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Best Friend Got Married, friendship on the rocks...

Ian wrote:

I like your advice because it is honest, and I need an honest opinion. I'm a single male, late 20s, and have been struggling recently with my closest friend of ten years, who just got married 6 months ago.

Not only was I the best man at his wedding, but we had a pretty tight relationship -- almost like "brothers".

Anyway, since he met this woman, things between us changed. Not that I don't like his wife or vice versa -- she's a great woman and I couldn't imagine him marrying anyone better.

But he has become very hypercritical of me, our friendship, and it hit a low this week.

When we were working out last weekend, I noticed he had put on some weight and, now regrettably, mentioned he's got a "gut." At the time, he seemed to brush it off, we hung out for a few more hours, he invited me to watch football a couple days later (I wasn't feeling well so I didn't go), and then, a few days later, he called me and told me that "while he didn't make a big deal out of it at the time, after thinking about it, thought my comment was very rude and inconsiderate."

The reason? He's had some back injuries over the last 6 months and hasn't really been as active as he'd like to be. He concluded all this with "friends support friends when they're
down, and I don't know why you feel the need to put me down, except that it must make you feel better about yourself."

By itself, it wouldn't have been much, except that he spent another 20 minutes telling me everything that was wrong with me. He took the opportunity in his speech to insist that I tell my girlfriend my doubts about the long term, and that, by not doing so, I am "playing her." And that this is just a pattern of pure insensitivity and selfishness on my part which leads to comments like the one I made to him.

The final result -- my character was assaulted personally and I was judged an insensitive, womanizing, "bad" friend. To make matters worse, right after this speech he had to leave -- giving me no time to even say anything -- and while I've tried to call him a couple times, we haven't talked since.

Now I am a little in shock because even though I completely understand that my comment was rude, it was said in passing without any motive. I just can't believe that the comment is the source of all this animosity. I think his response of accusing me of being "not a good friend" is over-reacting.

The "gut" comment was made without me even thinking about it, but his comments were made AFTER serious thought and included a rather harsh and critical judgment of me as a person.

Which brings me now to what role his new marriage has. He and his wife are a great couple and they both take care of each other. Before he met her, he was in a string of unhealthy relationships with insane women and I spent hours listening to his woes and being there to support him, even when much of the mess was his own making. Furthermore, he's also developed a new friendship and I think they might be a little tighter now than with me, but I don't know for certain, and, really want to avoid feeling like I'm competing for friendship -- although part of me believes that this other person is the kind of hypersensitive jealous type who might.

I guess I always took my friends for granted and now suddenly I'm on trial and convicted -- without knowing it.

Part of me thinks that he must have talked about this situation with his other friend, or his wife, and they must have put all these thoughts in his head, or something -- I really can't speculate because I just don't know.

I really need to know if this is "normal" when friends go ahead and get married and their "old friends" remain single -- I mean -- our lives are much different now, his more than mine. It seems he no longer "needs" me in the sense that I was a stable force as he went through insane relationships and he did not have anyone else to count on.

It seems now he is creating a new life, and looking for ways to exclude me from it. In all the years I've known him, he has never levelled such a personal assault on me individually.

Maybe he has differing expectations of what I'm supposed to mean as a friend within his new life -- and I'm just not getting it.

I do value the friendship enough to find out what it is. I'm open to your suggestions on how to mend it.

Dear Iain

What is it about the word "Married" that you do not understand?

You agonize at length about the possibilities - with a frightening thoroughness - but you clearly feel there's some conspiracy going on, and you want me to say "It's not you, don't worry, it'll be alright"

Sorry, can't do that. because you are right.

He's married. He now lives in a different world, with different priorities, and different loyalties. And for him, the future has changed.

Now, it may be that he should have been more understanding of your feelings, and if that's so, he'll probably try and put that straight.

But there's at least two reasons why his outburst might have been entirely logical.

One is that he may have tried to drop hints, but you wouldn't hear it. You've shown me that you accept change in your head, but in your heart and soul, you want them to stay the same. He could be trying to shake you out of your denial.

The second one is even more of an indictment of your idea of friendship. It may be that he's finding marriage a bit tough, and still needs your support - but you are so engrossed in your loneliness, he cannot confide in you; he still needs support - but in a different way - and all you do is witter on about the good old days!

Listen to the small print; why would he suddenly be so concerned about how you treat your girlfriend? Perhaps he feels guilty about his 'insane' past; perhaps he is learning to see women as people (always a good idea, that one!), perhaps your selfishness reminds him too much of a person he wants (yes, *wants*) to leave behind.

Either way, he and his views have changed for ever. You have a choice, live with that new maturity - or stay with the 'lads'.

But you cannot turn back the clock.

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