This Time


In our culture, we often talk about marriages as insular units. You do everything together! You share interests! You’re each other’s best friend! You never share secrets with friends that you wouldn’t share with your spouse! And while happy marriages often include some of these elements, there is danger in becoming so dependent on each other that we cut ties with the outside world. It’s such an easy and socially encouraged path to take—staying in and watching Netflix when you could go out, not bothering to call your friends back—but it can be dangerous to isolate ourselves. Amy’s brave post explores why we need a broader community to give us support, and tells the story of the road back home.

Meg

This Time | A Practical Wedding

by Amy

I was twenty when I made a gigantic mistake. I married the man I was madly in love with surrounded by my extended family, most of whom I see once every two to five years now. Only one of my close friends was there. The rest? They weren’t invited because my groom didn’t like my friendships with them. I should’ve recognized this red flag, but my mother had never had many close friends in her life, so I thought that was just part of being married.

I was twenty-four when I found the courage to leave. I didn’t tell anyone in the city that I lived for at least a month. I was alone with little family support and only one friend who I thought I could call. When my distraught husband showed up on my doorstep late one night telling me he had bought a gun, there was no one to go to that would calm me down or help me feel safe.

I was twenty-seven when I moved to Canada. I was still depressed and carrying with me the shame from my first marriage ending. I had drifted through a series of unhealthy relationships, afraid to be on my own. I moved to re-evaluate my career. Little did I know that in addition to finding work that held meaning for me, I would also find a group of amazing women who would help me find myself. They showed me how to be a self-fulfilled, confident single woman. They modeled how being in a relationship doesn’t mean closing your heart to other people. I discovered that I love to cook and hike. I lost weight, gained a better wardrobe through clothing swaps, and found joy in a community of friends who supported each other through challenges big and small.

I was twenty-nine when I reconnected with my friends from my freshman year of college. I showed up at their annual New Year’s Eve party and they welcomed me back with open arms. The decade I had spent not interacting with them was erased by their love and forgiveness. I talked with them until 6:00am, cramming years into one night. We kept in touch. I returned from the holidays to Canada and less than six months later met the man who would make me want to say, “I do” again.

I was thirty when he moved into my cozy apartment. I celebrated my independence with a solo trip to Berlin on my birthday, but slowly opened my life to him while guarding my time with friends like a precious jewel. I subconsciously waited for him to try to limit that time, but he embraced my friends as his own and the dinner parties I enjoyed hosting became larger as his friends mixed with mine. When our first holidays together arrived, he suggested we find a way to see everyone, so we drove 6,000 kilometers together in just over a week, visiting his friends, his parents, my parents, my grandmother, and once again spending New Year’s Eve with my dear friends I had once thought I had lost. He proposed while we were hiking. I said yes.

I was thirty-one when we moved across the continent to the West Coast. In our new city, we struggled with the decision of where we should be married. We considered eloping, but neither one of his could bear the thought of not having our closest friends beside us. We debated where would be most convenient for our friends, prioritizing locations near major airports, and struggling to find a place with meaning before deciding on the obvious choice—our new city that wasn’t quite home yet, but would be by the time we married. We searched for a venue until we found the perfect location—a house we could rent for the weekend, so that everyone could stay with us.

I will be thirty-two when we marry. This time, there will be no extended family there. Instead, I will be surrounded by the family I have built through friendship. This time, instead of being married by an officiant I’ve only met once before, I will be married by one of my best friends. This time, instead of being given away by my father, we will ask for our friends blessing on our union. As they vow to stand beside us and not between us, I will silently vow to do the same for my husband’s relationships with his friends. This time I will not let go of my friendships and I know he will not ask me to let go. Friendship is a gift not to be taken for granted. I will prioritize our limited vacation time and funds towards maintaining the relationships that I cherish. This time, I will celebrate my new marriage with laughter and dancing, knowing that while I might not be able to find the words to express how much my life has been enriched by their presence, they will feel how much I love them.

Photo by APW Sponsor Gabriel Harber

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  • http://www.marbleryephotography.com melissa

    moving, and important. thank you.

  • Emmy

    I get frustrated by that dominant narrative that your spouse should be the center of your life, your everything. That’s just so much pressure to put on one relationship and one person.

    My fiancé is wonderful and we share many interests, but he doesn’t quite have my sense of humor, he doesn’t like literature or crafting, he doesn’t understand all the nuances of feminism that I can discuss for hours. My friends fill in those gaps, and provide additional support that only strengthens our relationship.

    It’s also especially important for me to maintain strong friendships outside my marriage because he is 20 years older than me. It is likely that I will be a widow at a relatively early age, left with much life to live. I don’t want to be alone, too.

  • http://seasofgales.wordpress.com/ KH_Tas

    Lots of love to you, and thankyou for this wonderful post.

  • Sara W

    This. I find my time with my friends very important and my husband thinks the same. At the very least, it gives us something new to talk about. At the most, we get to explore other areas that the other partner doesn’t have an interest in. Why limit our interests to the other person? We also like to spend time apart solo. When we were traveling in Europe, we split up for a day in Paris so that we could each do what we wanted to do and not feel like we were dragging the other person along.

  • C

    My fiance and I are one of those couples who are truly best friends. We love spending time together, we laugh at the same jokes, we like doing many of the same things. I can’t imagine a better person to share my life with.

    But even with considering my fiance as my best friend, I still work very hard at maintaining my outside friendships. I’m adamant about going out on my own to see people without my fiance there. I maintain interests separate from him. And it’s not about wanting to avoid keeping my fiance as the center of my world, because if I’m being honest, I WANT him and our relationship and family to be my center. Rather, it’s about knowing that I’m a more complex and interesting person when I have other relationships to maintain and other perspectives to gain.

    I appreciate APW tackling the subject of friendship and marriage, but I’ve actually begun feeling bad this month about the close *friendship* I have with my fiance (which, to me, is just another rich element in the fabric of our entire relationship).

    • Irene

      I don’t think you should feel bad at all! I appreciate this month and the different themes to get different perspectives. And I, an Internet stranger (so, for all its worth) admire that you and your fiancé have a deep friendship as part of your relationship.

      • C

        Thank you. That does actually help! All the comments have been very helpful and I’m glad I didn’t get any eye-rolling, “Sure, good luck with that” type comments…which I know are not typical of this website, but sometimes you never know.

    • http://teastrumpets.wordpress.com/ kyley

      I don’t think it’s a negative to have your partner as the center of your world. My partner is most definitely my foundation and I am his. It’s one of the many reasons we are getting married, and its one of the reasons I believe in the institution of marriage; it’s important (for us) to celebrate and formally commit to being the central foundation for one another. I don’t hear anyone saying that is a bad thing!

      But my partner is not exclusively the center, and that is a big difference. As you are saying yourself, it’s important to have key relationships and interests beyond your significant other, and we don’t often talk about how to achieve that balance. That’s what I hear folks saying in the posts and comments this month.

      • kyley

        Having trouble editing my comment. Just wanted to add that it’s interesting that you are starting to feel bad or somehow guilty. I think that’s the flip side to the same narrative we’re talking about this month. It’s just hard to maintain a balance sometimes, between friends, families, and your partner. And one narrative that plays out is that you should focus on your partner most of all, and another is that you aren’t allowed to be “that girl” whose first choice is her partner. And they both feed each other, and make the attempted balance of relationships even harder, because of these competing narratives that don’t allow room for the reality of your life and relationships.

