Dear Wendy: “We Broke Up, He Got The Friends”
I was with my ex-boyfriend for three years. During that time, my three best friends all moved away, so he became my best friend, and his friends became my friends. We broke up really suddenly three months ago, and while I know the breakup was for the best, I now find that I have no idea what to do with myself. The few close friends I have left are also friends with my ex. I find myself spending way too many nights at home alone because I know my ex will be at the party my friends are going to. It’s hard for me to move on when I feel so lonely all the time, but I don’t want to go running back to him just because it’s the easiest thing right now. I want to keep busy and make new friends, but I don’t know how! Do you have any tips to make this transition a little easier for me? — Needs New Friends
I’m pretty sure you already know this, but just to confirm: the last thing you should do is go running back to your ex because you’re lonely. If you know in your heart you made the right decision to break up, going back to your ex is simply a recipe for disaster. What you need to focus on is moving forward, making new friends, and creating a life for yourself. A few months ago, I wrote a helpful column on making (and keeping) friends post-college. In it, I lay out lots of great tips for meeting new people, ideas for things to do with them, and tips for creating lasting friendships. Rather than repeat myself here, I’ll direct you to that column and underscore your critical need to get out there! You’ll never meet new people sulking at home feeling lonely and sorry for yourself. And, you know, why not start right here? In my friendship column there were lots of comments from people who wanted to start Frisky Meetups in their area. I’m not sure whatever happened with that — if people started them or what, but if you’d like to take stab at organizing one in your area, we’d be happy to do a post and help get the ball rolling.
And in the future, when you find yourself in a relationship again (because it will happen eventually!), don’t be so quick to give up your own life. As in love as you may fall, it’s always important to continue having friends, hobbies and interests outside your relationship. Not only does it enrich your life and give you added layers to bring into the relationship, it serves as a net that will catch you if things don’t work out and you find yourself single again. I hate to think about the many, many people who put off ending bad relationships because they’ve got nothing else going on in their lives and can’t bear the thought of being alone with nothing to keep them occupied. Come on, everyone; that’s a terrible way to live.
A few months ago, a good friend had a housewarming party. I foolishly invited a friend to come along before clearing it with the host. When I told the host, she said she wasn’t a fan of the guest, so I then had to dis-invite her. The day after the party, my friend kept pressing as to the real reason why she was dis-invited and I confirmed her suspicions of the host’s distaste for her. She is now determined to confront the host as to why she doesn’t like her (my gut says it’s because in the 4+ years of knowing each other, the dis-invited friend never made an effort to get to know the host).
It’s unlikely that direct confrontation will yield a friendship or resolve anything, so I am missing her reasoning behind it. They are both very good friends of mine and I hate for either to be hurt or disappointed but I am getting annoyed about the whole thing. The host is silly for not liking dis-invited guest when she doesn’t know her, but dis-invited guest is silly for being confrontational with someone she doesn’t even know. Am I being silly??? — Missing The Point
You’re getting annoyed?! You invited a friend to someone else’s party without asking permission first — someone you know isn’t friendly with the host, and then you had the audacity to tell that friend that the reason she was “dis-invited” is because the host doesn’t like her, and you’re the one who’s annoyed? Sister, you have a lot to learn about being a good friend and a classy person. Mistake number one was inviting someone to a party without clearing it with the host first. Even if you know two people to be good friends, ALWAYS clear extra guests with the host first. There may not be enough food or booze or space for extra people; there may be other invited guests who don’t get along with the person or people you want to invite, and certainly, there could be a host of other reasons you aren’t even aware of that would make added guests an inconvenience.
If you do make the social faux pas of inviting someone before clearing it with the host first and suddenly find yourself in a position of having to dis-invite said person, never ever put the blame on the host! Tell your friend you’re sorry, you wrongly assumed friends of guests were welcome, but it turns out there’s a space issue and there’s only enough room for invited guests. Then tell your friend that to make up for it, you’d like to take her out for dinner the following week. If the friend keeps pressing, you continue saying it was a space issue. You do not throw your friend, the person who invited you to her party, under the bus unless you don’t want to be friends with her anymore. Seriously! That’s a no-brainer, isn’t it?
Your final mistake was thinking these two people “should” be friends or that they have any interest in being friends with each other. Clearly, if in four years of knowing each other and sharing a mutual friend, they have not reached out to one another, they don’t care to be buddies. So what?! Not all your friends have to like or even know each other! At this point, you need to stop acting like you’re in high school, and let your friends deal with this themselves. Apologize profusely to your friend, the host, and confess that you threw her under the bus. Warn her that friend #2 may be “confronting her” and let her figure out how she wants to proceed. If she’s smart she’ll cut both of you drama queens out of her life and move on. Honestly, you guys need to get it together and start acting like grown-ups!
*Do you have a relationship/dating question I can help with? Send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.