Thursday, July 5, 2018

"Keep the kids out of it"/ "Coupling up with couples"

Mar. 17, 2017 "Keep the kids out of it": Today I found this article by Jennifer Paterson in the Globe and Mail:

Between romantic partners, busy careers and little children, it’s hard for a single woman to get quality time with her friends

I was recently the seventh wheel at a dinner party with three girlfriends and their husbands, plus five adorable children under the age of 4. When the evening came to an end at 7:15 p.m., I headed home, feeling – as I have so many times in the past few years – far removed from my former life, when my friends were single and a Saturday night started rather than ended at sundown.

Halfway through my 30s, more often single than not and (for now) comfortably childless, I’ve watched from the sidelines as my circle of friends transformed completely. A lack of predictable contact has made me realize that my friendships are a primal need, like food or water, and integral to my sense of self and happiness. 

But as they juggle time-consuming careers, partners and children, I’m lucky to have a once-a-month date with my loves. It leaves me wondering: How should I manage and nurture female friendship in a social hierarchy that doesn’t value them? When other people’s priorities are constantly in flux, how am I, the single friend, to navigate an ever-shifting landscape?

Geoff MacDonald, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, sums up my feelings exactly. Single people are “rarely connected to somebody to the point where you can be certain you’re always going to be that person’s first priority,” he says. “You’re always at the whim of some other person coming into that person’s life.”

People have an appetite for social interaction and when that appetite is satiated, further social interaction is reduced, MacDonald says.

“When a person gets into a relationship, they just don’t have the appetite for socializing with as many people as they used to. But then the single friend is on the pointed end of that.”

A decade younger than me at 24, Rebecca Hallquist is already feeling the ground shift as her friends become more invested in their relationships and careers. “That notion of ‘we’ll be friends forever’ and then another person appears on the scene, that does change things,” says Hallquist, who works at an arts and culture organization in Toronto.

 “As we’re nearing our mid- and late-20s, we’ve stopped thinking that long term. We’re aware, on some level, how temporal our relationships might be.”

Hallquist tends to move in and out of touch with various friends from her elementary, high school or university days, depending on the circumstances. “Physical distance does play a role here, as some of my older friends have moved away and started families, but also interests, as they change with age, play a part,” she says. “You learn to hold onto friendships less tightly as your friends form other attachments and longterm romantic relationships.”

And a friend who doesn’t return a certain number of texts or messages gets put on Hallquist’s back burner. “I’ve had to learn that I can’t be the person instigating communication all the time,” she says. “I’ve lost a few friends because I’ve just reached the point where I felt the investment in the friendship was too one-sided, so I stopped trying as hard to reach them.”

Of course, the experience varies in each decade of our lives, as the ratio of partnered people to singles changes. In Hallquist’s close-friend group, all but two women are single. My 30-something group is the inverse of that, where I’m in the extreme minority.

Among my friends in their 40s, singles are basically nonexistent – which is why, as my friends have partnered off and started families, my appetite for social interaction has led me to expand my friend group exponentially.

For a while, I moved to Britain, extending my carefree 20s well into my 30s and collecting a new batch of single friends who fast became soulmates.

Danu Anthony Stinson, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Victoria, says singles have much larger and stronger social networks than partnered people. “They have more friends, they socialize more, they exchange help more often with their friends,” she says. 

But, Stinson says, the single person must give up control of managing these friendships, letting the friend with the spouse or children dictate the terms of the relationship.

I find this challenging, because I’ve traditionally been the person who organizes and schedules social time within my friend groups, so I’m used to a certain level of control. But also, I’m a person who intrinsically needs my friends and, when they can’t be there for me, it can be isolating.

Another major variation in our need to socialize depends on whether we live in a large city or a small town. Stinson says that smaller communities tend to have stricter rules around conforming to societal norms, so people who don’t conform – such as singletons – usually migrate to larger urban centres.