        • https://twitter.com/SnippetsofSarah Sarah E

          Ugh- Word on the “that girl” narrative you described. There’s absolutely a balance to be hit, but Of Course when you start dating/fall in love/move through new phases in your relationship, you focus more on your partner at that point in time. That’s the new big thing in your life and it’s exciting! Plus, if you’re headed toward marriage, your partnership is probably one of the most intimate relationships in your life!

          Maybe balance isn’t the right word- Kathleen Shannon over at andkathleen has talk about using “alignment” instead. Balance can imply there’s some sort of perfection to be achieved, whereas alignment (in Kathleen’s description) acknowledges different interests and issues will be dominant at different times, but as long as you’re still moving forward along the life trajectory you want, then be forgiving of that and remember that soon enough, there will be another pull on your attention, too.

          • http://teastrumpets.wordpress.com/ kyley

            Oh, as a recovering perfectionist, I like this idea of alignment vs balance!

        • https://twitter.com/SnippetsofSarah Sarah E
          • Meghan

            Hey Sarah E – thanks for sharing that! I love it.

        • meg

          Totally agreeing with what Kyley said. I’m finding it interesting (and confusing) that you’re feeling bad or guilty.

          Hell, I’d say that my family (partner and kid and myself) are exclusively my center. They’re just not the exclusive important things or people in my life. Work, community, broader family, etc, all of this is really important. But my family is for sure at the center. And honestly, the people I MOST enjoy spending time around. Though I really enjoy spending time around a lot of other people to, and that enriches my relationship. But if you forced me to pick two people only to hang out with, I’m gonna pick my husband and kid (thank god, because I live with them).

        • Rachel

          Yes, this. I personally feel like I’ve gotten hit with the narrative that you should have tons of friends outside of your spouse, not the one it sounds like a lot of others have been subjected to. I’ve personally felt a ton of pressure to make friends outside of my relationship (even though I don’t consider him my best friend!). But I totally get where you’re coming from and it’s something I’m hoping to write more about in an upcoming post this month. :)

    • Lauren

      My husband and I (five days strong, woop woop!) started out as friends, then best friends, then dating and now married. I can honestly say that he is one of my best friends – he fills the place that my female best friend can’t and she fills the place that he can’t. The most major difference between them is I am not romantically interested in my female best friend!

      Never, NEVER feel bad about your friendship with your fiance. As you so eloquently say, it’s an important thread in the fabric – maybe even several passes of the loom in the fabric!

      • http://www.agaishanlife.com Revanche

        Congrats!

    • http://www.twitter.com/babyinabar Shotgun Shirley

      This reminds me of a Mindy Show quote – best friend is a TIER, not a PERSON!

      So my husband is a “best friend.” Well, so are my sisters, and so is friend x and friend y and friend z. I think the important thing is that your partner not be your ONLY best friend.

      • Rachel

        YES! I think of best friends the same way…it’s a level, not an exclusive title. I currently have six best friends. I’m always happy to have more!

      • meg

        Ooooo. I like that. As someone who’s never really had best friends (since, say, elementary school) I find that really helpful.

      • Sarah

        Oh THANK YOU for this!

        I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. I’m someone who has two people I consider best friends who fulfill very different roles in my life. They are 2 of 3 friends I’m inviting to my wedding (no bridal party so no need to rank them!) but I also want to include how my husband to be is my best friend too because at the heart of our relationship is a true friendship. He also has several people in this category including me. I’ve been trying to find a way to include this notion in a wedding speech for our very small number of wedding guests (basically our closest family and friends). Thinking of it as a tier and not a person really, really helps. Every other way I phrased it sounded like elementary school where we counted how many best friends we had. Now, back to the speech!

    • meg

      Well, David and I were platonic best friends (very platonic) before we ever dated. So to be sure, we’ve got all of that going on. We grew up in the same place, we share friends going back 20+ years, we gossip about the same people, we watch a lot of the same shows, we have a lot of shared interests (we both worked in professional theatre!). And yes, my family is totally my center.

      So anyway, I could obviously call David my best friend. And he would otherwise be a friend. I think for me, I have to keep things sorted out for myself linguistically, so I don’t call him a friend, because the role is different for me. Also, god forbid I should ever lose him, I need friends to help steady me. But also, when I hang out with friends without David I come back with lots to talk about. When we hang out with friends together it makes us a stronger couple.

      Anyway, I don’t think anyone should ever feel badly about being friends with their partner (actually, I kind of don’t know what to do with that sentiment, or where to sort it in my brain). But we are talking a lot this month about the relationships beyond our partnerships.

      • Rachelle

        My fiance and I moved together to Denver and left all our family and most of our friends in the Bay Area for a place where we didn’t know a single person. Let me tell you, we are much happier people in general and our relationship is stronger and better when we spend time separately with friends. I totally agree that you come back with lots to talk about and I think a relationship needs that!

        Also, I can’t imagine not considering my partner my closest friend. Of course we enjoy spending time together and we share a sense of humor and want to tell each other everything. I probably wouldn’t be able to love someone I didn’t feel that way about… But I think everyone has a different definition of “best friends” and it usually ends up being some sort of cool kids club.

      • rys

        I think this is important for so many reasons — in part, because as some fellow single friends and I were talking about last night, sometimes friends do become the center, take the place, and occupy the roles typically assumed to be held by partners/spouses/significant others. For example, when one person had a major medical procedure, another friend picked her up and drove her home. Often, that’s a role assumed to be done by a partner (and, in fact, the friend got flack at her job for taking time off to do this, as though no one in the history of the world has ever picked up a non-related person from the hospital before and everyone has a partner or parent in the vicinity and available to do this job).

        For me, the problem with the partner-as-best-friend narrative is not that it can’t or shouldn’t happen, but that it leaves no space for other people partaking of the best friend/core relationship–whether partnered or single. Are best friends, or tight/close/inner-circle/top/tier/whatever friends supposed to disappear or dissolve when a friend partners up? If so, that’s leaving the other friend hanging, as though her/his emotions and needs have no place. Presumably if friendships are mutual and reciprocal, roles (which may well evolve) get worked out between people and don’t simply change because one person gets married.

        One of my best friends (I have more than one, for sure) is a guy who is getting married in the fall, and one of the things I adore most about him and love about our friendship is that it’s shifted with our lives (it started when we were roommates and, 5 years later, we live 2000 miles apart) but the quality and substance hasn’t changed. We talk on the phone, we email, we meet up, we travel together; right now, I get to support him in getting married and he supports me in trying to find a partner. I’m not, nor do I need to be, privy to everything that transpires between him and his fiancee, but that doesn’t mean we’re not best friends. And sometimes his fiancee joins us in the fun and other times she leaves us to our garlic-stuffed-olive-fueled intellectual ramblings or she insists on him having a bachelor party–to be thrown by myself and another woman, the third member of our friendship trio.

    • http://www.xwebseries.com Cali

      This! I could have written this comment! My husband is one of my best friends, and he and our little family are definitely my top priority… but I don’t think that approach means you can’t ALSO prioritize friendships with other people.

