I wrote this for another website but they ended up not running it, so here it is!
I am 33 years old and I’ve never been a bridesmaid. I was Maid of Honor in my sister’s wedding when I was in college, I was present at the handfasting ceremony of my high school girlfriend, I have taken a few girls to get abortions, but I’ve never been a bridesmaid. And today, for no reason at all, this started to bother me.
It’s not that I don’t have close female friends- I have a few. My best friend is a lesbian in a committed relationship with a baby, which leaves us all ceremony-less. My other two oldest female friends are a forever young punk rock princess and happily living with the same guy for eight years, respectively, so there are no wedding bells there either. But this isn’t about how I seem to befriend girls who aren’t the marrying kind- this is about the fact that for all the female pals I’ve made as a bonafide adult who tends to move cities every three years, I don’t seem to be making any friends on the bridesmaid level.
This begs the question- what is the bridesmaid level? Is it someone who gets drunk with you? Comforts you when you cry? Wears your clothes? Comes to your house in PJs to watch TV marathons? Someone you’ve known for years? I’ve got some girls that kinda meet some of those requirements, but hilariously, more dudes that meet all of those requirements. Both my sister and I have always been the type of girls to hang out with mostly dudes.
But I’m letting myself off the hook a little here. The real truth is that friendships with girls, in my ripe old happily married age, scare me a little bit. I’ve thought a lot about this, and here’s what I think is going on:
1) Most of the time, my closest female friendships have been wonderfully, suffocatingly close, and I have yet to figure out how close friendships that don’t choke themselves out would work in my grownup life. I’ve actually written about this exact thing at xoJane. Since my now-husband and I started dating seriously, there’s been a natural evolution of that relationship moving into the forefront and the others, while remaining important, becoming less essential. Still amazingly lovely and full of warm supportive stuff, but less essential.
2) Being friends with girls has, to me, always been more work than being friends with guys. And I don’t mean that girls are more emotionally taxing because PMS and emotions and blah blah blah- that’s a hack, sexist copout. I’m just saying that when my dude friends tell me about the girls they’re having trouble with, I listen and pat them and they thank me and start talking about Twitter. When my girlfriends tell me about their dude problems, they then follow up with “Ok, so now what’s going on with you?” There is an expectation to “confess” and get deep with it with ladies, and that’s where my issue lies. I have juicy stories from my past, I have weird, gross stories from my life now, I have opinions on pop culture and politics, but I don’t have a lot of confessions these days.
I am certainly not saying that I don’t have problems. I have probably the same amount of neurotic crap as anyone, and I’m also not saying I’m evolved in how I deal with it- I’m just saying that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more self-reliant, and more cautious about who I let in. Perhaps I’m rubberbanding back from a history of being too generous with sharing my daily dilemmas. I have a lot of the facilities to solve my own problems, in large part to the female friends I’ve made along the way, to my sister, my therapist, etc. Whereas younger me needed to endlessly process things out loud for them to be real and therefore dealt with, the older me can usually think through and write through stuff on my own. The older me isn’t an open book.
This is not to say that I don’t enjoy a bitch session with my ladyfriends- I’m not a monster. But there’s a possibility that not reaching out has cost me close, vulnerability-filled friendships as an adult. Bridesmaidships. Would it hurt me to recount fights with my husband to my pals? Nah. Could I maybe stand to be a bit less self-reliant? Sure. But this is where I am. I sometimes forget that a friendship isn’t just a thing you do for other people, it’s a thing people do for you too, and it’s not bad to take the kindness that is offered. Hopefully at some point I can find a happy medium of being a good sounding board and letting other people be my sounding board too, and and hopefully one of those girls will still get engaged. I look really good in pink taffeta.