Before getting engaged, I was really good at dating. The co-op I lived in had a running joke that I had the most game, despite being very religious. As I grew up, I learned how to be really good at chatting up strangers, how to be aware of chemistry, how to be bold and confident, how to clearly say “hey, we should go on a date!” This is the woman who asked for numbers. I had a number of serious relationships. I learned how to fight, how to say what I wanted, how to forgive and make up even after the worst, and how to be selfless in a crisis (among scores of other things).
As good as I was at dating, I have been pretty shit-terrible about friendship. I’ve fallen out of touch with people I wanted to stay in touch with, I’ve been the kid waiting for an invitation but never proposing, I’ve let fights and misunderstanding end years of friendship. I’ve not always been great about friends.
Then I got engaged. Then I moved thousands of miles away from everyone I knew.
Being alone in a new place without a soul to confide in, I went through a period of mourning the “dating” phase of life. Within that period of mourning, I had an epiphany.
It’s absurd that I had the ovaries to ask for a potential date’s number, but to not ask for a potential friend’s number. It’s absurd that I learned to DTR if I wanted a relationship, but was content to let friendships stay in acquaintance limbo. It’s absurd that I was willing to repair a relationship after a fight, but let greater friendships end over less dramatic conflicts. It’s absurd that I’ve seen the value of nightly Skypes for the sake of a relationship, but didn’t often call my far-flung friends.
I’ve spent a lot of my life cultivating the skills to have a successful relationship, but so little time cultivating my skills in friendship. (Part of me wants to blame culture. Seriously, how many articles are devoted to friendship advice versus relationship advice? But part of the problem is me too).
One of the greatest blessings of getting engaged is realizing that, though I’ve closed the dating chapter of my life, I have opened up a way to re-think how I’ve been doing friendship.
Like relationships, friendship takes boldness to begin, and strength to stick through the hard times. Friendship is necessary, and it is beautiful.
I’ve decided that as I’m making a public commitment to one person, I’m making a personal commitment to be a better friend to all my other persons too.