Boomerang Friends: Only Come Back When They Need You

Though I often come across as holier-than-thou with my articles about guys in relationships having never been one and therefore being free from persecution, this time I’m ranting discussing the topic of friends once they’re OUT of their “forever love”. Once the other shoe drops, the other guy cheats, they both cheat, they realize they’re both bottoms, they find out the other one isn’t really as circumcised as they originally thought, WHATEVER; the point is, your friend is broken up and now he needs and wants you– his friend- like he never needed you before. Actually, let me set that straight, he needs you now like he absolutely didn’t need you in his life at all a hot minute earlier when he was “in love” and couldn’t care less about his friends because focus was laser pointed on loverboy and friendships be damned. Have you ever had a friend who dropped you and “the gang” the second he got into a relationship and the exact moment that all-consuming passion ended he boomeranged right back into your lives as if nothing had changed? Well, I call bullshit.

Get your comments ready and roarin’ to go on this one. Yes, we’ll cover the possible jealousy from my angle. Yes, I’ll allow that maybe I’m not being the BEST friend ever. But, I’m sure as hell also going to look at how crappy this feels to friends who repeatedly get this done to them and question the motive of these boomerangers who seem to expect it both ways and honestly get pretty freakin’ nettled when you call them on it. Often my articles are “subtly” about a recent exchange or interaction with someone close, but this one is just out of year in and out eye rolling annoyance with comrades who have complained alongside me about this selfish action and the turn around and do it themselves. Before you freak: this departure/return routine is NOT performed by all people who get into relationship. In fact, I RARELY see it in friends who get into truly long lasting and healthy relationships. Instead, I write to those repeat offenders who think your friends are just sitting by the phone waiting for the second you have time for them: we’re not. And, you’re kind of acting like a bag of dicks.

Let’s look at how this routine always begins. You and a close friend or a group of you that get together for movie nights on Tuesdays, maybe a Thursday eve cocktail to get through the week and then at least one night out of fun on the weekend to let off steam. You’ve done it for years, sometimes the boyfriends join in sometimes they have their own thing, but everything moves along well. Then, last Saturday, while drunk, you chat up that reasonably cute bartender you’ve always tipped extra high but who was dating the other bartender from across the street (don’t pretend that isn’t EXACTLY how that always goes). Oh, he’s single now? And he gets off in twenty minutes? Whoops! You made out in the bathroom and now you’re waking up at his place and you don’t want to lose him to that OTHER bartender at the club next to his so you ask him to go on a date Sunday and BAM you’re dating? Great. I’m happy for you. I have my questions if that’s actually going somewhere but hey, I’m happy you’re happy. Want to bring him to movie night Tuesday? Oh, it’s his only day off that week so you have to spend the night together? Okay. How about we meet at his bar Thursday so we can hang with you and you can see him? Oh, you don’t even realize we’re here and spend the entire time staring at him and texting him about how cute he is in a fruit of the loom black t-shirt? Okay. Well, he’ll be busy Saturday, so how about we get the gang together and hit the town? Oh, you don’t feel comfortable going to a bar without your boyfriend (seriously, did you just call him that? It’s been a week..), okay. Fine.

You can do those things. It’s annoying, you’re pushing away your friends for someone you’ve known less time than you’ve probably spent with the clinic nurse who gives you penicillin, but hey, you’re happy, so go for it. I would argue that there’s something to be said for smothering or over-spending your time together but to each couple their own schedule- I don’t want to interfere. What happens next is that we stop inviting you out as much: we figure you’re busy; you’ve made it clear there’s only a few things you can do without your “boo”; or, we’re just tired of hearing “no”. You’ve got our number and I know you paid your phone bill this month so don’t pretend there’s no option to ask to see us. You dating someone doesn’t mean WE want to hang with you less, but for some reason it equates to the opposite for you. And yes, I get that relationships are like plants and you have to nurture them to make them grow or whatever the fuck the metaphor simile is. That’s not what I’m here to get annoyed with. While I could argue that balance is key and valuing all your relationships is the best way to honour yourself and those you care about, that’s a different article for a different bitch. It’s the inevitable next part that bugs me: it’s the break up (and please, we knew it was coming) and sudden mass text of “It’s over. we broke up. What are we drinking tonight boys?!?!” to everyone you once knew and cared about. It’s the expectation that we’re just waiting around for you.

I love my friends. No one in the world can argue that about me. But, I do value my time and I do appreciate people who appreciate me and when a friend, who acted as if myself and the rest of us were flotsam and jetsam to navigate his precious relationship around has suddenly decided that he’s ready for his friends now that he doesn’t have his 24/7 boy toy anymore? NOPE. Truly, I wish I could say I’ve stood up to all those who have boomeranged back into my face, but I’m not a dick [pause for angry laughter]. I can see that my friend is hurt, that they need support, that they honestly weren’t acting with malice when they dumped us for their boyfriend. It still stings like hell and as we all know, this column this is my panacea! Truly, I need to understand you boomerangers. I need to hear that you’re aware of what you’re doing. I really feel like the defensiveness and blank “I don’t see what you see” stares I get when I question my friends as they pop back into our lives like NOTHING changed is what bothers me the most. Don’t pretend you didn’t just spend the last 3 months ignoring calls, not showing up, making up shit reasons why you spending a minute outside your relationship would have been equivalent to chinese water torture and don’t pretend it’s not rude you’re acting as if none of that should bother us.

