Friend or Foe.

The start of new relationships – is it a sacrifice?

“You like him then,” my friend sips her coffee across from me. It’s frosty today, bitter even, much like the reception, as if my statement about wanting to go on a date with someone is controversial enough that immediately I’ve transformed into an extra-terrestrial. What is it about our friends that when we mention the words date, love, or the dreaded b-word, they think we’ve lost everything individual about ourselves and are possessed by an alien creature.

The switch happens instantaneously. From my experience I have realised that we all play fool to it: not being able to be happy for someone after helping their progression to this stage in their new relationship tirelessly, being involved in every aspect. The accumulation of texts, ‘bumping’ into each other, scheming to get to this point, then nothing. For all intents and purposes, they practically arranged it. Then suddenly “you’re the one who’s changed” or “you’re no fun anymore.” Frustrated and humiliated at how now, just because you have a boyfriend, you are the one who’s changed.

You’re sat wondering about your relationship and how you aren’t actually “one of those couples” the love sick, puppy dog, touchy feely types. The ones that make you walk into the room and walk straight back out, forcing their friends to feel like a third wheel, an extra in a bad TV soap. So why is it that we are so afraid of our friends being in a relationship? The switch is almost like a defence mechanism telling you that you are unwelcome, not wanted to be around. You stop getting invites to the club night everyone is talking about. Or you realise all your girls have gone for a nice afternoon coffee, and you are sat in your room, alone. Your significant other is not even in Durham. Your partner is roughly 400 miles away. Maybe you text them to keep in contact and you skype once a week. What is wrong with that? Scared of inviting them up more than twice a term for ‘fear’ of being judged.

A friend invited me for girl’s night recently, her close friends made more effort with me than my supposed, so-called ‘best friends’. It completely made me question my every thought and fear of missing out on my friend’s gatherings. Her advice was that she does not treat me any different, so why should we allow our other friends to act badly towards us?

Here was her solution. Everyone in Durham has masses of friends, friends whom we are close too. Drunk best friends, course friends, college friends. Out of everyone how can we expect to keep up with so many people and not burn out? Her attitude was that she had a group of people she could rely on, not just a group of close friends that would questionably come through for her. Surely that’s the problem – the expectation that your friends will always be there for you no matter what. Single or taken included.

Do we really have to ‘trade off’ our friendships?

As a result, the advice she gave me was taken to the extreme. The people I knew that would never come through for me are quite frankly ‘out of my life’. As far as they are concerned I was no longer a part of their friendship group anyway. Your real friends will be there for you regardless of if you are in a relationship or if you are, in fact, now a little green alien. It is the people you make time for, that do not make time for you in return that are poisonous to your self-concept. Thinking you would jump through a burning building to save their life when they would not even stop someone from dropping the match? Your friendship is inequitable. Unbalanced. So maybe it is better to have few, close relationships. Make the time and effort for friends you know accept you exactly as you are, and slowly you could find out that you are better off without them.

Start a new page in which you act for you, and spend time with friends who enjoy your company without spite or drama. Do not hold grudges and there is no need for bad feelings. Just get on with your life and they can do the same.

Some may question this and ask, well “if you break up you’ll come running back!” But for what purpose? Friendship is a two-way street and they aren’t playing ball. You should make time for everyone you love: boyfriends, girlfriends, friends and family. An even and balanced life is led through sharing your time. So when or if you do terminate a relationship… do you really even want to go back and seek comfort from someone who, two days ago, could not even be bothered to reply to your text?

Similarly, if the situation is reversed and you’re the one in the new relationship and don’t make an effort with your friends… then shame on you. The moral of this is to spend your time wisely, carpe diem etc. Next time you pick up your phone to make plans with someone who has made you feel uncomfortable and unappreciated, think. Am I spending time with the right people? Is this making me love waking up in the morning? If the answers no then think about a change, and find people who fit the ‘regardless’ category. They will be there. It just takes time. If you solve that, then you may have just found the key to happiness.

Ssh…

The Secret Keeper

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