      I always make sure that I still regularly spend time with my best girlfriend, call my friends who aren’t local, and try to have regular girls’ nights that get me out with other people. At the same time, I still spend a lot of time with my husband, love him very much, and we have a lot of interests in common… so he’s obviously a big part of my life and is frequently included in social events, too. I think it’s a good balance, though I do have to consciously think about it to make sure I don’t slip into antisocial land.

      It helps that I, like the OP, also have experience with being in an unhealthy long-term relationship that made me super depressed and antisocial, and I lost a lot of my friends. I remember how awful it was struggling to reconnect with old friends and make new ones, so when I ended up in a new relationship I made a promise to myself that I would never let that happen to me again.

      Even though I’m naturally introverted, like staying home, and tend to keep small circles of friends… I always make sure to keep my friendships alive. It’s way healthier, and I’m way happier than I was in my previous relationship (obviously also because it’s a healthier relationship in general).

  • Kat

    This is why I have trouble with wedding phrasing that says “Today I will marry my best friend.”

    NOPE, I’m sorry, G is my future spouse, and a lot of other titles get rolled up into that one, but my best friend is someone completely different. They’re two distinct and separate positions…thank-you-very-much.

    • http://www.superfantastic.blogs.com Superfantastic

      Yeah, I think I wrote something one time about marrying my best friend and then it didn’t ever look right to me. We do have all of the good stuff that makes up a great friendship, but obviously with more stuff on top of that and best friend just isn’t the label. It took me a while to come up with what I felt like was the right phrase – my favorite person. He is. He’s my favorite person in the whole world. But my best friends are my sister and my closest girlfriend. His best friends are a few of his Navy buddies. But we’re each other’s favorites.

  • steph

    this is lovely, thank you for sharing it. my close group of friends struggled with the opposite for years, contributing to the demise of more than one relationship by not being supportive or welcoming to partners. in our late 20s we seem to have finally figured our sh*t out and learned to embrace rather than feel threatened by each other’s chosen people. what a change–it feels amazing to have an even bigger and more supportive extended built family. i hope you keep feeling that as well!

  • http://irvingplace.net Kayjayoh

    This is a great piece. While I was (thankfully) never married to the guy, my last LTR was with someone who never wanted to hang out with anyone other than our small group of mutual (work) friends. As such, I drifted away from a strong group of friends who could have given me perspective on his emotionally abusive behavior. Instead, I was left adrift when we broke up, not feeling comfortable crying on the shoulders of “our” friends because they were “his” friends first and because they were also co-workers. It took a long time to heal.

    Like Amy, I also found my way back to my old friends, and have rebuilt the relationships that have sustained me over the years. My fiance gets on well with my friends and I with his, and the times when folks from the groups have met each other (one group is on the coast, one if in the midwest) they have gotten along swimmingly.

    I have never really had “a best friend”, one person that stands out above the rest. I tend to build small, tight groups of best friends. My fiance is part of that group, but he stands *with* a collection of strong men and women who I can turn to for advice, for comfort, and for activities (and who can turn to me for the same.) We are all stronger and happier for it.

  • M.E.

    I agree with C. above that I have noticed feelings of guilt and exclusion about this topic, though I know that is not the intention. But my partner is truly my best friend.

    In partial response to Kat, or as a corollary, I just never had a best friend. Not as a child or in school or college, but no one who was ever MINE (in a non-obsessive “mine” sort of way). No other girl (or guy) to whom I would clearly designate to take the other half of my broken heart necklace, let’s say. That in itself is something that has been hard for me. I have had and still have very close female friends who come and go and return in my life, but no BFF or lifelong anything. It’s okay, it’s just the way my life is and my friendships are, but sometimes I feel a little twinge when other girls talk about their best friends. I know this must be the case for other women as well.

    My partner and I were friends for 8 years in varying levels of closeness before we became a couple two years ago. I am, to put it bluntly, pretty geeked out about every second we spend together and we have a great friendship alongside our relationship. He is my best friend and I am trying to own that this month in this space. I volunteer alone and see my friends alone when I can, but he is both my foundation and my center, and though it’s not quite the same as a close female/solely platonic friendship, he’s the only BFF I’ve ever had, and it’s…nice. And it’s ok.

    • Tamar

      M.E., just wanted to say that I feel you on the twinge! I’ve had different groups of girl friends throughout my life, but no particular one that I’ve kept in close contact with as we move from place to place. Planning a wedding alongside a good friend in the new city we live in, it breaks my heart a little to hear her talk about her best friends that she’s had since MIDDLE SCHOOL.

      I spend a lot of time wondering how all the “traditional” wedding activities are going to play out for me, since I won’t be having “bridesmaids.” I’m sure it’ll turn out the way it’s supposed to, and at the end of it all, we’ll be married! (And, FOR REAL, my fiance is the greatest thing.) But at the moment, I’m bemoaning my lack of a “best friend”, especially when I think of having a bridal shower or a bachelorette party, hen party, “last fling before the ring,” etc, that I feel like I’ll be missing out on.

      Along those lines, has anyone been in a similar situation? How did you deal with it? I’ve got a great group of lady friends in my new city, and I really feel close to them. I’d like to have an excuse to celebrate with them, even if I haven’t known them forever. Is it weird if I throw myself a “bachelorette party,” and invite them all over to drink champagne with me? Maybe that’s a silly question and it’s sort of an inane detail, but it’s honestly causing me a bit of heartache and stress.

      • Cleo

        If you want it, do it! And maybe ask one of your friends in your city to help you get it organize it (especially if she knows your new city well). I personally would love to help someone throw a bachelorette party.

        And… I don’t know many people who would turn down an opportunity to hang out and drink champagne.

        You don’t need lifelong best friends to make this sort of party happen.

      • The Family Jules

        Maybe they want to do something for you, but don’t know how to go about it due to the newness of the friendship. Remove the potential awkwardness and just throw it yourself! Who doesn’t love an excuse to drink some delicious bubbly goodness? Don’t stress about it and just go for it. I’m sure your friends will be honored that you want to spend time with them during this transitioning period in your life.

      • http://www.xwebseries.com Cali

        Totally not weird. I had bridesmaids, but no maid of honor because it felt weird to designate one friend as being “better” than the others. I scheduled my own bachelorette party, invited people, and decided where and when I wanted to have it. It was a blast! Do it.

      • Erin E

        Yes – totally right there with you on not having a best friend, not having bridesmaids and feeling a little weird about how “the traditions” will pan out. I have a small group of wonderful friends (most of whom I met later in life), but they’re spread out all over the country. I hope some of them will be able to attend my wedding, but it definitely seems too much to ask that we all gather for showers, bachelorette parties, etc. So I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that while I won’t have those things in a traditional way, I can have them in a different (but still meaningful way). My Aunties are throwing a family-only shower for me and I’m spending a weekend before the wedding with two great friends on a girls’ trip. Kind of like your self bachelorette party (which I think is an AWESOME idea)… we can still create important time and space with our friends without it fitting into the mold of “Bachelorette with my besties!!”.

    • meg

      It’s interesting that you’re feeling this. Mostly because my story is exactly yours. Don’t have a best friend. Was friends with David for 9 years before we got together. We’ve been together 8 years now, and my family (him + kid) are totally my foundation and my center. SO. Whatever guilt your feeling isn’t about what I’m saying.

