When my first close friend got engaged, I had visions of champagne and confetti dance in my head—but I also felt waves of dread. What would this major change mean for our girls trips and (vegan) pad-Thai-fueled gab sessions? And of course there was all the drama that came with the wedding itself: I was hurt when she chose another friend as a bridesmaid over me, and I’m sure she felt the same when I decided not to go on her Bachelorette trip because I couldn’t afford it. For a while, it didn’t feel like our friendship could weather the tulle storm.
Luckily, we’ve come out the other side. But I still regret that I never spoke with my friend about all the things I was feeling, and I’ve wondered how I can best handle these milestones as they continue to affect my female friendships (let’s just say she was the first of many to have her S.O. put a ring on it). So, I decided to talk to a few experts on the subject.
“It’s okay to feel happy for your friend and sad about your relationship [with her] in the same moment.”
Nicole Reiner, LMHC, a New York-based therapist, says my ambivalence is far from unusual. You no longer feel like you’re your friend’s number one, and that can be confusing and overwhelming. It’s also completely okay. “It’s important to be aware of your feelings and understand that they are a normal response to relational change,” Reiner says. “It’s okay to feel happy for your friend and sad about your relationship [with her] in the same moment.”
Gala Darling, writer of best-selling book Radical Self Love, adds, “The most crucial thing to remember is that this isn’t about you or how much she loves you.” You might have to share your BFF now, but she has enough love her new spouse and you (promise).
Keep reading to find out how to stay close with your friend after she says “I do.”
1. Find new ways to stay connected
Now that your bestie is married, she’s likely a little more out of touch. (Remember, she now has to figure out how to deal with the challenges—and registry gifts—that come with married life.) If Wine Mondays aren’t really possible anymore, Darling recommends you and she figure out a new, more effective way to chat. Is it a weekly phone call on Monday nights while she takes out the trash? FaceTiming on Saturday mornings before you head to goat yoga (yeah, its a thing)? It doesn’t really matter the medium, as long as you decide on it together.
Darling and her BFF found a more creative solution. “One of my best babes, Alexandra, lives on the West Coast, but we have a tradition of recording one another voice messages first thing in the morning—me while walking the dog, she along the beach—that keep each other abreast of what’s going on,” she says. “It’s faster than typing and it feels really intimate and connected.”
2. Take the reins and organize a monthly hang-out
It might feel like you’re always the one to initiate a friend date—because that might be the case. But Reiner says this doesn’t mean your friend doesn’t want to hang or doesn’t care about you, just that she’s going through an adjustment period, too.
Darling adds, “This may be a time where you have to pick up the slack in order to keep the friendship fresh. That’s okay: Over the course of any relationship, there will be times where one person is in the lead, and then it’ll switch back. If your friendship is truly important to you, you’ll take the reins with a smile.”
In order to alleviate some of the stress that your recently married friend might be feeling, be open to taking the lead in organizing, and get a monthly hang-out on the calendar. “Organize a standing date with your best friend—say, getting coffee every Thursday afternoon. Tt will help you integrate your lives,” Darling says. “We’re all so busy these days that unless we plan things in advance, it’s easy for friendships to slip through the cracks.”
And when you do get together, make the most of it. This means putting away your phones (okay, after one selfie).
3. Tell her how you feel
A date penciled in for next Thursday doesn’t make you feel any better when your friend won’t respond to the text you sent her about the less-than-stellar day you’re having at work today, though. So, again, it’s normal for you to feel hurt and insecure about your relationship. “If you’ve been feeling neglected, it’s likely that your friend has been neglecting you lately,” Reiner says. “It’s just not intentional.” Try not to make assumptions about what your friend is going through, and instead show her compassion and understanding as she transitions into her new life.
That doesn’t mean you can’t tactfully tell her how those unread messages make you feel, however. “You can’t expect her to mind-read what’s going on for you,” Reiner says. “While we hope people intuitively know what we want from them, the healthiest way to get what we want is to communicate our needs. Let her know you’re happy for her and you miss her. Express your feelings without pointing fingers.”
If you’re friendship is as solid as you know it is, it’ll use this transition to evolve into a stronger form (think, Charmander to Charmeleon). “Remember that your friendship and her marriage are not mutually exclusive,” Reiner says. After all, she’ll need someone to vent to about her in-laws.
One of the things that might be changing for your newlywed friend: her sex life. And if you’re looking to fill out your social calendar while your bestie settles in to married life, here’s how to make new friends as an adult.