Growing Our Separate Ways

Ok. Now that we’ve all seen Bridesmaids (more or less) can we commence discussions? When I first wrote about the movie I had seen a sneak preview, and was happy to give a glimpse into the competition between the Kristen Wiig and Rose Byrne characters.

As I mentioned back then, and now maybe you agree, I was surprised by just how much of the movie had real weight to it. Relatable situations. At its core, Bridesmaids was a movie about friendship more than it was about ladies pooping in the bridal salon and getting drunk on planes (though that whole airplane scene had me doubled over. “What kind of name is Stove, anyway? Are you an appliance?” “It’s called civil rights. This is the ’90s.”)

The relationship between Kristen Wiig’s Annie and Maya Rudolph’s Lillian is another one that deserves some analysis. They’re in that “we’ve been BFFs for life but now one of us is moving on and forcing the other to miserably re-examine her life” phase of the relationship that movies and TV shows (*cough* Private Practice) love to highlight. There is this sense in entertainment that whenever a woman gets engaged or pregnant, somewhere in the world one of her friends dies inside. I think that’s silly. 10 percent true and 90 percent silly.

I do think there’s truth to the distress that both Annie and Lillian feel as they see their lives moving in different directions. They adore each other, they want to still be close , and yet there’s no denying that one of them is about to be living a fancy country club life and one is unemployed and living with freaky British brother-sister roommates.

I’m happy to say I haven’t encountered this friendship conundrum. Yes, I’ve grown apart from friends. But not because one of us got married or because of any underlying jealousies. My faded friendships have been the result of living in separate cities and both parties becoming less and less interested in making the phone call effort. Suddenly you realize you haven’t spoken to one of your “good friends” in approximately six months.

That said, I’m young. When I see my mom-friends I don’t ooze with envy.  I’m not there yet. My reaction is more of the thank-god-I-can-still-sleep-in-on-a-Sunday variety. And when I got married, I was young enough that none of my single friends had those “she’s getting married and I’m going to die alone” thoughts. I don’t think.

As my friends and I get older and pass the ages at which we’ve arbitrarily decided we should be getting married or having kids, perhaps then this jealousy, or hostility, will kick in. I don’t know. I mean, I hope not, but what do you think? Do friendships get hostile and tense as we grow in different directions and develop separate lives?

7 Comments

Filed under Everything I Know I Learned on TV

7 responses to “Growing Our Separate Ways

  1. Melinda

    If babies and/or marriage is something that you want and your friends are all moving in that direction but you aren’t, I think it’s normal to be a little jealous but not in a hostile way.
    When I got married, most of my friends were supportive and happy for me but there was one that just got really mean and negative about everything. She and her husband had eloped to Vegas and according to her, she had the big wedding the first time so she was very happy to have something small and intimate. From the minute I got engaged, she put down everything I did. Because of this, I didn’t ask her to be a bridesmaid, which of course, set off a whole other set of issues. Then her sister got engaged and she turned it into a competition. I realized that she was one of those people who may not want something but doesn’t want anyone else to have it either. After much thought, it occured to me that for the rest of my life, this was how everything was going to go with her. If we bought a house or had a baby, it was going to be the same thing over and over so I bowed out of the friendship. And yes, I did the slink away. I was a coward.

  2. Lisa

    YES! I totally had the same thought when I saw the movie. I can tell you firsthand that there are two “waves” of marriages, and the envy/unfavorable comparison doesn’t start until the second wave (in your thirties). When a ton of friends were getting married when I was in my twenties it hardly bothered me at all: I would get there eventually. But now (I’m 32) I have a group of girlfriends that have been single with me throughout this time, and as THAT group gets married, it feels much more like you’re going to be the cheese standing alone. That’s when the panic sets in.

    My favorite scene was when Kristen Wigg went to Maya Rudolph’s apartment when she first got engaged and then her fiance calls her. That scene PERFECTLY captures the “I want to feel happy for my friend but I can’t stop thinking about the negative impact on me” that you would feel as a single girlfriend in that situation.

    I also loved that the movie didn’t really have many scenes with “Dougie,” Rudolph’s character’s fiance, because it’s not about whether or not you like the guy she’s marrying (in fact, if you don’t like him, that’s a whole OTHER headache), the fact that she is getting married means your relationship with her will probably change, and that is what the grief/anxiety is about.

  3. Megan

    I don’t know if it’s so much the hostilities that cause marriage or babies to break up friendships – it’s that the newlywed or newly-momed is now WAY too busy to do the usual schtuff of friendship. And friendships feel it. Also, they start talking about diapers and colic – BO-RING to the rest of us who don’t have (or want. EVER.) kids….

  4. I’m kind of in that boat now of my friends all getting married and having babies while I’m not, but I really wish I was. I am jealous but, as Melinda mentioned, not in a hostile, friendship-ending way. I’m truly, genuinely happy for my friends, but a little envious at the same time. I think where this could become a problem is if you and your friend don’t talk about it. My new-mom friends know how much I want to have kids because we’ve talked about it, so even if I’m a little jealous, I don’t resent their happiness.

  5. katieleigh

    I think it’s natural to feel a little anxious if you’re worried you’ll be left alone – or worried that all your friends are getting married/having kids/launching fabulous careers and you’re not. But this hasn’t been a deal-breaker for me. My friendships tend to fade based on geography, like yours, Rachel. (That said, I know my college roommate freaked out when a bunch of our friends got married right out of college – and we all tried to convince her she wasn’t going to die alone.)

    I think the key is to continue making the effort to nourish the friendship – even when your life changes drastically, in whatever way.

  6. I think it’s completely normal to be a little envious when you see your friends get something you want (marriage, babies, jobs), but if you are good friends, you don’t show it. If the friendship does get hostile and tense, it probably wasn’t that great of a friendship – or at least not one made to last. A similar thing happened to me and my BFF freshman year of college when we both went down different paths, but we were back on track by sophomore year. Seeing Bridesmaids again tonight! I laughed too much the first time (esp Melissa McCarthy’s first scene) so hopefully I can catch the jokes I missed the first time around.

  7. TC

    I loved Bridesmaids and thought it was a great adaptation of the whole bridesmaid scene or at least the few I’ve been in. I’m at the place where most of my friends are getting married and/or becoming new parents. It’s not hostility, but the fear of being left behind? When you’re close friends with someone…you hang out, talk on the phone, help each other with resumes, etc. When they get a boyfriend things change…obviously. But when friends get married, the change is on another level. Now you have to consider what time you call, whether they’re having date night, and a whole set of other issues. Your companion is basically ghost! So I don’t think it’s hostility really…I think it’s the fear of adapting to this huge change in each other’s life. What’s my new role in your life if your husband/family comes first? Does that mean my emergencies aren’t emergencies to you any more? Or my good news…is it just a tiny blimp on your radar? Other than the insecurities that come with change, I think the problem really lies with the perception of that change. For me when a friend gets married or becomes a recent mother, I think she’ll need some time to herself to get situated with life’s new order. She on the other hand may think I’m jumping ship/abandoning her. Everyone’s perceptions are their realities and until we all have the same perception in life, there will always be that “hostility” or “tenseness” that people mention.

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