Is this a normal thing when friends get a girlfriend?
October 3, 2013 8:42 PM   Subscribe

I have a guy friend i've known since 1st grade (we're both 26), we went to school together all the way through high school. We had a kind of mutual unspoken, understanding/agreement over the years that we were friends, but we just didn't see each other often around school after a certain grade to be really good friends. Last year, we started talking a lot more on a pretty regular basis (about every day/night).

Then at some point he got a girlfriend, i've never met her i only know this because of facebook and he sort of mentioned her once. I was listening to disney soundtracks and he goes oh my girlfriend likes those, then that was it. We text each other pretty regularly, it's usually him doing the texting but i'll text him every once in awhile too. Usually once a month, once a week to several times a week just depends.

I love that he hasn't just flat out stopped talking to me after he got a girlfriend like guy friends i've had in the past, but i'm a little confused as to why he hangs out with his other friends/female pals but not me. He asked me once, we made plans but they never happened for some reason. The same thing happened with a guy that used to be my best friend, once he got a girlfriend he'd make plans with me then he'd never follow up on them and i don't understand why.

I could make guesses, but i was hoping someone on here may have had a similar experience over the years.

Does anyone know why a guy would do this?
posted by earthquakeglue to Human Relations (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The best thing to do is ask him and if he's your friend he'll tell you what's up. If I had to guess though, it would be either his girlfriend is jealous or he has/had romantic feeling towards you.
posted by Brent Parker at 8:46 PM on October 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

Yes this is totally normal and kind of frustrating. Its one of two things, either he was interested in you and now he's not pursuing that or the relationship with the new girlfriend is going to work better if he isn't emotionally close or physically spending time with other women she doesn't know.
posted by fshgrl at 8:47 PM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

He might just be in that first phase of infatuation where he spends most of his time with the new girlfriend. Texting from work or the gym is happening during the time he isn't spending with her.

Are the other friends he hangs out with either in couples or friends of his girlfriend? Because there's this whole phenomena where coupled people try to find coupled friends.

The late twenties/early thirties coupling dynamic is hard on friendships.
posted by 26.2 at 8:52 PM on October 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

It's not a guy thing, it's a getting-a-girlfriend/boyfriend thing. In my experience, some people who have a tendency to be really flakey will flake even harder once they couple up with someone and realize they can just have guaranteed plans, fun and sex with the SO every night. It's lousy behavior but it happens.
posted by windbox at 8:53 PM on October 3, 2013

It sounds like the subtext of this question is something like, "Were my friends attracted to me, and now they have to stay away because their girlfriends are jealous?" Obviously, that's possible, but it's also entirely possible that they're just busy, or they've lost interest in the friendship for other reasons. If you don't usually text the first guy back and let him do most of the work, it's probably not surprising the friendship dwindled. It's usually not wise to jump first to "they're jealous" before you've checked out all possible explanations.

Regardless, rather than getting huffy or hurt or offended, I'd a.) ask your guy friends to come hang out and bring their girlfriends along b.) ask them straight out if anything is up and c.) work hard to keep your friendships and your romantic life separate. If this is happening repeatedly to you, it might be because you're allowing flirtations to substitute for real friendships (a pretty common mistake in one's twenties) and not surprisingly, those kind of relationships tend to fall apart as people get older and move into relationships.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 8:56 PM on October 3, 2013 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: He was interested at one point. Not sure how he feels now, doesn't matter anyway though sine he has a girlfriend, but i was too oblivious to see it at the time. He brought it up sometime later, and kind of just laughed it off.

He doesn't seem like the flakey type at all, so i'm thinking it's just because he's got a girlfriend that he's doing this as everyone has said so far.

Whether or not he hangs out with other couples i'm not really sure of.
posted by earthquakeglue at 8:59 PM on October 3, 2013

Maybe it's some sort of old-fashioned values or something, but many men don't care about any inappropriate potential flirting between themselves and single women when they are single, but are a lot more likely to avoid even the hint of impropriety when they're in a couple, by avoiding time alone with single women. It's basically the same reason I can hang out withy married male friends as just guys, or I can hang out with them and their wives, but I don't hang out with just my married friend's wife.

Also it can just be that he is more interested in spending time with his girlfriend than his other friends. His male friends might be getting the same treatment lately, especially if they're not all from the same social group as his girlfriend.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:16 PM on October 3, 2013 [5 favorites]

If he hangs out with his other female friends but not you, then I suspect that he's worried you are (or have been) interested in him as more than just a friend.

Maybe just let him initiate the frequency of contact, and pull back a bit. He'll probably come round once he realizes his fears are unfounded. (Are they?)
posted by Salamander at 9:17 PM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Maybe invite him and his girlfriend to join you and other friends for a low-key thing (brunch, bowling)?
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:59 PM on October 3, 2013

It's the way guys brains work, apparently. [homer: stupid brain, do this for me and I'll get back to killing you with beer] [brain: woohoo!] But the corollary is that it means he considers you attractive...


"Oxytocin keeps flirting folks at arm's length
A team of researchers under the aegis of the University of Bonn tested the 'love hormone' on men

Flirting brings women and men closer. But the "social distance" ensures that they will keep a certain spatial distance from each other. Researchers under the leadership of the University of Bonn studied whether this distance can be diminished by the so-called love hormone, oxytocin. The exact opposite turned out to be true – men who were in a committed relationship even maintained a greater distance from an attractive woman when under the influence of oxytocin than their control group. The study has just been published in the renowned "Journal of Neuroscience."

When people approach each other, unconscious rules are at work. They will walk towards each other and will then talk while remaining at a very distinct distance, called "social distance" by scholars. "When they are approached beyond a certain distance, participants in a con-versation feel uncomfortable," said René Hurle¬mann, head of the research group that conducted the study at the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Bonn. A very sensitive case of social distance is the one between a woman and a man when flirting. "The magic of the initial encounter often decides what it will turn into," says Dr. Hurlemann."
posted by Sintram at 10:46 PM on October 3, 2013 [4 favorites]

Don't overthink it too much. As mentioned above, this could be because he wants to avoid awkwardness/impropriety.

Or, it could be because his time is simply directed elsewhere now. As you describe it I don't think it's a romantic feeling issue, it's just how life works for friendships sometimes.

I am a guy and grew up with a great guy as a friend for years throughout high school and after college. Then my buddy and I each got married.

Since he got married, no matter how often I text him, invite him over, ask him how he's doing, etc., he now flakes about 90% of the time when we make plans. I used to see him every week and now it's a couple weeks a year. He even rarely responds to phone calls/texts, and it's not as if I try to contact him that often.

I've beat myself up over it or gotten frustrated- he was my best friend for a long time. I've gone through phases of being frustrated with him, frustrated with his wife who seems to stifle him, I've wondered what I could do differently, I've wondered whether our different life situations have caused things to break down a bit, but whatever. At least we see each other now and again, and that will have to be enough.

In the end, friendships come and friendships go. Just do your best, and if your friend has moved on, that's just how life works sometimes. You'll survive... and try to spend your time and energy cultivating new relationships, rather than getting bogged down in lamenting this old one.
posted by Old Man McKay at 11:06 PM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

He was interested at one point

Well, there you go. Generally, people don't hang out with other people they are interested in once they are in a relationship with someone else.

He brought it up sometime later, and kind of just laughed it off.

This is how you perceived it, maybe even how we wanted you to perceived it. But it doesn't sound like he was really just laughing it off.
posted by spaltavian at 4:58 AM on October 4, 2013

It sounds like you text frequently but don't actually speak and I didn't get the impression that you were hanging out before he got a girlfriend... were you? Because I am thinking this may have nothing to do with him having a girlfriend. A sample size of one or two doesn't make it a pattern or meaningful.
posted by sm1tten at 5:22 AM on October 4, 2013

He probably thinks you have romantic feelings for him and it inflates his ego and he wants to encourage it but felt kind of guilty about leading you on. I really doubt he has romantic feelings for you.
posted by discopolo at 7:21 AM on October 4, 2013

Response by poster: @spaltavian How do you mean he wasn't just laughing it off?
posted by earthquakeglue at 7:36 AM on October 4, 2013

One of the ways that people will bring up a topic when they're not sure how the other person will react is to bring it up in a semi-joking manner. So, for example, he says, "Hey, remember when I used to have a little crush on you? Wasn't that funny?" On some level, he's hoping you will say, "Actually, now that you bring it up, I have a crush on you, too, and we should start making out immediately." But, because he brought it up as a joke, he doesn't have to be embarrassed if you say, "Oh, yeah, that was funny when you thought we could date, because that would never, ever happen." It's a safe way to bring the topic up without having to take the emotional risk of actually being rejected.

My read is that this is a guy who had a crush on you for most of your friendship, and now it's not really appropriate for him to spend quite as much time or energy on you, because he's in a relationship. And when I say "appropriate," I don't really mean in the sense that there would be something wrong with it. I mean that you shouldn't expect a person who was giving you attention in part because he liked you romantically to spend as much time or energy on you once he's romantically interested in someone else, someone who reciprocates his feelings.
posted by decathecting at 8:08 AM on October 4, 2013 [7 favorites]

One of the ways that people will bring up a topic when they're not sure how the other person will react is to bring it up in a semi-joking manner.

Yeah; people jokingly bring up things they really mean as either a trial ballon, or just to finally express it. This is sometimes known as "kidding on the square".

I mean that you shouldn't expect a person who was giving you attention in part because he liked you romantically to spend as much time or energy on you once he's romantically interested in someone else, someone who reciprocates his feelings

Yes. Also, there's the embarrassment of being caught up on someone who wasn't interested in you. Sometimes people just need to move on for their own stuff. He may not want to see you less as much as he doesn't want to be the person he was around you.
posted by spaltavian at 9:28 AM on October 4, 2013

In all likelihood his other female friends have acknowledged the existence of his girlfriend, diffusing tension.

He mentioned his girlfriend to you, "then that was it," but why? You're asking why a guy would do this, but you're not saying what kept you from saying, "Oh? A girlfriend? How'd you meet? How's that going? Yada yada; she sounds nice." Those are the kinds of things a friend might ask upon hearing about a new job, a travel experience, or a pet--really any part of the person's life that came up in conversation.

He knows you know he's got a girlfriend, and he might have the impression you're uncomfortable with that. Prying might have made you seam jealous, but so might an almost-unfriendly aloofness, which could sound like, "I don't want to seem like I care," (in a protest-too-much kind of way, I mean).

I can see why he would feel awkward spending time with anyone, male or female, who's given indication of discomfort talking about an important part of his life.
posted by whoiam at 10:35 AM on October 4, 2013

Maybe he's doing it to maintain peace on the home front. It wouldn't be at all surprising if the girlfriend is jealous of your past intimacy or fearful that you might reconsider your level of attraction to him now that someone else (her!) has validated his boyfriend material status.
posted by MattD at 10:35 AM on October 4, 2013

Your frequent social engagement with him has basically been displaced by his girlfriend, and so you're back to a more normal level.

Also, if he had any feelings for you, he's still going to feel them while hanging with you, and probably some guilt on top of that because he's in a relationship. He's disengaging.
posted by Sunburnt at 12:51 PM on October 4, 2013

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