      All that said, I do think having community outside my relationship is important, and as this piece points out sometimes VITALLY important.

      • M.E.

        I agree first of all about the vital nature of the piece and the lesson in it. I am actively in the process myself of trying to re-nurture relationships that myself and my far-flung friends struggle to maintain as we move across the country/world, get married, etc. (Interestingly, though not the topic today), I have found my independent volunteer work at an animal shelter to be more enriching of my relationship than my independent friendships.

        Reflecting on my response, and the responses of other here about feeling “bad” about being best friends with our partners, has a lot to do with unraveling the cultural training to compare oneself to others. Someone in here said something to the effect of, “If all those awesome APW ladies feel this way and I don’t, I must be wrong!” As if wrong were even a part of it…but I so get it. I have made much progress on this type of comparison trap, but I think it’s a lifelong process of unlearning. My comment above wasn’t really meant as an intellectual evaluation of the sometimes crucial (and always a pretty good idea) need for a non-partner community; it was a …reflex.

        I think the gut reaction of myself and others to hearing how it’s maybe not always a good idea (for some/lots of people) to be BFF’s with your spouse is more revealing of rampant insecurities about friendships in general, particularly surrounding romantic relationships. As Rachel said above, it can manifest as, “Ack I don’t have ENOUGH friends! “Or for me, “but he really IS my bff! It can be ok!!” because my personal insecurity is about not having a girl BFF, now especially as engagement is forthcoming this summer. It made me sad for a long time until I decided, it’s my life and it just didn’t work out that way and I’m cool with how it’s ended up. In that way, it wasn’t a true reply/reaction to your intended meaning, Meg, but to how loaded the whole topic is and to chime in that as cliched as “I married my best friend” may be, sometimes it’s just the only way to describe it.

  • http://www.safarimama.blog.com Manya

    I do find this narrative interesting, and yet more evidence that each marriage is different and that there is no one way to be perfectly married, but many, many ways to be really well married. I would think this particular “dilemma” would be a problem only if the two spouses had different beliefs about the centrality of the marriage relationship. In the original post, there was obviously a big difference on that point, and I read into it that her husband limiting her friendships was bordering on a control issue.

    Neither my husband nor I is particularly social (I wasn’t even when I was single, or when I was a single mom). We both moved around a lot growing up and don’t have a network of deep friends who we see a lot. I can barely hold together all of the responsibilities I have, and end up dedicating almost all of my time outside of work to my family: kids and husband and finishing my MBA (7 WEEKS LEFT!) which, demands a lot of intellectual interaction. Occasionally, I carve out time to see a girl friend (and my husband is very supportive of that), but my husband is my go-to guy for most things friendship and I’m ok with that. Now, if he were actively limiting my ability to have other friends? Not good, and in fact, a red flag… Luckily I think we’re pretty well aligned on this point, so it doesn’t create conflict.

    • M.E.

      “I would think this particular “dilemma” would be a problem only if the two spouses had different beliefs about the centrality of the marriage relationship.”

      Manya, right to the heart of the issue! Thanks for articulating this part of the discussion. (YAY MBA!)

    • Molly Mouse

      I love “many ways to be well married”. I think it’s natural to feel the way C & M.E. described when your relationships/views are the opposite of someone else’s. It makes you think more deeply about your own viewpoint and I know I’ve felt that way on APW before: if these intelligent women believe differently, am I wrong? But in most cases, there isn’t right and wrong, just different experiences. I tell myself that when I feel the need to defend my experience – no one is telling me I’m wrong!

      Also, being on the same page as your spouse is key. I feel like my husband is my “best friend”, because out of all the friends I have he is the best one. If I have limited resources (woot for an MBA!) I more often choose to spend time with him. When I ask if he feels like we need to make more local friends (we have many excellent friends who live farther away), he says he’s got what he needs. Our line up of friends may be small, but it meets our needs & keeps us happy, which is the point of it all, I think.

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

      Remembering who you are, and what your friendships are outside of a relationship seems like a key part of this issues. I’m most comfortable with a very small network of friends, and while I adore my friends I don’t have huge amounts of social energy so even when single the time I spent socializing was somewhat limited. So now that I’m married, it stands to reason that I’m not suddenly going to have double or triple the number of close friends – but I still need to take the same time I used to take to nurture the friendships I do have, while also recognizing that my relationship also takes up a portion of that social energy.

  • Kristen

    I really appreciate what C and Kat and others are saying here about the different perspectives they have on spouse as best friend. I know that while I personally am like C, I wish I was more like Kat.

    Because of who I am, my past, my issues, my husband is my BEST friend as in closest friend as in the person I tell more to than anyone, because I trust him the most. I see both how my relationship and the term “best friends” means what it means to me because of me and who I am. But I can also see if I didn’t have all the issues I have and I was a different person, how having your spouse as just one of several key support persons in your life would be awesome.

    I’m just hoping to be brave enough to open my heart to more people in my life and to build more close, strong friendships with folks other than my husband, because I believe it will make me happier and make my life richer.

    • meg

      “I’m just hoping to be brave enough to open my heart to more people in my life and to build more close, strong friendships with folks other than my husband, because I believe it will make me happier and make my life richer.”

      Now THIS is exactly what I hope this month can be about for people. Me included. This is EXACTLY the point for me. I’ve found that having a partner actually really helps with that, because you have someone to come home to.

      • Kristen

        Thanks Meg. Not to be a Preachy McPreacherton but when I recognize how I’m responsible for some of my problems, I like to share it on the off chance it helps someone else. I know a big part of the reason I don’t have more/closer friends is I am afraid. I’m terrified actually of about a million things that come with letting other people into your heart.

        Recognizing that means I kind of can’t get away with complaining how hard it is to find friends. I should complain about how hard it is to trust people enough to be friends. I have a feeling I’m not the only one with this particular problem.

  • Caroline

    I think this is so important. It’s been a rough area of our relationship because when we moved in together, we moved to a place where neither of us had any friends. I had no friends anywhere and he was halfway across the country from his, without the money to visit often. We’ve definitely learned we cannot be eachother’s only person (lover, and primary friend, and sole confidant), it just doesn’t work. I’ve made a lot of friends quickly, including some Very good friendships. Unfortunately, he is shy and thus has had a hard time making friends here. 4 years after moving here, he just now has people who he hangs out regularly through where he sees them. (A martial arts gym, our homebrew club) One or two are folks he’s hung out with outside of those settings, but none are confidants. I can’t wait until he has some close friends here. It will be so good for us.

  • http://uncommon-courtesy.com Jaya

    Sometimes I feel really self-conscious when I hear all the advice about how you need to have your “friends nights” or that you need to not spend all your time with your spouse, because honestly, that’s how my relationship is. We’ve been best friends since we were 14, and any individual friends have long since been folded into a larger group of mutual friends that we pretty much spend all our time with. He’s as good friends with “my” friends and I with “his” friends that those labels don’t even matter anymore, they’re all just “our” friends. We’re social with them, and then we have our nights alone, but there’s no separation between friend groups.

    • Jennie

      To me these types of posts are reminders that it’s (often – every relationship is different) a good idea to have other relationships than the one with your partner/spouse. Not that you have to have separate friends or someone outside of your relationship that is your ‘best’ friend. When things get hard or there is a serious injury, having someone or some group of people that will support you/your relationship feels very important to me.

