I used to have a friend named Amy. If I needed anything – whether it was advice or a pink shirt to match my new pants – Amy was there for me. We went on shopping trips to New York City and Philadelphia at least once a month, gossiping about people we knew while we drove. We had “Girl’s Night Out” dinners at our favorite Mexican restaurant, and many giddy times after a few too many margaritas. Every weekend we went to the local bars and clubs hoping to meet “Mr. Right”. Even if we didn’t meet him, we always had a good time dancing.
I had dated quite a few guys, but no one seriously in the three years Amy and I were friends. Going out with Amy was fun, and something I could count on to keep the boredom of single life away. She became like a sister to me. Then something happened.
I got a boyfriend.
Suddenly, “Girls Night Out” turned into “Do You Mind If We Meet Up With Matt While We’re Out Night?” You see, my new boyfriend and I wanted to get to know each other more, as expected. However, in the delirious excitement of having this new person in my life, I committed one of the worst dating sins a female can commit: I let my friendship with my best girlfriend slip.
At first it wasn’t very noticeable to me. I still chatted on email and spoke on the phone with Amy almost every day. But the truth is that when she asked me to go out, I first considered if there was a chance I’d be doing something with Matt that night. As my relationship with Matt grew over the months, going out with Amy to bars and clubs became a bit boring – I wasn’t looking for “Mr. Right” anymore. To top it off, my “Mr. Right” was not very happy at the prospect of me going to bars and clubs without him. “Clubs are dens of sin!” he half-joked one day, when I mentioned how often I used to go. “They only exist because people go there to hook up with each other.” So I stopped going to my dens of sin.
The last time I saw Amy was on the weekend after my 27th birthday. As a gift, she had bought me a ticket to go with her on a bus trip to shop in New York City. Just like old times, I thought as I stepped off the bus into the springtime New York sun. I had to hold that thought, though, because my cell phone began ringing. It was Matt, making his usual morning call. This time he asked if I got there safely and told me to have a fun day. I didn’t think much of it until I looked over at Amy’s disgusted frown.
“Can’t you even go one day without talking to him?” she fumed. “This is OUR trip, it’s a Girl’s Day. Why does he need to call?”
Equally annoyed, I told her that I liked when he called, that it made me feel he cared and thought of me. It was the truth – I enjoyed the fact that he thought to call when he woke up every morning. But looking back on it now, I realize Amy wasn’t angry that he’d called. She was angry that I appreciated how much he cared about me, while ignoring the fact that she, too, cared for me. For months she’d been asking me to go out, calling me, writing me email, and now taking me on a trip for my birthday. But I had not shown her any appreciation for being a good friend.
Amy and I haven’t spoken much after that trip.
As the months passed and my relationship with Matt became more and more familiar, I started to notice something interesting. During our relationship, he had not given up any of his friends or hobbies that he had before we knew each other. He still played basketball every Sunday morning with his friends. He met his friends for dinner and drinks when I was busy and couldn’t make it. He made it a point to find time for them, even if it meant saying no to making plans with me once in a while.
Slowly but surely, I thought back about how I had given up things to spend time with him. And from time to time, I threw those things in his face to make him feel guilty if he wasn’t going to take me out on a Saturday night. “I could be at my den of sin,” I’d yell at him, “but now I don’t have a friend to go there with. Have fun tonight with Jim and Mike. I’ll just be here reading a book.”
Ironically, the less Amy was in my life, the more fights I had with Matt. Why, there was no one to call and vent to about my problems with him or with life in general. So who heard all of my complaints? He did. And like guys do, he tried to tell me how I should solve all of my dilemmas, which annoyed me to no end. A female, like Amy, would have just listened to me and consoled me while I had my personal pity party.
As much as I wanted to place the blame on Matt for the fact that I gave up so many things I used to enjoy, the truth is that all the blame lies on me. No one made me give anything up. I volunteered it to chase the fairy tale relationship that depicts man and woman alone, together against the world. I overlooked the friends beside, behind, and in front of man and woman, protecting them, helping them, and loving them.
Amy, check your email… an old friend is sending you an article she wrote.