“This is one of the many benefits of being single that has been documented,” she says. “You get to choose your friends, family, social circle to a much greater degree than do people who are partnered. And people more often do that in big cities.”

Being single allows us to build our own tribe, and mine is plentiful. But I still put these relationships at the centre of my life, which can feel lonely when your friends don’t do the same. Regardless of a person’s relationship status, I believe there’s still a level of shared responsibility within friendships, though I can appreciate how this changes when kids are added to the equation.

My closest friends and I make the most of seeing each other when we can. One long-standing tradition with my gang from high school is a series of summertime long weekends. 

Whether we’re touring wineries in Prince Edward County or lounging at the cottage, the caveat is “no partners or kids allowed,” though a few newborns have slipped through the cracks over the years.

One long-time attendee, my good friend Anne Maffre – who lives in Ottawa and is the married mother of two girls – tells me that she hasn’t developed any new friendships with single people since becoming a mom. “I guess it’s not a surprise, given how I’m able to spend my free time,” she says. Female-friend time is crucial to her, too, especially with women she’s known for so long.

“I love how we can spend so much time apart throughout the year, but come together and have a ridiculous, fun time like we’ve never been apart,” Maffre says. “We may not all be as close as we once were, but it’s so crazy that we’ve known each other for so long and still want to hang out. I know not everyone has that.”

So, yes, in many ways, I’m making headway in managing my female friendships as everything around me changes. But I’ve still had to seek out new friends to join me in my single status quo.

It doesn’t mean I love my partnered and parent friends any less; it just means I have to be more mindful to fill my life with the kind of social connectivity that makes me feel complete.

 Mar. 21, 2018 "Coupling up with couples": Today I found this article by Rachel Raczka in the Edmonton Journal:

A few months ago, my friends — a colleague and her partner, who share my boyfriend’s affinity for cute-goth Instagram illustrators and metal — moved to New York. We had planned to move there, too, but life has kept us in Boston for at least another year. Their move has left a void in our social lives.
We have other friends, couples and singles alike, and we love them. However, the loss of our ride-or-die couple friends has been a hit we were not prepared for.

Forging friendships as adults is challenging. It’s even tougher to find two couples where everyone likes one another. Why do couple friends seem so imperative to our romantic lives? Why are some better than others? And how do we make new ones?

“Getting together with another couple can make your partnership seem stronger,” Geoffrey L. Greif, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work and the co-author of Two Plus Two: Couples and Their Couple Friendships, told me. “You get to see your partner in a great light — they’re interacting, having fun, happy, that makes them more attractive. That’s the upside.”

Greif and his writing partner Kathleen Holtz Deal explored the dynamics of couples and their couple friends, and found that heterosexual relationships benefited best when they were able to connect on a deep emotional level with another couple.

They found gender roles within romantic relationships are more fluid when intimately interacting with a fellow couple. “Research tends to say men get drawn into conversations and face-to-face interactions he might not feel comfortable doing on their own,” he said. “Women could then use that time with another couple to get her husband or partner to talk about things he wouldn’t otherwise.”

Greif and Holtz Deal placed couples in three categories: seekers, extroverts actively searching for new social relationships; keepers, those who feel fulfilled within the confines of their relationship and are happy with an intimate group of confidants; and nesters, introverts who prefer to stick to a party of two. Greif, who identifies as a seeker, and his nester wife often find themselves negotiating to form meaningful friendships with other couples.

“She pulls me in a bit, and I pull her out a bit, and we meet in the middle,” he said. “Knowing those roles and having that discussion should give couples a language.” And in developing that social contract, the relationship deepens its bonds.

The No. 1 reason for couple friends: having someone else to talk to.
“The biggest issue for every couple, across all the books, is what to do with all the time,” Greif said.

No. 2? Having something to talk about.

“Take people like my parents — they’re interesting people, but their conversations are very limited to their own perspectives, in that, they’re not expansive,” says celebrity relationship coach Laurel House. “If you have interesting couples in your life, you have different perspectives, and conversation can expand, and you feel more interesting, and more confident.”

