The biggest lie I continuously tell is that “I am soooo happy for you!” when one of my friends starts dating. The intent isn’t a lie — I really, really wish I was happy for them. But I’m not. I never am. Why would we be?
Let’s say you have a friendship that is working really well. Like you have a best friend who is always there for us, that you have a great time hanging out with. And then they start dating someone. Suddenly, their focus isn’t on your friendship anymore. Maybe not at first, but slowly, your friendship becomes replaced by the new relationship. You aren’t their first call when they need help, you aren’t the first person they want to tell big news to, you aren’t the friend they call to chat about their day with. You become work. And so your friendship — even if it survives, which is a BIG if — is less than it used to be. Why should you be happy about that? What does it say about your friendship that you would be?
And maybe this works if EVERYONE in the entire world was dating. We would have our set “person” that we spend tons of time with, and then occasionally break up the mundane by hanging out with another friend every week or so. But not all of us are dating, indeed, some of the world tends to be serial daters, while the rest of us remain alone.
I had a really good friend for a long time who I was incredibly close to. We’d chat all the time, hang out, talk about our issues and support each other during the hard times. It was a great friendship, and one I was sure was going to last forever. He started dating someone roughly two years ago, and it was never the same. Never. Now he doesn’t know anything about my job, about my life, or anything that has happened over the last two years. Why should I be happy about that?
And is he happier? Maybe…? But why does society expect me to want to prioritize other people’s happiness over mine? Why should I be the one who has to sit with my nose pressed to the window of my friends? Why should I be happy about having an emptier, lower quality of life?
Even the friends who I have stayed in touch with after they started dating someone “seriously,” are much more distant than they’ve ever been. Yeah, we might grab coffee or a beer every now and then, but our friendship is trumped, 100% of the time, by their relationship. If their significant other and I were both being rushed to different hospitals, there is no doubt which one they would be at.
And when I vent to people about this, they are typically like, “Well, why don’t you date someone Jeff?” And why should I be fucking expected to do that? Why should the ONLY door to not being lonely be a serious relationship? To be quite frank, I don’t think I am ready for that right now — I am too focused on my career. That doesn’t mean I want to spend every evening playing World of Warcraft or online poker alone.
And I want to be pissed at my friends, right? Because oh, maybe it’s just a few shitty people who are WAYYY too consumed in their relationship. But can anyone name a friendship that stayed just as strong once that friend started dating someone? Maybe there is an outlier or two out there, but let’s be honest, for us single friends — there’s no real reason we should be happy for our friends when they start dating.