Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Friendships III: The love of your life and a possible dilemma

After college (and a possible post graduation) comes the real, often bright lights of a harsh world. Filled with adulthood people, the ones you pick up along the way in your adult life – mentors and acquaintances and friends (and I will come back to these in another post) - from amidst work colleagues, your neighbours and random strangers at parties and other similar avenues. With luck, from among these, you will find a life partner, someone to share the everyday with, to set-up home with, to gasp at the proverbial rainbow with, to walk the walk with. Sometimes other people pick this person for you, sometimes you stumble upon them in the unlikeliest of places and friendships blossom into love, or your eyes meet across the room and in that instant it’s all over. Any old way you get there you work like hell to make that partnership be the epitome of a happy content exciting good life.

With this appears the first dilemma. You try and meld your friends and your just chosen life partners friends together. Sometimes you’ve moved to a new city and are at the mercy of all his friends/ social circles. Other times it’s the same city but suddenly you are taken up with endless ‘family’ affairs and all friendships take a back seat. Or it’s a new city and there is only family, nobody has friends and it’s like being at the kindergarten playground all over again, wondering whom to talk to, how to make friends etc. But usually, no matter where you landed up the initial being married stage includes loads of ‘us’ time, where the need for other people is low and goes unnoticed till a more stable daily routine of work and play makes its mark. This short season precludes anyone’s friends. After this initial honeymoon/ tourist-in-new-city phase it’s time for friends to meet the new partner. So dinners, get-togethers, movies, coffee, picnics – a number of ways in which friends of one spouse are introduced to the other. Sometimes they stick, and everybody gets along with everybody else. You form a wider group and with luck the fact that the husbands were friends becomes irrelevant. In fact you become such good friends with some of the others wives that you forget that introducing you is the only good work that the men did that year. Or your friend and her partner become such good friends of your husband that you have to cry out in disgust when they form the mutual admiration society and declare presidency of the random hindi movie music club. But all this takes time, luck and effort.

Of course this is not the par for the course for most of your friends or his friends. Some you just continue meeting once or twice a year as the inescapable social obligation requires. Others fall straight off the radar and appear as hungry voyeurs on Facebook. The ones you are keen to keep and he is keen to keep find ways to work into your routines - drinks after work, afternoon at the movies, a wander on Oxford Street, dinner at a new restaurant, email and texts to keep up to date on the news – various ways for various people. Mostly you try but don’t always form cliques and groups. You just drift in each other’s company, meet when time and weather and mood suit. Other social intrusions into limited free time include meeting the odd relatives that might live in your city or the occasional attempt to meet and cultivate new friendships as a couple with other couples you both think have potential (how pompous that sounds! But it’s true). You check them out as they do the same to you and inevitably some will find things in common and become friends while others will stonewall you (or you them) till you (or they) no longer try. For the ones you are desperate to keep the easy alternate is that you organise girls nights outs while the men have boy’s nights out. The tough alternate is giving in, losing most of your friends to the institution of marriage and since this is 2009, hopefully in your book, as in mine, that isn’t a choice.


  1. I think this becomes even more significant when you are living outside India. In India, there is a substantial dedication of time to meet relatives, close family. Friends are great to have but the feeling of alienation will not come if you didn't have a big circle.

  2. Well written!
    I am finding that we are getting a lot of 'us' time right now because we are in a new city surrounded by his acquaintances, with occasional outings with acquaintances. Makes me wonder how our internal dynamic would be affected if we were in a place which had my peeps or his peeps in it.

    And oh, it's totally not pompous at all to look at a couple and go - uhmm...they have potential ;)

  3. You're right about the "us" phase. I wondered at it while it was happening but now I realise we're not the only ones that went through it.

    I still haven't mastered the art of melding the friends groups, or maybe I'm too lazy to try.

  4. after 9+ years of married life we have come a full circle back to 'us' time. This is a new stage where we have friends, we know we can reach out to the close ones whenever we need them but don't feel the pressure to interact. it's a beautiful phase.