Why I’m grateful I didn’t ignore my friends while I was in a relationship

A lot us have had that friend: The one who essentially disappears the second she enters a relationship. Her only signs of life are the exorbitant amount of photos she posts on social media, documenting the daily adventures of her and bae. Too many times, I’ve witnessed that kind of friend struggle post-breakup after realizing she has distanced herself from the support group that would have helped her overcome heartbreak. So I had known for quite a while that I never, ever wanted to be that friend.

That’s why, once I entered my first serious relationship, I made an effort to still see my friends as often as I could. Of course, things changed; I had less time to spend with friends overall because I needed—and wanted—to devote a lot of time to my boyfriend. But I worked to keep all of my friends in my life so I’d never lose them to my relationship. I’m so thankful that I kept that promise to myself because, after two and a half years, my relationship ended.

I was heartbroken and depressed, but I wasn’t alone.

I had the largest support group rallying behind me. Immediately after the breakup happened, I rushed over to my best friend’s apartment. She welcomed me with open arms (even though it was late at night and definitely past her ideal bedtime), and she let me cry as I tried to make sense of what had just happened.

It was a painful process, but openly and honestly talking about the relationship with my friends is what allowed me to understand that the breakup was for the best.

It hurt going over our rough patches, and I was still conflicted about whether or not it was truly the end for us. My friends gave me room to figure it out, listening to me while I blabbed on and on about what could or shouldn’t have been. I didn’t have to sugarcoat my confusion or hurt just so that my friends would feel comfortable while I cried, and I am lucky to have friends who didn’t sugarcoat things either. Hearing their opinions on my relationship once it was over was certainly interesting, and it provided helpful perspective. Some friends’ frustrations surprised me, while other opinions that I had suspected were clarified. No one really understands the intricacies of a romantic relationship except the two people in it, but I valued my friends’ words. They helped me acknowledge that the pain would pass and I’d eventually be happier. They were right.

I needed to talk about my breakup more on some days than others, and I had so many friends I could lean on during the darkest hours. Whether I needed to talk and talk or if I just wanted to be distracted, I had friends who allowed me to do both. Working to maintain so many friendships meant that I had so many different people who could fill particular needs. There’s tough love Lizzie, encouraging Erica, and make-me-laugh Maggie. Fine, the names were changed due to my love of alliteration, but the point is that each friend was able to give me what I needed at a certain time. I rarely had to be alone with my thoughts during those first few weeks.

After spending most nights at home with my boyfriend, my evenings suddenly became extremely busy. My friends came over with wine, we went out to dinners (and drank more wine), we went to comedy shows (and drank the minimum two glasses of wine). The silver lining of a breakup? I have a lot of friends back on the East Coast I don’t get to speak with as regularly as I’d like—I heard from all of them like it was my birthday. I got so many phone calls and text messages from friends letting me know they love me, and being overwhelmed by their warmth really did help me heal after losing someone I loved.

At the end of the day, my friends only want me to be happy, and because of them, I am.

I’m happy for each and every one of them in my life. So I’m asking you to remember that, yes, the love we have for our significant others is certainly that: significant. But there are other people, like our friends, who deserve our love, attention, and time, too. If you give it, they will give it back—especially when you need it the most.

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