Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Friends No More

It's a common complaint, one that I read about in Jewish papers or on the blogosphere. 

A friend marries, and "poof"—she disappears.  

Those that are casually sloughed off are angry, after years of a presumably close relationship, complete with killing oneself over wedding shtick and showers.

There is an explanation, beyond simply marriage. 

When one marries and has children (although the age the NY Times attributes this to is the 30s, not the frummie 20s), one is busy with a family. And due to that occupation: 
People approaching 30 — many of them dealing with life changes like marriage and a first child — often tend to feel overwhelmed with responsibility, so they lose patience with less meaningful friends, said Dr. Carol Landau, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Brown University’s medical school. 
It is not that they have dropped all their friends. They drop the ones they don't really feel that close too. 

When I see photos from people's vorts online, I'm thinking: "Really? She has fifteen best friends? I don't think so." 

The article was talking about how to de-friend properly—and I don't mean on Facebook. 

When I was young, there were times I made friendships which I decided I need to extricate myself from. The girl would not be a good influence, for instance, or she used me as an inferior, rather than an equal. 

My path of choice is usually the one of least resistance. I would have various family members answer the door on Shabbos afternoon, claiming I was taking a nap while I ducked behind the couch. 

Very cowardly, I know. And it did lead to supremely painful situations of meeting the other again, while they either glared or looked dolefully at me. Crud. 
Indeed, honesty may not be the best policy, Dr. Landau of Brown said: “Remember that white lies are O.K. in the service of not hurting feelings.”  
It would have been nice if I had this article back then. It suggests that instead of doing it a la the Seinfeld band-aid ("One motion! Right off!") it recommends a gradual easing out. 
The first step before you end a friendship is to consider, very carefully and seriously, if you want to end a particular friendship or if you just want to wind it down,” said Jan Yager, a friendship coach . . . “It will usually be a lot more pleasant to just pull away, and stop sharing as much privileged information.”
The passive approach can work, sort of. Marni Zarr . . . employed it when she decided that a friend she had picked up in parents’ circles was starting to drag her down with her neediness and constant competitiveness. Ms. Zarr gave less of herself in conversations, stopped talking about her feelings, became vaguer about future aspirations.
I took the route of distancing myself: not immediately answering texts,” she recalled. “I answered the important things, but not the ‘Hey, how are you doing, what’s up tonight?’ ones.”. . . “She went to friends of ours and asked: ‘Do you know what’s going on? Is Marni upset with me?’ ” Ms. Zarr recalled. “The friends just said, ‘Oh no, she’s just really busy.’ I was. Anyone can be busy. But when you really want to have people around, you make time for them, even if it’s a few minutes.”
For the single friends feeling the sting of married rejection: perhaps it is time to reexamine that relationship. While you did do a lot for the "friend," was it asked of you (like shtick and showers)? Was it reasonable? Was it truly a close relationship? Maybe she never was a friend. 

Because if she was, you would not be the hot potato.


still waiting said...

while this may at times be true, many times the newly married forgets even the closest of friends. i dont think this negates the entire previous friendship. it just means they dont know how to balance their new relationship with the old. and many times if you wait around they come back and while it may be a different sort of friendship, that doesnt mean its not good in its own ways.

Princess Lea said...

True. Entering this new phase takes away from previously available time. After the new kallah works out a new schedule, maybe then she would be able to be chummy again.

Sunshine Dreamer said...

having been on both sides i think i have an answer for you. when you get married tour husband serves a purpose friebds once served. you have someone to share your feelings,dreams frustrations with...and they live with you! granted- females still need close female relationships but once your married and/or have a kid u have much less time for EVERYTHING including friendship. this impacts u in 2 ways 1) your more likely to maintain friendships that relate most to your life now (so u also use triple paste for diaper rash? oh cool!) its also just easier to relate to ppl in the same stage...2)u just dont have te time for the old styke of friendship (ie on the phone every sngle day...callingb whenever u want just to shmooze or vent.....)my best friend got marrried 4 years before me and we stayed close...another close friend is still single and we"re also still close...these are both xchildhood friends ive remained close to...some of the girks from grad school? havent spoken to in close to a year....when married, friendship is no longer ur most important relationship...

Princess Lea said...

And that's how it should be! In the end, one has to prioritize the marriage-friendship over everything else, plus there's all sorts of other things to do.

But if someone really wants to make the effort, then other friendships will still be possible.