Why I love my friends…and worry that I’m no longer the marrying type

Although we’re only a month into 2013, if this year has been about anything so far, it’s been about friends. I had been planning to write a post on this; then E. commented on yesterday’s Ojai post and my response to her was so long that I realized I’d already written the post! So, here it is:

E. comments: You and your friends seem like goofballs (in a good way). Looks like you had a great time! I love your zeal for life – it shines through even in pictures. Do you, like, ever get depressed? You always look super cheerful. :)

Thanks, E.! We did genuinely have a blast, and every time I look at these photos (and the scores more that Robin posted on Facebook) it makes me smile.

I think the reason I look so thrilled and happy and light here is that I’ve realized my friends over the years have been able to fulfill me in ways that no guy can. In fact, every guy I’ve ever seriously dated has either dragged me down, dampened my light, made me feel jealous, paranoid or crazy (emotions that were all warranted in the end when evidence was later unearthed!), or tried to get me to be less than myself: more wifey, less desirous of travel, less ambitious about my career, more deferential. In short: less ME.

Maybe I’m dating the wrong guys: that’s certainly what it sounds like, doesn’t it? “You must be dating jerks, Jolie!” But the “good” guys, the sweet guys, the oh-so-darling guys who would just make wonderful husbands and fathers…they always seem in awe of me. They look at me on dates with wide eyes and say, “Wow. You really seem like something. You’ve traveled where? You’ve done what? That sounds great!” And then they tell me about the middling jobs they’re stuck in, making choices out of fear and ambivalence, and I think I’d rather gouge my eyes out than hitch my wagon to one of these dudes who seems afraid of his parents, afraid of his boss, afraid of change, afraid of taking chances and living life well.

No one friend is expected to fulfill all of your needs: you have your crazy friend, your traveling friend, your friend who always worries and tells you when you need to buckle down, your college roommate, your friend with kids, your best guy friend, your book club friend, your best friend from high school, your married friend, etc. And yet your romantic partner is expected to magically fulfill ALL your needs, forever. It seems unrealistic–nay, damn near impossible–but it doesn’t mean I don’t necessarily want it. It just seems that all the millions of compromises I’ve seen people make along the way aren’t *good* for me. They don’t make me better. They don’t equal a life that I’ll look back on and say, “Yes! I’m really glad I went down that path.” I want to be better. I want to be kinder. I want to be more charitable and harder-working and less damn lazy about my writing. But I don’t want to compromise my life for some guy!

One of my main New Years resolutions was to spend more time with my friends–to make them more of a priority. I’ve been trying to ask myself “Who of my friends needs me right now?”, remembering how sad I felt when my mom died and my friends didn’t check in enough to make me feel loved and supported. I’ve also been making more of an effort to talk about them first and ask about what they have going on, rather than just hopping into the conversation with a narcissistic “Me, me, me! Hey, did you hear about me?”

Amazingly, as soon as I put the emphasis on friends, two things happened:

1) I’ve made a ton of new, quality, awesome friends–people who I think could be with me for years to come…and…

2) Guys sense that they now occupy roughly the same priority in my life as cleaning my bathroom (important, but WAY down the list), and they’ve come a-flocking. Maybe it’s the bangs. I don’t know.

In the past, I’ve given away a lot of my power to guys voluntarily (mumbo-jumbo self-help speak, table 1!) and this month I’ve simply stopped caring. I’ve wrenched my power back. Funnily enough, that is apparently catnip. Not so funnily enough, I haven’t met a guy who even remotely impresses me or seems worth my time in a long while–and I’m not convinced there are any on the horizon.

I look back, too, and I realize that I’ve never made it longer in a relationship than four years…and the older I get, the more those relationships tend to end at the six month mark, usually by me. My last relationship barely made it out of the starting gate: it was over in two months flat. Am I even the marrying kind? Am I willing to put my needs on the shelf to do what’s necessary to have a child? Now, for the first time in years, I’m no longer sure.

I want to be realistic and not to live in a damn Disney fantasyland. Every relationship (even your familial ones and your friendships and your work ones) requires compromise–I do realize this. I also know that, if I don’t meet “the right guy,” kids are probably going to seem a hell of a lot less appealing than they would if I were comfortably wrapped up in a wonderful, cozy marriage cocoon, secure that I loved him, secure that he loved me.

But, every once in a while, I do allow myself to indulge the Disney fantasyland. I think about who I’d like to bake into existence out of cake batter and dreams. I wonder what he looks like, where he’s been, what his own hopes and ambitions are. And I thrill to think that maybe, just maybe, there actually is somebody out there for me–who thinks I’m awesome and cool and funny and (yes) crazy, and likes it all enough to hitch his wagon to mine…and I, in turn, respect him and admire him and marvel about how he doesn’t drag me down but inspires me to be better. And then together we make Baby Jolies and I lose a hell of a lot of sleep. But it’s worth it anyway.

So, no, E: I’m not always goofy and cheerful and happy. (Introducing Goth Jolie.)

But recently, yes, I certainly am infinitely happier when I’m with my friends. I love you all!

