Making Friends When You’re in a Long Term Relationship

Let me preface all of this by saying, I love female friendship. I’m kind of obsessed with it, actually. From the popular Sex and the City and Golden Girls to the less well-known Walking and Talking and Heavenly Creatures, I’ve seen EVERY movie and TV show about female friendships. Maybe it’s me being an only child and craving siblings, but I find these friendships to be deeply sustaining and life-affirming.

But I realized that since I’ve been in a relationship, about five and a half years, I haven’t made many super close girlfriends. I’ve made a lot of acquaintances, but not as many really close pals. It might simply be more challenging to meet new friends in your thirties, or it’s just plain harder when you’re in a serious relationship. Most likely, it’s a combination of both of these things. But for me, there’s one more element that I think is a factor.

Talking about boys.  In high school and college, I bonded with a lot of my friends by talking about boys and dating. I don’t feel like less of a feminist for saying that I love talking about these subjects, because I enjoy talking to my female friends about other subjects too. But one of the ways I bonded with new female friends was over men. This may just be my personality, because I was the girl who ALWAYS talked about her crushes or my fear that I would never meet that special someone.

I think it touches on something deeper, though. Talking about love and dating is really intimate; it’s not just superficial talk. You expose yourself, share your hopes for the future and that’s vulnerable. When I would share a story about my crush with a new friend, most of the time, she would share her own romantic adventures with me, and often, a friendship was born. I suppose I could share stories from my relationship now, but honestly it would almost feel like a betrayal to share anything negative about my relationship to new friends, since we’ve been dating for so long.

Now I feel like I’m more of a listener, and less of a contributor to these conversations about dating, and it makes me a little nostalgic for the old days. I don’t have stories involving crazy dates, or the drunk dial from the ex I still care about,  or the cute co-worker who I kissed once…And since I met my boyfriend before the boom of Tinder, I’m bummed that I can’t share my own adventures in swiping left and right.

But I guess you trade one thing for another. I wouldn’t want to go back to dating lots of new people just for the stories I could share with my new girlfriends. It’s about finding fresh meaningful ways to connect with recent women friends….quilting, anyone?

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4 responses

  1. A good place to establish new friends is your partners friends who are also in a long term relationship. My daughter has become very good friends with wiives of her husband friends. The boys go rock climbing and the girls go to theatre or just hang out together. I don’t know why but women have a hard time maintain friendships compared to men.

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    • Thanks for the advice!

      I don’t actually think woman have a harder time maintaining friendships than men. I’ve kept a lot of my friendships from the past as have many of my friends. I just think it’s harder to make new friends in your 30’s.

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  2. Jane! So interesting! It made me think about how I bond with my girlfriends, and while talking about boys has been one avenue with some, the larger connective tissue has been talking about careers and life paths. I never realized that about myself before. It reminds me of something that a close friend said to me once, she said she always thought of me as someone who wasn’t going to settle down because I never talk about my love life. It’s not true at all, I do want to find that special someone but I guess I’ve always been more of a listener. You gave me something to think about!

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    • Janice! That’s interesting, because I find that’s what I’m now finding myself connecting to friends more about now – life paths and careers.

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