Today I’m doing a blog swap with my friend Lauren. Lauren blogs over at “Life With Lauren“, where she writes about life as a 20-something. She is honest, funny and one of my favorite daily reads. We have a lot in common (including our writing styles, our current jobs working in SEO/copywriting and mutual feelings about Taylor Swift), so if you enjoy my blog, you will love hers as well. Speaking of Taylor Swift, hop on over to Lauren’s blog today (after you’re done reading this post, of course) to see my post “An Open Letter to Taylor Swift”.
When you’re in middle school, having a boyfriend becomes a status symbol. Though you only talked on AIM and maybe, if you were ahead of your time, held hands after your mom dropped you off at the mall, it was still pretty major to be able to tell everyone else in your class that you were dating someone. The details of our relationships have changed as we mature, but the status that comes along with these relationships remains. It all sounds very “Sex and the City” but it’s true. Your relationship status can either connect you to someone or put distance between you. But it’s time that we stop letting ourselves get caught up in the “relationship status” box we check on Facebook. Enough of the relationship hierarchy.
Personally, the idea of getting married right now makes me feel like I can’t breathe. I go through at least one quarter-life crisis per day; that’s probably not ideal when you are permanently linked to another person. I have lengthy conversations with friends who are still in “girlfriend mode” about this very subject. In a way, it bonds us together. We are a class of “in a relationship” girls. We love our guys, but are content being girlfriends and nothing more at the moment. We don’t relate to our married friends who deal with a mother-in-law, but we’re also not at the bar picking up prospects every night. One minute we love our jobs and our lives, and the next minute we want to adopt a dog and move across the country. It’s fine.
While getting married is exciting, and I won’t pretend that I don’t have a Pinterest board filled with some ideas, the thought of saying “I do” still seems pretty far off for me. True story: a newlywed friend was posting about browsing for houses on Facebook, as I was posting a link to a Buzzfeed article about Justin Timberlake. Needless to say, we’re in different places in our lives. This same girl has also been known to ask when I’m getting engaged. Despite her good intentions, it feels like she’s actually saying, “What’s the hold up?” even if she doesn’t mean it that way. But when you’re married and you see a couple that’s been together for years, you probably wonder why they haven’t joined you in the land of wedded bliss. It’s as if a non-existent diamond ring has driven a wedge between us for no real reason.
Okay, so if I’m still focused on J.T. instead of home ownership. You’d think I’d blend right in with my single friends, right? My boyfriend and I still like going out and so do they, right? Wrong. As Chris and I celebrated our four-year anniversary, I’ve realized that I feel more and more removed from my single friends. While I’m always amused by their stories, I can no long relate to the “Will he call? Does he like me? Do I even want him to like me?” that they currently experience. Sometimes I even catch myself feeling skeeved out when I have to stop and say, “Wait, who is he again?” in the middle of a story. The relationship hierarchy strikes again.
To some extent, this relationship-induced divide is normal. I live a different lifestyle than my single friends, and I’m also separated from the new Mrs. group. It’s only natural that we are drawn to people whose lives relate to our own. As you mature and feel ready for different phases at different times, friendships evolve. However, it’s important not to let your relationship status come between you and your friends. You may be looking for different things when you’re out at a bar, but you can still get a drink together. You don’t need to be able to swap stories about in-laws or last night’s date in order to feel connected to a pal. It’s always sad to me when friendships dissolve because of a change in relationship status, yet it’s a pretty common occurrence. I remember feeling shocked when I noticed that some of my friends weren’t as anxious to head to the bar together when I became more serious with my boyfriend.
The bottom line is this: relationship hierarchies do exist, and to some extent they’re normal. Your Great Aunt Matilda will probably nag you until you tie the knot. If you’re single, your “in a relationship” pals will probably work overtime trying to find you a suitable boyfriend, even if you’re happy on your own. But we can’t let these differing statuses ruin solid friendships. if you have hardware on your left hand, terrific. If you’re in a relationship and that’s it, great. If you’re out and, as our AIM profiles used to say, “single and ready to mingle,” more power to you. Relationships shouldn’t be a class system; use it to bond, but don’t let it drive a wedge between your friendships.