Love + Sex, Love

I hate being the third wheel in my friends’ relationships. Here’s why.

Frankly, I think that entire mindset is bullshit. 

One of the biggest fights I’ve ever gotten into with a friend was over a boy. 

But it wasn’t for reasons you might think.

I’ve always only had a few close friends. I’m a notoriously anxious person and I don’t particularly enjoy meeting new people, so I was never a social butterfly. While I don’t have a large circle of friends, I adore and am fiercely loyal to my core group.

In high school, one of these friends started dating one of our mutual acquaintances. It felt like almost instantly I had gone from seeing her multiples times a week to never seeing her at all. Up until that point, we had been extremely close.

[bctt tweet=”It all changes the moment they get a boyfriend or a girlfriend.” username=”wearethetempest”]

When we first were introduced back in sophomore year, we bonded over a shared love of the movie Say Anything and campy, offbeat 80’s pop culture. Our friendship blossomed from simply sitting at the same lunch table, to having hushed discussions while squished together on her tiny twin mattress during Saturday night sleepovers. When she entered this new relationship, suddenly the person I traded so many of my deepest secrets with was disappearing and I couldn’t understand why.

The hurt I felt quickly turned into bitterness and I lashed out in the only way I knew how. If she was going to ignore me and fade out of my life, I was going do the same exact thing to her. It was our senior year of high school, and unfortunately, we spent a majority of that time not speaking at all.

This was the first time that a close friend of mine began blowing me off for their significant other, but it was not the last. Throughout college and even now, I’ve begun to recognize a pattern. While my friends are single, I see them all the time. We grab a quick lunch at our local Asian fusion restaurant. Or a cheeky hump-day drink to get us through the week. However, it all changes the moment they get a boyfriend or a girlfriend. Then it’s like I have to a slay dragon, cross a moat, and promptly submit a ten page, double-spaced proposal in order to make any kind of plans with them.

As someone who doesn’t know if she’ll ever get into a romantic relationship herself, this pattern scares me because not only is this behavior common within our society, it is expected. We’re very much expected to have one partner who we’ll settle down with and eventually marry. It’s why traditions like bachelor and bachelorette parties still exist. The night before our wedding, we’re supposed to go out with our friends and have one last hurrah because it will all change the moment “I do” crosses our lips.

Frankly, I think that entire mindset is bullshit. 

I’m sick of people privileging romantic relationships over platonic ones.

This way of thinking implies that platonic relationships aren’t as important because there is no sex or romantic love involved. As a result, there is also the implication that if a person does not enter a romantic relationship, then their lives are inherently less valid or unfulfilled. Which is, of course, completely untrue.

On a more personal level, however, I think I have the biggest gripe with the misconception that a platonic friendship cannot be as intimate as a romantic one. Physical intimacy is not the only kind that exists.

When I think of the type of intimacy that exists within my own life, I immediately think about my best friend. I talk to her every single day and she frequently acts as my sounding board. I share with her my hopes, dreams, fears, anxieties, and everything that falls in those murky in-between spaces. I’ve freely told her information about myself that no one else knows. 

That alone is a form of intimacy.

As I get older, I’ve started to accept the fact that perhaps I’ll always experience this tug of war between my friends and their significant others. Especially as the race down the aisle grows closer and closer. I just hope that my friends can recognize that a romantic relationship and marriage is not the be-all-end-all of interpersonal connection.

My friendships are just as important, valid, and necessary for a full and thriving life – on both sides of the relationship.