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.