The Truth About The Relationship Hierarchy

boyfriends-friends-hate-me

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.

18 Comments

  1. First of all Thank you for bringing me Lauren’s blog because I feel the same about Taylor Swift lol.
    Second, I love that you feel that way because I’m 27 and single, while I’m may not be bar hoping every weekend it’s not the same with my married friends or “in a relationship” friends. I don’t know why but it seems that they usually joined a club that I’m not a part of lol.

  2. It’s always something isn’t it!?  The hierarchy is so true… but when you are good with what you want, those questions really don’t bother you anymore… and I am a bit older than you so I am extremely excited to get married and start a new life with my best friend (but for a long time I didn’t feel that way.. it helps having the right person next to you)

  3. This is weird because last night I just found out about another couple we are best friends with you is going to have a baby. Don’t get me wrong… I love marriage and babies and everything, but we have BARELY seen our other friends who have had babies. Then they start hanging out with other people who only have babies. I’m not going to lie, I don’t like it much, but it is something you deal with!

    And yay for introducing me to a new blog! Can’t wait to check hers out!

    And Rachel… LOL about Taylor Swift. Seriously, you tell her… I feel the same way!

  4. All great points! I’ve been in a relationship for over 6 years and people are constantly nagging us on “when will you get married?!” It’s like, back off! It’s absolutely getting harder and harder to relate to my single girlfriends, but I also understand that friendships evolve and go through stages, so I know that it’s less of a long term thing and more of a “right now” disconnect. 

  5. Relationships are always evolving regardless of relationship/marital status, although I agree that is a factor. Like you said, the most important thing is to put time and effort into those friendships that you truly care about. They’ll be the ones that stand the test of time.

  6. I’m in the exact same place in my life! Aside from also being an SEO copywriter (haha), I’m in long-term, serious relationship and often feel a bit “out of the loop” with my friends who are single. It’s true that we live a different lifestyle but I try hard not to let it drive a wedge between our friendships.

  7. I definitely see the hierarchy in certain relationships/people. For the most part, my friends and I sort of all traveled through life at around the same pace. We all got engaged/married within a few years apart from each other, which I guess is sort of rare. So I never really experienced this problem, but I can totally see how it would happen!

  8. Agreed! I’m in a happy relationship but I look forward to a night out with my married friends just as much as my single gals. I’ve noticed that I tend to hang around home more often now that Dean and I live together, but that doesn’t mean I won’t head out for a drink if invited! I’m still fun!

  9. this post is so familiar. i’ve been in my relationship for 7 years and we aren’t engaged/married! great article!!

    on Rachel’s Taylor Swift post- thank you! sincerely, ever other girl in America!

  10. I love this blog swap and love this post. Very well written. Heading over to Lauren’s blog now! Thanks for the intro! xo, Julie 

  11. I feel you on all of this 🙂 I’ve been dating my boyfriend for 6 years, and although I love him and want to marry him someday….it’s a little far off 🙂 We live a different life than we used to now that we live togehter, but it’s even better than before

  12. Lol this post related to me about 2 months ago, pre engagement! I found that I wrote a LOT about not being engaged, within months of being engaged 😉 Maybe it’s a sign? 

    Even though I’m newly engaged, I’ve felt removed from my single friends for a LONG time. But in terms of our “couple” friends, married, engaged or just dating, they’re all the same to us! I love them all equally. I love my single gals too but there is definitely the rift you’ve noticed too. 

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