It’s the text/facebook message at midnight to see “what’s happening tonight?” full of presumption and arrogance that makes me cringe and almost wish you and what’s-his-name were still together. Actual boomerangs return without an apology and for my experience so do these types of friends. We sure as hell weren’t getting reasoned explanations for the disappearing act during your affair and it’s pretty much dumb of us to expect one now because by and large, we never get it. What we do get is guilt and shame laid on us so that it would be dickish to NOT invite you to the elaborate party we’ve planned for weeks while you were camping in Portland with your now ex. So fine, come along, but know that you look desperate and have been forever tarnished with the scarlet letter “B“.

Before I get ravaged with eloquent posts of “Adam, y’all just jealous!“, do know that I have had friends commiserating with me about this for years now: normal friends. Friends who- unlike me- can and DO often hold down real relationships. Friends who balance dating their man with seeing their friends and- heaven forbid- sometimes even INTEGRATE the two together! We all see this mindless and imposing behaviour for what it is: self-centered and disrespectful. We are your friends and for the most part always will be, but know that this constant disappear and reappear routine is only cute when Chris Angel does it- and even he’s annoying. I don’t need to you come crawling back with your tail between your legs, but some recognition of the crap way you treated your friends and the realization that you probably need to work to get back to where you were would be nice. Or hell, just don’t excommunicate us from your life in the first place: he’s probably not going to last much longer than the ice in the drink he made you, but your friendships will. I don’t mean to get all Sex and the City on you but really: celebrate your friendships and be mindful of how you treat them.

  • Homegirl No5

    I hate it even when they explain their absence, TBH. It’s like…we’ve been BFFs for several years, and now you’re moving halfway across the country, popping out kids and we’ll never see each other again. Thrilling.

    But the ones that don’t explain, and hook up into relationships that obviously won’t last are the ones that are really annoying. And you can always predict why their “relationship” will end on the first night you see them together.

    I’ve learned if they lack that much logic, evidently they are not of good enough taste to keep quality company and it’s time to move on!

  • SillyMaggot

    Sounds like they’re avoiding all the drama you bring to the table.

  • Belladonna

    @Adam I felt the same way but what I’ve learned in the last two years is if your doing what you need to do Career wise your only going to have time for a few friends anyway & if your trying to be in Entertament like me ( I’m working on my EP & preforming at shows trying to make it as singer) or like you @Adam a Celebrity blogger you wont have time for people who leave & try to come back because when they do someone eles will Be in there place. Lok It sounds bad but its how life goes sometimes. So @Adam with you being so busy I don’t think you’ll notice that much after a week or so & who knows you may meet someone better then the last friend!

  • Patrick Sean

    Have you ever considered your part in all this? You chose these friends. Maybe the dysfunction is you? You can wax poetic and throw up invisible fences hoping all the blame flies off you, but I just spent a few minutes reading the whiniest Joan Rivers poor me post ever and you need to grow up. Real adults set boundaries, make wise choices in their friends. Real friends support, love and understand, they don’t go on the internet and have a Junior High freak out.

  • Adam

    Homegirl – It’s almost funny seeing the word “logic” used in this talk at all. I totally agree that the worst feeling is from the ones who just disappear like it’s normal or completely okay to do and that feelings aren’t going to get hurt at all by the friends left behind. Everyone wants the best for their friends obviously but valuing a long standing relationship matters too for sure.

    Silly- Hahaha, if they didn’t want my drama they wouldn’t wait until a relationship comes along to disappear … trust me 😉

  • Adam

    Bella – thanks for the vote of confidence and good luck with the career. I agree that sometimes friendships run their course or aren’t meant and there whole door closing window opens thing applies for sure but I don’t make friends without a real amount of effort and they really all do mean something important to me so even if time and the natural flow of things pulls myself and friends apart i’m still really attached to trying to make it work and will be scrappy about it till the end ha.

    Patrick – I don’t know much about Joan Rivers’ writing so I’ll just have to say “ouch” …? Haha. Wait, she’s pretty successful though right? There’s worse things to be compared to than comedians I’d think ha. I’d certainly be willing to see my part in the situation but when a group of friends (like mine) are commiserating we “lost so-and-so” to their boyfriend as 5 of us see our friend disappear into the abyss of relationship land that they create for themselves I am SLIGHTLY hesitant to put the blame on me alone there. Totally I’m adult and should learn to set up boundaries with friends but when they come, kleenex in hand saying they need all of us for the first time in 6 months after playing the persona non grata game it’s too hard to say “sorry, boundaries”. ha. as much as i play the bitch i do have a BIT of a heart and always love and accept them. It was mostly just to be able to have the culprits of this out there read (maybe for the first time) that this boomerang action can hurt your friends.

  • Patrick Sean

    That was the worst part. You spewed this here instead of manning up and expressing yourself to them specifically. Passive Aggressive is ugly. Boundaries start with yourself and choosing quality friends, not waiting until they don’t act as you want them to.

  • Patrick – Friend i’m close with know I feel this way. Less close, it’s just easier to know this about their personality and gauge our relationship accordingly. Those that really mater: we’ve discussed it or I’ve broached it with them before and they don’t see it, don’t want to or don’t think it’s a bid deal and that’s TOTALLY okay. Friends I love can do a LOT and it would never actually threaten anything we have but I’ve heard a lot of people rant about this issue and thought this would be a fun forum to start some discussion about it.
    As much as I would love to believe this is some sort of online “the secret” for me where I type things into the ethernet and things change in my life hahahaha, I use this as a place to post “thoughts and musings” 😉