Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The New Guy

When you're newly single in the city, you rely heavily on friendships to provide the entertainment and social activities that a former relationship would have once provided. The transition back into single-dom can be an extremely painful experience, one that requires an unspecified amount of extreme neediness that only the truest of friends can completely tolerate and understand. Whether it's crying your heart out over bottles of bubbly or coming to terms with the fact that he never really loved you anyway, there's no tragedy too big that a true friend can't handle.

Capetownians have a general reputation of being extremely cliquey. We're known for hunting in packs and marking our territory with exclusive gatherings, private outings (to our precious wine farms of course) and heartfelt interventions. We're not ashamed of loving each other in the most unconditional and sometimes, unhealthy manner nor are we afraid to show it. Friendships are valued and should be cherished forever, so why is it that whenever a new romantic interest moves onto the scene, some of us are quite happy to go missing in action?

Let's be honest; we're all guilty of going AWOL the minute a new boy or girlfriend steps into the picture. It's human nature. The novelty and excitement of potential long-term happiness overshadows every aspect of our lives to the point of being selfish. Communication goes from being mutual to "me, me, me" and every conversation is constantly interrupted by the ping of some new and annoying warm and fuzzy text. At what point does it stop being cute and start becoming a nuisance? And what happens when plans are constantly being put on the back burn in order to accommodate the busy schedule of the newly found lovebirds? Are we perhaps being a tad unsupportive or do we have a right to be slightly concerned?

Whilst running a few errands downtown, I ran into an old acquaintance, Gaby. Gaby was an art director and mutual friend of a friend whom I had met through KK, an intern who'd just finished her sentence at the firm I work for. Although I had long passed the phase of being a pot-smoking hipster, I have fond memories of good times we had at their awesome apartment with their insanely artistic and rambunctious circle of friends. I was so shocked to hear that KK had moved out and had not seen Gaby in over a year.

"She met some random guy at the beginning of 2010; a real obnoxious douchebag who didn't really seem to get along with the rest of the crew. He seemed alright at first but then started getting all weird and possessive like. They spent so much time together with all of his friends that she completely forgot about the rest of us. We started seeing less and less of her until one day I confronted her about it which led into this like, massive fight and that was pretty much the last time I saw or spoke to her. I hear she's getting married. Good luck with that." 

Is it true? Do we neglect our friends the minute we get a whiff of personal happiness or is it just a phase we go through until the butterflies start settling down into some kind of steady relationship? Surely not all friendships are as fickle as Gaby and KK's? Are some friends just more tolerant and supportive to the idea of integration than others? Of course the dynamic of any group will change the moment someone new is introduced, especially if the partner in question is just as socially active as you. But what happens when you don't all get along? Do we verbalise the issue at the risk of losing our friendship completely or do we just ride it out and make the effort to get along?

Change is constant and inevitable and regrettably there is nothing you can do about it. If you're not willing to adapt to the circumstance then be prepared for a very lonely life ahead of you. The best way to describe a true friend is like owning a Wonderbra; permanent support that never lets you down no matter how heavy the load. Even if your new beau and his own friends are total tools, a true friend will suck it up, shut the hell up and show just how much she supports your decision to be with him, no matter what direction the relationship takes in the long run.

In the war between new relationships and long-term friendships, I couldn't help but wonder, why can't we all just get along? 

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