BEING IN YOUR 30’S: A FRIENDSHIP GRAVEYARD
It actually happened. I’m in my 30’s. Things don’t feel too different than being in my 20’s other than I’ve evolved and I’m a lot wiser, but in the bigger picture, I’ve noticed my social life drastically change at such a glacial pace I barely noticed as it was happening. Most of my friends are married now, have kids, own homes, etc… I still have roommates, I watch cartoons, I sometimes don’t shower for 2 days, my life is a literal coming-of-age meme. Obviously every life experience is different for everyone, but here’s what I know about mine…
I’ve always had friends. I’ve been a social butterfly since the beginning of time and even though I may not 100% feel the same way now, I loved to be around people 24/7. Going out with friends in groups or having like 20 different partners in crime, going on trips, concerts, etc. I NEVER ever wanted the feeling of pure fun, bliss and being carefree to end. I was obsessed with my twenties. But without realizing it, I went from pulling all nighters and binge partying during workdays to like, ghosting on everyone around me. I had multiple groups of friends but I also had those best friends where for years we’d fantasize about our futures togther. The stereotypical thing friends do: we’d dream about buying our first homes next door to each other, pray that if we ever get married our husbands can be best friends too, how if we end up alone we’ll just be cougars at the bar . We’d talk about how we’d have fun every day forever and not ever become boring. We’d be the “cool”, “fun” adults. Of course, I didn’t truly believe all that would come true, but years later, I’m the only person who kinda took all that seriously. My friends slowly started getting into serious long-term relationships and even though I dated and had short but still meaningful ones, I’m still single. I was (and still am) addicted to the feeling of being independent…or perhaps just so accustomed to it now that the thought of any different makes me uncomfortable (and as this post unfolds, you’ll see it could also be that I’m an alienating asshole). My entire life is focused solely on me working and setting up my future for success that everything else literally comes second, so I’m almost as guilty, almost. My friends and I would do our best to keep our friendships strong even if they were now tied up in their relationship. Even though my friends made these promises to stay involved in each other’s lives, their significant other became the obvious first priority. I at times was guilty of this too when I was in a relationship so it’s not like I was angry cuz like, I get it. But it wasn’t long before they started flaking on plans and showing up less, they started dropping like flies. It didn’t help that I moved around a lot, but in a way it always kind of helped me to get over the fact that my friends were in different stages in their lives, plus moving to new cities and making friends in your 20’s isn’t that difficult if you’re friendly and non-judgmental. You know that saying “if you want to get over someone, get under someone else” -or some shit like that..well, that’s essentially what I was doing with my friendships. I was always too distracted with my many new friends to be fazed by all my core friendships depleting one by one. Every time someone got into a relationship, I’d replace them with a new friend. A little fucked up, I know, but I think a lot of us are guilty of this because friendships are basically just relationships without sex (and sometimes with sex , lol being an adult is psycho). And like a true cycle that can’t be broken, these new friendships I forged eventually got into their own serious relationships too. Once my friends started getting engaged, I was happy for them, but in my head all I could think was “ew”. I felt like such a bitch but I couldn’t help it. I stopped congratuling my friends when they got engaged/married/pregnant. I never went to the bridal/baby showers. I just didn’t care, it’s not me, and all my friends who would laugh and bond about our pessimistic outlook on love and humans or never fantasizing about weddings as little girls were the first to throw dirt on that grave. Some of my best friends that I had for years got married….and I didn’t even go to the wedding. Or send a gift. Or like the pictures on Facebook. Sometimes I’d feel the urge to say “Congrats! Love you! Miss you!”, but a lot of times I stopped myself, because I knew it was empty and not genuine. I didn’t know how to talk to my friends anymore. People who knew everything about me or I about them suddenly became strangers. I’d justify my behavior by telling myself, “it goes both ways”, and it does, but I’m the one who dropped the ball first. I’m the one who distanced myself and literally viewed my single friends getting into relationships as a death. Anytime I’d see a new engagement text or post, the first thing to go through my head is “well, there goes that” or “another one bites the dust”, it’s rarely that I can feel actual happiness or be one of those girls who cries tears of joy at the thought of my friend finding true love (or just the first dude to propose to her). I’m happy for her of course, but I don’t see how we could fit into each other’s lives anymore besides being on friendly terms. Like, “hey, how have you been?” followed by a quick life update is as far as it goes anymore. I’m not saying my friends are victims, because a lot of them expect me to be the one to reach out because I’m the single one. It is assumed I have more time and less serious things going on in my life that I should take that into consideration when talking to friends who have spouses and families now, like I’m the one responsible for making effort or initiating anything. It’s really all a lack of communication, because there literally is none. One of my last few childhood girl friends recently got engaged a few weeks ago and I’ve yet to say anything to her. She was one of my friends I expected to send me a text not just announce through Instagram, especially since IG isn’t my social media drug of choice. So I pretended I didn’t see it and still have never heard from her. Still haven’t talked, not sure if we’ll even talk again and that’s super shitty but it is what it is. Sure I could reach out, but so could she, it’s awkward now.
