The day you realize you’re the third wheel is always fun for a W. It’s probably somewhere between the funeral (when acquantainces and lesser friends disappear) and the time you are ready to start dating again, that even your close straight male friends can’t get away fast enough.
It took me awhile to figure it out and when I did I was disappointed. Didn’t you promise Dan to keep an eye out for me? And I was hurt because I thought we were better friends than that. And then I laughed because it’s funny in a WTF kinda way. Since one of my favorite pastimes is to discover the why in how the universe works, I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about it. And since spending hours pondering is more fun with sharing, here are the results of my scientific research that mostly includes talking to other W’s over wine and sessions with my grief counselor who affirms this is a real thing.
Single male friends disappear because they don’t want to be seen as “that guy” who may be preying on the lonely widow. They don’t want to dishonor the memory of their dead buddy. And they may be worried the lonely widow wants more than just a friend–something beyond the occasional home repair project, wink wink. For the record, that’s a negatory ghost rider.
Coupled male friends disappear because the widow has now disrupted the balance of power in the relationship world. We can no longer be friends because we were couple friends, and since one of us has rudely made it awkward by losing her spouse, the non-widowed female in the relationship unconsciously (or consciously) views us as a threat. So long dinners and double dates. Now it’s just random text messages “checking in” with lame promises of getting together soon that we both know will never happen.
I know this doesn’t hold true for everyone. I have retained a few couple friends that are secure enough in their relationships to keep me in their lives. I know other W’s that have had the exact opposite experience. But since it’s a pretty common phenomenon, if it does happen to you my Dear W, just know you aren’t alone.