    • meg

      Our life is mostly like this (we’ve been friends, though far from best friends) since we were 14/15. I do sometimes have girls night out (MADDIES BIRTHDAY IS COMING) and try to encourage him to have guys nights watching whatever the fuck sports I don’t care about. And I have nights out for work. But. It’s mostly pretty folded.

      But. I have people that can support me, or I work hard to try to build those relationships, other than just my partner. That hard work is… hard… but important to my wellbeing. Hard and scary, I might add.

      • HotSauce

        Haha… “whatever the fuck sports I don’t care about.” I laughed.

  • Martha

    I love SarahE’s comment about alignment! I think that everyone has different friendship needs – you just need to figure out what those are and fill them up!

    I think we tend to jump down someone’s throat when they say their husband is their best friend because it can make us feel insecure if we don’t feel that way – which is ridiculous. If your husband fills your best friend role, great, if not, who cares, so long as he is filling your partner and husband role needs. The thing is, best friend does not equal spouse. They are two different roles in your life. If one person fulfills both, good, but it doesn’t make your husband/partner/wife less of a partner if you consider someone else your best friend. Just like the words spouse/husband/wife/partner/fiance/groomfriend/bride/etc means different things to different people, so can best friend!

    I think the funny thing is that men are more apt to say their wives are their best friends because let’s face it, women are pretty awesome!

  • js

    This post is very well-written. This person learned a lot and matured from their very difficult first relationship. But it’s also very frustrating for me, personally. My husband is my best friend because I don’t have any friends besides him. I admit here, in this safe space, that I don’t like my husband in the role of best friend. I’m not sure how it happened. All the sudden, I looked around, and there was no one to talk about shoes with. No one who knew my extreme dating history to be happy for me when I finally met my husband. I had a huge falling out with my best friend over her now husband and there were mutual friend casualties. Other friends moved so far away and I can’t afford to visit. So, I would like to know how, when you’re old, you make all these brand new sisters of the heart, lady-friends, who suddenly make your life complete. I had a very active social life before I met my husband. Then life changed, I stopped working and I am now socially stagnant. I encourage my husband to keep in touch with his friends and he would do the same for me. We don’t get in each other’s way like that. But I am lonely. I want a shopping buddy, another girl to talk about Ryan Gosling with. Somebody, besides my husband, to talk to about my crazy family and his. I think friendship and marriage are great and know myself well enough to know I need others in my life. Somebody talk about the how of this then, instead of the happy ending. Please.

    • Martha

      Have you ever read “MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend” by Rachel Bertsche?

    • http://thevanillabride@blogspot.com Sonarisa

      Agreed. I met my fiance after moving to a new city. Most of my friends in the area are his, and I find myself without girlfriends to talk about knitting, cooking or going shopping with. I am trying to keep up with friends from back home, but it’s hard to meet new people. I’ve started volunteering and trying to do group events centered around topics I enjoy. It’s hard the first few times, but hopefully some bonds will form :) Good luck!

    • Maddie

      I can’t give you any prescriptive advice, but I’ve found it makes a huge difference when people in general make this a priority. I was in the same space you’re in when I moved away from my college city to live with my now husband. I had no friends and felt really misaligned.

      When I moved to CA and joined the APW staff, I was immediately included in a lot of social activity, and Meg made it a super priority that I was privy to her social circle. It is SO NICE to know someone who thinks it’s important that communities exist, because it puts a lot less of the responsibility on me to find and define my community. I was just has happy to fall into one.

      I think in these conversations there’s a lot of pressure to not only let your partner be your best friend. But I think a big part of the equation is wrapped up in social people who know how to build bridges. Because making friends is hard. I mean, where do you even start?

      • Cleo

        “Because making friends is hard. I mean, where do you even start?”

        Exactly!! I miss elementary school — I made 2 of my lifelong best friends in the following ways:

        1. Me: “I like your frog drawing. Do you want to come over to my house and play?”
        C: “Sure!”

        2. Me: “Hey! We both have retainers!”
        H: “I think we’re the only ones.”
        Me: “That’s cool. My orthodontist’s name is Dr. Herzl. What’s yours?”
        H: “Dr. Gross”
        *We both collapse in a fit of giggles (because his name is gross!!! hahaaha!)*

        • Lauren

          Considering I met my husband in high school, I have no idea how to even date once you’re an adult. What is this “hooking up” I hear so much about? I would be flummoxed.

        • anonymous

          Are you from Massachusetts? I definitely had a Dr Hertzberg for an ortho and Dr Needleman for a dentist…wouldn’t be surprised if there was a Dr Gross there too…

          • Cleo

            Nope, I’m from Missouri. I grew up in an area with a lot of Jews, so lots of Jewish doctors. :) (or at least those with Jewish-ish names)

      • https://twitter.com/SnippetsofSarah Sarah E

        Plus, Meg and her social circle get extra credit for making space for you to join in. Since we moved two years ago, a lot of the good friends I’ve made are actually fellow students in my partner’s grad program- they were kind enough and welcoming enough to make space for me (and call me Soc Dept “adjacent”).

        For me, the hardest part about making new friends in a new city is my own feelings of barging in on someone’s already-established social circle. That feeling isn’t always reasonable, given the kind, fun people I’ve met. But even me, as a “joiner,” I start thinking “What do they need me for? They have this awesome group of friends already, they don’t *need*another one.” And so I try not to be intrusive in other people’s plans and lives, unless explicitly invited.

        In sum: yeah, it is hard.

    • My Name Here

      JS, I’m with you.

      I had a falling out with a friend over her fiance — he is grabby and doesn’t hear the word “no” and she blamed me for being too sensitive and accused me of thinking he “actually wanted” me. She’s the social organizer of our group, so I’ve dropped away from our mutual friends. Those people comprise a good 80-90% of my friends in the city I currently live in.

      A lot of people I’m close to live out of town.

      My partner and I are very close — we spend a significant portion of our free time together and have a blast. However, he is less social than I am and I’d like to go out more. I’d also like a night to hang with girl friends.

      I work 50 hours a week and have a 2 hour (roundtrip) commute every weekday. I’m exhausted by the time I get home and because of my work hours, I don’t have time to “just join a club.” I go to drinks with people in the industry I work in, but it’s not friend time. There’s always business being done. I also have a passion project I work on in my spare time. I hope to make it my full time career one day, but until then, my after work energy goes into that and nurturing my relationship with my partner.

      So, I’ve painted myself into a corner here. I have no friends in town and barely any time to make new ones. I know I’m making the right choice focusing on my career now, but I feel awfully lonely.

      Hang in there, JS. I hope it helps to have someone know how you feel.

    • meg

      “So, I would like to know how, when you’re old, you make all these brand new sisters of the heart, lady-friends, who suddenly make your life complete. I had a very active social life before I met my husband. Then life changed, I stopped working and I am now socially stagnant. I encourage my husband to keep in touch with his friends and he would do the same for me. We don’t get in each other’s way like that. But I am lonely. I want a shopping buddy, another girl to talk about Ryan Gosling with. Somebody, besides my husband, to talk to about my crazy family and his. I think friendship and marriage are great and know myself well enough to know I need others in my life. Somebody talk about the how of this then, instead of the happy ending. Please.”

