Posted in this&that

…but I still want to be friends

I’ve always hated it when women make plans with other women and then cancel them at the last minute (or worse, just don’t show up) because they’ve got a better offer from a man. No matter how special that guy might be, you can’t treat your friends like you know they’ll understand, like they’ll always be there for you no matter what.

At least not this friend. For me it’s a lifelong pet peeve. One that’s cost me several friends.

When I was a kid, about 14, I wasn’t yet allowed to date–no group dates, no single dates, nothing. And, I only went to supervised parties. My two best friends were allowed to date. They had acquired boyfriends, brothers in fact, who lived in a nearby town. (My parents would have freaked: older boys, another town, cars, single dates….)

Making plans with my two friends and getting dumped at the last minute by them became the routine once these two guys came into the picture. I didn’t even get “sorry, we can’t make it” calls. Nothing. I’d show up to pick them up before we went somewhere, as planned, and be told they were out with the guys. It took me forever to get it, but I finally did. I just wasn’t as important as these two boys, no matter how long we’d know each other and how close I thought our friendships were.

Our friendships suffered, but muddled along for another two years until I moved away. I never heard from my two best childhood friends again and I never tried to contact them.

Scratch two friends off the list.

In college my best friend and I dated guys, off and on, never really becoming too serious about any particular one for very long. We took lots of weekend trips together (just the girls) and always had a great time. However, when she found a fairly serious boyfriend everything changed.

She’d make plans with me for a night out and then call at the last minute to tell me her boyfriend was coming along. I went along with this for a bit, but I always felt like a third wheel because they had their hands all over each other all the time and we did everything HE wanted to do. It was too weird.

I have to mention here that he went to the same school we did and they lived together. They were together all the time. I didn’t have a problem with that and I didn’t even mind doing things with them or on double dates. What I minded was that my friend and I no longer had any time that was “ours.”

This came to a quick end when she invited me to take a girls’ weekend in Vegas and then called about an hour before we were to leave to let me know her boyfriend was coming along. I gave it two seconds thought before I said I couldn’t make it after all. When she got back I explained how I felt and she brushed it off as me just not understanding how important he was to her. I told her I understood perfectly that he was jealous and she let him control her. There was more, but that was the gist of it.

Scratch a friend off the list.

A few years back my best friend of many years, who had recently divorced her first husband, got into a what appeared to be the same king of relationship. Call her Beth for the sake of this story.

Beth, after a couple of years being single (and not dating, by choice) online-dated her way into a relationship with a very needy kinda guy, Jack. At the time I thought he was nice and she seemed happy. But, then I began to realize how rarely I was seeing her alone.

As an aside here, I have to mention that I’m married to one of those guys that everyone likes. Everyone. In fact, they usually like him better than they do me. He’s funny, the life of the party, just fun. Beth and I went plenty of places alone, prior to Jack, and occasionally I would ask if my husband could join us. Beth loved him, just like everyone else and was fine with it. We weren’t “young and in lust” and we weren’t “all over” each other in public. In fact, when we went places like flea markets and auctions, my husband and Beth usually hung out together.

To further make my point, Beth and two other girlfriends and I had planned a weekend trip to Las Vegas. (Both of those friends also liked my husband and had been places with him along.)  Unbeknownst (is that word even used anymore?) to me, one of those friends called my husband and asked him to join us on the Vegas trip! And, then she proceed to tell her husband, who was curious why he wasn’t invited if my husband was, that he couldn’t come along on “because he wasn’t like” my husband.

I tried to talk them out of it, saying I wanted a girls-only weekend and they all assured me that having my husband along was just like having one of the girls! (I’m glad I knew them well and understood what they meant….)

Back to Beth and her new guy. I noticed that Beth began to change almost immediately after Jack joined her life; she let him monopolize her time. We tried going out as a foursome several times, but even my husband (who also likes everyone as much as they do him) finally asked me what the deal was with Beth and Jack.

You know where this is going. Beth and I planned a girls’ weekend trip out of town (several months in advance). I booked my flights, set up the rental car and was ready to go. Two days, two days before we were to leave, she emailed me a one-line email: “I can’t go; too busy with work.” Period. This from a friend who usually spent hours on the phone with me.

I was dumfounded. I cancelled the trip and was out over $400 in non-refundable tickets. I didn’t hear from her again for six years. I moved away.And, then when I was planning a trip back to the area, I emailed her to see if she wanted to have lunch. She was delighted and thought life and our friendship should just go on from there.

I asked her what had happened. I explained how I felt about everything–in kinder words than I used to lose my college friend by speaking my mind. I told her I was hurt. I explained that I didn’t understand why having Jack in her life meant that she and I couldn’t have a separate relationship.

And, you know what she said? “Jack’s jealous of our relationship and he’s the most important thing in my life. But, I still want to be friends.” I haven’t heard from her since. And, I haven’t tried to contact her, either.

I’m hurt, as I always am in these situations, but I guess I get it now. For some women, female friends are just not as important as having a man in your life.

Scratch another friend off the list.

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I'm a writer making my way through life and offering observations as I go. Old enough to know better but that doesn't stop me.

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