Welcome to Friendzone, Jezebel's column devoted to dealing with the valuable people in your life who you're not humping. Got an issue and looking for guidance? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
My friend Sally is a smart, beautiful, sassy, and unmarried 27-year-old woman. It has now been 4 years since her last relationship, and there are no potential fiancés on the horizon. Just about everybody in our group has tried to set Sally up with someone, but she's never interested and gets mad when we try. Finally, Sally admitted going on dates for several years and never telling any of us pals. She's embarrassed that she has "resorted" to online dating. I feel terrible that I didn't know how bad she was suffering, but she has basically been lying by omission for years. How can I help her?
Why are you and your friends so obsessed with pairing Sally up with a man? Is it because you're all in perfect, flawless relationships and want the same bliss for her? Or is it because you have never considered the idea that a single woman might be able to attain happiness on her own terms? Um, did you not see this past week's "Game of Thrones" episode? SPOILER ALERT: it provided a great lesson in how weddings do NOT always lead to happiness.
Now trust me, I can't sit on some lofty perch and lord it over you like the bastard child of two royal siblings or something. I'm horribly afraid of being alone! I think many folks are. But when I look back at the times in my own life when I wasn't desperately trying to get into a relationship, I see that I had a hell of a lot of fun and also learned a bunch of Important Life Stuff, like how to select the vibrating masturbation tool that's right for you.
You know how you can differentiate yourself from the coupling-obsessed pack and be a good friend to Sally? Start encouraging her to enjoy life on her own! Tell her to take a naked archery class, or learn the art of whittling, or go to a Mumford & Sons concert and feel all the feelings at once! (Or maybe Chuck D makes Sally feel all the feelings. She should go see him! He is very wise.) This will all make her a smarter, happier, more fulfilled person, and – here is the part you'll probably like the most – might lead to her actually meeting a dude who is right for her!
One of my good friends met her love person by taking improv comedy classes. Another one met her gent by trying out a new bar with her girlfriends. My mom met my dad because he showed up at her house party and pretended to make her Raggedy Andy doll go down on her Raggedy Ann doll (she hated him for this, but they were 16 and she eventually changed her mind.) The point is this: in all these instances, the gals were doing things they wanted to do, without the goal of meeting the loves of their lives.
To sum up: cut the matchmaking bullshit and be Sally's personal adventure cheerleader. You can even go on adventures with her, too, maybe ones that involve deft swordsmanship! This will improve your life as well as hers, and will probably make your friendship even stronger.
My formerly agnostic best friend has converted to die-hard, no-birth-control-allowed Catholicism. Her close friends and I are almost certain it was at her husband's urging. My friend has always been firmly opposed to organized religion, so this is a stunning shift. It's not the religion that upsets me, exactly. It's the change in her personality and worldview. She's always had a tendency to be heavily influenced by the man in her life, and she lets her husband take the reins in pretty much every aspect of their lives (example: she didn't want to get pregnant right away after the wedding, but he insisted that they start a family right away, and she gave in). I'm afraid this is at the expense of her well-being. What would be the best way to dig down and figure out what's going on, without alienating someone I love?
IMPORTANT NOTE: I used to be an anti-birth control, anti-abortion, anti-gay Catholic. Then I turned 17 and got a life. So understand that my opinion is colored by my personal history when it comes to this stuff.
I could tell you that you should accept her new lifestyle and that everyone is a special flower blooming in his/her own special way, but that would be bullshit. If you don't like the stuff she's signed up for, you don't have to validate her decisions and you don't have to pretend to agree with her beliefs. You do need to accept that she chose this way of existence. She's a grown-up, and while it may be tempting to paint Hubby as the Big Bad Papist Wolf, the truth is that she did this on her own. If she wants to change "her personality and worldview" to match some dude's, well, that's her prerogative.
My advice is to let her know that you love her – and then back the fuck off. She sounds like the type of woman who will inevitably side with the man in her life, because all her self-esteem comes from his love and approval. You're not going to win any battles with the father of her child. Remember, this woman now believes that celibacy is a great life choice and also that water is magic. She's not going to be like, "You're right, Daphne – I do need to become a strong independent thinker like Brienne of Tarth!" Take her as she is, or fade into the background of her life.
I moved to North Carolina from Boston 4 years ago to be with this man who said he wanted to marry me. Shortly after I moved, I met Molly and we became friends. I swiftly introduced Molly to all my other new friends in North Carolina and made sure that she was invited everywhere that I went. We became a part of a core group of 5 friends, who met up pretty regularly. We had dinner at someone's house every Sunday, and called ourselves the NC Family. After three years, the guy and I broke up. Molly immediately insisted on inviting him to every event that I'd be at, even though she knew I was heartbroken. She also began throwing parties and inviting him and not me. Finally, he got a new girlfriend and she got all buddy-buddy with this chick. WTF? Should I even bother talking to Molly about this, or should I just drop her as a friend?
It's all well and good to tell a pal, "If you and your significant other ever break up, I won't choose sides. I love you both equally." But that's a pretty tough balancing act to maintain. In the end, many people find that they naturally gravitate towards one party or the other. And that's okay.
I'm not saying Molly doesn't suck. She might be a complete waste of human flesh. But it's also possible that she simply didn't know how to navigate the choppy waters of friendship with you and with your ex. The fact that she seems to have chosen him is reason enough for you to drop the friendship with her. Unless she adds some incredible value to your existence, I'd say you can get along just fine without Molly.
I also think it's time for you to invest in some new buddies. Get out into the world and meet folks. Join clubs, take classes, attend a bedding ceremony, try new restaurants and bars. Ask somebody from work to share a Jack Daniels BBQ Tex Mexarita with you at TGI Fuddruckers. And take a weekend trip to Asheville and say hi to all my friends for me, wouldja? North Carolina is a glorious state full of wondrous people, many of whom would make fine companions for you.