      I WANNA TALK ABOUT THIS. Because… everyone has been there, right? I hope it’s not just the two of us who have looked around and realized they were super lonely.

      • https://twitter.com/SnippetsofSarah Sarah E

        Yes, it’s not just you two. Especially since moving, all my very closest friends are geographically distant, with fabulous lives of their own, so we keep in touch in sometimes in drips, sometimes in torrents.

        Locally, I’m an extroverted, community-oriented person who is in near constant state of needing a job, so I’ve acquired tons of people in my “acquaintance” and “friend” tiers (to borrow Mindy Kahling’s great visual), but two years in, it’s been slow going moving them into an closer tiers, so I don’t really have a local confidante or shopping buddy or “hey, I’m bored, wanna grab coffee” buddy. I feel like sometimes I make really good friendship headway, but then it kind of falls to the wayside for a bit.

        So I’ve got the whole join things/volunteer bit down- what’s the next step?!

        • Heather

          You know what it is? It’s so hard, but it’s calling people to go see a movie with you or check out a new restaurant and doing it enough until they consider you a friend. Chances are they want you to be their friend too, but don’t want to invade your life. So, just call, schedule something, and do it. Don’t necessarily make your first call to your partner/spouse. And when you get home, tell them that you scheduled something with your friend. So that you won’t flake out and not go.

        • http://breadandcheeseplease.com Charise

          I am very late to this conversation, but THIS right here is me. I have lived where I live for EIGHT YEARS now. I have TONS of acquaintances and friends. We used to go out and socialize all the time. But I’ve never found a really close friend here, to just, as you say, last minute grab a coffee with, or ones who I really have lots in common with interest- and personality-wise. It’s always more of bigger group things. And now most of our social groups have either 1) had kids and unfortunately don’t often want to do anything, or 2) have just mysteriously fallen off the face of the earth and stopped responding to our attempts to hang out.

          I’ve tried reaching out to individual women that I think I’ve really hit it off with, but it seems like we can’t ever get plans together. After so many times of trying, I just give up – if I’m ALWAYS the one trying to reach out, I assume you don’t really want to be friends.

          Gah. In short: making true, close friends as an adult is hard. But we all already knew that.

          • https://twitter.com/SnippetsofSarah Sarah E

            Yup- it certainly gets tiring when it feels like no one is reaching back. And its so frustrating when life circumstances get in the way of social events that you ascribe a lot of meaning to (“She invited me!” followed by illness/have to work/force of nature preventing you from going).

            If only all of us “I want a local BFF!” peeps were local to each other, we could have the bestest best group of friends. :-)

      • Erin E

        Yep. I’ve moved around a lot and it can be HARD to make friends as an adult. The social stimulus of school and/or work may not be present in the same way as it was when we were younger. I’ve found (as someone mentioned above) that you have to actively be in the mindset of looking for social connection. My dad calls it being “socially aggressive”… not in a fierce, scary way, but in a proactive way. Using the word “aggressive” actually helps shy little me to picture myself starting conversations, accepting invitations (even when they don’t sound super-interesting) and keeping on with the group hobby thing.
        It’s hard… especially for those of us who are introverts. But it’s also amazing when, on your third or fourth coffee date or happy hour with a new person, you think “Hey – this girl (or guy) is really fun and we’re actually becoming friends – Yay!”

      • Sam.i.am

        I’m currently in the car* with a friend I met volunteering. The best advice I can give is to start to so stuff outside home and work that matter to you and meet people who also feel strongly about things you feel strongly about. And when you click with someone; find that person that you can just chat with in the parking lot, invite them out! Actually get coffee after you say, we should get coffee sometimes!

        I’ve found that, more than hold good friends an college sorority sisters, these Ladies are my trus kindred spirits.

        *please excuse the autocorrect issues I know I missed.

    • JEM

      Depending on what city you’re in, you may have a local APW meet-up group! The ladies I have met are absolutely awesome and you already have something in common to chat about!

    • http://www.wrightremedy.blogspot.com Addie

      So I’m no expert, but I have moved A LOT in my life and subsequently had to start over making new friends. Two years ago I moved to a city where the only person I knew was my sister and have what I would consider a small, but great group of friends. This is what worked for me (caveat: I’m pretty extroverted so your mileage may vary):

      1. Set small goals. My first goal was to simply have a full conversation with another human being, even if I never saw them again. Learn the name of one new person a week. I knew that close friendship takes time. I think we forget that when making new friends the first conversations are likely relatively short…and probably about the weather. I don’t need best friends on the first day, just someone to tell me they like my shirt.

      2. The internet can be your friend. I joined several Meetup groups for women in my age group. And then I actually went to the meetups. I never expect to be friendly with all the people that I meet, but usually I find one or two people who laugh at my jokes and I think would be fun to hang out with again.

      3. Ask people out! Don’t be shy about saying to a new person “hey, such and such movie just came out. Wanna go next Tuesday?” Use the part where you don’t know the city to your advantage. “That’s an beautiful manicure. Where do you go? Next time you go wanna go together?”

      4. Let your hobbies make your friends. I love to knit so one of the first things I did was find a yarn shop where women met to knit or take classes. After a few trips I’d comment on a piece a woman was working on and we’d get to talking. Even if we never really hung out, I’d have a “knitting friend” I could discuss my hobby with. I skateboard and met a friendly group of people who ride together just skating along the beach boardwalk.

      5. Flattery will get you everywhere. I’m very much inclined to chitchat with any stranger who seems nice and compliments my shoes, dress, or bag. One of my best friends and I met because I liked her boots.

      6. Let your friends set you up. When I moved down to Miami, I sent a Facebook plea for any friends who knew people in the area. My sister’s husband best friend moved to Miami the month after I did and we both spent our first few months hanging out with each other. Several of my friends set me up with people they knew who lived close by. We didn’t always hit it off, but it did get me out of the house and exploring my new city.

      7. Take yourself on dates. You can’t make new friends on sitting on your couch. So once a week or so I would take myself on a “date” to a museum, happy hour, the beach, anywhere. My mission was always to talk to one new person-no matter how short the conversation. Some of my earliest friends were bartenders who, once they got to know me, happily introduced me to other regulars.

      Tl;dr: So yeah. I basically treat making friends like dating. I have to put myself out there and be vulnerable. It’s sometimes awkward and awful, but ultimately worth it when you find the right person.

      Sorry to be so long winded.

      • Molly Mouse

        These are seriously great suggestions! We’ve been in our town for 3 years and I’m slowly making some friends, but it’s definitely hard. You’ve got to put in the time and friendships don’t spring up overnight. I love making small goals. I made the goal of buying Popsicles for our very pregnant neighbor and taking them to her house. It was kind of excruciating working up the nerve to go drop them off and then? I spent 30 minutes chatting with her. She invited me for drinks a week later and, although I couldn’t go, Im making the effort to get together with her (which, since she has a brand new baby is more like I’m going to bring her some dinner and offer to do her dishes).

