For the Girls
Honoring all of the Women and Girls in Film
Films like Bridesmaids (2011), Life Partners (2014), and many more depict the very real struggle many best-friendships experience when one-half of the party gets into a serious relationship. It is no longer your best friend spending the night every night, calling you, and gossiping about the guy she's kinda, sorta seeing. This guy is now the person your best friend is calling. They sleepover, and they have created the dynamic you and your best friend once had. It can genuinely be hard, and it can feel like a breakup for so many people. But what makes it so hard? Many films love to portray a sense of jealousy in the "dumpee" of the friendship, which can be the case. It's not jealousy in the sense that they are in love with their best friend, but it's jealousy in the feeling of the loss of a life partner.
Furthermore, films love to portray the single friend as the "lost" friend and the taken friend as the "put-together", mature friend. First of all, being in a long-term relationship does not equate to having your shit together, at all. I wish Hollywood would stop pushing that narrative on everyone. It's okay to be single at 30 and to focus on yourself. Secondly, films then show the single friend grow increasingly jealous of her well put-together friend, while her own life continues to free fall into an abyss of self-doubt, insecurity, and unemployment. It's honestly a sad trope that may or may not be representative of some, but definitely not of all.
So what does cause the rift between once sibling-like friends when one of them falls in love? I believe the film Life Partners (2014) perfectly explains the feelings one has when they go through the inevitable friendship separation you experience when your best friend finds a long-term love.
Life Partners (2014) is about best friends Sasha (Leighton Meester) and Paige (Gillian Jacobs.) They have been best friends for over a decade, and they are family in every way but by blood. They're attached at the hip. They continue to have sleepovers together, and they're both single. That is, until they both agree to go on a blind date, and Paige's date with Tim (Adam Brody) goes really well. Paige and Tim's relationship progresses into a love, and eventually into an engagement, while Sasha continues to struggle with a job she doesn't like, a dwindling passion for music, and a string of bad dates and unlucky romances. That's not to say that Sasha wasn't happy for Paige and her newfound happiness. She actually says the perfect quote to sum up the loss and confusion she and many others feel in her place. After Paige says that she's less available because she doesn't need a best friend to talk to until 2:00 AM every morning like she used to, Sasha responds with, "But you still have that [...] you still talk to someone til 2 in the morning, it's just him now. Nothing changed for you. It just changed for me."
And there it is. The biggest strain on a friendship in this situation does not come from some sexual jealousy or unhappiness with your friends happiness, but it comes from the fact that when one party finds a relationship, they also find a new best friend. Whether they admit it or not, it's true.
Paige does attempt to bring Sasha and Tim together, though he is a clear imposition on their usual plans, and there is a clear personality difference between the two that makes it near impossible for them to mesh well. I loved this depiction, because you shouldn't try to bring your boyfriend into the circle of inside jokes, funny dates, and personal moments that you share with your best friend (and vice versa.) You and your partner are not one, and you and your best friend are not one, either. You are all your own people, with separate lives, personalities, interests, etc. It's okay to separate and compartmentalize and have different relationships with different, special people in your life.
This film has its' flaws, but it does offer the perspectives of individuals in a predicament like this. The conversations Paige has with Tim, trying to get him to understand her dynamic with Sasha and get the things they get, but he just doesn't, is something we all go through. The pain Sasha feels, not only from not having her life together, but from losing that person in her life in many ways, is all too real.
I may or may not have teared up while watching this movie, because I remember when I first met my boyfriend. I was completely enthralled and encompassed in our relationship, that I forgot about everything else in my life. Luckily, I did move past that, but it took some time. I love my best friend, but I could feel the rift between us during those times- and the same happened when she had a long-term boyfriend. It begins to get hard to keep touch as much as you used to. The thing to remember is that even though your lover is also your new best friend, you should never lose that OG connection. My best friend is my family. She is the family I chose, and she knows more about me than my blood family. It's natural for best friends to start their separate lives, but it's not natural to lose each other completely, because your best friend is your life partner as well. Female friendship is so special, and we need it to get us through to the end of this wacky life. Sasha and Paige are the perfect life partners, and their friendship, though it traverses some bumps along the way, will always bring them back to each other. Soulmates are always referred to as the person you're going to marry and be with forever, but soulmates are much more complex than what we will ever understand. Best friends are our soulmates, our life partners.
Jacindable Rating: ★★★
starring, Leighton Meester, Gillian Jacobs, Adam Brody, Gabourey Sidibe, Beth Dover, Abby Elliott, and more
written and directed by, Susanna Fogel and Joni Lefkowitz