You and your friend are close – you text every day, hang out most weekends, and never run out of things to talk about. You love hanging out with your friend, even if it’s just to do something as simple as watch a movie together. Maybe she was the one who was there after your last breakup, the one to help you pick yourself up off the ground and keep moving forward.
The one complaint you might file about your friend, however? She gets tunnel vision whenever she’s in a new relationship. When there’s no guy in the picture, she’s available to you all day, every day. But the moment there’s a new guy, it’s as if she disappears entirely, forgetting you even exist. It might take a day or two to hear back from her whenever you reach out (and you’re suddenly always the first one to text), every weekend for her is already booked up with dates, and she effectively drops you like a hot potato.
Take heart in the fact that you aren’t alone in this. In fact, the “woman forgets she had a life before her new boyfriend” trope is so widespread that most of us have either been the flighty friend ourselves or had the flighty friend. But knowing that it’s happened to others doesn’t completely fix the pain you’re feeling right now.
You can’t help but feel hurt, abandoned, ignored, and jealous of her attention. You understand that she’s falling for him, but why does that mean your friendship not only has to suffer, but basically vanish? Why does she always have to blow you off as soon as she gets a guy, making you feel like the forgotten leftovers in the fridge – only to find you once they’ve broken up and she needs a shoulder to cry on? And what are you supposed to do about this predicament? How can you proceed without continuing to get hurt by her behavior?
First, Ask Yourself If You’re Being a Little Too Sensitive
Here’s the part where you’ll have to be honest with yourself: Is there any chance you’re being a smidge too sensitive? Maybe your friend has had a couple of relationships in the time that you haven’t had any or have had only one, short-lived one. Maybe you’re tired of being the one who’s always single, while it feels like your friend can get any guy she sets her sights on. Maybe you’ve found yourself feeling jealous, not just of him getting all of her attention as of late, but also of the fact that she has a boyfriend at all.
This is an understandably sensitive spot to have, but it’s also one that you can’t hold against your friend. Get honest with yourself, and check to see if your feeling like she “disappears” really has more to do with the fact that you’re unhappy with your relationship status than it has to do with her actually ignoring you.
Assess Whether or Not Your Expectations Are Fair
Whether or not you realize it, you’ve placed expectations on your friend. And for a while, these expectations weren’t an issue because they were frequently met. You saw her regularly, could always count on her picking up the phone, and never questioned if she’d be free to talk to you. Then, someone else important to her came into the picture, and suddenly your expectations weren’t being met the way they used to be.
It’s important to assess whether or not your expectations of your friend are realistic or fair. Are you expecting that she have the same amount of time to talk to you as she did before? Do you want her to continue to spend her Friday nights watching movies at your apartment, like you’ve been doing for the past few months? Are you essentially expecting nothing to have changed?
Before you can approach her with your concerns, there’s some soul-searching to do on your own end.
Kindly But Openly Communicate Your Feelings with Her
Maybe you aren’t being unfair at all, and it’s not even that you’re jealous of her new relationship. Maybe the truth is that she does have a bad habit of dropping you as soon as she has a guy to obsess over. Maybe this is far from the first time she’s pulled a stunt like this, so you know for a fact that you’re not overreacting. What do you do then?
While your friend’s (possibly repeated) behavior might be plainly obvious to you, she likely isn’t totally aware of her pattern.
While your friend’s (possibly repeated) behavior might be plainly obvious to you, she likely isn’t totally aware of her pattern. From her perspective, all she knows is that she’s head over heels for this guy. She can’t see anything else, especially if it’s not communicated clearly to her, because her head is on another planet at the moment.
And while you might wish she’d notice that it has been a while since you’ve caught up without you having to mention it to her, it’s necessary for you to communicate your feelings, concerns, and perspective with her.
You can try to keep things lighthearted to begin with by telling her that you’re happy for her, but that you miss hanging out with her: “I love that picture you posted with Scott at the beach. Remember when we went there last summer? I miss you! Are you free this week for coffee?”
If she doesn’t pick up on what you’re getting at, try being a little more direct without painting her new relationship in a negative light (a sure way to make her tune you out): “Hey, it’s been a little while since we’ve hung out. I know you’ve been hanging out with David a lot, but I’ve been feeling a little lonely. Can we catch up soon? I miss our long talks.”
If that doesn’t work, there’s still hope. You can be even more upfront if you need to be, but make sure to empathize with her so she doesn’t feel bombarded: “I’m saying this because I really value you as a friend. I’ve felt forgotten about every time you’re in a new relationship. I don’t think you mean to make me feel like that, and I know you’re just excited and in love, but it’s hurtful to me because I feel ignored. Am I making sense?”
Whatever you do, make it clear that this isn’t an attack on her, her boyfriend, or her relationship. Let her know that this is coming from a place of wanting to keep your friendship alive because you value it so much.
Try To Agree on a Regular Catch-Up Time
What you’re missing in your friendship is the regularity. You miss the days when you and your friend had frequent contact and catch-ups. And while your girls’ nights might be less of a common occurrence now, that doesn’t mean the friendship is dead in the water.
Ask your friend if she’d be willing to plan a regular time every week for you two to catch up, whether it’s talking on the phone every Thursday evening, getting coffee on Friday morning, or getting dinner every other week. She’ll naturally have less wide open time, but see if she’s willing to block off a specific day and time just for you.
Be Willing To Allow Your Friendship To Change
You used to be able to hang out at a moment’s notice with her. One minute you’d be wondering what to do with your Saturday, and the next minute you’d be heading over to her place to go thrifting together. When you’re both single, it’s easy to have a more spontaneous friendship. But that changes once one or both of you are in a relationship.
It may be necessary to find ways to meet new friends who are in your season of life.
It’s a difficult change to accept sometimes, but if you truly desire to keep the friendship, it’s important to be willing to allow the friendship’s rhythm to change. Just like the seasons change, so do friendships. It may be necessary to find ways to meet new friends who are in your season of life – not to replace your current friend, but to find yourself relying less on her for a kind of friendship she isn’t offering to you anymore.
Don’t Be Afraid To Set Boundaries
So what do you do if you’ve expressed your feelings, asked her repeatedly to hang out, been the only one to reach out, and still felt totally ignored, unseen, and abandoned? Well, it might be time to set some healthy boundaries and to get clear about what you need from a friend and what you’re not willing to put up with.
If your friend has gotten into the habit of dropping you for the entirety of her relationship only to come crawling back as soon as she gets into a fight with him or things end, you might consider telling her that while you care about her, you aren’t willing to be her friend only when she feels like it or needs you. If she’s been ignoring you or barely acknowledging your existence, let her know that you understand her priorities have shifted, but you need a friend who has time for you. If she also wants the friendship to continue, she can make changes. If she doesn’t, then you two may end up going your separate ways, but we would advise that this be a last resort.
Having a friend drop you for a guy hurts, especially if it’s happened more than once. While you can offer her some grace, there’s nothing wrong with being upfront about your needs and desires in a friendship.
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