Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I've been friends with "George" for a long time. He's always been my go-to for getting drinks after work, or venting about my bad day, or filling in as my plus-one if I happen to be single and need a date to an event. It's never been anything but platonic. Many girlfriends have asked why I haven't "gone there," and the simplest and most honest answer is I just don't look at George that way. He's my buddy, and a great one.
A few months ago, George started seeing someone and now everything has changed. She apparently was a little weirded out about how close we are and let him know she'd prefer we not spend as much time together. George said he has no intention of ending our friendship but he really likes this girl and wants to respect her wishes and not make her uncomfortable. I guess I partly understand; she doesn't know me and maybe she's threatened by me or isn't sure of my motives. But I sincerely have never once wanted to date or even be casually involved with George. He's just my buddy, and frankly, I miss him.
I'm scared of losing our friendship. What can I do?
We talk a lot about codependency in romantic relationships. But guess what? This codependency can easily happen in friendships, too. As weird as it sounds, it's fun when our best friend is single alongside us. Then we always have someone who's always at the ready for a last-minute dinner, or down to take some crazy new workout class, or up for a last-minute trip out of town. It's great! And amid all this bonding and fun, we talk earnestly about how we really hope the other finds someone special, because gee, don't we all deserve it.
And then they do find someone, and strangely, it kind of sucks. Feeling this way does not make you a bad person. It makes you normal. I'm sure you're hurt and confused that your bestie — who in this case just happens to be of the opposite sex — is suddenly so unavailable. It probably makes you question his value of the friendship, not to mention has you feeling a bit lonely and lopsided without your wingman. It's also probably hard to warm to his new lady when she's at the least apprehensive and at the worst, suspicious.
I'm going to be straight: Now that he's in a relationship, your friendship will change. There's simply no other way to put it. He has a girlfriend now, which means you won't always be his first text after a bad day, or his go-to when he needs a decompression cocktail or a wedding date.
So you have to figure out what the friendship looks like now, and you can't do that alone. Talk to him and recognize the new dynamics change things but express that you're willing to work toward whatever that new reality may be.
That's the thing about our go-to's — they come and they, well, go. One day, they're your bestie, the next they've got a partner. Or they get married. Or they get kids. Or they get tired of you. It's the circle of life — like Wanda said, friendships evolve and even end. Sometimes suddenly. And you just have to deal with it.
I'm going to be straight, too: Your friendship is never going to be the same. Ever. Now that he has a girlfriend, there's going to be a lot more of her and a lot less of you in his life. Like, a whole lot less of you. Even if she's the coolest and most secure girlfriend in the world and wants him to continue maintaining his friendships and hanging out with you, she's still going to be his fun option No. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. You're No. 6 at best.
Harsh, I know. But once you come to terms with that, it's easier to move forward or even move on.
And let's be real about what are you really mourning: Is it the loss of a friend or the loss of someone who has filled in those empty spaces in your life? If you're honest with yourself and you look at this change as a gain instead of a loss. Now that you don't have your old go-to on standby, you can use the time and energy that he used to fill in your life to expand your personal growth and your go-to Rolodex. You might find a new partner in crime or two, or perhaps even find a life partner.
Loss sucks. Change is hard. Fading friendships can be a drag. But that's life. So pick yourself up, give him his space and get going on finding another go-to.
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