How to Be a Good Friend


Free Your Friends By Detaching

By Mary R. Dittman, M.B.A.


I think we’ve all had the experience of the friend who gets a new man, then you don’t hear from her unless he’s out of town or they break up.

If you’re like most of us, maybe you’ve been that friend!  In my younger days, I would ditch a friend to accept a last-minute date with a guy.  Or, I’d go on a date even if I was sick with a terrible cold, but cancel on a girlfriend because I was tired or just “didn’t feel like” going.

It is completely natural to want to spend every possible moment with your Mr. Right.  It’s easy to let your friendships slip away and just focus in on your beloved.  Part of that is how we’re wired as women, but we also need our girlfriends!  And not just the ones we double date with!

What if you and your beloved break up?  Many times, the couple you hung out with feel like they have to choose sides, and they may not choose yours!

By then, your single gal pals may have moved on and perhaps they won’t be available now that you have free time.

One of my girlfriends becomes quite scarce whenever she has a beau. This used to hurt my feelings - I would feel cast aside.  I want her to be happy, but I missed her.  I used to call and text and try to get some time with her.  Sometimes she’d say she’d get back to me, then months would go by, and I would feel rejected and forgotten.  

But, the truth is, she doesn’t owe it to me to make time for me.  I love her, and I really do want her to be happy.  However, I don’t owe it to her to be available just because her boyfriend is busy and she has a free evening.

When you get to be over 40, most of your friends are probably coupled, and the single ones are likely to find a man (if they want one).  I’ve learned to accept that my single girlfriends are not going to be available once they’re dating someone. 

I’ve also found ways to fill up my own social calendar, which means that I’m not always available when their guy has a last-minute fishing trip or has to work late.

I dated someone for a year, and I truly believed it was serious.  (Mostly because he led me to believe it was.)  In that time, I canceled my standing Friday night workout and juice bar date with one of my gal pals maybe four times. 

When she got a boyfriend, she bailed on me immediately and permanently.

Three weeks after my birthday (knowing my beloved and I had broken up just 2 months prior), she called to say, “I hope you didn’t think I forgot about your birthday!”  (Three weeks....kind of felt like she forgot.  No birthday call, emoji text, nothing.)  “I’d love to take you out.  I’m free every other Tuesday and sometimes on Sunday if my guy is out of town.”

Gee, thanks.  

As I said, my friends who are coupled don’t owe it to me to make our friendship a priority.  But I don’t owe it to them to make it a priority when they have been MIA for weeks or months.  This doesn’t mean the friendship is over, but it may have changed form.

I guess you could say I try to approach my friendships with more detachment.

Detached doesn’t mean “uncaring,” it means people don’t owe it to you to be a certain way to keep you happy.

I’ve learned to give my friends the freedom to find their happiness while I find mine. 

For me, that means yoga classes, social obligations, and structured work time. 

Which means, when a friend calls me last-minute because her guy is unavailable, she may find that I’M unavailable due to one of the items I just mentioned.

This detachment makes me a healthier friend because I don’t sit around feeling rejected.  I have a full life with a full rotation of friends, so no one person bears the weight of my social needs.

I feel less resentment because I don’t feel “abandoned.”  If we are able to coordinate our schedules occasionally to catch up, I look forward to it.  Otherwise, I’ve come to realize that the responsibility for MY happiness lies with ME - not with my friends!

This is also good because if my Boaz ever comes along, I won’t glom onto him like a leech.  I already have a full, active life that I enjoy.  I have space for him, but he won’t be my sole focus.

Give your friends some freedom.  Get busy with your own One-Derful Life.  You’ll meet new friends and have new experiences - maybe ones that will lead you to your own Mr. Right.

It’s hard to feel One-Derful if you’re struggling with a broken heart.  If that’s where you are, check out our ABC’s of Healing.  This free video will show you how to move past heartache so you can get on with being happy.

Question: Do you give your friends the freedom to fly?

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