The case of the disappearing guy friends

Posted: 9.30.2011 in A day in the life..., Just thought you should know

ImageI’m having a hard time coming to terms with all the friends I’ve been losing (or am scared of losing) over recent years – and I’m not talking about the handful of female friends who are no longer in my life following dramatic fallouts. My clear inability to judge strong character and habit of allowing those types of people into my life is a blog post for another time. What I’m talking about are the friends I lose to significant others, particularly my close guy friends when they get girlfriends. I barely have enough fingers on my hands to count the number of guy friends this has happened with.

I’m pretty nontraditional compared to most dating girls in that I generally think like I guy. (Full disclosure: I’m not in a relationship at the moment, so there may be a degree of natural bias.) I don’t need to check in with my boyfriend every hour, I don’t need to see him everyday and I need my alone and girl times just as much as he needs time for himself and his guys. Unfortunately for my girlfriends, I have a hard time relating or understanding when they come to me with qualms about their significant others not checking in enough or wanting a guys’ weekend.

That nature of mine is a blessing and a curse. Because I recognize that I’m not a traditional girlfriend, I know that the odds of my friends’ ladies being a traditional girlfriend with much more influence on his life are high. But it also leaves me frustrated that these good friends of mine disappear into their relationships. (Of course this a very simplistic way of putting it, and there is much more to it.) What is it about these guys that keeps them maintaining our friendship?

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The guy is as much to blame as the possessive girlfriend
As much as I would like to point my finger at the girlfriend’s insecurities and resulting possessiveness for why my guy friend has gone MIA, that’s not fair. I think it’s equally due to the guy’s character (who wears the pants in the relationship?). And maybe it’s really just guys in general. Guys aren’t as good about keeping in touch, catching up or making plans. So when a distraction in the form of a girlfriend comes along, those things that they weren’t very good at to begin with fall by the wayside.

Coupledom means more “we’re going to stay in tonight”
I’d be inclined to say it’s partly because as a couple’s relationship progresses they become less social and are more comfortable staying in because they have each other. But Match.com’s “Singles in America” study says otherwise. In fact, couples go out just about as much as singles do – 46 percent versus 52 percent, respectively, go out one to three nights a week. Here’s the fine print (or what I think it is, anyway): Those outings are probably with each other or with other couples; it’s not hanging out with their single friends who were such a huge part of their lives before they got reeled in. I was at a house party over the weekend, and I kid you not, I was one of three single people among eight couples! But I don’t want to go too far off a tangent; being surrounded by so many couples and engagements and weddings and new parents these days is also a post for another time.

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You say guys and girls can’t be friends?!
I’d be fooling myself if I said the disappearing acts had nothing to do with the fact that maybe there was an attraction, sexual tension or potential for moving out of the platonic realm at some point in the friendship. Maybe there’s some history that makes it hard to continue a friendship once the guy finds his true partner. Or if it’s not a complicated history, then maybe the guy was investing so much time into the friendship before because he thought there may be a chance for more, whether it was in the form of future dates or a romping session. Some people say guys don’t want to be simply friends, and that they’re only dedicating time to a woman because they want to be with her or bang her. One of the guy friends I lost to a girlfriend likened this to “putting money in the bank” knowing there would eventually be an opportunity to “cash out.” And others say that guys and girls can’t be friends. But I disagree with both of those claims – and so does Psychology Today.

The belief that men and women can’t be friends comes from another era in which women were at home and men were in the workplace, and the only way they could get together was for romance,” explained Linda Sapadin, a psychologist in Valley Stream, New York. “Now they work together and share sports interests and socialize together.” This cultural shift has encouraged psychologists, sociologists and communications experts to put forth a new message: Though it may be tricky, men and women can successfully become close friends.

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See! We can be friends despite the fact you had a secret crush on me or we made out in a drunken stupor or you wanted to date me and I didn’t feel the same way. The fact that we became so close to begin with says something, so even though we didn’t end up together doesn’t mean we can’t remain part of each others lives while you’re in a relationship.

A guy might actually be committed?!
I get that a couple wants to spend time together (duh!) and so my friend’s free time will become increasingly limited. Someone on an online forum did a good job of putting that into perspective: “If your goal is to find someone and hope to have it eventually turn into a long-term relationship, it’s normal to invest a lot of time into that person. That shows you’re serious about looking for a commitment.” I have a hard time believing that my guy friends’ disappearances are solely due to their commitment to their women, though. I don’t need Rutgers University’s “National Marriage Project” stats to tell me that most guys don’t like commitment. But I get that they truly want to spend more time with these amazing women who have come into their lives. I just don’t understand why friendships with people, even people who have been around much longer than the new significant other, have to take a backseat to such a substantial degree.

ImageThe guy (girl?) on the forum summed it up well: “It’s a tough adjustment all around. Hopefully those in relationships remember the value of good friends and make time when they can. And hopefully their friends are true friends who respect that they’re looking for a relationship and don’t guilt them for taking time away.”

I can respect when a good guy friend of mine finds someone he clicks with so well that he wants to spend the rest of his life with her. I can respect that the relationship takes a lot of time and effort, and so I will be more conscious about giving them space to do that. In return, I just ask that my guy friends not forget about the other important females in their lives even though they now have a No. 1.

                                                                    Hi, remember me? I miss you friend.

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