All Consuming Love
When boys stopped simply being rough guys to play street hockey with and became cute guys I’d like to hold hands with between classes, I was a frizzy haired four-eyed scrawny girl who they looked at as nothing more than a friend, if they even looked at me at all. It was no wonder that when I finally landed a boyfriend at the age of 13, I latched on with everything I had, laying all my attention onto my new love. From him, I fell in love with a goofball skinny drummer, then his drumming best friend (my son’s father) and then a guy who once ate a mouthful of razor blades and had a tongue that looked like it went through a paper shredder. I loved them at the time as much as an awkward teenager can love someone they barely know. I was so busy being in love that I began to seriously neglect my friendships, the most important relationships I actually had at that age.
The worst moment I had was with my son’s father. We lived in Connecticut for a time, the place I grew up and the place where my best friend lived. That time would have been perfect for me to do some catching up and hanging out with my BFF. Instead, I chose to give all my free time to my then-boyfriend, ignoring my friends and damaging a few friendships in the process. Thankfully, my BFF is more than understanding and knew I was in an unhealthy relationship; he didn’t hold anything against me for my selfish behavior. Eventually, I was intelligent enough to see that this man was holding me back from living and I cut my ties. Now, with my husband, I definitely give him most of my attention, but in no way do I now neglect my friends and family, as I see now how unhealthy and potentially dangerous that behavior is.
I bring this up because having lived in and outgrown it, I’m quick to realize when a friend of mine is doing it to me or to their other friends. New love is fun and exciting. You want to spend every waking moment with that person, and when you’re apart you search for alternate ways of communication, giving you no time to miss each other or do anything else but be immersed in that glorious honeymoon stage of a new relationship. You ignore all the negative qualities of a person because you’re so focused on the things you enjoy about them. Plans with friends get placed on the back burner because you might be able to see your new love tonight or you don’t want to miss a phone call. If you do go out with friends, you’re sure to keep your phone at the ready in case they text or call, ditching your friends to privately chat with your love if they do happen to give you a ring. People around you whisper that you’ve changed. You’re distant. You’re never around and when you are, your focus is elsewhere. Eventually, your friendships suffer and if your new love turns into an ex, you’ll find yourself all alone.
Unless your friends are truly toxic, in which case they shouldn’t be your friends in the first place, there is no reason to stick them on the back burner for your new love on a regular basis. It’s very unhealthy to orbit around a single person 24/7. It’s also an easy way to get trapped in a controlling relationship; if your new love senses that they can control you, there is a chance they will take advantage. Perhaps they will begin to get jealous if your friend happens to call or wants to hang out. Maybe they’ll make you feel guilty for talking to or hanging out with your friends, making you less inclined to do so. There’s also the possibility that you may become the controlling and jealous one; since you give all your time to them, why shouldn’t THEY give all their time to you? Resentment will slowly build until things fall apart. And when they do, who do you turn to? Your friends? The ones you have been blowing off for months? Why would they want you now?
New love is great and I’m happy for anyone who finds it. But understand that it’s so wonderful and so magical because it’s so new. You get the best of a person in the beginning and it almost always feels like you’ve found THE ONE, the perfect person, and you can finally stop searching. It seems logical to put your friends second (or third or fourth…) because they’ll understand and surely they want you to be happy. Your friends, just like your new relationship, need attention to stay in tact. Keep brushing them off to have date night or steamy phone conversations on a Friday night and eventually they will just give up on you.
One person can’t survive solely off of the love and attention of one other person; you need a support system consisting of a handful of trustworthy people. Extract your head from the clouds for a bit and remember what life was like before you found love. Who was there for you. Who partied with you when you wanted to cut loose. Who listened when you had a problem. Who encouraged you when you were feeling low. Who made you laugh hysterically when you needed it the most. You don’t need to have an open door policy to your friends so they can come in whenever they choose, but once in a while you should remind them where you hide the spare key.