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12 Ways Friendship Changes When You Become a Dad

Becoming a father alters all your relationships — especially friendships.

According to a 2018 study, people need to spend at least 90 hours together to consider themselves friends, and a whopping 200 hours together to consider themselves close friends. As a new dad, when every second is more precious than the last, logging that many hours that aren’t devoted to feeding, changing, or caring for a baby seems almost impossible. Daunting as though it may seem, it’s incredibly important to maintain — and make new — social connections. Friends help you through stress and act as a lifeline to the world outside dirty diapers and midnight wake ups. It’s not always that simple, though, as becoming a new parent changes every facet of your life — especially your relationships. Here, 12 dads talk about how the first year of fatherhood affected their friendships. Some didn’t miss a beat, while some ended up losing a lot of old comrades. All had to adjust the way they viewed them. 

I Lost Touch With a Lot of Friends

“I’ve never been good at juggling responsibilities. I’m not a multitasker, so it was hard for me to keep up with every aspect of my life as a new dad. Unfortunately, that included keeping in touch with a lot of my friends. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to, it was because I felt like I spent every waking minute either working or taking care of the baby. If it wasn’t for social media, honestly, I don’t know that I would’ve ‘talked’ to any of them for a long time. I regret not reaching out more actively, but they could’ve made more of an effort, too” – Tom, 35, Arizona

The Group Text Became My Hang Out

“I’m trying to recall, and I honestly don’t think I was a part of a large group text before I became a father. But, when our son was born, my wife set up a group text with some of our other friends who were also new(ish) parents. It was as much a support group as it was a place to distract myself from dirty diapers and random tantrums. Everyone had a great sense of humor, and there was a lot of encouragement that really did help sometimes. All of our schedules were busy, so it was a nice way to keep in contact between those rare moments we actually got to hang out.” – Travis, 38, Michigan

I Turned to Facebook to Find Dad Friends

“It was a group for dads in my area, and I just figured, ‘What the hell?’ I got accepted into the group, and started reading some of the old posts. It wasn’t what I expected at all. No dad jokes. No bitching about wives. It was just real, honest discussions about the ups and downs of fatherhood. I reached out to some of the guys whose posts I liked, just to tell them I thought what they shared was cool. We still talk pretty regularly, so I guess you could say it helped me make a couple new friends.” – Ed, 41, Ohio

I Made Friends at Work More Easily

“I kept to myself at work, for the most part. I was friendly, but I didn’t really feel like I had anything in common with the other men in my office. After my first child, though, I learned that, even though they were older, they still went through a lot of the same struggles raising their kids. It was like finding out they went to the same college, except instead of,’Oh, you’re class of ‘04? I’m class of ‘72!’, it’s ‘Oh, has your kid shit on your favorite shirt yet? Don’t worry, it’ll happen.’ They’re great guys, so I’m glad I got to know them.” – Neil, 38, Colorado

It Made Me Hate Friends on Social Media

“I just couldn’t stand the constant comparisons I found myself making. I’d see a friend post pictures of his kids and, for whatever reason, I’d start thinking stuff like, ‘His kid looks so happy. Why doesn’t ours look like that?’ Or, ‘That swingset is bigger than ours. Should we get a different one?’ Just a lot of superficial bullshit that I didn’t need distracting me from being the best father I could. That was a few years ago, and I’m back on now, but my frame of reference is completely different.” – Juan, 34, South Carolina

I Was Proactive About Weekly Meetups

“I had to do something to stay in shape, so I asked a couple guys if they wanted to get together every once in a while and play two-on-two. They were into it, and they knew a few other guys who also got really excited about the idea. It wasn’t long before we had about a dozen guys wanting to play, so we organized some pickup games at our rec center and have been playing off and on ever since. Every once in a while guys will drop out, and new guys will show up – it’s been a chance to meet some really cool people. And, even though I’m not great, I get excited thinking of my son coming to watch us play one day.” – Chet, 37, Tennessee

It Made Me Realize Who My Real Friends Were

I’m a social guy and had a lot of casual friendships. Beer league friends. Work friends. Old college friends. Gym friends. These were people I’d hang out with a few times a month. But as when I had a kid, very few of them reached out to me. In fact, only four did. I knew then that those relationships were much more important. Those people cared. Fatherhood forces you to whittle down your friend group anyway. But this made it that much easier. — Steve, Massachusetts 

I Became More Open to Try New Things With Friends

“If my friends made plans that were outside of my normal comfort zone, I wouldn’t hesitate to go along. I found that the company – the time I got to spend with my friends – was much, much more precious than whatever we were actually doing. I loved any excuse to hang out with them. I was never an adventurous guy, but because of that mindset I went white water rafting, zip lining, to the gun range – all things I never would’ve done on my own. Becoming a father was definitely a time for growth, and I think that translated to my friendships, too.” – Michael, 33, West Virginia

We Fully Embraced “Couple Friends”

“It just sort of happens, I think. We knew couples who had kids and, once we started a family, we ended up hanging out with them more and more when time allowed. During the first year, it was a lot of emotional support and check-ins. They’d text to see how we were doing, how the baby was, stuff like that. Their kids were older, so they’d been through being new parents a few times. For the most part, all of our parent friends were really helpful. They gave us tips and advice, and when our kids started getting older we really looked forward to getting to know them outside the parent bubble, too.” – John, 37, Florida

I Became a Better Friend

“Something about becoming a father justs jacks up your capacity for empathy. I wasn’t a particularly emotional guy before my sons were born, but seeing them grow really opened me up. I wasn’t shy about it, either, and I found out that a lot of my male friends – also dads – were thrilled to have another guy to talk to about actual important stuff. We’d talk about insecurities, fears, and all that. And I found myself turning into a really good listener which, if you’d asked me a few years prior, I never would’ve thought I had in me.” – Andrew, 38, Connecticut

My Friends Embraced My Kid

“Most of my friends were already dads when we decided to have kids. So, they knew a lot of the ins and outs of ‘Peek-A-Boo’ and ‘I got your nose!’ When they’d come over and play with our kids, or even just wave at them when they were first born, our kids would smile and laugh like crazy. It made me feel like I did a good job picking friends. Like my kids knew something I didn’t, and their reactions were seals of approval.” – Ronnie, 34, Nevada

I Realized That My Female Friends Cared More Than My Male Ones

“When I became a dad, I’d say that 90 percent of the people who reached out to congratulate my wife and I were female. I’m not sure how that happened. I think it’s because a lot of her friends eventually became ‘our’ and ‘my’ friends, too, over the years. The few guy friends I have aren’t the most…expressive. So it was a lot of, ‘Oh, you had a baby? That’s pretty sweet.’ Maybe our female friends just left a more lasting impression with their reactions.” – Charles, 34, Kentucky