Friday, December 6, 2013

7QT (Vol. 65): Girlfriend Club, Wife Association

When I was dating, there seemed to be a friendly girlfriend club with open membership. The guys would get together, we girls would tag along. Once introduced, we would smile knowingly at each other while our boyfriends talked animatedly with each other about things of no particular interest to us. We'd chat about what we did while they watched sports, how lousy we were at video games, and what things we did that they would never understand. It was fun.

Times have changed. We're adults now, so we're more likely to meet at someone's home or a sit-down restaurant, which changes the conversational flow. We're also not in college, so we have fewer common activities and experiences. It can be super-awkward. Now it's more like a formal association rather than a club. To join, you must be in the same stage of life: casually dating, cohabiting (w/ or w/o marriage), cohabiting with pets, or cohabiting with kids.

If you're not in the same life stage, there is nothing to say. I've had painful conversations that haltingly go something like this:
Wife: So, you have kids.
Me: Yep, there they are. Here's something funny one of them did.
Wife: Wow, kids. We don't have kids.
Me: Yeah.
Wife: We have a dog. Do you have a dog?
Me: We have no dog.
Wife: But you sure have kids. There they are.

We have a couple of male friends whose company I have always enjoyed. Now, though, they have moved to the stage in their respective relationships where it would be odd to invite them without their significant others. I've met both women and think they are very nice - but when we get together, the guys talk while we flounder. See, when just the guy would come over, he and Jeremy would do most of the talking while I did what I like best: listened and chimed in if I had something worth saying. This left the "burden" of conversation on my extroverted husband. I got all the pleasure of socializing without having to do much for it. Now, though, I have my own conversational partner. I feel like I need cue cards.

Years ago, I read that women change friends more frequently in life than men because they make friends for different reasons. Male friendships are based on a common interest or activity. Female friendships are based on a common stage in life. I thought it was an interesting theory. I know my friendship waned a bit when a friend had her first child, then strengthened again when I had Peter. However, I have other friendships that have remained strong despite us being in very different stages of life.

Perhaps a female friendship needs a common life stage to begin before it can endure changes. Once you're already friends, you can talk about interesting things like religion and politics and education and all the other things you don't discuss with people who might find your opinions offensive. But you need to lay the groundwork of small talk first.

Another friend of ours has recently considered the dating scene again. He is pretty fantastic, so (most recent experience notwithstanding) I'm confident he'll find someone he enjoys dating. That makes me a little sad. See, he was originally Jeremy's friend, so I suspect when we hang out as a foursome eventually, his girlfriend and I will find ourselves expected to chat. Maybe we should buy a dog before that happens.

7 Quick Takes is hosted at Conversion Diary


  1. I agree with you - women make friends based on commonalities of life experiences. I have made friends with women who are 10+ years older than me but we have kids the same age. I am still friends with girls from college but most don't have kids and kids are currently consuming my life (in a good way : )

    1. Yeah, same here. It still seems odd to me that being 29 with a preschooler is considered young to be a mom. To each her own!

  2. This made me laugh. It's definitely awkward to hang out with friends who are in a different life stage, especially if they are not well established friendships. I have also found my long term friendships can survive different stages. However, when we had kids we found it rather awkward to hang out with certain friends who just couldn't relate to family life.

    1. I've had some conversations with others that go a little more smoothly when we take turns: she tells a dog story, I tell a kid story. But it's still weird. "Look at us! We can socialize!" :-)

  3. This was a really interesting post. Most of our friendships as a couple have been built through our church network, and also through the parents of our kids' friends. And the same thing - our really good friends are all at similar stages in life. I think it's more difficult for you because, sadly, people in their 20's and 30's are marrying later, so you are more likely to have people that are in very different circumstances from you and your husband. My best friend is having an interesting time along these lines - she has two girls that are teenagers (the ages of my two oldest boys) and now she has a 4 year old and a toddler. So most of the parents she's meeting with kids that age are much younger and starting their families. So she's the "experienced" Mom of the group! She likes doing things with them because of the kids, but she also finds it hard because their life outlook as "new" parents is very different from a parent who has been through teenagers!

    1. (Sorry, this got buried in my inbox.) I've noticed that many (most?) of the moms of Peter's peers are about 10 years older than I. So then we're in the same "stage" but grew up in different times. Makes for some interesting conversations!