Here's the Thing: Prioritize Your Partner

CUTIE SWEETIE, WHOM WE LOVE:

My best friend and I have been close friends for a long time. While we've always had our ups and downs, we had many more challenges after moving in together while in college. I realized that we weren't seeing eye-to-eye like we used to, and that we were growing in different directions. There were times that I wasn't sure what, if anything, we had in common anymore, but I always worked to keep the friendship up because we had been besties for so long. 

After I got into a serious relationship, things went downhill even further. She was dismissive to my girlfriend whenever she had come over and made myself and her uncomfortable. I confronted her about the way she had been acting, and after several conversations she finally admitted that she did not like my girlfriend. Obviously, that sucked. You always want your best friends to like your partner, and here, one of mine didn't. Her reasoning was that she felt like I wasn't the same person anymore as a result of my relationship, and when I asked her for clarification (i.e. to elaborate on how I'd changed), she said she wasn't sure. I guess in hindsight, I should have asked my friend what she wanted me to actually DO about her negative feelings towards my girlfriend, but I didn't.

I ended up moving away for work for several months and my friend reached out to me, acknowledging that our friendship had fallen apart. She also said she's worried she wouldn't be invited to my wedding (my girlfriend and I have not been dating long enough to even consider marriage). She now believes that my girlfriend doesn't like her either, as a result of her negative attitudes and actions towards her in the past. My friend wants to make amends to fix our friendship and has invited my girlfriend and I for an outing with her but my girlfriend now doesn't want to be involved because of how my friend has treated her in past situations. Sophia, I'm not sure whether I even want to put in work to fix a friendship that may not be fixable anymore, and what am I supposed to do about the fact that my maybe/ex-friend thinks making amends with my girlfriend means a double-date to a bowling alley, while my girlfriend has no desire to participate?

This is NOT how the dinner is going to go.

SOPHIA:

Oh yikey schnikeys!!! (This is a saying I’m using a lot right now, sorry). Friends are hard as hell to make and even harder to lose. There is very little space or language in our society for the deep agony of losing a friend. Honestly, I didn’t even watch How I Met Your Mother but my roommate put on the finale one night and they SPOILER are not friends anymore and that made me crryyyyyy like a wee little baby because you can always get another boyfriend or wife or whatever but a whole friend group?!?!?! Gone?!? Over??? No more hangs???! Depressing.

So, I get that when faced with the deep sadness of a friendship ending mixed with the very human urge to Do The Right Thing, you might consider starting up a friendship with this person again. I think it would be a mistake. This is not a book you started last summer that you can just pick up again and start reading, this is a soufflé that burned in the oven last summer that you’re considering trying to finish baking. This is a terrible metaphor, please forgive me. I had a lot of coffee this morning.

It’s not like you two were irretrievably close, mutual soul mates, whose relationship was rocked when you started dating someone shitty and now that you’ve broken up with said shit sack, you’ve both realized you handled it poorly, and you’re going to work on this together. That did not happen. That is addressable. This is two people growing apart, one of whom is dating a lovely gem of a person; dating a lovely gem of a person is so often an accelerant for personal growth, which likely only exacerbated the whole growing apart.

Because you did change when you started dating your girlfriend. OF COURSE YOU DID! That’s a massive part of dating someone! I’m not saying anyone has license to change for the worse, or to ignore their friends or to get really into following obscure ska bands around the country just because they’re sleeping with a new hunk. But of course your life and your patterns are going to adapt when a hottie hottie goddess starts loving you. And real friends celebrate that, even when it’s not as easy as they’d like it to be to lose out on time with you. A good friend shows the fuck up and is excited about your excitement over this new love. A good friend forgives you once or twice (but no more!) for doing something minorly shitty in the name of mooning over your new love. And short of that, a true friend will come to you and say in a very small, embarrassed voice, “I love you so much and I’m sorry I’m not doing enough to support this love, I just miss you and I’m being a petty brat but I do love you so much. I’m worried you’ll forget me.” They lay their shit bare and hope that you’ll get it. (Which you will).

None of that is what your friend did. She wasn’t gracious or patient or kind. She wasn’t even honest!!! She waited until you confronted her about her snooty behavior. That’s another yikey schnikeys from me!!!! And then she just said, “I have no evidence of this but YOU’VE changed” and she took no responsibility for her feelings or her hurt. We can’t have that. That’s an anemic version of friendship. One you don’t deserve.

The reason I don’t think you need to give her a second chance is not because she messed up, though. We have all been a bad friend once or twice or exactly eight times from 2009-2014. The reason I don’t think you should put effort into rebuilding this friendship is that you have better things to do and better friends to love. For god’s sake you have a sexy girlfriend to smooch!!! If you wanted to fix this friendship, if you wanted to do this emotional labor, if you had any real desire to re-interwine your life with this person, your letter to me would have said that. It would have mentioned even once how much you miss being around her, how much her friendship does for you, how sad you’ve been without her, how glad you were when she reached out. ………… you didn’t mention any of that.

I think you would like to hear that not trying with her isn’t small or petty. That it’s ok to let go. That it doesn’t make you a bad person. GOOD NEWS: you have my meaningless stamp of approval here. Don’t waste any time feeling guilty that you didn’t “stick it out” or “give it another try” with a person who has not been a friend to you for a long time, and who now wants back into your dazzling life.

This is a great chance to establish a boundary where you prioritize your girlfriend and your experience as a couple. Don’t put her through this process. Don’t set the precedent that when people are shitty to her, you’ll ask her to endure that for you. Whatever you had with your best friend is gone. Meeting up for dinner will not fix it. Be kind to your old friend. Don’t do anything drastic. Turn down the dinner invite and just say something like, “How about coffee on Thursday after work?” if you feel like seeing her. If you don’t, don’t see her. You can be as honest about the reasons as you want. But don’t put your girlfriend in a position where she has to sit down with someone who was so against her that she was willing to blow up a friendship for it.

Should you and your girlfriend ever get married, invite people who make you both feel loved.