Improving conversation between couples was a main goal for Cory Nitschelm, founder of Coupler, a soon-to-be-released swipebased social app for double dates.

“We believe making couple friends strengthens a relationship from an external and an internal perspective,” he said. “That way, it’s not just the two of you doing the same things, stagnating.”

Couple friendships aren’t always a positive. Like all friendships, they can be toxic. House said if the connection with another couple is only surface level, it “can actually hurt the (romantic) relationship because you might get bored and have a bad time.”

Some couples use their friendships as an audience to overcompensate — “our relationship is so great, let us tell you about it!” — or the reverse: Couples can spar, nitpick and compare.

“If you’re bringing out the negativity in your relationships, you might be bringing out the negativity in that other couple’s relationship, too,” House said. “No one wants to be around negative people. It’s entertaining at first, but we don’t want to actually live it. The reason you have couple friends is to feel better, not worse.”

Also risky, House noted, are couples who aren’t equally enthusiastic about pursuing the friendship. “You have to both like the other couple or one person is always going to feel like they have to go,” she said. “You have to be all in.”

Adult friendships are ridiculously hard to come by — couple friends even more so. There was something so satisfying about seeing my boyfriend find a friendship that made him as happy as one of my own. And it was gratifying to get to know the man who made another person I love, my friend, so happy. 
Our adventure-driven, politically like-minded, fellow brown-liquor-drinking, childless friends are even more rare and valuable than I already thought. And a four-hour bus ride isn’t that bad anyway.

Jul. 3, 2018 Flashbacks:

Post Secret: I remember this card that has purple writing.  It looks like a young woman wrote it:

"When one of my friends gets pregnant, I always feel a little sad because then they won't be fun anymore."

On the other side it says: "Congratulations."  (Sigh).

My opinion: Yeah, I'm sure a lot of people experience that.  Also when they're in their late teens and early 20s.  When they're out having fun and partying, your friends may be having a kid and taking care of the kid and have no time for you.

It has happened to me before.  In the following cases, it doesn't affect my life.  They were not in my daily life.  They were also not my drinking buddies.  I'm sure some of you guys are laughing at this part.  However, I don't party.


1. Mitch- We went to high school together.  He wasn't in my daily life.

2. Michelle- she moved out of town.

3. Heather-  I went to school with her.  We weren't in each other's lives from 17-22yrs old.  Then I found her on Facebook.  I saw her once.  Then she had a going-away party and she was pregnant.  She was moving across the country.  

Classmates: I saw this guy with this girl Melina who I went to jr. high and high school with.  They were on the bus.  The guy and I took the same bus because we both went to NAIT.  It was a couple of months before he sat beside me on the bus.  It was in 2004.

Tracy: Hey.
Guy: Hi.
Tracy: I know your girlfriend Melina.
Guy: Oh what?  Really?  I'm sorry, what's your name?
Tracy: Oh no, we've never met each other before.  By the way, I'm Tracy.
Guy: Oh, actually we're married.
Tracy: What?
Guy: I said we're married.

I thought he may be joking.

Or the other time I was working at the clothing store in 2005.  This guy Chris came in with his 2 friends and his baby.  I went to jr. high and high school with him.

Tracy: Chris?
Chris: Yeah.
Tracy: You have a kid?
Chris: Yeah.
Tracy: Are you married?
Chris: No, that's one thing I don't plan to do.  Are you in school?
Tracy: No.  Well I did a yr at NAIT.  You?
Chris: I'm an electrician.  One of the trades.

My week:

Jun. 28, 2018 Travel article: I just posted this article on my blog.  I then put the blog posts link onto my Facebook status update so more people can read it.

My friend Cham "liked" it.  Of course, she did, because she likes traveling.

