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I bet we’ve all had this experience.
Either as the person on the receiving end of it (me) or on the giving end of it (others? Some of you?).
You have that wonderful girlfriend. She’s not your best friend, but you’re close. She’s the one you can have fun with. She’s the one who is “up for anything”—like trekking on local hike trails on Sunday mornings followed by brunch.
She’s totally up for watching a Turkish TV show with or without subtitles…because, why not? She’s game for pigging out on thin-crust veggie-lovers pizza from Pizza Hut because…you know? Both of you are trying to lose weight.
But then you spoil the weight-loss plans by gorging on two pizzas because hey…they’re thin-crust and vegetarian pizzas. So how bad can it be? Well, 1,350 calories more of bad, that’s how much, but who’s counting? All those vows of dieting that you both promise to start from that weekend but all down the drain with beers for her, and Bloody Marys for you, even as you snarf down another slice and burst out laughing.
So, no. She’s not your bestie best friend with whom you share all the teensy-weensy, itsy-bitsy, disgusting, mortifying, heartbreaking details of your life with, but she’s someone with whom you hang out on a regular basis and just have fun.
I had/have many of these friends, especially girlfriends. For me, girlfriends are my veritable lifeline. I never understand women who claim that they “don’t get along with women” and that they “prefer male friends to female friends.” Not me. Not ever. I have male friends too. But my women friends, they’re the air I breathe. They’re the ones who laugh with me when I’m on a high, who catch me when I fall, hold my hands tight when I’m grieving, and who will answer the phone when I call them at 2 a.m.
So, while this girl was not my best friend, she was one of my solid, close friends with whom I spent a lot of happy times. And we had so much fun. What I most remember from all those years with her is the laughter. We just laughed all the time. The silly laughter when someone cracked a stupid joke, the sheepish smile when we were in front of a bartender and had no clue what drink to order except that we knew we wanted to drink something, the mortifying and awkward laughter when we saw a cute boy and realized neither of us were hot enough to know what to say when he actually spoke to us, giggled together when we couldn’t figure out what our economics professor in class said…yeah. We laughed—a lot.
And we had so much fun. And the fun and friendship continued even after I left the United States, via social media.
Until the day it ended.
She was there one day, and literally one morning, she just vanished out of my life. She deleted her Facebook profile, cleaned out her Instagram, and changed her phone number. Since she lived in the same town where we went to grad school, I knew she was around since mutual friends saw her around town, but for all intents and purposes, she cut all of us (me) out of her life almost overnight.
No prizes for guessing the truth, but do you still want to guess why she dropped out of my life the way she did? (Yep. 100/100 points if you guessed the reason why.)
She found herself a man. And I got dumped because of her new relationship update.
It’s such a cliché, no? Girls who are so close to one another, but the second one of them gets a dude, the women in their lives go for a toss. I wish I could tell you that it was the first time something like this has happened to me. Or that it will be the last time it will happen to me. No. And no.
With the passing of time, I’d hear about her off and on. Some said she moved to a different state. To a different country. That she eventually married this guy she’d dumped all of us for. And then even the rare sightings of her around town stopped.
Occasionally, we’d wonder about her. Maybe she moved to Brazil? Or Spain? Those were her two favorite countries. Maybe she was the mother to two kids? She always wanted four. And we hoped she was happy. As sad as we felt at her abandoning us/me, I was happy for her.
Anyway, life went on. As it always does.
Cut to three months back, suddenly, out of the blue, I got a friend request on Facebook. I barely paid any attention to it except to note that this person’s first name was the same as my old friend’s. But the profile picture was a picture of a dog, and the last name was different. So, I shrugged, did not click accept, and just moved on with my life.
A few days later, I remembered the friend request and recalled how the name reminded me of my friend. I casually pulled up the friend request and clicked on the profile and started strolling through that person’s wall. And a few posts in, to my utter shock, it was from my friend from all those years back. There was no accompanying message. No hellos. No hi. No how’re you? Just a random friend invite. It was as if the past many years did not happen at all.
I was angry at first. And then just curious. Why now? After completely ghosting me for so many years, why did this friend contact me now?
And then the tube light flickered on.
Of course. Of course, I know why she friended me again. And trust me, I did not want to be so cynical as to automatically assume why she connected with me after so many years. But I’ve been through this before with other girlfriends. My cynicism comes from solid experience. So, I was almost 100 percent sure that the only reason this woman sent me a friend request after years of radio silence was because she was single again.
And a few more posts in, I was right.
Apparently, she got married to the guy she dumped her girlfriends for. But around six months back, her divorce came through and she was “oh so relieved to reclaim and live her life again!” And hence the friend invite to me.
Her behavior doesn’t astound me half as much as how typical her behavior is. Like I said at the beginning, this wasn’t the first time I’d been dumped by a girlfriend for a relationship, and it certainly won’t be the last.
I still don’t get why friends drop friends the second they are in a romantic relationship. There is (there should be) a place for both in one’s life, no? And since when do your friends become a fall back for you—the ones you go to only when you don’t have a romantic partner anymore?
I then wondered, do men do this? Drop their friends the second they acquire a partner? Anecdotally, I asked around my male friends, acquaintances, colleagues, family members, and the almost unanimous response was “why?” How are these two instances connected? Why would anyone have to choose between a romantic partner and a friend?
Like I said, this is purely anecdotal from my group of male friends and family. Almost every male I spoke to said that neither did they dump their friends nor had they been dumped because of romance. But almost every single female friend of mine agreed with me that they’ve all been dumped—by another female friend the second romance for one of them entered the picture.
And this makes me so sad. It’s 2021 and we are still doing this?
And no. I haven’t accepted her friend request yet.