I.I once had a very good friend, let’s call her Hannah. We texted each other every day and met almost every week, mostly on weekends. In June of last year, Hannah met a man with whom she soon became steadfast. They fell head over heels in love. Since then, Hannah and I have never spent a Saturday night together again.
There are people for whom their partner is more important than any friend. With others, friends always stay number one. And both are perfectly fine. Because everyone has different ideas about life. But how is it when a person comes into our lives and from now on all other relationships that existed before lose their meaning?
Because I want to understand what exactly happened between Hannah and me, I ask Christian Stegbauer, he is a sociologist at the Goethe University in Frankfurt. “The moment the new person joins, there is also a new prioritization,” explains Stegbauer. “The lover pulls back the already existing relationships, which were also close. The attention is no longer there, and the thoughts of the other person tend to revolve around the new, romantic relationship – even when you are with friends, ”says Stegbauer. As a result, the friendship loses opportunities and substance.
Let me be your saturday night
Hannah kept me posted. We kept texting, and she told me a lot about their new relationship. But she barely had time for our meetings. Every time I asked her if we wanted to see each other on the weekend, she had already planned it – with her new boyfriend. “Let me be your Saturday evening again”, I would have loved to write to her. But I didn’t want to put pressure on them. “You get into a certain competition with the person who joins them in terms of affection and time that is spent together,” says Stegbauer. This creates a feeling similar to jealousy among good friends – and for good reason. “There is now much less left of the time that you previously spent together than before,” says Stegbauer.
“The week after next Tuesday or Thursday will work,” Hannah wrote to me when it came time to arrange a meeting. When I date someone and they never meet me on the weekend, it quickly strikes me as strange. But isn’t it much more tragic when good friends, with whom we have met regularly at precisely that point, suddenly only take time for us during the week? And why is that?
“Something similar happens when a couple has a child. The child suddenly takes your attention and the two partners who were previously romantically linked no longer have that much time for each other, ”says Stegbauer. Then the love relationship has to be redefined. Likewise, friendship relationships would have to be negotiated in relation to one another – a third person has been added.