'My best friend lost interest in our friendship when she met her husband'

Illustration. Image by Getty Images
Illustration. Image by Getty Images
  • It's all-consuming. You can't sleep, eat or think of anything or anyone else but that person. That is infatuation, being in love. 
  • But I thought that part would pass after a few months, giving me back my best friend.
  • But no, the love bubble wouldn't burst. And still hasn't. 

"I'm so sorry, I now realise I have no idea what's happening in your life," she tells me a year after she met her now-husband. 

I was going through a lot. A divorce. A change of career and moving. I was isolated from all the friends my ex and I shared, as he got most of them in our 'settlement'. And I needed my bestie more than ever.

But only when I forced her to listen, did she snap out of it. Temporarily, that is. 

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At first, I didn't mind her endlessly gazing into his eyes in conversation. Hanging on his every word as he interrupted every story I told.  Eventually though, I grew resentful, mainly of him. 

But later, I realised it was her fault. She didn't light up when she saw me, the way she used to. What you expect of your best friend, your sister, she didn't deliver. 

It's common practice for friends to 'dump' each other temporarily when they meet a new love. Nights are suddenly filled with dates and romantic weekends away as singles turn into units, redefining themselves as 'we' almost overnight. 

Why did it bother me that much, I wondered? I was alone. Maybe if I had someone, it would be better, I considered. I wanted her to be happy, I knew that, but I also really wanted her to make room for this 'we' in her life – for us. 

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In 2017, a study found that friendships rank as profoundly important as we age. With age friendships may become more powerful according to a cross-sectional survey that was conducted between 271 053 adults, which showed that valuing friendships was related to better overall functioning. In many cases, it was even valued higher than health, wellbeing and family.

Clinical psychologist, Dr Giada Del Fabbro says that the most straightforward explanation for 'friendship dumping' is that this happens because the intoxicating hormones that are triggered when one first falls in love make it challenging to concentrate on much else in the early stages of a relationship. 

As time goes on, however, this then subsides, and one then returns focus and attention to the other parts of one's life. When this is the case, it means that the friend needs to wait it out, and eventually, they'll come back. 

But, in my situation, this swing-back to normality didn't happen. The love bubble remained intact. 

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"People with insecure attachment styles may struggle to trust that they can be independent of their partner in some way without compromising the relationship. These individuals will also struggle with signs of independence from their partners which they may perceive as possible rejection or abandonment. Your friend may have this kind of attachment style and attempt to dive into the life of their partner to ensure that the relationship doesn't end," says Dr Del Fabbro.  

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She adds that if you value the friendship, you can supportively provide feedback into how her absence is making you feel and express your need for attention to your friends in addition to her relationship with her partner. Once you see what your friend does with this feedback, you can then either opt to remain patient and supportive or to move on.

We tend to take friends back when they snap out of it and return to their 'normal' selves. But when it doesn't happen, there might be more significant insecurities at play, says Dr Del Fabbro.

Do you long to reconnect with that friend who just won't snap out of her 'in love' bubble? Let us know here.

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