Sunday, July 12, 2009

You Gotta Have Friends

My daughter and her boyfriend need to be reminded to make time for their other friends. Sometimes strongly reminded. Sometimes forced. It's tempting for me to chalk it up to typical teen foolishness, but that would be short-sighted of me. I've known women - teenagers, young women, older women - women who certainly ought to know better - who get wrapped up in a new romance to the point of shutting out everyone and everything else. To my great chagrin, I have BEEN that woman on more than one occasion.

I am one of those women who says they're married to their best friend, and I mean that sincerely. Of course I love my husband. Of course he sometimes annoys me (living with someone who is not yourself is always going to get annoying at some point, no matter how much you love them). But I really like him, too. That's what makes me lucky. I hope you're in the same boat, or find yourself there one day. It's good.

But it's not enough. No relationship - not even a really really great one - can satisfy all of your social needs. I find myself at a place in my life right now where I'm really actively seeking same-sex friendships. I want that girl time. I've spoken to this before, perhaps to the point of tedium.

A couple years (decades) ago, my sister and I held a party for my parents 30th wedding anniversary. She was pretty much a newlywed at the time and I was as single as a gal could be. We watched our parents arrive at the party together. Very shortly after that, however, Mom was off with her friends and Dad was off with his. They came together, periodically, touching base, but for the most part they had completely separate experiences. I remember saying to my sister that very day, "Well, there we have it. The secret to a long happy marriage. Spend as little time together as possible." We had another party just a couple years ago to celebrate their 50th. It played out in much the same manner. I remember thinking after that one, "How wonderful! Since they both talked to different people and got different stories, they'll have plenty to talk about when the party's over".

Yep. I crave my girlfriend time. I need my girls.

My daughter needs to be reminded of the importance of that. It's far too easy to get caught up in the throes of young romance (even when it's between older people!). It's hard not to get caught up in the whole 'you and me against the world' mentality. It's romantic and it's wonderful. But it's not everything - and when you treat it as though it is, a lot of important relationships don't get nurtured. Romeo and Juliet wanted to take on the world, and look how that turned out.

When I was a newlywed, I certainly bought into it. I think you're supposed to. Honeymoon period and all that. Since I was older when I got married, a lot of my friends had already been married a long time. They took separate vacations. They still took together vacations, but they took separate vacations, too. I remember thinking Tom and I were golden because we would never do that. If there was time off to be had, we wanted to have it together. That was fine for OTHER people, but we had something just a LITTLE bit better than that. Just a LITTLE stronger. Then it happened. Tom wanted to go away for a weekend that didn't interest me at all. I didn't give in; he didn't give it up. I cried as I watched him pull out of the driveway. We were no longer golden. We were just like everybody else. Soon thereafter I had my first little solo outing.

It was revitalizing.

It made things better rather than worse.

Who knew? (apparently a whole lot of people - but it was a eureka moment for me)

How do you satisfy your need for girl-time (or boy-time, if you're one of my rare and beloved male readers)? What advice would you offer to a young girl trying to figure out that balance (and not even sure she wants to)? How important are your friends (aside from your spouse) to you? Do you like everyone you love?

Talk to me! I need you!


Sandy said...

You struck a chord with me with this post! My saying is "you can't be everything to each other." Paul and I have lots of things we do together and a few we don't. And we do occasionally travel without the other. But we don't go away to GET AWAY from each other. And I am always happy to come home and thankful when he comes home safe and sound. In my younger years I tried it the other way, too, and it doesn't work well. As usual, Momma Knows Best!

scrappysue said...

over here we say 'mates before dates', and even intelligent young girls (and women!) sometimes forget that. i certainly was guilty of that earlier in life! it's all about balance. i would go mad if i spent every hour of every day with my husband. he simply CAN'T give me everything i need, which is why i have my girlfriends!!!

Linda said...

The older I get the more I'm feeling the need to connect with women my age yet all of my friends seem to be moving away! The kids are off to college and making lives of their own so many of our friends are moving to other parts of the country...experiencing life/lifestyles elsewhere.
Girlfriends have always been an important part of my life so I'm finding this a little frustrating but realize it's out of my control.

When I am able to see girlfriends and spend time with them, I'm refreshed and rejuvinated, they make me a better person.

Claudya Martinez said...

Oh man, the older you get the harder it is to forge the wonderful same-sex friendships you could when you were in school. There was a point in my life where I was so starved for female friends I wanted to cry. I don't know what advice to give a young girl who is enjoying her boyfriend, other than to remind her that her girlfriends should not be neglected.

Melissa B. said...

For years, all my "girl time" needs were met, because of the kids' active schedules. I knew swim moms and field hockey moms and Girl Scout moms and church moms, ad infinitim. Now that we're quasi-empty nesters, I've still got a few of those friends, but I don't make the connections as often. I really need to get out more often, ya know?

Macey said...

I find that my girlie time is my blogging, most days.
But since I've started blogging I've reconnected with a highschool friend and we've been hanging out and having great girlie fun!

Kathy B! said...

I have been this woman, and to a degree, I still am. I'm glad you're trying to encourage your daughter to keep her horizons broad.

I hope I do as well with my own four girls...

Alex the Girl said...

Argh. I'm having this same conversation with my oldest daughter. She's so wrapped up into her Nick that everything she does, even when it is involving nickless activities, revolves around him! When do they see the light?

I find myself missing the girlfriends I had when I was in college, and premarriage. Although we were only three in number, we had some great times. However, after a series of events, one meeting a guy, me getting sick, the other losing herself to work, we drifted's been years. Unfortunately, I'm not the one that makes and keeps friendships easily...not the crafter, not the susie homemaker, not the typical gal pal. I'm odd. My sense of humor is odd. And I'll be the first to tell you that I just don't fit in!

But I do miss it. Lots. Why don't you move over here?

Gibby said...

For some reason, Hubs has more guy-time than I have girl-time. Not sure why. But I do try to get it in. My college roomies and I finally put together a Girls Weekend in Florida in September. I AM SO EXCITED! And not only am I excited to be with them, but I am excited to be by MYSELF on the plane for two hours. Pure bliss.