What Spending A Year Avoiding Dating Made Me Realize About Friendships
I don't date.
OK, that's not entirely true. I haven't gone cold turkey on d*ck, I just haven't really dated anyone for a full year.
It was equal parts choice and coincidence. The months leading up to my dating hiatus were kind of sh*tty, so I've been spending the following year just trying to get my sh*t together and figure it out.
I came up with two goals: working on myself, and working on my friendships. Once I got that out of the way, I'd start dating again.
While the "working on myself" bit I'm doing through extensive therapy, the working on interpersonal relationships is what I've struggled with most. Following my family, these are the most important people in my life. They require effort, time and thought. And that's what I spent the past year doing -- repairing old friendships and making new ones.
Here's what I learned.
Friends, like relationships, require work.
My best friend from grade school reached out to me several months ago, asking me to grab dinner. We fell out of touch during college, so I thought this would be the perfect time to rekindle our connection.
While I had a good time with her, it definitely wasn't our old friendship. Our inside jokes just weren't as funny. We had a different way of talking. We were just in totally different places in our lives, and that was OK.
Friends don't pause and restart just as they were before. If you haven't seen your BFF for years, things are going to be different when you do rekindle your friendship. If you want to keep a friendship going, you need to work on it and go on “friend dates.” Spend some time together figuring each other out.
This past year, I scheduled friend check-ins every so often, just to make sure we were always on the same page. I tried to arrange nights out, as well as out-of-the-norm activities like rock climbing, horse-back riding and music festivals.
Friends won't always be there, and that's OK.
If there's one thing I learned in the last year, it's that friends have limits.
When my ex and I broke up, my knee-jerk reaction was to vent about it as much as I could to everyone I knew. It irreparably harmed the friendships I had because I wouldn't let anyone else get a word in. I expected them to be my therapists and to listen to me while getting nothing in return. At that point, I should've been paying my BFFs by the hour.
In turn, I've also been let go by friends who were over me lamenting about my problems. At the end of the day, that doesn't make us terrible people — it just means we couldn't deal with each other's sh*t at the time.
Your friends' lives don't begin and end with you. You can't be upset when, sometimes, they just can't bring themselves to listen.
A true friend will see you at your worst and still love you for it.
My friends have seen me without makeup, after a bad dye job and a terrible haircut. They've also seen me with mascara down to my cheeks, locked in a room for three days straight and higher than a kite. They love me nonetheless.
When a guy I was seeing wouldn't come meet me at my apartment ("but I'm horny!") I lost my ever-loving sh*t, got drunk as balls and came home to the apartment I shared with three roommates. I was the worst version of myself -- violent, angry and in a state where the only things I remember were the ones they told me. They saw me at my worst and loved me at my best.
That's not to say a guy never will love me at that sh*tty time. But I know that my friends will still be there for me through the best and the worst. A guy? Well, maybe. He'll have to get through my friends first.
I'm kinda-sorta-not-really dating now. Sure, I'm seeing guys, but I haven't grabbed drinks or gone out to dinner with anyone for a full year. I don't feel like I'm really missing anything. My friends are going to be there for me when I need them to be, and that's way more of an achievement in my book then getting some D tonight.