      • rys

        Addie’s list is great (and I actually think the advice, which sounds much like dating advice, is actually way more practical, feasible, and realistic as friendship advice). I’d add a couple things:

        1. In my experience of moving around a fair bit as an adult, there are three different categories of friends you make when you move to a new place: a) people who reach out and incorporate you into their lives/friend circles and may or may not become great, life-sustaining friends (which is cool, sometimes you just need that person to invite you to the pool when it’s 95 degrees and you don’t even know where the pool is); b) people whom you slowly get to know and develop into solid, durable friends (but it takes time, either because of personality or circumstance or whatever); and c) the magic unicorn people you meet, instantly know you’re going to be awesome friends, and grow into amazingly tight friendships (these exist, just in tiny quantities).

        2. Invite people over/in/to something. After a couple of months, throw a low-key party and encourage the people you invite (a sampling from work, the dog park, the quilt guild, the gym, whatever) to bring friends with them. Be very clear that they should bring their fun people along — not just partners, but all the fun people they know, the more the merrier. You won’t like them all, you won’t necessarily see most of them again, but you’ll find a few gems, and you’ll know some more people at the office holiday party or in the grocery store, or at the pub.

        • http://livinglnf.blogspot.com Jo

          This is all excellent advice, but also (as someone who has moved many a time in her life), you have to open up. You have to read the signs to make sure you’re not crazy oversharing with a new friend, but I can think back on those moments I let some new friend in on something pretty personal and private and those definitely marked a turn towards a deeper level of relationship. Perhaps for some that goes without saying, but intimacy is formed through vulnerability. So you have to be willing to go there.

      • http://meaghantothemax.wordpress.com Meaghan

        Great list! I’ll add another thing: if you’ve just moved somewhere, say yes to every (non-dangerous/illegal) invitation you get! Even though I’m a relatively low-key person who’s happy only going out one or two nights a week, if you start off saying no to invites for drinks/dinner/yoga classes, people won’t ask again! So even if it’s not your thing, or you’re nervous you won’t know a lot of people, go out and meet people so that eventually you can be like, “hey I actually hate yoga/am busy/need to go shopping, but let’s grab dinner Thursday instead!” to your new BFFs.

  • Abby

    Beautiful, well-written post. Thank you for sharing your story!

  • Leoka

    This… Thank you. I made a mistake of giving up everything outside the relationship so many times, because I also though that that’s how it should be. Then I found a book about codependency, joined CoDA, started rebuilding my network of friends. Wow – I just feel so much happier now! Giving the key to your happiness to just one person is unhealthy. Now, I have half of that key inside myself, a quarter in my husband, and the rest in my close family, friends, and CoDA group :) Or something like that.

  • HotSauce

    And on another note: Cheers to learning from your first marriage! I call my first marriage my “training marriage.” I’m being facetious, but also, not. I learned so much from the mistakes we both made about myself, about marriage, and about how to handle myself in marriage. I think a lot of the ease of my second (and final!) marriage has to do with those lessons learned (the very hard way).

  • meg

    I thought I’d leave a response to these comments in general, since I’m finding them super interesting, and terrifically surprising.

    The reason we picked this post to run is because I thought it framed friendship month with such a clear PSA. The author became isolated in her relationship, and her ex showed up on her doorstep saying that he’d bought a gun, and she had no one to call. In short, PSA: YOU NEED SOMEONE TO CALL.

    Over time, our society has pretty clearly had a breakdown of broader community. We don’t know our neighbors, we don’t have religious communities, we don’t have communities built around hobbies. Our worlds have narrowed and narrowed until many of us are left with a community of two. It’s really hard to break out of that. I find friendship difficult at times, and it’s clear I’m not the only one. Chalk it up to insecurities or trust issues, but I often have a hard time opening up to people, moving people from acquaintances to good friends. And the bottom line is, building lasting friendships and community is hard effing work, and it’s not work that’s particularly culturally encouraged (at least once you’re married). And this post points out it’s important. Marriages end (death, divorce). Sometimes you simply need help (had a kid, ex shows up talking about a gun). So I think we need to have a broader conversation about why friendships are important, why they’re hard, and what we can do to develop them.

    All that said, the idea that you shouldn’t be friends with your partner is not at ALL what we’re talking about. I’ve been friends with my partner longer than we’ve been a couple (9 years/ 8 years, respectively). We share interests, and a sense of humor, and hobbies, and friends. (Not all relationships need to share all that, but we happen to). Our family is my center.

    BUT. I know I have to work my ass off in the friend department, to try to keep my life balanced. God forbid something should happen to David. God forbid. But if it did, I’d need people. And tell then, I can’t bitch about David to David, now can I? (He really hopes I can find someone else to bitch about him too, so he doesn’t have to hear it ;)

    • Manya

      This comment makes me want to write to my favorite girl friends and reconnect. Right now. You’re right, it’s so much work, but it is also very important to cultivate a community…

      • Lauren

        I have made that my goal post-wedding, to keep in touch with the beautiful friends that made such an effort to be there for us AS MUCH AS if not MORE than I did pre-wedding shenanigans. Bonus – I have all of their addresses now!

    • Molly Mouse

      My comment was absorbed into the Internets somehow, so here’s a shortened version:

      I’m picking up what you’re putting down on friendship this month. This friendship shit is hard, but it’s good work & makes us healthy. I’ve been so looking forward to these posts, but friendships are a huge discussion in our household. Literally yesterday my husband and I were talking about a Kurt Vonnegut quote on the importance of extended families (http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/300997-ok-now-let-s-have-some-fun-let-s-talk-about-sex) and friends are just extended family that you get to choose.

      So, rock on Friendship Month.

  • merryf

    What a lovely post. Thank you for sharing. Two days after my wedding, my best friend moved away and in the past 3 years we have become sporadic friends. I still see her probably 3 or 4 times a year, but there is none of the spontaneousness that makes friendship flower. I don’t really know how to make a new friend and I wish I did. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t need a lot of casual acquaintances and I don’t have the need to be out and socialize at parties or whatever, I just would like to be able to call up a person or two and make a plan for a pizza/glass of wine/ crafty afternoon/ trip to a flea market. I just want one or two, and don’t really have any.

    I started dating my now-husband when we were 41 and so we do not have any shared history of anything. That’s perfectly fine; he’s my husband, not my BFF.

    And so I am highly aware that my husband moved (only) an hour away from his BFFs whom he loves and needs to be around, and I encourage him — well, sometimes shove him out the door ;-) — to visit them, hang out at the bar, go to a bbq, stay for the weekend, or whatever, just to keep those bonds strong. He always comes back in a better mood. And I am happy that he is able to do this and that they still welcome him with open arms.

    • http://www.agaishanlife.com Revanche

      I would very much like the same! It seems like making new friends is a lot more work than just having friends you can spend time with, relaxing or doing new/random things for fun. Would that new friendships could form like they once did: over a love of the same books, or just laughing over silly things.

      • rys

        I don’t think friend-making is actually more work, rather I think it seems like more work because it doesn’t necessarily fit into or flow from the routine of life. As children/teens, school, camp, neighborhood, family, etc all provided the environment for making friends, and in that regular day-to-day interaction, we binded with friends over books or silly events. As adults, work and going to the gym and running errands don’t provide that same backdrop so we have to seek out opportunities to bond over books or silly moments. The actual components of friend-making hasn’t changed, the context has.

