Why we lose friends to serious relationships
We all like to think we’re not that the kind of friends who disappear the second they get into a serious relationship. I mean, we all have that friend.
They’re always there when you need them, always up for an uncontrollably night out, always around to dry a tear or cure a broken heart until all of a sudden, they’re not.
They meet someone they’re mad about and promptly drop off the face of the earth. We hate that friend for the ways in which they abandon us and so we vow to never become them.
We tell ourselves that we’ve never been that way in love. And that the next time we’re in a relationship, we’ll behave better than that.
And that’s the unfortunate truth about friendships in our twenties as much as we like to believe that our friends are our soul mates and our kindred spirits and that nothing on earth could diminish the bond we share with each other, we neglect one key fact and it is this: Friendship is, at its core, motivated by a shared deprivation.
The thirst, if you will, for love. For validation. For belonging. The need to be cared about, appreciated and understood. We form friendships in our twenties because we are lacking all of those things in high measure and we have no other means of acquiring them.
Romantic relationships in our twenties are unreliable. Family is distant for the first time. Our jobs or commitments may provide some sense of meaning but as the old saying goes, our careers don’t keep us warm at night.
And so, we need friends. We need to understand each other. We need to not be alone as we struggle and flail and disappoint our parents and our loved ones and ourselves.
We need support from one another. We need love. And as much as we like to deny it, love is what we’re constantly searching for. It is the bane and the backbone of everything we do and we let that be an unspoken truth between friends.
Nobody wants to be that friend, of course. On principle they don’t want to refuse going out, spending time with their old BFFs and remaining an active, important part of their lives.
So on occasion, they come out anyways. They down tequila shots and pose for pictures. But they also lose energy quickly at the bar, make an excuse to go home at 1am and then snuggle in happily beside the love of their lives, relieved the whole ordeal is over.
Because the difference between single friends and relationship friends is that relationship friends are not deprived of love they have it in abundance.
And pretending to share in their single friends’ deprivation is a bold-faced lie. They’ll go through the motions of drinking with you but they aren’t actually thirsty and so it’s different. It just is.
We lose friends to relationships not because they cease to make time for us. Not because their significant other replaces us. Not even because they cease to care about us, as much as it may seem that way at the time.
We lose friends to relationships because they lose the fundamental thirst that drives us when we’re single to be loved, accepted and cared for. It is what drives more of our actions than we care to admit.
It’s what keeps us coming back to each other, keeps us going out on weekends, keeps us up at night decoding text messages.
We share each other’s pain and motivation and confusion and for as long as it lasts, it is magical. It makes us feel normal and accepted and less alone in the big, confusing mess that is our twenties.
No matter how deep our relationships with one another run, they undergo a fundamental shift once one party has their needs satisfied in a way that the other does not.
We lose friends to relationships in our twenties because they have found something we’re endlessly searching for and so the hunt becomes a fruitless endeavor for them.
And so we do what any shitty single friend does – we guilt-trip them, we rag on them then we let them go.
We appreciate them when they come back around, but we acknowledge that it’s never again going to be the same as it once was. Because at the end of the day, they deserve to be happy.
So we do; and so we cling to whomever we have left, and together, we keep on searching