We need to talk.
You know that I love you and genuinely care about your happiness. Ever since the first day of freshman orientation, when your eyes met mine from across the room, I knew that I had found the Grace to my Will. But hopefully without the crippling codependency issues.
From that day on, our relationship was like a fairytale. We laughed at all the same jokes and talked trash about all the same people. But we also contributed new things to each other’s lives. You introduced me to great music, I shared my favorite literature. You stayed on the lookout for attractive gay men, I shielded you from the ugly straight ones. You threw up in front of several policemen, I made up a story about the flu and quickly rushed you home.
But recently things have changed. Ever since you started dating your boyfriend, our fairytale relationship has looked more like the second act of Into the Woods. Every time I call you to get together, you tell me that you’re too busy. When we actually have plans to see each other, most of the time you’ll cancel at the last minute to sit with him while he works on a paper. And if, by some miracle, we get together to hang out, you spend the entire time texting him and giggling like a munchkin on uppers.
I think I’d like to file a missing persons report. My friend has disappeared.
I know you’re excited to be in a relationship, but you’ve sacrificed who you are in the process. The witty, cool girl that I used to know has been replaced with an identical clone who speaks like a four-year-old and spends her free time thinking up fun alternatives to “honey,” “sweetie,” and “love-muffin.” For a while I was half-convinced that you’d been possessed by the spirit of Elmo from Sesame Street, but then I remembered that Elmo isn’t real. Or dead, for that matter.
In any case, I’m reaching out to you now, as your friend. I know there’s still a part of you left inside there, and I want to let you know that you can be in a relationship and still be yourself. Just keep the following things in mind.
First Come, First Served
Part of staying true to yourself is staying true to your friends. And a large part of staying true to your friends is honoring the commitments that you have made. Repeatedly blowing off your friends to spend more time with your man just alienates the people who you’ll have to turn to if things don’t work out.
I realize that there are some occasions when you really do need to cancel on your friends; I like to think that I’m an understanding individual. For example, I understand that if his parents unexpectedly come into town to visit him, you may have to cancel our plans to make a good impression on your possible future in-laws. Or if he breaks his leg during an adventurous bedroom encounter gone awry, I understand that he may need an escort to the hospital. That’s to be expected. But if you cancel plans in order watch him and his friends play videogames, all that I or any of your other friends really understand is that we’re less important to you than most other things.
Just remember that your other friends and I were here long before he was, and unless you continue to forsake us, we’ll be here if he’s ever gone. And in the event that he’s never out of the picture, keep in mind that your wedding party will look awfully bare without any bridesmaids (or bridesmen). So you best be nice.
Elementary School is Over
Let’s face it: Love makes you dumber. It’s a proven scientific fact, and you can’t really argue with science. Well, unless you’re a creationist.
Taking this into account, I realize that you’re already at a disadvantage. Your brain has been more or less liquefied by gooey feelings of love, leaving your intelligence in a questionable state. But love is only responsible for so much.
Before your relationship started, you were an intelligent young woman who could contribute to a conversation every now and then. Now every time I hear you on the phone with your boyfriend it sounds something like this:
Him: Babe, it’s getting late. I should probably go.
Him: I’m sorry. I have to finish my paper. And you have your project to do.
You: But I don’t wanna…
Him: It’s okay. We’ll hang out tomorrow afternoon. I love you baby.
You: Okay…I wuv you too, sillyhead.
I could put up with it if it was just the phone calls, but the baby voice and limited vocabulary don’t always disappear when the call ends. In case there was any confusion, when he calls you “baby” it isn’t a plea for you to act like one. On the contrary. Most men are looking for a woman with a certain level of maturity. Otherwise they would hang around the jungle gym at recess to scout for a new girlfriend. And that likely wouldn’t end well.
Just remember that your boyfriend chose to date you, at least in part, because he likes you as a person. When you act like a Teletubby, you hide all of the parts of your personality that drew him to you in the first place.
Standards are Good, Double Standards Aren’t
When you’re in a relationship, there is a very important question that you need to ask yourself: Are you and your boyfriend equals?
Think about what I’ve mentioned so far. For every time you have blown off one of your friends to hang out with him, has he done the same to one of his friends? If you’ve come to his place to hang out with him and his friends while they play videogames, has he ever watched Moulin Rouge with your group of friends? Does he tune out of conversations with the people around him because he’s waiting with bated breath for another text message from you?
The answer may be yes to all of these questions, in which case I congratulate you on your disturbingly compatible relationship. But if the answer is no you may need to examine the type of relationship you have. Going out of your way to accommodate him without any reciprocation just sends the message that your relationship has a hierarchy. It puts him in the position of power and leaves you with the role of servant, rather than girlfriend.
If that’s the type of relationship that he wants to have, then your relationship might not be as wonderful as you think it is. But there’s a good chance that he wants you to be your own woman and doesn’t want you to continue to rearrange your life for his benefit.
Let’s hope for the latter.
I’m Not Jealous, Just Human
In this appeal to my lost friend, there is one more thing that I want you to remember.
Understand that I have a very high tolerance for other people’s romance. Seeing people in love doesn’t hurt my single heart, and public displays of affection don’t gross me out. I dealt with my brother and his various girlfriends for years.
So while it would be easy to write off everything I’ve said as the jealous rantings of a bitter single person, desperate for a boyfriend of his very own, that would be a mistake. I care about you and want you to be in a happy, functional relationship. When you abandon your friends or alter your personality, however, that doesn’t fall into what I generally view as happy and functional. Some of my words might seem harsh, but all of them come from my desire to see you in a relationship where you are both in love and true to yourself.
Besides, the only person I’ll ever be jealous of is Taylor Lautner. When I was 17 and worked out every day of the week, my abs looked nothing like that.