  • Sam.i.am

    I freaked out my high school classmates because I went solo instead of dragging my partner of 7 yeas. But I wasn’t alone–I had two of my best ladies, friends since the ages of 12 and 14. I’ve never understood why I should drag my guy o things he doesn’t care about just because I don’t want to go it alone. And thankfully, he feels the same.

    We moved a few years ago to a new city and it hasn’t been easy to make new friends. I’ve made some good gal pals and he hasn’t built that same friend group. Sometimes I feel guilty leaving him for a girl’s night, but I know (and he tells me) I shouldn’t. Meanwhile, he still goes back to our old city for boys’ weekends, which I totally support. Building a partnership and friendships can be difficult, but it’s important and gratifying.

  • http://www.agaishanlife.com Revanche

    Ditto to the idea that best friendships are not a single person.

    My childhood best friend always found my dedication to maintaining friendships in equal measure with my relationship weird and slightly disturbing, and maybe it had more to do with her inability to see anyone else in her world when she had a boyfriend, but even though I always thought she was always a best friend, it was in that “we grew up together, fought like sisters, are more like family” friends sense. And when there are terrible things happening, I know her door will be open to me.

    And for somewhat more daily friendship, my two best guy friends are always accessible and there for me in a more normal way even if we don’t see each other much and have never had any feelings for each other. (Eat that, HIMYM, and every other sitcom that insists men & women can’t be good friends w/o sex being part of it.)

    My husband is my husband. The partner I live with and has to live with me, sees a whole other part of me and is the most important person in my life. We play a whole other integrated role in our lives. And yet I’m pretty sure we do not think of each other as our own best friends. It’s different from that. We may never have been each other’s best friends in that platonic sense first but that takes nothing away from the fact that we care deeply for each other, respect each other and decided to spend the rest of our lives together.

    Even if I rarely get to see them anymore, and don’t get to talk to them very often, I don’t think I could handle a life devoid of the richness of our other friendships that help us continue to see each other in that multifaceted way, through the eyes and hearts of others who have known us twice as long and still love us as we love them.

    As for new friends, I moved to the Bay Area 3 years ago and have only made relatively superficial friendships with 3 people. I wonder if I’ve got to relearn how to be friends with people!

  • Rachelle

    It’s funny, I think many people have had these borderline abusive relationships where they end up losing all their friends and are screwed when the relationship ends and they have no one to talk to. Luckily mine happened while I was young and in high school and as soon as I made new friends I took on the whole “bros before hoes” mentality. I always kind of wondered after that how you can let your partner be your person/best friend/whatever-you-want-to-call-it without losing friends.
    I was incredibly close with my college roommates and we all moved around the US after graduation. I met my now fiance shortly thereafter and it was a natural transition to telling him everything rather than calling a friend in a different time zone. I think it’s totally okay and wonderful for your partner to be that person (though they don’t have to be) and to let your other friends come second as long as you still have them. As earlier commenters have said before, you need someone you can complain about your partner to! I also really need girls that will give me hair and clothes advice, even if it’s via text :) Unfortunately, my fiance is no good for that sort of thing.

  • http://irvingplace.net Kayjayoh

    One things I am noticing is that most of the comments (all?) so far appear to be fairly hetero-normative. I’d be interested in how the friendships/partners aspect plays out among same sex couples. I imagine that there are similarities and some differences. (And obviously, nothing is universal. There are similarities and differences between hetero folks, as we can see above.)

    • catherine

      Wow. Yes, I was wanting to see the same thing!

      My fiance (a female) and I are ‘best friends” but in a different way..We live in a city away from our friends so we are kind of each others’ everything right now. She’s only been here 2 years and I’ve been here almost 5 but my BEST friends as in, sex and the city girlfriends for life that ive grown up with and are my family, are spread out all over the country. My partner is my best friend in the sense that we are our own family, create our own bond, share our lives together, but it’s different than the “best friend” that is my best “girlfriend” that I’ve grown up with, that we crack up together constantly, and still act like teenagers…My fiance has her “best friend” like that too, that she grew up with. But since we are all “adults” now, it’s not like our best friends live in the same city, so they are all scattered. We’ve slowly been making some neighborhood friends and such but its nothing like our other friends….I did have two best friends here in LA but about they both moved out of state.

      Since we are both women, it would be weird to me if one of us all the sudden got a female friend and started hanging out and being all buddy buddy with them alone…On the other hand, friends that we’ve had forever and had long before meeting each other we know there is nothing to worry about and that’s totally normal. Also, its complicated because for me, I am not attracted to girly girls (like myself) and I dont have gay women friends, so it’s not like my partner ever worries (or has ever had a need to feel anything was inappropriate) and I wouldn’t worry or feel weird if my partner hung out with guys or women more like her…ha confusing I know. And not that we don’t trust each other or anything, but it’s just like in a straight relationship, where I’m sure lots of people would feel uncomfortable or simply that it was inappropriate if their hubby all the sudden met and started hanging out solo with some random girl.

      Not sure if any of that made sense, ha. And I’m sure everyone has their own story!

  • Lanny

    THIS. THIS. EVERYTHING IS THIS.

    I am also remarrying after spending substantial time recoiling from the end of a bad (really bad) marriage. I fought to end our relationship for as many years as we were married. I was reeling. I continued to struggle to find myself for more years than I spent losing. I grieved. I still grieve. I have grieved a lot .. not because I want to be with him, but because before our wedding I had fought FOR our marriage, but I only realized how fruitless it was after it was too late.

    I, too, was walled-off from friends because any relationship outside of ours meant he wasn’t my priority and it was not to be tolerated. Little by little, friends gave up trying to be in relationship because I was not receptive to their efforts.

    Now after five years together, I’m only three weeks away from my second wedding .. but I consider it my first marriage. I am marrying my college sweetheart, a man I’ve danced around loving for well over a decade .. I was lost in the midst of it all, but once I found myself, I found him.

  • Christen

    As an only child, my friends were always my family. Then I got married and he became my family. Now we’re going through a divorce and I’ve realized I let my prior family slip away. And there’s a pretty real lonliness to this.

    I applaud you heartily for being able to reconnect and hold firm to the friendships thought gone.I hope to do the same one day.

  • http://blindirishpirate.blogspot.com Blind Irish Pirate

    When the Curly Haired Boy and I got engaged, I told him that he was not my world. Not really romantic, right? I told him, “You are the biggest part of my life, you are the most important thing in the world to me. But you are not my world.”

    He got it – he understood and agreed that the complete or even partial absorption of one’s personality into another partner’s would simply leave us as people who were… not ourselves. We wanted to have our own things to do, our own hobbies and friends, so that, at the end of the day, we’d come home to each other. No, that isn’t all that we do, in fact, our social lives overlap immensely. We do so much together, but then there is this golden respect :Me Time.” Even if that means that I’m reading articles in one room and he’s playing games in another. Or, I take a road trip to see my sister and he stays at home to …whatever it is he does. I guess it leaves a certain level of mystery and independence to a relationship that really can passively cause co-dependent tendencies.

    This September marks our fifth (!?) anniversary. I’d say that we still adhere to the golden rule, with no regrets or problems. So as far as this clinical test subject results….

  • theemilyann

    “I will prioritize our limited vacation time and funds towards maintaining the relationships that I cherish.”

    My new daily affirmation. I’ve always felt this way, but now I have it in a neat little word-package. Thank you.

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