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).
We live in a world where online dating is becoming increasingly mainstream (Match.com recently funded a study that showed one-in-five relationships now start online) but somehow, finding... Read more
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.
Comments on How getting engaged made me figure out friendship
I had such a similar experience after getting engaged! It had less to do with the way I created romantic and platonic relationships before becoming engaged, though, and more to do with creating a baby family and figuring out what family/friendship meant to me. If I want someone to, say, be a bridesmaid/bride’s guy, I want to make sure they’re in my life for a long time after the wedding, y’know? I want to share Christmases and birthdays with these friends for years to come.
“It’s absurd that I had the ovaries to ask for a potential date’s number…”
NEW FAVOURITE EXPRESSION. I CAN’T EVEN.
I know the person above me said it, and I just “THIS’d” it. But I’m totally keeping that expression.
Thank you for this. I’ve recently made more of an effort in maintaining my friendships after a couple of city moves and realising how hard it was to make new friendships, and just how lonely I was. I often would lament that it was always me getting in touch, but I realised if you put the RIGHT kind of effort into the RIGHT kind of friendship, a beautiful thing blossoms!
Thank you for writing this post! I sometimes worry that romance can take a toll on relationships with close friends/colleagues/extended family, and so reading this was greatly reassuring 🙂
It also reminded me of a comment from my partner, of all people! He’d been engaged previously – a long time ago! – and when we were talking about it one day, he remarked off-hand that he thought ‘he was getting married, so he didn’t need to make more friends’. He did acknowledge that this wasn’t necessarily a helpful way to think, but maybe I should still show him this post as well. Love and marriage shouldn’t have to be anti-social 🙂
Also, ‘having the ovaries’ FTW 🙂
YES! Thank you for this post. I’m also guilty of this; doing healthy relationship things in my romantic relationship without translating this into my friendship relationships. Primarily, I’m a sulker. I rarely, if ever, give my husband the silent treatment without telling him WFT is wrong, but I do this to friends and coworkers ALL THE TIME. Why is this OK? It’s not. In my defense, however, I have a much longer history of my husband reacting positively to my honesty than I do with my friends. I feel like friendship skills are something we need to work on as a society as well. Way to lead the charge!
Keeping friends is one of the most neglected skills in society. Everyone kind of supposes that friends will be there, and you have to do nothing about it. What you say about waiting for an invitation (or bitching on the phone to that friend that never calls… when they’re actually calling you) is so common that it’s scary!
Also, there are situations where you and your friends may not get to an understanding, and while that would be the cause of an argument with your partner, you are more likely to let it go, or “see, hear and mute”, acting differently with them from then on. I don’t know, maybe in that case you think “ok, I don’t know that person as well as I thought”, while with your partner (or sibling, or bff you know since kindergarten) you try harder to understand their behavior (because it’s not like you don’t know that person that much, it’s that you DO and they’re not acting according to that).
It’s tricky. In general, a little empathy will carry you a long way 🙂 (some patience will help) (and beer! Beer always helps!).
This isn’t about making new friends, I was just talking about waxing and waning friendships with my mom last week. She’s been friends with a couple of different women for …geez…40ish years now? But the key to the friendships lasting that long is that they aren’t constant. They give each other space, and they might not see each other for 6 months at a time, and other periods, they see each other once a week. But the important part is that… after 6 months of no contact, SOMEONE ALWAYS REACHES OUT. I feel weird calling someone after long periods of no contact, but that is the key to maintaining lifelong friendships according to my mother. You get busy, you drift in different directions for awhile, but one of you will always re-initiate contact to reconnect and the other person is receptive.
I actually thought this was just me!
I’ve definitely been guilty of working at saving terrible relationships but ditching friends who’ve upset me.
I find I have more male friends than female ones – perhaps we expect a little more from other women or maybe it’s something to do with hormones! Though a lot of my friends seem to have these little groups that they’ve been friends with for life, I’ve never really quite fitted in (perhaps an Offbeat thing?! I haven’t had the same “go to same school as friends, get job for life, marry sweetheart, never leave hometown” kind of path that many of them have)
My new job has definitely played a role in making me think more about who my friends are and working at those relationships.
I’m hoping by the time I (finally 🙂 ) get married the people that we decide to invite will be friends for life rather than looking back on the photos and thinking “oh I remember her, why did we fall out?”
Amazing article Megan, thank you.x
This is so reminiscent of the person I used to be. I struggled with this issue for years before I finally figured it out and became a good friend. You’re right, not a lot of people write articles or books about friendship, it’s all about romantic relationships. How backwards, given that if we’re lucky, we’ll have dozens upon dozens more friends than we do romantic partners. Thank you for being brave enough to put it out there.
I can totally relate. It was so easy for me to make dates happen but friendships have been harder. It’s nice to realize that I can apply the same skills to creating and growing friendships. Thanks!
I’m SO HAPPY to have found this blog, and then this article today. I have had a real tough time lately with this exact issue. Since moving in with my boyfriend a year ago and leaving the city I’d been in for 10 years, I’m starting to realize that most of my friendships have not survived the move. Nor have I been able to make many good connections in my new location. It gets very lonely, and I thought maybe I was just weird or “unfriendable” so it’s good to know that I’m not alone.
This is a great article. Thanks for sharing your story! More stories like this please!
This reminds me of a book I just read: “MWF Seeks BFF”. It said a lot of the same thing and had some really interesting ideas on making friends and information on the state of friendships in the US today. The only problem was I found the author to be extremely insipid and shallow and by page 42 I was already checking to see how much I had left to read. Still , very interesting, if you can struggle through to the end.