Making friends and meeting new people eventualy becomes exhausting, especially when I look back and remind myself how I constantly try to make life-long friends and fail. It’s not that I’m a bad friend, because I will put 1000% in to my friendships and fully invest myself…..it’s the fact that the reality is most people grow up and settle down and get married or serious with someone. That’s when the friendship dies for me. Maybe people don’t get to this point the same way I did, maybe they made every effort and the friendships just fizzled out, but it’s something a lot of us in our 30’s who are still single experience. We know that it’s more common and accepted now than ever to be single in your 30’s or not marry at all, or just not follow the status quo in general, but that doesn’t make it any easier to make friends or maintain a social life. At 31, I feel like I’m in this awkward limbo, like adult puberty, where I’m too fucking old to be slamming shots until I puke with 20-somethings and going to douchey nightclubs, but I’m also not at the point in my life yet where I give a fuck about “breastfeeding tips” or having to constantly watch my language because the kids are around. I know I sound bitter but on the contrary, nothing elates me more than my friends finding happiness, as hard as that may be to believe but that’s all I’ve ever wanted for the people I love and care about, I just don’t feel it neccesary for me to be such a big part of their lives anymore. It’s almost innevitable that friendships reach this point and I just kinda give myself the headstart by falling off the face of the earth. I’m okay with possibly never getting married or being with someone forever, but I dont want to be alone, and I don’t mean this in a physical, needy or clingy way, but in the sense of companionship. And I know, people probably read that and think, “how can you claim you want companionship but suck at being a companion”, which to that, I agree. But is it too selfish or unrealistic to only want to be surrounded by people who can relate to your life because they share a similar lifestyle that isn’t exactly considered “the norm”? It’s not like I haven’t tried to make some friendships work after my friends got married, but they also look at being single diffrently too. They’re like the sober people at the bar who don’t drink anymore but sitting there judging you because you’re on your 4th shot. Probably one of the last straws was when I hung out with my best friend, her husband and a bunch of our mutual friends who for the most part were couples *eye roll*. I might get a little ridiculous at times but all of my friends kind of know what they’re getting into and without sounding overly confident, but part of my charm and why they loved me so much is because I am fun and I’m always myself and that’s something I’ll never apologize for. Anyway, my friend who used to partake in these antics with me and laugh about it suddenly thought she was too cool for that. I got drunk and slutty with a guy I was into at the bar and instead of laughing it off or not giving a fuck she was a bitch about it and totally judged me for it. We got in a huge fight and haven’t talked since. Of course I apologized anyway, but it didn’t help that her husband was sitting there chirping in her ear because I knew deep down he never really liked me because when he first started dating my friend, I was the one she was always getting in trouble with and he wasn’t down with his wife hanging out with me anymore. Touche, but at the same time it’s not like I’m forcing her to act a certain way or should be held responsible for someone else’s actions, but whatever, I feel it, sometimes significant others are jealous of your friendships. Granted everything I’ve talked about is comepletely situational but I know I’m not the only 30-something who wants to have friends but no longer has the energy to go out and make them and if you do, where to even start because most people my age are at home with their spouse or kids? I’m down to my last few best friends who are like me: single, about our money and being there for each other because marriage isn’t at the top of the list, but we don’t live close and we all know deep down there might come a day when there’s gonna be just one of us left. I guess what I’m saying is, I don’t want to be a lonely old hag forever, but I also am not willing to jump into relationships or friendships for the sake of that not happening. The real question is how do you build a strong connection with people (platonic or not) when you’re so late in the game or don’t fit any stereotypical demographic? I know it’s not that difficult to meet people at this age, but it’s incredibly hard to go past acquaintances, or meet people who don’t want to fuck or use you for whatever reason. Maybe it’s my fault for thinking my 30’s would be some real life Sex and the City-type shit, but how do you meet people in the same category as you when you don’t even know what category you fall under anymore? Married couples hang with married couples, moms hang with other moms, young hot 20-year-olds hang out with other young hot 20-year-olds, and single 30-somethings eat take-out alone in their underwear having Law & Order marathons and one night stands…ok, maybe we don’t have it too bad.