Fall 2016 TV season- dramas: One guy named Jonathan "liked" my blog post on the Edmonton Filmmakers Group Facebook page.

When I put my link to my blog posts on the Edmonton Filmmakers Group Facebook page, I get a lot of pageviews (people reading the blog post).

Small changes, big difference: In Jun. 2018 I started posting my blog posts links on my Facebook status updates.  I get more pageviews than I ever had before.

Buy used cds and dvds at the Reuse Centre: I was talking to my friend Dan L. on the phone today for 1hr.  He told me he bought all these dvds for like 10 cents each or something.  I haven't bought a dvd since 2010.

The only cds I ever bought were like Robin Thicke's back in 2013 and 2015.

Jun. 29, 2018 Men save blind man who fell on tracks:

TORONTO - Bystanders leapt into action to rescue a blind man who accidentally fell onto the subway tracks in Toronto, a witness said Friday.

Julie Caniglia said in an interview that a man on her eastbound train jumped down to the tracks Thursday afternoon and crossed over to the westbound platform to help the man.
"You just don't know if there's another train coming. He didn't even think about it," said Caniglia, adding the man had "guts."
She said she was inside the stopped subway train at Broadview station when she and other passengers heard cries for help. They got out of the train, she said, and looked across to the westbound platform.
"We noticed someone lying on the tracks ... he had hurt himself," she said.
A man next her then ran to the end of the platform to shut down the power to the tracks, she said. The Toronto Transit Commission driver told the bystander to be careful, as he could get electrocuted.
"The (driver) hit buttons to alert the oncoming train to stop and everything just shut down," she said. "There was a lot of screaming about getting electrocuted."
Two other men, who arrived on the westbound platform, also jumped down to help the first bystander pull the man back onto the platform, she said. The man who fell looked to be in shock, she added.
"Truly I was trembling. I just sort of walked out in a haze," she said.
But Caniglia said she wanted others to know who the good Samaritans were, so she posted a photo she took of them to social media. All three rescuers haven't been identified.
"It was amazing. We all need a bit of positive reinforcement that there's some great people out there," she said.

A teacher asks people to donate backpacks of school supplies instead of flowers at her funeral: My friend Lincoln posted this on Facebook.  I had to share it on my friend Colette's timeline because she's a teacher.

Tammy Waddell died of cancer and asked for backpacks of school supplies.

Sat. Jun. 30, 2018 Work: I went to work today.  It was one of those days when it seems quiet at work.  Then afterwards, I looked at how many customers came in and it was a lot of customers.  It didn't feel busy.

I went home and read the newspaper outside.

Fire: There was a fire at a neighbor's house 2 doors down.  4 firetrucks came and neighbors are watching.  The house is still intact, at least on the outside.

Jul. 3, 2018 Old classmate: I was reading the Edmonton Journal Homes section.  They had an article about this guy Logan.  I then recognized the name and was like: "Is this the same guy I went to jr. high school with?"  I looked him up and made a connection with him on LinkedIn.

Job search: I went and passed out 6 resumes in downtown.  

I also went to Staples and recycled 16 pens.  The last time I was there was back in Aug. 2017.  I didn't use up all the pens.  Some I found in my home that were out of ink.

Jul. 5, 2018: I decided to recycle my pens now, because I was going to wait for a time so I can see my friend Jessica.  She works by a Staples.  I made the trip worthwhile by passing out resumes.  She says she's very busy.

iPod: I emailed her to ask how to put my cds onto iTunes.  She can come and show me.  However, since she was busy, I figured out how to put it on.  You press "import cd" when you put the cd in the cd-rom.  If I didn't know, I could ask my brother or someone else.

3.5 floppy disk: Earlier this yr I transferred some documents from these disks to a USB key.  I have some of those documents onto my email.

I had thought my 2004 computer stopped working because the internet didn't work on it.  Actually I didn't plug the wire where it was supposed to be.  I should transfer everything out because the computer may stop working. 

No comments: