A man is complaining he has no friends because his wife has squeezed them out of his life. Apparently Christopher Middleton sank from having a “merry crew” of mates to sitting alone with a beer watching recorded sport on TV.
In his column “Mates? Most married men waved our best friends goodbye years ago” this weekend, he cited a report by charity organisation Relate that about 4.7 million Britons report not having a best friend. In Middleton's case, he claims to come to this unhappy circumstance because his wife has removed their names from the “family address book” and replaced them with friends more to her own taste, usually couples or single women. Supposedly, this is why not only him, but many men, don't have besties.
Really? If you find yourself identifying with this man, there are probably a few other reasons people may not want to spend time with you.
1. You blame your wife for things that aren’t her fault. True, it is way easier than taking responsibility. But it also seems like a simplistic way to avoid your own shortcomings. For example ...
2. … You complain too much. There is nothing not good about sitting on the couch with a beer watching TV.
3. You don't stick up for your friends. If your wife is so domineering/jealous/manipulative – or any of the other negative inferences there are to be had in an article that accuses women of being the main reason you're a sad loser with no friends – then you really should have fought harder for your buddies. It seems they're all you've got.
4. You assume the secret to women’s friendships is time spent together criticising their husbands. Even on the rare occasions your wife manages to put down her pencil and eraser and step away from the "family address book", she will probably have lots to talk about with her friends besides you. Perhaps since she is married to a man who sits around at home complaining about doing nothing, she may spend some time lamenting her husband who sits around at home doing nothing. She and her mates will probably also talk about federal politics, their jobs, their children, Sydney house prices and Game of Thrones, because, well, it's 2014.
5. You use a "family address book".
Maintaining friendships is difficult, regardless of gender, especially once you’re in a long-term relationship, working and possibly trying to wrangle a couple of children.
For me, having friendships that are my own help me feel like I’m living my life instead of drowning in the mundane bits of it. Keeping them going takes time and effort, for example, a chain of 28 emails in the weeks leading up to a dinner out, and a flurry of text messages on the night. That doesn’t even include the juggling of child-rearing responsibilities between me and my husband.
Indeed, the precision planning that’s required to ensure one grown-up can leave the house at 7pm may be enough to lure many into a funk of lonely couch-sitting but, in the end, hanging out with friends makes most people happy, which – in turn – feeds into the success of a long-term relationship.
If you have time to moan about your lack of mates, you probably have time to track down their emails and invite a couple of them out for a meal.