concrete way to say it’s been wonderful, and best wishes in the future. But sometimes, only wine and chocolate help.

  • http://www.twitter.com/irisira irisira

    There is definitely a difference between dropping off the face of the planet entirely (not even responding to emails/texts/calls/whathaveyou) and finding a new normal balancing your priorities.

    I have 2 suggestions:
    1. Respond to people. Even if it is to decline an invite or say, “I am so sorry I am swamped and don’t have time I devote to this response, but I love you.” (In your own words, of course.) and, BE SINCERE when you are doing those things. When a friend of mine was a 1L, she actually sent a mass email to our friend group responding to us in bursts (nothing was overly personal), and said, basically, she loved us all dearly and she couldn’t wait to catch up … In May. It was from the heart (though lighthearted) and we appreciated it.

    2. If you accept an invite, DON’T CANCEL at the last minute. Or, at least, don’t make a habit of it. Better to decline it entirely. I have two friends who used to do this to me constantly. In boh cases, I gave up trying and decided to let them come to me. One did (and now we’re closer than ever, which is awesome) and one did not, which I still feel bad about, even though I know it is not anything I did. I think if you say, please give me [insert time frame here] to get my head on straight while I navigate my crazy life, that’s better than saying you’ll be there to meet the girls for drinks then bailing at the last minute.

    If you’re already doing these things (or, I guess, in the case of 2, NOT doing these things!), then keep a clear head, keep the ones who genuinely love you but just don’t get your situation, and distance yourself from the toxic ones.

    • http://www.madeinmorningside.blogspot.com Ashleigh

      eurgh I hate bailers!! Most frustrating thing ever!!xox

  • http://ejsisme.blogspot.com Emily

    Oh I am ALL ABOUT the lady potluck nights. Before I moved far away, my friends and I used to get together every Wednesday for America’s Next Top Model (feel free to choose a different trashy show…or pick something actually worth watching. Your call), and everyone would bring a dish to share. We’d laugh together at Tyra’s antics and gab during the commercials and once the show was over. It was a great way to keep in sync with each other’s lives without sparing too much time or expense. And knowing it was every Wednesday made it easy, versus trying to get everyone’s schedules to sync up. And AND! Potlucks were great for experimenting with new recipes or getting rid of leftover ingredients.