A bunch of my friends just got engaged, and now they're all planning weddings. As a happily un-partnered woman, of course I'm excited for them, but I can't help but feel a little sad. The majority of my closest group of friends are now focused on wedding planning, and I can't help but think that once the weddings happen, I'll never see them again. I want to be supportive, but I can't help it: I feel left behind. -Ashley
Oh, transitions. They're bumpy and messy, like riding in the back of a car and dumping your burrito on your lap. I know that for me, there was a time in my life when the people who I was closest to were people who all did the SAME STUFF. First it was college friends and the pack of roommates who lived in our shared house called The Muthaship. Then it was my crew of raver friends, who all met for pre-funks at midnight before going out. Then it was coworkers at various media jobs, meeting for happy hour. We were all in it together, in relatively similar stages of our lives, doing relatively similar things. But then something strange happened: people's lives diversified. Some of us got married, some of us didn't. Some of us traveled, some of us had kids. Some of us started our own businesses, and some of us went back to school. Gone were the days when we all met at 11:30 pm to go out.
Does this mean we all went our separate ways? Some folks, yeah. I think there will always be a collection of people in your life who are there because they're doing the same stuff as you. But I also think it's imperitive to make the effort to bridge the gaps with the folks who are on a different path, but to whom you're devoted. This is something Offbeat Mamas talk a lot about — how everyone (parents, childfree, and kids!) benefit from maintaining relationships. To be sure, the transition to parenthood can definitely be brutal on relationships.
The same is absolutely true of weddings and marriage. There are some couples who decide that as “married people” (whatever that means) they should now do “married things” (again: wtf? this is your life — anything you want to do when you're married can be a “married thing,” including nonmonogamy). For everyone's sake, I wish people wouldn't divide their lives like that. When you stop hanging out with people in different relationship modalities than yours, you're essentially saying that the only thing you had in common was your interaction with others. That all you had in common was a status box on a census form. I think we can all aspire to have friends and loved ones who are more than a checkbox.
Getting married is just the first of MANY differences that are going to emerge between you and your favorite people. Friendships are worth bridging the gaps and making the effort to maintain — and that goes both ways. Unpartnered friends, be patient with your engaged and married friends when they whine about their relationship challenges. If you're hoping to be married yourself someday, learn from their triumphs and stumblings. If you never want to be married, view it as an opportunity to gain insight into a land you won't be traveling to. It's anthropology.
Are your married friends going to change? Yes, and so are you.
Are your married friends going to change? Yes, and so are you. Call me a West Coast woo-woo, but I think we should all be in the process of change and growth and development throughout our lives. Everyone's always changing, and marriage is just one way that people shift. School, jobs, moves, children, health, hobbies, marriages, divorces, spirituality… there are so many influences to how people change, and married folks aren't the only ones to experience a big transition.
And engaged and married friends, for fucksake don't stop calling your single friends once you get married. If you have an active social life, don't kill it just because going out “isn't what married people do.” (That implies that the only reason anyone leaves the house after dark is to get laid. I really hope that isn't true.) Invite your single friends to your potlucks and happy hours. Have them over for movie night and platonic snuggles on the couch.
We are all so much more than our relationships to romantic partners. We have so much more in common, and so many things to talk about.