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  1. I’m inspired by you. I made the cake and ate it for 11 years even when it tasted like crap and finally tossed the cake 4 years ago. I’m grateful for the 4 cupcakes that came out of it. But even now, as I’m in another relationship I have been wondering if I am even the marrying type anymore and if I even want to get married again. A lot of days, the “idea” of the pomp and circumstance reel me in. The idea of maybe just one more cupcake…a girl maybe this time…sounds appealing. But then I realize I’ll be 39 this year…do I really want to do that all over again? And what if it fails? Good grief. I need to do what you’re doing and simply care about my own happiness, goals, my kids and my friends.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking, eye-opening post! xx

  2. Thanks, Shannon! I LOVE the cupcake metaphor (minis from the cake batter and dreams!) – it’s adorable to think of.

    It always looks like you have wonderful kids, are achieving your goals and have super supportive friends, so I wholeheartedly approve of your mission. ;)

  3. Nadine, I love this post. I totally understand even though I’m happily married. But, what I have found being married is you never sacrifice your happiness for anyone, including a husband. I feel this way because I got married later in life and when you get married at 37 life and love look different than in your 20s and early 30s. Do you have to compromise in relationships. Some. But, you don’t ever let a man or anyone change who you are. I love seeing all your photos with your friends. Why? Because that is what makes you, you. The key is finding the guy who understands girlfriends are a must, trips with them are a must, and they will be left alone because girlfriends matter too. Whatever you do, don’t you dare settle otherwise I will have to come to Cali and have a chat with you. Over wine and scotch of course.

  4. Thanks Julia!!

    I think you’re totally right that you can’t sacrifice your happiness and that getting married later in life could be the answer. (Perhaps not for everybody, but certainly I think for people like us!) I am eventually willing to compromise, but I don’t want to change for the worse – and so now that’s what I’m holding out for. For somebody who changes me for the better.

    I adore the idea of having a husband like yours who supports my friendships, travel and dreams (even if he thinks it’s all a little adorably silly and self-indulgent), and in turn I’ll support his adorable, silly, indulgent passions, too, I hope!

    Saving a bottle of wine and a tumbler of Scotch for you… ;)

  5. Aww, I hear you completely. I totally believe in marriage and children and building that nuclear family unit, but it’s hard to find someone who also wants that as well as shares in (or at least understands) the extreme ambition and work ethic and big dreams. But remember that you’re still young. Our parents’ generation made it seem like we all had to be married by 25, but I know lots of people who are finding true love and settling down at 35, 45, 55. It’s no rush and no competition. Furthermore, you’re obviously a unique and special person, and the more different you are from the status quo, the harder it is to find someone who complements you. But hang in there! :)

  6. Ahhh my sweet beautiful Nadine! You are an amazing woman and there is no doubt in my mind that somewhere out there is an equally amazing man that will be a wonderful partner for you. Im happy to see you living and loving life!

    I think no one should be allowed to get married before age 30 BTW.

    You’re so young! Lots of adventures to be had. XOXOXO

  7. kim

    Except for the tons of friends part a lot of this rings true. I’m glad you haven’t compromised yourself just to be married. Best of luck in everything chica

  8. kim

    To clarify – I meant rings true for me not that I doubted that you have tons of friends, just that I don’t have tons!

  9. Aly was right, awesome post!

    And that question drives me nuts ‘you seem so upbeat do you ever get depressed?’ just because I’m a Life Coach and Empowerment writer doesn’t mean I don’t have bad days like everyone else, I just choose not to focus my energy on those!

    It’s so important to really be there AND for your friends, take an interest in their lives and feelings, and you’ll know who the real friends because they will do the same for you!

    As for marriage, I’ve never been married, and I can’t pretend I understand men well enough to give advice on that topic!

    Single Gal in NYC! :)

  10. E.

    Well, I see you’ve replied to my comment, and, it’s featured in a new post. :3 Yay!

    I didn’t mean to imply I thought you had a Pollyannaish view of the world or anything. I just love your optimism and your approach to life in general. It’s very refreshing. I’ve never had many friends and haven’t traveled in some time, so I kind of like to live vicariously through you. ;) I married 2 years ago at 19, so I haven’t really had the chance to develop myself as a person yet (if that makes sense). I love how secure you are with who you are. I have always needed some type of external validation to feel self-accepting, which is probably why I married so young. I don’t regret it, but I wish I had taken the time to establish friendships, travel, have a career, etc.
    I’m still a hermit, but you’ve inspired me to come out of my shell just a bit more. You’re proof having strong friendships and career ambitions is definitely the way to go in life. I think I would likely be a much happier person if I focused on moving out of my comfort zone occasionally and taking risks. I need to travel and embrace life more, the way you do. :) (Also, nice to meet you Goth Jolie – just don’t go dying Happy Jolie’s hair black in a fit of angst ;).)

  11. Bill Gohn

    Re: “My Friends” (marriage, et al.) — Are relationships based upon “me”… or, US?

  12. elizabeth

    I understand that you might not be the marrying kind. . . but you couldn’t put your needs on the shelf for a child? Are you that self-centered?