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Tossed Away Like a Bouquet

Friends tie the knot and seem to disappear. But give them time, and let them know you're still there.


I believe scientists should be looking for the black hole that seems to swallow people when they get married, leaving only a trail of silvery paper in their wake.

As a single person, I've seen friends come and go for a variety of reasons, but it seems tying the knot is the biggest loosener of friendship strings. No harsh words were said, yet I'm left standing alone in my taffeta bridesmaid gown, feeling as tossed away as the bridal bouquet.

A male friend has experienced this transition too.

"First they disappear. Then they call out of the blue and say we should do something. The invitation seems less sincere than when they were single. When I've suggested doing something, they've tried to make it a couple thing," he said. "Clearly, a wife is more important than a friend. All of a sudden they have a new permanent partner who dictates when they should be home or what they should do. I guess you could say two's good company, but three's a crowd."

Experts say we can reach an understanding by stepping into each other's dyed-to-match pumps or rented oxfords.

"Very often, the single friends will get short shrift," said Cele Goldsmith Lalli, editor in chief of Modern Bride, who has addressed the issues of friendship in a regular advice column in the magazine. The falloff in communication following a wedding can seem worse if the single friend was a big part of the preparations.

"Leading up to the wedding, a lot of energy is put into being an active participant, not to mention the expense involved," Lalli said. "Then after the wedding things change. 'We were so close,' the single friend says of the bride, 'but now I don't hear from her at all.' "


It may be nothing personal. If a married friend suddenly seems too "busy," he or she may be dealing with the adjustment period of a new marriage.

The high stress factor caused by a new marriage can cause focus to shift from friends to the spouse, said Lauri Carr-Brodie, a marriage, family and child counselor in Santa Clarita.

"Getting married is wonderful, but it is a stressor. You're going into it thinking, 'This is my fantasy with the white picket fence.' It never goes that way. The couple starts to adjust, and that stressor--good or bad--puts a kink into the system and it lowers recreation time," she said.

But if wedding bells toll an end to communication, the single friend may also be at fault.

"When I got married, my single friends abandoned me--I think maybe because they felt abandoned or that they thought they no longer had anything in common with me," said Janet Carney, a marriage, family and child counselor who lives in Calabasas. "What's weird is that when I got divorced, they came back into my life, inviting me to things or to go out and look for a man--there's that connection again. Even when I have a boyfriend, they fall away. It's as if when I'm with a man, I've been transformed into another person."

That perception seems to create a gap between pals who were once close. Even though people do change, it may not be as drastic as it seems. Following a marriage, both the married friend and the single friend may see each other differently and, wary of that, they seek out people who have more in common.

"The single friend may make the assumption that because her married friend has a different lifestyle, she doesn't want to hear from her, especially if the married friend has not been calling. There's a feeling of rejection. It's a sad misassumption," Lalli said.

And for those who get married, "People often think, 'I'm married now. This is a life change. I have nothing in common with these single people anymore,' " said Karin Romp, a Van Nuys psychotherapist. "But you may be excluding the things you did have in common that don't have anything to do with being married or single."


Too much focus on the marriage or the spouse can be dangerous, cautioned Romp. Maintaining independence keeps a marriage healthy.

"There's a fallacy that marriage is everything. People seem to think once you're married you don't need friendships. Women tend to put far more of an emphasis on the marriage, saying, 'This is all I need; this will make me happy,' " Romp said. "But there are a number of pieces to the pie, including friends. And women let go of the pieces."

Romp said she has a female client who tends to stress out and can't talk or vent with her husband about her problems. Fifteen years ago, when she got married, she dropped all of her friends and no longer has that outlet.

"It bothers me that it's assumed friendships aren't important. They serve a purpose that romantic relationships don't and vice versa," Romp said.

Donna Massara, a married Burbank homemaker with two young children, said the time she spends regularly with her single friends is like "a mini-vacation," where she can get away from the stresses of home life and, more importantly, talk about subjects other than marriage and family.

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