Last week I started writing a series of posts looking at how I have lost friends over the years. My impetus to do this is part of my attempt to deal with my trauma, which all research shows is helped by increased social connection. Obviously the pandemic did a great deal to sever social connection, but for me it started long before that and instead of only focusing on how to increase my social connection I realized it was important to look at what got in the way of that to begin with.
Today, the third post will focus on losing friends to romance. In retrospect it is clear that I lost friends not only to their attempts at romance but in my own. Growing up I completely bought into the false narrative that I needed to be saved and that it was a romantic relationship that would do that for me. How many TV shows and movies bring two people together where they “save” each other? As the lonely adolescent and teenager, this made perfect sense. Somewhere out there there was a girl who needed to be saved and who in return would save me. As I’ve gotten older and had numerous disastrous relationships based off this premise, it has become clear that this is not the healthy foundation for a life together.
But when I started dating it made perfect sense. And if that is the narrative that you are operating on, it also makes perfect sense that you should put absolutely everything you can into making a relationship work, because if that is the thing that is going to save you, why would you waste your time and effort anywhere else? None of this was done consciously but it is pretty clear now. If there is any possible chance of seeing the girl that I had a crush on or hanging out with her or anything in any way related to her, it absolutely took precedent over doing anything with friends. I suppose also working in this equation was the fact that I had been abandoned by many of the people I thought were my friends and so even the ones that I were close to I couldn’t rely on them –better to put all your eggs in one basket and take every possible chance with the person that could save you.
And what a complete mess that made of both friendships and potential romantic relationships. The girls I dated who also bought into this narrative also ended up pushing their friends aside to focus completely on me, who they believed would save them, and every time it was completely smothering. They, meanwhile, seemed to expect the same in return, as if they wanted that smothering. Needless to say the dynamic it created could only end in disaster for one or both parties. When you convince yourself that the person is going to save you, and they end up rejecting you, what do you have left? In the most dramatic case I was involved in, I had an ex who tried to run me over with her car, then called our house over and over, letting the phone ring for over 15 minutes at a time. Unhealthy to say the least.
But anyway, back to friendship. Acting in this way certainly led to the weakening of many of my friendships, and likely to the end of a number of them. I have also been on the other side, where close friends, once they begin a relationship, push you aside. I suppose it’s only fair that I was subject to this since I did this to others. It’s more or less understandable during the early “honeymoon” phase, but it’s a lot more difficult to deal with once the relationship is long-established. Often I was single, and I had a number of friends who, once they were in a couple, only wanted to hang out with other couples. That was obviously alienating as well, and led to, again, the weakening of friendships as well as the likely end of some others.
Now, taking a step back and being able see all of this, it is completely absurd to act in this manner, even though at the time there didn’t seem to be anything wrong with it. I absolutely regret acting in this manner. It is perhaps one of the greatest regrets of my life – to expend so much effort on a relationship that only ends in disaster, while losing friends along the way. How absurd is that? But we do it, perhaps more of us then would like to admit.